There are a lot of actions Americans can take to change the direction set by the Administration. But, first there needs to be a new level of realism about the forms of nonviolent action that can work. It 's important to ask why has the resistance to the war in Iraq been ineffective?
Indeed, there has been such a shift against the war in Iraq that it seems unlikely that Bush can play the fear card again. That he can persuade a majority of Americans that an attack on Iran is a good idea, particularly if that attack involves the use of nuclear weapons.
The next six months loom as a pivotal period in US history. We 'll have an election to determine whether or not the Bush juggernaut rolls on unimpeded. And, we 're likely to see a "preemptive " attack on Iran.
During this critical interval there are two types of actions that Americans can take to protect our democracy: political and economic. We can take political action to ensure that Democrats regain their majority in the House or Senate and stall the Bush express on Capitol Hill.
In the past few decades, strikes have been relatively rare in the US. They 've usually been local actions associated with trade-union wage and benefit issues. Historically, the general strike has been an effective vehicle for protest, "widespread stoppage of workers in an attempt to bring the economic life of a given area to a more or less complete standstill in order to achieve certain desired objectives. " There hasn 't been a general strike in the US for more than fifty years. However, within the last decade, there have been effective general strikes in other countries. November 1, 2004, there was such a strike in the Ukraine, protesting election fraud, the "Orange Revolution. " And there 've been numerous examples in France, most recently a general strike protesting a proposed change in the country 's youth employment laws.
Several conditions combine to produce an effective general strike: a widespread perception that the government, or an industry, has acted unfairly; a broad-based coalition that includes workers as well as activists; and an action focus. In France, that focus has typically been the transportation system. In December 2005, there was a three-day transit strike in New York City affecting millions of commuters and thousands of businesses.
If political conditions continue as they are the Iraq occupation drags on, while various Republican outrages are revealed then progressives should engage in political actions coupled with boycotts of various kinds.
However, if President Bush were to do something outrageous, such as use nuclear weapons against Iran, this could become the spark that ignites a general strike. There would be a widespread perception that the White House had acted irrationally, against the common good. This could produce a broad-based coalition that unites workers, activists, and groups aggrieved by the Administration, such as immigrants. All that would be needed is an action focus.
A logical target for a general strike would be commercial transportation, particularly the boat, rail, and truck lines that handle cargo containers. America is a "just-in-time " society, where many businesses depend upon an uninterrupted steam of deliveries. Even a two-day disruption in the national transportation network would have huge consequences for the economy. Impact that would be noticed not only by the White House and the national media, but also by the commercial power elite. A general strike might goad Wall Street to rein in the White House and produce significant change.
In these perilous times, it 's important to send a clear message to the Bush gang: Americans value democracy and are prepared to defend it. Sending this message means getting out of our living rooms and into the streets.