Monday, December 31
Stop the War - Protest the RNC - Sep 1, 2008 - St. Paul, MN
2007 is winding down and we are heading into 2008. The U.S. occupation of Iraq continues on, and the Bush administration threatens Iran. The anti-war movement did some good and important things in 2007. But 2008, an election year, can be a year the anti-war movement can really burst out on the national stage on a scale that hasn't yet happened. The Republican and Democratic candidates are all for continuing the U.S. war and occupation in some form. The only thing close to exceptions are Libertarian / Republican Ron Paul, who is absolutely nuts on other major issues, and Dennis Kucinich, who has exactly zero chance of winning the Democratic nomination, and so far has been unable to even move the other candidates' rhetoric to the left, letalone their action. The left and the anti-war movement are presented with a pretty clear situation - the vast majority of the people in the U.S. want the war to end, and none of the ruling class's hand-picked "viable" candidate from either party is calling for the war to end. We have an opportunity this year like very few other times in recent years to see the radicalization of broad numbers of people in the U.S. if we can step up and be serious about organizing spaces, activities and organizations that people can join and get involved with. 2008 could be a year for dramatic growth of the anti-war movement and the left. It won't be easy - the mass media and the electoral game will be pulling people in the opposite direction. The logic will be to "quiet down" and subsume the anti-war movement behind the eventual Democratic nominee (likely Hillary, the most pro-war of all of them) in the interest of beating the Republicans. And it's a powerful pull, because the Bush administration has been particularly odious. Different forces on the left will make different decisions about whether to support one or the other capitalist party candidates, a Green candidate (which could be Cynthia McKinney - a possibly interesting option for the anti-war movement), or to oppose them all. That remains to be seen.
But if we want to see the anti-war movement make gains this year, the bottom line that we must all unite on is the need to continue to build the anti-war movement in the streets to move the entire debate to the left and force all the politicians to respond. We need to turn up the pressure this year, not duck and cover.
Two big nodal points in that effort are the protests at the Republican and Democratic Conventions this summer/fall. In late August, the Democratic Convention will be happening in Denver, Colorado. The Recreate 68 coalition there is organizing to protest the DNC. Those protests will be important, since the Democrats will not be nominating a candidate who calls for immediate withdrawl of U.S. troops. So protesting them to demand immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops will be important.
Then, from September 1-4, 2008, the Republicans will hold their convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. While some folks on the left seem to be arguing that the main focus of our protests should be the Democrats this year, I think this is incorrect. The Republicans control the executive branch of government and are principally responsible for the occupation of Iraq and a possible attack on Iran, as well as a list of crimes on other issues so long that I don't even know where to start. And millions and millions of people correctly despise Bush and the Republicans for it. The Republicans will also be nominating a candidate who will continue the war. They must be protested, and in a big and powerful way.
Our movement can and will channel that massive outrage that people feel into the biggest street protests that Minnesota has ever seen. Unluckily for the Republicans, the anti-war movement in Minnesota is strong and well-organized. Groups like the Anti-War Committee, Women Against Military Madness and others have been doing amazing work for years. And when people heard that the RNC would be held in Minnesota, the anti-war movement and the left sprung into action right away.
The Protest RNC 2008 coalition has been building a broad-based movement to protest the RNC. Part of this effort is the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War, which is planning for a massive march on the first day of the RNC, September 1, 2008. The goal is for this march to be as big as possible - tens of thousands, maybe more. On the first day of the RNC 2004 in New York City, 500,000 people marched against the Republicans and against the war. St. Paul is not NYC, but the Twin Cities are generally progressive, and the vast majority of people who live here are against the Republicans and against the war. We just have to figure out how to get a big chunk of them into the streets on September 1, 2008. There will also be tends of thousands of people coming from around the Midwest and the rest of the country.
For the anarchist-inclined out there, you may also want to hook up with the RNC Welcoming Committee, an anarchist grouping that is planning their own series of actions against the RNC. The various forces in the Minnesota left are working together to overshadow the Republicans during their convention, in front of the eyes of the world. We will not be divided between "good" and "bad" protesters, or whatever else the powers-that-be are trying to come up with to divide the movement and diminish the crowds. A very good article, Unlikely as it might seem, mainstream media lies, was recently written by Jess Sundin from the Anti-War Committee, in response to the police and mass media's first real attempt to divide protesters. This kind of principled solidarity is key to having a big, diverse and effective movement.
Organizers are encouraging everyone to come to Minnesota to protest the RNC, no matter where you live. The first day of the RNC, September 1, is Labor Day, so for many people it's a 3-day weekend. Come enjoy your 3-day weekend in scenic and beautiful Minnesota! Especially if you're in the Midwest, start planning now to bring busses, carloads, trains full of people.
The planning for the march on the first day of the RNC has already begun, and the Protest RNC 2008 coalition has been fighting with the city for months already to get permits in place to march in front of the Xcel Center where the convention will take place, which of course the government is coming up with every excuse possible not to grant. That struggle continues, but the march on September 1, 2008 will be happening regardless of how long St. Paul's bureaucrats dawdle. Start making plans to come.
And everyone is encouraged to come help plan the protests. There will be a national organizing conference for that purpose on February 9-10, 2008 at the University of Minnesota. Check out the info about it here, and register online for the conference here.
Lets make 2008 a year that will be remembered for decades to come for the anti-war movement and the left in the U.S.