Hi there,

This week Democracy Now! is bringing you live, on-the-ground coverage of the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, where you’ll hear the voices and analysis you won’t get anywhere else. In August, we’ll travel to Chicago for the Democratic National Convention. Democracy Now! doesn’t accept corporate advertising or sponsorship revenue, and we don’t take money from any government. That means we’re relying on you. Can you donate $15 to Democracy Now! to support our RNC and DNC coverage—and so much more? Right now, a generous donor will DOUBLE your gift, which means your $15 donation is worth $30 today. Please do your part to help us air in-depth, substantive coverage of the conventions and the issues that matter most during the 2024 election cycle. Thank you so much—and remember, every dollar makes a difference.
-Amy Goodman

Non-commercial news needs your support.

We rely on contributions from you, our viewers and listeners to do our work. If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make your monthly contribution.

Please do your part today.


As Bush Delivers His First State of the Union Address, Democracy Now! Convenes a Shadow Congress to Respond

StoryJanuary 30, 2002
Watch Full Show
Media Options

The last time George Bush stood before Congress, it was just days after the September 11 attacks. On that evening, he declared in no uncertain terms his so-called war on terror. Now, nearly five months later, he has pledged to push that war still farther — beyond Afghanistan — to a dozen countries that he said harbor so-called terrorist camps. He also warned of an “Axis of Evil” nations, like North Korea, Iran and Iraq, and said the United States would not allow them to threaten the world with weapons of mass destruction. Toward these ends, he asked Congress to increase Pentagon spending by nearly $50 billion. It would be, Bush boasted, the largest increase in military spending in two decades.

At the same time, the president also proposed doubling spending on so-called homeland security measures. This, he referred to as his second big priority. It includes intelligence gathering, border security and local emergency response programs. The measures are expected to cost the nation almost $40 billion.

As for domestic issues, what Bush called the “final great priority of [his] budget,” the president spoke, once again in military terms, of making war on the recession to bring “economic security” to the country. He asked Congress to back his education, free trade and corporate tax break policies, as well as to embrace his welfare, healthcare and environmental initiatives. With the address dominated by talk of war and “terrorism,” however, he offered few details on the policies.

Today, on Democracy Now!, we have convened our own kind of congress to respond to the president’s address. Call it a shadow congress, with members like Howard Zinn, Blanche Wiesen Cook, Adolph Reed, Sonali Kolhatkar and Ralph Nader.

Related Story

StoryFeb 20, 2002One Month After Bush Accuses North Korea of Being Part of An “Axis of Evil,” Protests Erupt in South Korea Over His Visit
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report, Breaking the Sound Barrier. I’m Amy Goodman, as we convene our own shadow congress to respond to President Bush’s State of the Union address. We’ll begin with radical historian Howard Zinn.

Welcome to Democracy Now!

HOWARD ZINN: Thank you, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, the last words brought us right to you: “History has called America and our allies to action. And it’s both our responsibility and our privilege to fight freedom’s fight.” Your response?

HOWARD ZINN: Well, what Bush promises us is an endless war, a war that will go on and on and on. He promises not only it for his administration, but for future administrations. And what he does is create an atmosphere really of a kind of hysteria about enemies everywhere, that will keep the country in a state of fear for a very long time, and that will enable the administration to use the resources of this country, instead of to take care of people’s needs, to build up an even greater military machine, to send our troops and our ships to all over the world to wage war on other countries. In other words, he promises that the war on Afghanistan will then become a war on Iran, a war on Iraq. And he says at one point that the terrorists have camps in at least a dozen countries. Are we going to wage war on a dozen countries?

He has created — and to this enormous applause of Democrats and Republicans, really a very sorry spectacle for somebody who thinks he or she lives in a democracy, this unanimity. He’s created a situation in which we are going to have a militarized state, in which our civil liberties will be permanently impaired, in which citizens will be in constant danger of being arrested. I mean, we have 20 million noncitizens in this country also, and these noncitizens will be subject to the provisions of the PATRIOT Act, which means they can be held and detained. In other words, he’s creating a wartime situation, which is going to go on and on.

And inevitably, when all of this concentration on war and building up the military goes on, the real needs of people will be unmet. I mean, people are already dying on the streets of Boston who are homeless and cold. This is happening in other cities in the country. And the Bush administration — I listened to his speech last night, uncomfortably, of course, forcing myself to do it. But there he was making grand statements about health and education, when actually even in the first year of his administration, he’s already cut federal spending for pediatric training for doctors, for, you know, research into more efficient energy sources, and reduced program for public hospitals and for public housing. All of the grand things that he threw out about helping the environment and helping health and education, total fabrications, empty promises, considering what he has already done in the first year, and what, undoubtedly, will become even worse as this permanent war goes on.

AMY GOODMAN: Historian Blanche Wiesen Cook, as you listen to Zinn and listen to George Bush last night, and with your background of research into various presidencies — you wrote the biography of Eisenhower, The Declassified Eisenhower, and Eleanor Roosevelt: A Biography, and working on her third — the third volume of that book — what was your response?

BLANCHE WIESEN COOK: Oh, Amy, I just want to say it was wonderful to hear Howard Zinn, who I use his book in all of my courses, just to hear you and Howard in a moment of sanity. And I love Howard’s expression of “sorry spectacle.” It was really a tragic thing to watch this bipartisan — just astonishing, really, to see this bipartisan exuberance for words that were horribly chilling.

And I think there are two — there are two issues here. You know, today is FDR’s 120th birthday. And when you think about a time when there was poverty and homelessness, which there is now — there are 7 to 10 million homeless Americans, and bipartisan silence about the suffering of people — and you think about the '30s, when folks were faced with rising fascism, and there was this effort to make things — really to make things better, not to cut budgets for public education, not to cut budgets for public housing, not — we haven't had one single federal dollar invested in new housing starts since Ronald Reagan. This incredible situation, and then the war front.

I think all of us agree that a group of terrorists have declared war on the United States. We’ve seen it. We know it. You are broadcasting from ground zero. And that’s real. But what is not real is how we are going to deal with it. We are not — you know, no war has ever achieved victory. And Eisenhower once said, “There are no final victories.” The idea that we can deal with terrorism or with terrorists, like the folks who became Taliban, al-Qaeda, by just bombing — what? North Korea? Iraq? Iran? I mean, this speech was so incredible when you think — if you just pause at any one of these places, like Iraq, where over a million children have died because of our embargo, where there’s a health embargo, where there’s a food embargo, where there’s incredible, unbearable suffering, and that’s off the screen. And then you just, anywhere you look — there’s an article in The New Yorker, I believe, about how a Red Cross worker was tortured because the Taliban was illiterate, and they saw in his pocket a cross, and they thought he’d become a convert to Christianity. And you’re looking at illiteracy.

And from our point of view, if you look at causes, if you look at issues, the fact that the Middle East, for example, the Israel-Palestine issue, which is the most emotional issue on the table, was not even mentioned. And then you look at The New York Times. There’s an interview with the prince of Saudi Arabia, who says, “When you uproot trees, when you blast houses, when you kill children by shooting them in the face, you encourage people to become suicide bombers.”

And it’s so obvious that the way to deal with this situation is to begin to consider several things, several major things. We had a Manhattan Project to get a nuclear bomb. We need now a Manhattan Project for alternative energy sources, wind power, solar power. We need a Manhattan Project for literacy, for literacy, so that — for literacy and security, so that poverty will end, so that folks will live full and decent lives, so there will ultimately be more to live for than to die for. And instead of thinking about ways in which we can create a society in which there are more to live for than to die for, we are thinking only of bombing and an escalation of this worldwide madness.

I was really particularly revolted to hear this notion that weapons of mass destruction are around in dozens of countries, when for years many of us in the peace movement were saying, “Why don’t we stop supplying?” The U.S. is the single largest supplier. That’s what the military-industrial complex is all about. We are the single largest supplier of military weapons around the world. What a crazy thing to do.

And, you know, so, you just look at these situations. We could end them. But instead of ending them, we are building them. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have intelligence operations. Of course we should. I’m not saying we shouldn’t protect ourselves. Of course we must. But this is not the way to do it. This is insanity. And I think, you know, what Howard said about creating an atmosphere of hysteria, creating an atmosphere of fear is truly, truly amazing.

And then you factor in what — the other piece of this domestic situation, which is our right to know. There was an executive order to end the Presidential Papers Act, that President Bush announced in November, E.O. 13223, which says, you know, we’re just not going to release papers. And then Attorney General Ashcroft said — he gave a message to all government agencies to end the Freedom of Information Act. And so, the whole question of our right to know is being attacked and eroded. And I just would like to point out — everybody who listens to your program, of course, knows this, but it’s kind of an astonishing fact: Afghanistan was the first major war without any witnesses. You know, the U.S. bought up all of the satellite photos, so that the press just couldn’t see what was going on. I mean —

AMY GOODMAN: Blanche Wiesen Cook, I wanted to bring Adolph Reed into the discussion, a professor of political science at New School University here in New York. His books include W.E.B. Du Bois and American Political Thought and Class Notes: Posing as Politics and Other Thoughts on the American Political Scene. As we talk about the costs of war abroad and look at the costs of war here at home, I was looking at the photograph and last night, the picture of those that surrounded Laura Bush. This is the prime seats in the House, because this is where the camera will go most often. Yes, there was Hamid Karzai, and we’ll talk about that in a minute, and the head of the Women’s Political Affairs Department of Afghanistan behind her. But right there, just a few seats away, was James Hoffa, the head of the Teamsters. You’re in the Labor Party. Labor and class are among your major issues. What is your response to that?

ADOLPH REED JR.: Well, I mean, it’s not surprising, given what the administration has been trying to do with the labor movement since — really, since Bush came in. I mean, one of their objectives, and they were kind of clever about it, was to use energy deregulation, and especially Alaska oil drilling, to sort of break off unions that had been — especially unions from the industrial sector, that had been most prominent in the anti-WTO alliance, the Teamsters. They tried to get the steelworkers and mine workers and others. And they’ve had more success with some unions than with others. I think they’ve been maybe less successful with the steelworkers. And it’s a clever move on the administration’s part. It’s what you would expect, instead of playing to, you know, the constant trade-off that any unionist has between following the sort of Sam Gompers-like imperative to do the best for your members that you can under the not necessarily desirable options that confront you at any moment versus thinking down the road for some larger goal and some larger vision.

I think another expression of this that we’ve seen with some other unions has been that some of these guys have been talking more openly about a strategy of actively improving relationships with Republicans, with Republican officeholders generally, both at the state state level, local level. And that’s maybe coming a little more from public sector unions. I understand that one prominent head of a national union said that this is their version of a Labor Party, to sort of play the Republicans against the Democrats.

It’s — you know, as I say, it’s not surprising. I mean, I think, generally, Bush has done sort of what we expect him to do. And to be really honest about it, I mean, you know, I think that after — I mean, admittedly, my expectations were very, very low. But when I woke up on the morning of September 11th and found out what happened, my first — and then when the second plane hit, and I realized it wasn’t just a drunken pilot or something, my first thought was, “Oh god, I hope they don’t nuke somebody.” Right? So, from that low threshold of expectation, I haven’t been quite as shocked or appalled by the way they’ve operated as I guess maybe I could have been. And also in the early stages of this, the tensions within the administration seemed, in a way, to be slowing things down a little bit and have been working to our advantage, temporary advantage, but, you know, at least to moderate to horror.

But, I mean, I just want to pick up on something that both Blanche Wiesen Cook and Howard Zinn commented on, which is this — you know, I think it’s significant that the thrust, or at least the early thrust, of the speech was around the foreign policy stuff, because that’s been the sort of bread and circuses for us, or that they offer us. It’s a way of stifling dissent. It’s a way of building a false unity. But it also kind of connects with what I think is a sort of — you know, is a role that Bush’s father carved out for the U.S. internationally, which is — I’ve been calling it the Pinkertons of world capitalism, basically, or of the neoliberal system. And in that sense, you know, the human rights thing didn’t quite work for them as a vehicle to use to give a moral patina to playing this role all over the world, because it’s too complicated. The anti-terrorism thing is perfect. It’s perfect. And it looks a little bit like — it makes you feel a little bit like the way the British used the slave trade in the late 19th century as an excuse to spread colonialism, you know, through the African continent, right? Because you’re going to stamp out the slave trade. But it also — and I think, you know, this is why it’s a little more open-ended on the domestic front. I think it’s also a convenient image to have hovering there, right?

I was — you know, this could be a completely wrong reading, but I was almost a little reassured that he included North Korea and Iran along with Iraq as the states that he singled out last night, because that seemed to me to make it somewhat less likely that he was planning to attack anybody in the immediate future. I find it hard to believe they’re going to bomb Iran soon. I find it even harder to believe that they’re going to bomb North Korea soon.

AMY GOODMAN: One friend suggested bringing North Korea into the picture now was a way to assure the Muslim world, just as Colombia has been brought up, that it’s not only about Muslims.

ADOLPH REED JR.: Could be.

AMY GOODMAN: That this man, who was not popularly elected president, who has declared war on the world, means that it’s everyone who’s a target. But we have to break for stations to identify themselves. When we come back, we are going to hear a little more of the speech, get a response from a woman who we’ve talked to often about the women of Afghanistan, as one of the leading women of Afghanistan was sitting in the balcony with Laura Bush. And we are going to hear from Ralph Nader, as well. Adolph Reed is our guest in our firehouse studio. He is professor of political science at New School University, what was New School for Social Research. On the line with us, Blanche Wiesen Cook, historian. We’ll be speaking with Sonali Kolhatkar of Afghan Women’s Mission, again, and Ralph Nader, consumer activist and former presidential candidate. You are listening to Democracy Now!, and you can get a copy of today’s program by calling the Pacific Archives at 1-800-735-0230. That’s 1-800-735-0230. You can go to our website at democracynow.org. That’s democracynow.org. Back in a minute.


AMY GOODMAN: “We Shall Not Be Moved,” Sweet Honey in the Rock, here on Democracy Now!'s War and Peace Report, the Exception to the Rulers. I'm Amy Goodman, as we convene our own shadow congress to respond to President-select Bush’s State of the Union address, his first. It was 50 minutes last night, joint session of Congress, a speech that can be hand-delivered, but the approach now has been to actually deliver that speech. The last time that President Bush stood before Congress, it was just days after the September 11th terror attacks. On that evening, he declared, in no uncertain terms, his so-called war on terror. Now nearly five months later, he’s pledged to push that war still farther, to a dozen countries beyond Afghanistan that he said harbor so-called terrorist camps. He also warned of an “Axis of Evil” nations, like North Korea, Iran and Iraq, and said the United States would not allow them to threaten the world with weapons of mass destruction. To these ends, he asked Congress to increase Pentagon spending by nearly $50 billion. It would be, Bush boasted, the largest increase in military spending in two decades. This is how he began last night’s address.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: We last met in an hour of shock and suffering. In four short months, our nation has comforted the victims; begun to rebuild New York and the Pentagon; rallied a great coalition; captured, arrested and rid the world of thousands of terrorists; destroyed Afghanistan’s terrorist training camps; saved a people from starvation; and freed a country from brutal oppression.

The American flag flies again over our embassy in Kabul. Terrorists who once occupied Afghanistan now occupy cells at Guantánamo Bay. And terrorist leaders who urged followers to sacrifice their lives are running for their own. America and Afghanistan are now allies against terror. We’ll be partners in rebuilding that country. And this evening, we welcomed the distinguished interim leader of a liberated Afghanistan, Chairman Hamid Karzai.

The last time we met in this chamber, the mothers and daughters of Afghanistan were captives in their own homes, forbidden from working or going to school. Today women are free and are part of Afghanistan’s new government. And we welcome the new minister of women’s affairs, Dr. Sima Samar.

AMY GOODMAN: That was President Bush, opening address of the State of the Union last night, joint session of Congress. On the line with us, Sonali Kolhatkar, spokesperson for Afghan Women’s Mission, which works closely with RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan.

So, there you had last night Hamid Karzai, the new head of Afghanistan. Interesting that he should be in the balcony next to Laura Bush, as just before he was announced as the new leader of Afghanistan at the Bonn conference, the U.S. military bombed his headquarters, injured him. And then at his inauguration, right leading up to it, a caravan of tribal leaders that were going to celebrate his inauguration were also bombed by the U.S. forces and killed. Sonali Kolhatkar, what did you make of the fact that sitting with Laura Bush was the new head of the Afghan Women’s Affairs Department?

SONALI KOLHATKAR: Well, it’s interesting that they are — you know, it’s very obvious that Bush is doing what everybody has done with respect to Afghanistan in the past, which is use the issue of Afghan women’s rights to further policies that are hard to swallow, because everybody wanted to see Afghan women be the real winners in this situation, since the oppression of Afghan women has been given such international attention, and feminists all over the world have been absolutely horrified by what had happened in Afghanistan.

By pointing to Sima Samar, however, he’s pointing to one of a handful of women who have been put into the new interim government who were essentially handpicked by the U.S. government. Hamid Karzai himself was picked by the U.S. government, when the delegates in Bonn actually picked somebody else. He didn’t even receive one vote. And reports have come out that — from people such as Medea Benjamin, who visited with Global Exchange last year, that the women who were put into power in the interim government were mostly handpicked due to family connections, and those women who are fighting on the forefront of Afghan women’s rights were totally left out.

And it’s very interesting that Bush uses this as a means to talk about how free women are in Afghanistan now, because if you look at what’s really happening in Afghanistan, more refugees are streaming out than going back in. And the country is starving. I mean, it’s a situation that has gotten worse and not better. And you now hear the residents of Kabul say things like, “We wish the Taliban were back,” because the insecurity is so great. Afghanistan is being ruled by warlords who were fighting so hard in the mid-1990s that when the Taliban came into power, Afghans initially welcomed them with open arms. These are the same men that the country has essentially been handed back to. And if we think that Afghan women are now free, we’re seriously mistaken.

Justice Karimi, who is the person who’s going to be essentially making — you know, creating a law, a set of laws for Afghan cities in Afghanistan, declared openly that, yes, they will still be practicing Sharia law, the Islamic law, except it’ll be less harsh. For example, you know, people can still be — men and women can still be stoned to death for committing adultery; they’ll just use smaller stones than the Taliban used. I mean, this is no improvement on the issue of women’s rights. And Afghan women are not only struggling as much as they were before, it’s almost worse now than it was before the United States bombed the Taliban out of existence and put into power another group of terrorists

AMY GOODMAN: Sonali Kolhatkar is with the Afghan Women’s Mission, on the line with us from California. On the line with us from Washington, D.C., Ralph Nader, who ran for president on the Green Party ticket. His book that’s just out is Crashing the Party: Taking on the Corporate Government in an Age of Surrender, now not competing with Al Gore, but with Noam Chomsky on the best-seller list of The New York Times. Congratulations, Ralph Nader.

RALPH NADER: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Your response to President Bush’s address last night, particularly focusing on issues of — I was going to say Enron, but he didn’t. He talked about corporate responsibility.

RALPH NADER: Well, he, of course, had to distance himself from the Enron scandal. His ties and his administration officials’ ties are so close, and have been for so many years.

But the sentence was very perfunctory relating to corporate accountability. And he contradicts himself repeatedly. For example, he talks about protecting 401(k)s and then urges personal accounts for young people on Social Security. He did not mention at all campaign finance reform, which certainly is at the core of preventing any future Enrons, unlike Dick Gephardt, who did mention campaign finance reform, which is now coming up in the House of Representatives.

And in many ways, he didn’t answer the obvious questions of $48 billion more in military spending on top of $320 billion Pentagon budget, which Donald Rumsfeld himself said is not being spent wisely. What is going to be lost as a result of that in terms of domestic programs? Health and safety and rebuilding our public works. You know, it’s like there’s a free lunch here, as long as it’s in the military budget.

He made no mention of the corporate crime wave in the country. It isn’t just Enron. So, you know, it was a speech that omitted a lot of things that should not have been omitted. And his contradictions started right in his first sentence, when he said the nation — the nation is at war, our economy is in recession, the civilized world faces unprecedented dangers, yet the state of our union has never been stronger. That has to be a logical leap.

AMY GOODMAN: What about what we’re seeing with the police in this country, sort of the corollary of the military abroad? Starting tomorrow, the World Economic Forum is going to be meeting in New York. Three thousand corporate leaders, politicians will be at the Waldorf-Astoria. They’re already sealing off the whole area, said people who wear masks can be arrested. What about this issue of the militarization of civil society?

RALPH NADER: Well, that’s the long-range damage from 9/11 and the Bush administration and the Democrats’ reaction to it. You know, there is no permissible discussion in this country on the question: Is there such a thing as an overreaction to 9/11, vastly exaggerating the terrorist network all over the world? I mean, there’s supposed to be tens of thousands of them, specially trained, according to Bush. There hasn’t been a single strike by them anywhere in the world since September 11th. Maybe they’re a lot weaker.

But, of course, it’s necessary to exaggerate foreign perils, as General Douglas MacArthur pointed out in 1957, in order to justify gigantic budgets, in order to be able to fill the coffers of the commercial militarists, like Lockheed Martin and Boeing and Raytheon, in order to meet the demands of the autocratic ideologues restricting our civil liberties and constitutional freedoms, like John Ashcroft, and in order to meet the avaricious and unpatriotic demands of corporations here in Congress, demanding subsidies, bailouts, giveaways, limited liability, tax loopholes, allegedly blaming their problems on 9/11.

So, the enormous and consequential and building damage to our political economy and our constitutional freedoms that come from 9/11 has not been sufficiently or even partially discussed in this country. And, of course, that is not what the terrorists did to us. That is what our government and the corporate power brokers are doing to America. And he never, of course, went into that at all. There is no limit to the amount of time and amount of priority and amount of money that’s addressed to what he calls the international terrorist threat. But he didn’t spend a word saying what he’s going to do about 5,000 preventable American deaths every week — every week — from medical malpractice, auto crashes, air pollution and occupational toxic and trauma hazards. Five thousand every week, didn’t get a single note, didn’t get a single sentence. And that’s why we’re dealing with a one-track government with a one-track president, who knows, like other rulers in other lands throughout history, if you exaggerate a foreign threat wildly, you maintain your power in your own country and widespread poll support.

And it’s time to open up a broad public debate here in terms of proportionality and to ask why certain tens of thousands of American lives can be lost every few weeks in this country from preventable conditions, are completely ignored, while the focus is on the international guerrilla terrorists, by the way, which have not exactly been deterred by what Bush has been doing. He’s burned down a haystack in Afghanistan, further devastating hundreds of thousands of innocent people in that country, in order to find a few needles — and he hasn’t found the needles yet.

So, even military strategists are capable of saying, “Did you take the right military option in the way you pursued the backers of the attackers? Or was there a better way?” And that’s the Center for Defense Information. And a lot of retired admirals and generals, who were never heard from, who fought in real wars, who were never heard from in the post-September 11th debate, on what essentially was state-controlled television, so conforming were the opinions.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, on the issue of Enron, do you think it could bring this administration down, when you look at how close Ken Lay was allied with President Bush, campaign adviser, financier, yet they have managed to distance themselves very well from this?

RALPH NADER: But the media is doing a very good job here. And, you know, they’re all competing with one another with page one stories on the Enron tentacles. And if there are closer connections, if there are favors — and certainly there was 10 years of favors under both Democrats and Republicans for Enron in terms of regulatory abdication and legislation on their energy futures trading — if there are contacts, they’re going to be documented. It’s not up to Bush to control this. It’s really out of his control.

I noticed that Bush talked about, you know, 4,000 hours of civic service, and then he offered government options, you know, the government Freedom Corps and AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps. Just fine, but he could have also said that the private civil society has a great deal to offer, too, like our new group CitizenWorks.org, which would be very happy to hear and receive the time of citizens all over the country who want to engage in fundamental reform for a stronger democracy.

AMY GOODMAN: Adolph Reed is with us in the studio. These protests that are planned for this weekend, how would you tie them into the State of the Union address, as we wrap up today?

ADOLPH REED JR.: Well, I mean, I think they, you know, obviously connect with the State of the Union. They’re an expression of a lot of the problems, or they bubble up from a lot of the problems that Bush skirted talking about in the State of the Union.

I mean, the key thing I want to point out about this, though, is, I mean, I guess they connect principally as a reminder that we’ve got to do stuff. I mean, you know, I think Democracy Now!'s audience, it's safe to assume, wasn’t mouse-trapped by Bush’s speech last night. We pretty much got what we expected. And I think one of the things that progressives in this country have fallen into is sort of fighting back on our heels. So, every four years, we look for an answer. When we find it, we’re confronted with unacceptable options. And all the time in between, we sort of do the same stuff, make important acts of bearing witness, whatever.

But I think, by and large, our movement has gotten away from trying to connect with people who don’t already agree with us and from trying to build broad bases. Right? Frankly, I mean, this may be a kind of unpopular thing to say, but while it’s obviously important to have demonstrations of protest to express moral outrage, I think the demonstrations are not terribly useful anymore as an organizing tactic, because they don’t really connect us. Because of the corporate dominance of the media, they don’t really connect us with that big public that we need to win.

AMY GOODMAN: We have 10 seconds. Ralph Nader, would you agree?

RALPH NADER: I wasn’t able to hear that.

AMY GOODMAN: His comment was simply that the protests may not be the most effective way to build a movement right now.

RALPH NADER: Well, peaceful protest, at the point of concentration where these people are meeting, is the most effective media way, because there’s no other way. Press conferences, reports don’t get media. But the message is conveyed by these peaceful demonstrations.

I just want to add one quick thing, Amy. The one thing Bush ignored, stood out very prominently, is domestic terrorism. That is the anthrax situation. And that, of course, has generated huge fear and anxiety. And it’s overwhelmingly believed in intelligence circles that is domestic.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, on that —

RALPH NADER: Why he didn’t focus on that at all is an interesting question to me.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to have to leave it at that. Thank you for being with us, Adolph Reed and Ralph Nader. Democracy Now! produced by Miranda Kennedy and Lizzy Ratner. Anthony Sloan, our music maestro and engineer. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks for listening to another edition of Democracy Now! Tomorrow we will be talking about the World Economic Forum.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

Up Next

One Month After Bush Accuses North Korea of Being Part of An “Axis of Evil,” Protests Erupt in South Korea Over His Visit

Non-commercial news needs your support

We rely on contributions from our viewers and listeners to do our work.
Please do your part today.
Make a donation