Editor's Note: In this guest essay -- originally
published at The Huffington Post -- political analyst Brent Budowsky
examines the prospects for profound political change in this election
To Actors, Bloggers, Financial Angels, Writers Activists, Patriots
and Venture Capitalists
Ignore the spinmeisters of the consultariat class of the Democratic
Party. That Francine Busby did not make a Paul Hackett-like stand in the
district of a corrupt Republican was a kick in the butt to Democratic
strategy, and a red-alert call to arms for all who oppose one-party rule
The source of the American crisis, the cause of our discontents, the
opportunity for change and the dangers of failure all follow from one
simple truth: George W. Bush is a war president and the war he wages is
what Pat Buchanan declared in 1992: a culture war pitting American
against American, a partisan war that treats American neighbors as
domestic enemies, and a political war that uses every weapon of money,
slander, abuse of the system and personal destruction in a single-minded
quest for total power.
I have written
that America stands on the brink of an epic and historic election that
will be remembered for generations. I believe the Democrats will win
control of the House and make a run for the Senate with the possibility
of a landslide. However, the hard lesson of the Duke Cunningham seat is
that even with such enormous disapproval of the President and the status
quo, a well-funded, aggressively fighting, and totally committed
Republican machine can prevail even in the district that is a hallmark
of Republican corruption in Congress.
Considering the stakes, it is outrageous that Republicans outspent
Democrats two to one, again; that Republicans dominated the machinery of
elections such as absentee voting, again; that Democrats failed to issue
a convincing rally cry to voters, again; and that Democrats were not
only victimized but were complicit, again, in a last-minute smear.
Does anyone seriously believe that Francine Busby was calling on
illegal immigrants to vote illegally? Apologize? Sure, the people who
should apologize are those who tried to intimidate blacks into not
voting in Ohio through deliberately planned long lines, not those who
try to inspire young Hispanics to be active in politics. With enough
spinmeisters to fill Yankee Stadium, the best the Democratic Party could
do was have an under-funded candidate issuing closing-day apologies for
urging people to participate?
We are the majority, and we should start acting like it. We are on
the side of truth, and we should shout it from the rooftops. We are
believers in the passionate patriotism of true freedom and democracy and
it is high time we fight for it, fully understanding the power and money
behind those who debase our institutions and demean our neighbors.
George Bush's aggressive war against fellow Americans has divided our
country more than at any time since the Civil War, launching one
preemptive attack after another, against other Americans, building to a
2006 election that will be as bloody and decisive as the Battle of
Make no mistake, if George Bush can translate 31 percent support into
another victory of one-party rule in America he will be emboldened to
even more radical assertions claiming unilateral and inherent power to
violate laws he disapproves of, and to violate the Constitution and Bill
of Rights when they stand in his way.
He will feel even more emboldened to wage foreign war at will and
ignore the Congress and courts when it suits him. He will be even more
aggressive in seeking to pack the courts for a generation with judges
who will legalize whatever he does in the tradition of King Louis XIV
and Richard Nixon: if the President does it, that makes it legal.
In the world of George Bush and his partisans, even if a Democratic
Congress acted with generosity seeking national unity, which I hope and
believe they would, there is a deep and dark nightmare in the Republican
soul about the secrets that would almost certainly emerge, and the
devastating consequences that would almost certainly follow for those
who committed such deeds.
So, here we stand, with the electoral Battle of Gettysburg
approaching, with two competing visions of America, with much blood
destined to cover the grounds, with great and titanic stakes that will
define the fate of our generation.
So, to the actors, bloggers, venture capitalists, angels, activists,
and patriots from the studios of Hollywood to the military families of
middle America to the visionaries of the Internet who are the Lexington
and Concord colonists of our times, I propose:
It is time for a new alliance, new spirit, new engagement and
political and entrepreneurial drive that can mobilize and monetize the
50 percent of America that is totally appalled by the state of events,
the 80 percent of independents who deeply want a better way, and friends
of democracy everywhere.
It is time to make a stand and mobilize and empower, politically and
financially, the many ten of millions of Americans who are deeply
committed to change and highly organized around blogs, Internet sites,
networks and groups. In fact, George Bush's domestic wars have created
the largest and most powerful movement in waiting that has ever been
assembled in the history of the Republic.
Looking at our politics and media, how many of us have thought, like
John Adams in the play 1776: "Is anybody there? Does anybody
care? Does anybody see what I see? What in hell are they waiting for!"
Consider the numbers: George Bush assumed office after the 2000
election with a 48 percent party and a divided nation, and from that
moment on, he has waged his civil war, and as he did, his support has
fallen to 42 percent, then 38 percent, then 32 percent. As the
concentric circles of his support shrank, the concentric circles of
opposition rose, from 48 percent to 55 percent, then to nearly 70
percent with the one-party Congress support falling to the historically
unprecedented and humiliating 20 percent.
As Bush and his partisans wage their endless preemptive wars against
other Americans, the potential of our power only rises, if only we would
Just in recent hours, our war president escalated his attack against
patriotic and law-abiding Hispanics who sing our anthem in Spanish, then
our commander in chief launched his armies against gays. Not to be
outdone, his partisan air commander, Bill O'Reilly, implied the Marine
heroes who took Iwo Jima committed war crimes, to downplay Abu Ghraib
and Haditha, while his special forces agent, Ann Coulter, charged that
the widows of 9/11 seem to be enjoying the death of their loved ones.
Every new slander broadens our reach and intensifies our commitment.
In fact, the greatest under-reported story in recent history, the
greatest potential for patriotic change in decades, and one of the
greatest untapped business opportunities since the cave men first traded
coconuts, is this: From every direction outside the inner elites, the
masses for patriotism change are congregating, new institutions of media
and politics are being born outside the comatose insider establishment.
The Gettysburg Battle of 2006, which we did not declare but intend to
win, will be the transforming catalyst for the next era of American
politics, media and entertainment.
Politically our aspiration is not only to prevent the democratic
Armageddon of a one-party state, but to set the stage for the historical
reaction that inevitably follows such times, a new era of patriotic
reform reminiscent of Theodore Roosevelt, FDR and JFK and to create new
waves of community, media and entertainment that will challenge and
supplant the comatose status quo.
I'm new here, and this is self-serving but true, but on any given day
there is more diversity, truth, insight, excitement, and even
entertainment on HuffingtonPost than on Fox and the Fox-Lites put
together. To sites such as Consortiumnews, Alternet, smirking chimp, and
others there is mass migration of eyeballs seeking deeper and truer
commentary and news than one ever finds from the cable talkers or the
editorial page of the Washington Post.
The mobilizers, motivators and aggregators -- dailykos, democracynow,
firedoglake and countless others -- have far greater eyeball share, and
far more engaged participants, than Fox, CNN and MSNBC combined and are
a force for change of immense potential political power, and enormous
potential monetizing power, with their numbers and commitment, to expand
their mission and capability any way they choose.
In their fusion of principle, media and mission, these are the Tom
Paines and Ben Franklins of our times, the pamphleteers and believers
and activists who led to the Lexington and Concords. They are the Ed
Murrows of the earlier days of television who created the fusion of
media and ideas that advanced America from the red baiting of Joe
McCarthy, to the slow-moving change of Eisenhower, to the explosion of
inspiration, art and social change of JFK and the New Frontier.
After leaving politics around 1990, I became involved in the
public-affairs side of the entertainment business, including major
business with the agency representing Frank Sinatra among others. Today
there are many important parallels with the early stages of the
Hollywood-Washington activism of the JFK-Sinatra years.
Many actors, including George Clooney, are beginning to look like
Sinatra circa 1959, when he stood up for Sammy, supported civil rights,
and at the peak of his artistic powers, rallied artists to the cause of
JFK. I believe we have entered a new era of activism and engagement in
the entertainment industry with artists standing for good causes,
studios green-lighting motion pictures about big themes and issues, and
songwriters performing stories and creating new anthems for our times.
From Brokeback Mountain to Clooney's film about Murrow to Al
Gore's documentary about global warming, the revival of activism by
talent is paralleled by important product touching great issues. When
Fox or MSNBC claims Hollywood Hates America, they are only attacking
what they fear. In my experience Hollywood Loves America, artists from
left to right believe deeply in the freedom of art, and thought, and the
obligations of citizenship and it is no coincidence that artists from
more liberal Kris Kristoffersen to more conservative Mel Gibson have
much to say for the spirit of hope over the politics of fear.
The next great wave in politics, media and entertainment will be the
realization that the crisis and abuses of recent years have created an
enormous, highly motivated, increasingly organized mass of new media,
activists, eyeballs that will realize their own power, attract financial
angels and venture capitalists to expand their power to propagate ideas
and promote change.
The sheer numbers, quality and commitment that these groups and sites
attract create not only the power to mobilize votes and promote ideas,
but to monetize these masses and frontally challenge through Internet
television, the power to promote music and motion pictures, the
capability to revive publishing and support authors, the opportunity to
expand the reach of Air America and gain the rightful place of the
majority in cable and satellite television, and satellite and digital
There is enormous potential power for a new wave of documentary film
addressed to this mass market of believers, major power for any form of
pay-per-view entertainment cross-marketed to these huge principled
audiences, incredible win-win potential for any project that combines
the Hollywood publicity machine with the new American idealism machinery
These many tens of millions of highly engaged hearts, minds and
eyeballs have the power, if they choose to exercise it, to create
affinity ecommerce sales machines, box-office drivers for major motion
pictures, music and books that appeal to their sensibilities with
potential for win-win revenue sharing.
These mega-blocks of principled patriots have the power to win the
battle of ideas, spread alternative policies from advocates of change,
attract corporate advertisers with greater numbers than right-wing
propagandists, collaborate with each other to increase shared power and
revenue, create new media and invade old media, and get out the vote and
mobilize workers in unprecedented numbers.
The dark side of our crisis is the preemptive civil war initiated by
Bush. The red-alert warning is the defeat in the California
congressional election that proves that ideas, organization, commitment
and the will to fight and win must all come together.
The great hope, and the great moment, come from the under-recognized
truth that we are the majority, we are the future, we are the heirs to
the printing presses that published Franklin and Paine, who now carry
the banner of the Murrows and Sinatras who paved the path to their New
Frontier, as we will establish ours, when we realize our power, and use
it for good.
Brent Budowsky was an aide to U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen on intelligence
issues, and served as Legislative Director to Rep. Bill Alexander when
he was Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Leadership. Budowsky
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org..