This is the text of a speech given by Tom Hayden in Los Angeles on March 15.
Repeat after me: This is what democracy looks like!
Repeat after me: This is what history feels like!
A movement the think tanks thought unthinkable.
A movement that corporations cannot brand.
That the entertainers cannot distract.
And the politicians cannot avoid.
Empire versus democracy is the choice. What’s left of the empire meets tomorrow in the isolated Azores while democracy meets in the streets. Think of it–the pretenders to empire cannot meet on the European continent. Only an island protects them from the humiliating opposition of millions of citizens of Europe.
George Bush is more isolated than we realize. Six recent surveys show that support for his re-election is below 50 percent, and this month for the first time a national poll shows him trailing a Democratic alternative by 48-44 percent. In case you don’t know that, it appeared on page 29 of the LA Times just one week ago.
The nature of the state itself is at stake as these three unpopular leaders make their plans: Is the state really democratic, accountable to the people who elect its politicians, or has it been hijacked by permanent special interests and turned into a facade that really belongs to the corporate and military masters of globalization? Not textbook theories, but our actions in the days ahead, will answer that question.
The Bush Administration has provoked this global reaction by its belligerent bullying of the UN Security Council, as if its members could be pushed around like Florida election officials or intimidated like the Dixie Chicks.
And now, by its overreach, it risks its fall.
But long before this day, the movement was already stirring in the cracks and crevices of the world.
A movement that was expressing the dignity of No and the joy of Yes.
No to fundamentalism and yes to human rights.
No to slavery and sweatshops, yes to the living wage.
No to war and yes to the Mideast peace process.
No to pollution and yes to renewable energy.
No to WTO, IMF, World Bank and Halliburton, and yes to another world is possible.
No to Code Yellow, yes to Code Pink.
We’re gathering again today to say, “Mr. Bush, what is it about NO you don’t understand???
“Mr. Bush, is this what you mean by a faith-based initiative?
“Mr. Bush, if you don’t listen to our no, if you keep bashing the Europeans, if you keep joking about French fries, your white bread is gonna be French toast.”
We will know soon enough if democracy is powerful enough to stop this war. While we hope for peace we must now prepare for war.
We must be prepared for a long confrontation. As yesterday’s statement by Mr. Bush reveals, this conflict is not only about Iraq, it is about the whole Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The occupation of Iraq will mean prolonged conflict, casualties, tens of thousands of troops and will cost in the billions.