The Reverse Shock Doctrine

By David Swanson

I wonder what would happen if the people and their representatives were to shock the powerful and their funders for a change? What if on November 16th, the Iraq Moratorium day, everybody together took major actions? What if everyone with a job took the day off work? What if everyone wore orange? What if everyone with a tax bill wrote to the IRS to say not to expect another dollar of that portion of taxes that goes to war? What if everyone who gives money to Democrats wrote to them to say not one more dime before impeachment? What if everyone left their homes in the morning and went straight to the nearest district office of their congress member, sat down, and picnicked on the floor, refusing to leave without two written commitments: 1. to vote no on any more money to occupy Iraq, and 2. to cosponsor articles of impeachment against Cheney and Bush? What if everyone brought cell phones and media lists and spent all day phoning the media from their congress member’s office?

If everyone did these things, the congress members would be shocked, the police would be shocked, the media would be shocked, and the White House would be in a state of total panic. The risk to the millions taking action would be minimized by the numbers involved, and the agenda in Congress would be a blank slate for the public to write its will upon. Illegal reactions from the White House would aggravate the crisis, to the disadvantage of those in power.

If the people shocked the country, we would shock the political parties and the activist groups as well. We could divert the $100 million election funds now being pulled together to waste on Senator Clinton’s electoral defeat into creating networks and media outlets that report the news without influence from corporate owners or advertisers. We could create funds to support members of the military who refuse illegal orders, members of the government who report illegal activities, and members of the military-industrial-media complex who quit their jobs. We could shift the political conversation in ways that impact every candidate, and we could legislate publicly funded clean elections with free and fair use of our airwaves. We could inspire lawyers to file civil and criminal cases against Bush and Cheney, as many of them as possible, case after case after case. We could inspire activist groups that claim to stand for justice to stand with us behind the Constitution and insist on impeachment.

On Monday, November 19th, Congress could hit Bush and Cheney hard with announcements from Pelosi and Reid that there would be no more funding for the occupation of Iraq, and that every troop, contractor, and mercenary must be brought home by New Year’s. While the White House was swallowing that awesome announcement, Congressman John Conyers could hit it with this shocking one: Impeachment hearings begin in the full House Judiciary Committee today, beginning with the obvious charges for which investigations are not needed or possible, and proceeding to the more complex investigations, passing each Article of Impeachment in turn on to the full House of Representatives. Before lunch, Bush, Cheney, and Rice would be impeached for refusing to comply with subpoenas, and the trial in the Senate would be scheduled. Before Thanksgiving, we’d have impeachments for FISA violations, signing statements, a CIA agent outing, misleading Congress, misappropriating funds, torture, war of aggression, threat of war of aggression, detentions without charge or legal process, war profiteering, and election fraud. Hearings would be scheduled in an extended session of Congress to begin impeachment hearings on 9-11, Katrina, global warming, whistleblower protection, the production of phony news reports, the politicization of the Justice Department, and the long list of war crimes in Iraq.

Now the public’s role would shift from blanket opposition to include support for those Representatives now acting on behalf of the public. It would become very clear to every congress member and senator exactly where they could stand if they wanted to turn intense opposition into adulation. Bush’s and Cheney’s days would be numbered. Congress would take back its Constitutional power and refuse to confirm replacements for Cheney (or Bush) who did not commit to faithfully executing the laws of the land. The November 2008 election would look very different from how it looks today. But waiting for that election to change the nation’s course would miss the opportunity provided by the reverse shock of a democratic un-disaster. The next 12 months, even while Bush was still in office but now on the defensive, would be the time to push through legislation backed by the public that would be very hard to take away from us again. Social Security seems unimaginable today, but we have it and they have failed in every attempt to eliminate it. We need to be thinking on the scale of Social Security.

Before the dust settles, here’s what we’ll legislate: publicly funded elections with free air time and hand-counted paper ballots overseen in total transparency by non-partisan officials, the elimination of NAFTA, the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank, and all their children, the creation of single-payer health coverage, a green-energy jobs program, the right to card-check union organizing, fully funded pre-school and college, fair taxation of corporations and multi-millionaires, repeal of the PATRIOT Act and the Protect America Act, drastically tighter limits on monopolistic media ownership, and the elimination of large sections of the military and intelligence budgets, including a ban on all privatized military operations, and shifting a portion of the eliminated funding to diplomacy and foreign aid. Just watch them try to rebuild their plutocracy. It can’t be done.

Neither can we accomplish our goals slowly. It’s too difficult, and we don’t have the time to spare. Now is the moment for reverse shock.

An activist in Florida, the scene of Bush’s first presidential crime, recently proposed to me that citizens counter Bush with their own signing statements. His is posted here:

You can write your own and post it there as well. Write down what you intend to do and not do, and then get out there and do it, starting Friday, November 16th. And send this (and print it and hand it) to everyone you know, and ask them to do the same.

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