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News :: Gender : Human Rights : International : Politics : Social Welfare
Bostonians Protest the Inauguration of President Bush
21 Jan 2005
On Thursday, January 20, the day President Bush was inaugurated for his second term and thousands marched in opposition in Washington DC, about thirty hardy souls braved the bitter cold to stand from 5:30 to 6:30 in Copley Square, protesting here in Boston. Although the protest was organized by United for Justice with Peace (UJP), the main local anti-war coalition, the signs people bore showed that they had a variety of concerns--not just ending the occupation of Iraq, but also domestic issues such as the attacks on civil liberties and reproductive rights and the destruction of the welfare system. Organizers with UJP that I spoke with expressed not only their opposition to the Bush administration’s policies, but their fears that the Bush administration is making a concerted, purposeful assault on what’s left of democracy in this country.
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Bostonians Protest the Inauguration of President Bush
by Matthew Williams

On Thursday, January 20, the day President Bush was inaugurated for his second term and thousands marched in opposition in Washington DC, about thirty hardy souls braved the bitter cold to stand from 5:30 to 6:30 in Copley Square, protesting here in Boston. Although the protest was organized by United for Justice with Peace (UJP), the main local anti-war coalition, the signs people bore showed that they had a variety of concerns--not just ending the occupation of Iraq, but also domestic issues such as the attacks on civil liberties and reproductive rights and the destruction of the welfare system. Organizers with UJP that I spoke with expressed not only their opposition to the Bush administration’s policies, but their fears that the Bush administration is making a concerted, purposeful assault on what’s left of democracy in this country.

Reactions to the protest by passers-by were generally positive. Many cars honked in support. One man with cousins in the military stationed in Iraq stopped to tell a protester that he had been feeling extremely depressed about the whole situation, and seeing us had warmed his heart.

Amy Hendrickson expressed her doubts that Bush even properly won the election, a suspicion that still lingers in the minds of many progressives: “We’ll never know if he actually won the election, because there was no paper trail and the exit polls didn’t match the results.” The electronic voting machines used in many districts, including in swing states such as Ohio, not only malfunctioned frequently, but were also highly vulnerable to hacking and were produced by companies that are strong supporters of the Bush administration. Since no hard copies of people’s votes were printed out, there is no way to know whether the voting machines were hacked or not. Meanwhile, many experts on polling have argued that there is simply no way the exit polls could have been so flawed they could have produced results that were so far from the official results. This is in addition to widespread reports of attempts to disenfranchise African-American communities through intimidation and lack of funding for the proper equipment in polling stations. While there may be no solid proof of fraud, it all remains rather fishy.

John Anderson said of the inauguration, “Here’s this man who’s threatening world peace, lead us into a war based on lies, who should be on trial in the Hague [site of the World Court]--and he’s being honored in Washington DC. I find this obscene. In addition to his foreign policy, he’s trying to make abortion illegal and destroy social security, something the far right has wanted to do since the days of Franklin Delano Roosevelt [when the social security program was first created].”

Anderson’s companion, Duncan McFarland, added, “Bush taxes the poor and gives to the rich. He’s redistributing the wealth of the country upward.” Neoconservative strategists have at time publicly admitted that they have a deliberate strategy of destroying the welfare system by running up massive deficits, forcing the government to cut social programs. Although this ploy was pioneered under the Reagan administration, the current Bush administration has taken it to new levels, running up higher deficits through military spending than Reagan ever dreamed of.

According to Anderson and McFarland, there is something far more sinister afoot than a foreign policy of aggressive imperialism and the implementation of highly reactionary domestic agenda--many of the Bush administration’s policies may be leading us down the road to a dictatorship. They talked about the general erosion of civil liberties through the PATRIOT Act and the attacks on immigrants, with McFarland saying, “Thousands of immigrants are being detained indefinitely without charges. It’s a police state already in the immigrant community. We’re like Germany in the 1930s [the time of Hitler’s rise to power].” Anderson added, “People seem just as willing to go along this time.” McFranland also pointed to the power struggles inside the White House, with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld--one of Bush’s closest advisers and a hardcore neoconservative--trying to consolidate power in the Defense Department, to the point that it has produced protests against administration policy from the FBI and CIA as their powers are stripped away.

Though these UJP activists paint a grim picture, they did not think all was lost. Anderson noted, “Bush has the lowest approval rating of any president in recent history. People disagree with almost all of his policies, even the people who voted for him. They voted for him out of fear. Bush has represented himself as the Godfather who will protect us from the terrorists, and people have bought it.” Exit polls show that by far the most common reason people voted for Bush was concerns about security, far ahead of issues like opposition to reproductive or gay rights.

Hendrickson believes this support for Bush will change: “I think the progressive movement will grow. Bush will have to reinstate the draft and that will bring people out and get them involved.” Still, she did not think things would be easy: “The long-range prognosis is serious. We’ve got to struggle to regain our democracy. The fact is oil is running out and there will be a major global economic crash when it does. Climate change is already happening. We face difficult times ahead.”

****

For more about all these issues, see ZNet, http://www.zmag.org/weluser.htm .

To get involved with United for Justice with Peace, visit their website at http://www.justicewithpeace.org/ , call them at 617-491-4857, or e-mail them at ujpcoalition (at) yahoo.com.

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