As the W. Bush regime comes to an end it seems appropriate to pay tribute to the countless individuals and groups who have spent the last nearly 8 years exposing the atrocities of this government that shamelessly hijacked the electoral system of the United States in its mission to pilfer, divide, and conquer the world. Here is my list of:
The Top Ten Heroes of the George W. Bush Era
10. Valerie Plame, Joseph Wilson
...and all the Whistleblowers
The Plame case was the first high profile example of a participant in the Bush administration taking a stand and exposing their superiors as criminals. What followed were the Teresa Chambers, Jack Spadaros, and Scott McClellans of the W. Bush administration, not to mention the former and current generals and Pentagon staff who somehow found the courage to speak up and admit the truth about their boss and his pals. Even as millions of individual Americans and world citizens provided well supported accusations against these individuals of the W. Bush administration, it took the admissions of these insiders to make it clear to the American public that there was something very wrong in their government.
9. Naomi Klein
...and the other authors who exposed the hideous truths of the W. regime and its allies with well-researched facts and information
Klein is the undisputed leader of the general readership sociopolitical dissertation. Starting with No Logo and moving toward the latest Shock Doctrine she has led a movement of well-researched, focused, and easy-to-read political theses that address the core problems of our contemporary sociopolitical systems. In the last 8 years, countless best-selling books have been written about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, political oppression in the United States, the curtailing of civil and human rights in the United States and the world, and the true histories of members of George W. Bush's administration and alliance leaders worldwide. An exceptionally high number of members of the public made these books bestsellers and were better off for having read them.
8. The grass roots progressive political movement in the US and worldwide
Starting with the 2003 American and international protests against the upcoming pre-emptive strike against Iraq, political demonstrations were revived during the W. Bush era because the public worldwide had no choice but to stand up and march for democratic values, human rights and basic decencies. The millions of marchers then and since revived the protest culture of the 1960s and welcomed a whole new generation of Americans to the idea that it is patriotic to speak up and march to save your country from itself.
7. Cindy Sheehan
...and other veteran families who stood up and made their opposition heard
This woman - much maligned by the mainstream American press - is a leader and a hero. An everyday mom whose fury at the loss of her soldier son in the Iraq War and the subsequent disregard for his service and his family's rights, Sheehan did what few have the energy and strength to do: she fought back. Her Crawford protests outside W. Bush's vacation ranch gained deserved international notice and exposed George W. Bush as such a careless and insensitive commander-in-chief that he couldn't make time to meet with those so hurt by his war. Her demand for dignity for the veterans and their families did not stop there - she fought on and even when it looked like she had given up, she took it upon herself to draw national attention to the democratic leadership in Washington that kept promising change and an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but never delivered. While she lost her bid to replace Nancy Pelosi in Congress, she drew massive attention to the power of the individual.
6. The Iraqi and Afghani People
They are silent heroes - those who have suffered the pre-emptive war and current occupation of Iraq and those who have suffered both at the hand of the Taliban and the US-backed government in Kabul. Both are people who have seen little but war in the last 30-odd years. Both have suffered inexplicable and mostly unknown atrocities. Both continue to survive despite all indications otherwise.
5. Democracy Now!
...and the massive independent media movement, including Bill Moyers and the extremely few mainstream journalists who used their anger to better inform the American public
Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez's Democracy Now! media organization has turned a grass roots media effort into an independent media revolution, proving that the public will follow independent news when given the opportunity to do so. Their alternative view of the daily news provided and continues to provide Americans a contrast to the corporate mainstream media that has rarely demonstrated independence and has overlooked the importance of in-depth news coverage and expert analysis that is not tied to special interests either in Washington or the corporate world. It seems likely that Democracy Now! played no small part in opening the door to the bravery of some mainstream journalists like Bill Moyers who didn't shy from their anger against the W. administration and its policies. Moyers's exposes on government corruption, veteran mistreatment, and the crimes of war gave Americans an important view into the realities of their government and its policies at home and abroad.
4. Winter Soldier
...and Veterans Against the War
It's one thing for members of the public to decry the illegal basis for the Iraq war and the failures of the Afghanistan war - it is quite another thing to hear these things directly from the horse's mouth. Winter Soldier and the various other anti-war veteran organizations that have gained membership and attention during the W. Bush era have given weighty credence to the realities of these wars and the manifest culture of violence, aggression and anti-human behavior that they have bred in members of the military. Many of these soldiers have shouldered great losses as a result of their fearless admissions about the graphic and brutal reality of these two wars. But all of them have boldly proclaimed their pride in finally unburdening themselves of the guilt of knowing truths but not admitting them.
3. Michael Moore
Bush-backers tried to make him out as a treasonous instigator over the last 8 years, but he is arguably the greatest American hero of our generation because he achieved the one thing that no one else had: he politicized the American public. His movies, his books, his website, his personal fearlessness and great effort to not only inform the public of the politics that affect their everyday lives but to actively encourage them to participate in politics cannot be overstated. Before Michael Moore, if you travelled the world and discussed politics with people from other nations you found them to be informed and engaged on a level that most Americans simply were not. Since Michael Moore this political knowledge gap has vastly decreased in Americans. It's noticeable and it's good. Moore, in his immense capacity to use the media as a political tool also started the imperial movement of sociopolitical documentaries that are now a staple of film viewing and dvd rentals in the United States and the world. Many people may hate him, but most people have benefitted from his efforts.
2. The Internet
...and all the YouTubers and bloggers who tirelessly and voluntarily contributed to more informed coverage of the W. regime's atrocities in the US and worldwide
It is the most powerful tool for informing, engaging and including the public in the sociopolitical discourse of its life. People are no longer passive observers of the events that govern their lives, they are active participants in assessing these events, informing each other of these events, and interacting with each other to analyze and improve the world. The Internet has enormously ameliorated the process of human communication and information exchange. As an added bonus, the Internet has meant that corporate news and government lies are not an endpoint but a starting point for learning about the facts of our world. The anonymous bloggers and YouTubers who spend countless hours voicing their knowledge and views have brought a new level of democratic practice to news dissemination.
1. Every American who voted for Barack Obama
Republicans, Democrats, minorities, "rednecks", and Bush brownnosers of all ilks landslided Obama into the presidency, not with a request but a demand for change. Enough said.