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Bush’s Emboldening of the 1% Inspired the Netroots & OWS Alike

Image of George W Bush

Our mainstream media has been atwitter recently with analysis of the ‘Bush Legacy’ now that his presidential library has opened.

I have many thoughts on how history should judge the first president to so shamelessly steal an election, and fired up my webcam to vent:

It is impossible to ascertain how different the world would be without the transgressions of the Bush administration.

The combination of entirely unnecessary tax cuts for the rich paired with flagrant lies and brutal torture to justify a purely for profit war in Iraq irrevocably changed our culture.

George W. Bush emboldened a new class of elites in America to become what we now call the 1%. W helped organize these aristocrats into a mafia-like cabal that is still becoming increasingly capable of using their hoards of cash to subvert our democracy.

I first became politically aware in the wake of the Bush administration fiascos. And I am far from alone.

Rather, a generation of us were thrust into politics after experiencing the stark contrast between what America is and what it should be in as bleak of terms as we ever could.

This extended contrast embedded itself in the very fabric of our being and created a counter-culture desperate to beat it back, innovating new tools and practices in the process.

Hence, as Digby depicted in her seminal speech accepting the 2007 Paul Wellstone Citizen Leadership Award on behalf of the progressive blogosphere, the netroots has a common goal: “We want to begin a new era of progressive politics and take back America.”

But ‘taking America back’ from Bush and his party turned out to be insufficient. The damage was already done.

The quid pro quo’s and overt corruption allowing the 1% -- or, more accurately, the 0.01% – to use their billions to buy our democracy was already deemed to be acceptable by the dominating interests who are in ever-more control of our mass media based culture.

These democracy-defying misdeeds are now celebrated in ‘polite company’ in place of any semblance of noblesse oblige, merely provided they are done with ‘savviness’. Naturally, it was ‘Bush’s Brain’ Karl Rove who most mastered this Church of the Savvy, which has proven to be a replicable model to manipulate our press and political figures as if they were cheaply-purchased silly putty.

It was within this environment that Occupy was born, upping the ante on the media-activist model the netroots utilize to pierce the mainstream media bubble by adding creative, soulful, and fearless on the ground action to the mix.

Moreover, a recently released CUNY study on the demographics of Occupy Wall Street found that we "gave birth to a new generation of activists with a political vision and collective identity that will continue to orient many of them for the rest of their lives."

I closed my webcam monologue building on that point:

This shared political vision and collective identity online and in the streets would not be possible without George W. Bush. And broadly, both the netroots and Occupy Wall Street were an outgrowth of our out and out rejection of the culture he engendered that has lived on past his presidency.

Fortunately, the creation of this new class of political activist is the true Bush Legacy, and our history will judge Bush that much more harshly while we rise up to counter this festering culture of the 1%.

This new class of political activist has already enabled us to alter the reflexive respect for the rich that was oh-so-savvily solidified under Bush, staining our culture since.

We still have a dauntingly far way to go to take America back undoubtedly. But if we can properly leverage the lie-filled and blood-drenched #BushLegacy, in the way that the establishment of the democratic party has proven unwilling or incapable of doing, perhaps we can create a more coherent narrative of how things have ultimately gone so wrong so quickly, under both political parties at that.

In turn, a coherent narrative about how the 1% inexorably consolidated their democracy-subverting power under Bush – and how this bankrupt culture was able to build upon itself under Obama – might be capable of achieving the attention of the 99% in a manner that will inspire their activation in a truly historic fashion.

#AnotherWorldIsPossible, Indeed.

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