Too often we are forced into a defensive mode fighting what we don't want: George Bush as president, a war in Iraq, trade agreements that harm workers and the environment, media that distort the truth. To be effective and keep hope alive, we must also focus on what we want and build that agenda with new models, new coalitions, new paradigms.
In the case of Iraq, we can oppose the war while laying the groundwork for a peace movement capable of stopping future wars. This includes supporting soldiers and military families speaking out, strengthening counter-recruitment efforts, making local connections with communities most affected by budget cuts, and encouraging schools and libraries to teach peace. See www.commondreams.org/views04/1213-20.htm for more ideas.
Elections? We can't just complain about black- box voting machines, voter suppression, and partisan election administrators. We have to get serious about electoral reform. Sign our 10-point Voter Bill of Rights at www.codepinkalert.org. Pick one item that grabs you—secure voting machines, instant-runoff voting, a national election day holiday, an end to felon disenfranchisement—find others working on this issue, and get results!
Tired of media that distort the truth? While we indignantly call, write, and protest the biases in the mainstream media, we should also be energetic advocates for independent media. Volunteer your time, give financial support, spread a list of your favorite news sources to your friends, relatives, coworkers, neighbors—whoever will listen!
Economy? We must continue to throw sand in the wheels of corporate-dominated globalization and privatization of the commons. But let's also build the economy we want to see—fair trade, clean energy, local economies, green businesses. At Global Exchange, we're organizing Green Festivals around the country that bring together hundreds of model businesses, social and environmental groups, visionary thinkers, and thousands of community members in a lively exchange of ideas, commerce, and movement building (see www.greenfestivals.org).
The next four years will be fraught with new assaults on our environment, civil liberties, democratic values, and desire for peace. But a mix of positive vision, effective networking, and determined resistance can be a potent antidote to Bush-itis.
Medea Benjamin is cofounder of Global Exchange and Code Pink.