Re-Branding the World Can't Wait

By Kevin Gosztola
Ever been to a protest event and said to your self, "What's with all the orange?"
The organization responsible for the prevalence of orange at rallies and marches across the U.S. (which calls attention to the Bush Administration's use of torture) has been the World Can't Wait---Drive Out the Bush Regime.
Now that Obama has been elected, the organization is holding its national meeting in Chicago to discuss how to respond to the election of Obama and how to re-brand itself to create real change.
Allow me to give you an update on how the meeting is going---an insider's point of view from an insider who really wants this group to succeed but at the same time wishes to objectively address this group's status in America.

Obviously, World Can't Wait---Drive Out the Bush Regime needs to be updated since on January 20th (provided that major incidents do not occur which conspiratorial nutcases will probably delight in bringing to my attention via the comments section of this article) there will be no Bush Regime to drive out anymore.

The group spent much time in the opening hours of the meeting discussing how when World Can't Wait embarked on this audacious mission to drive out the Bush Regime it was not a foregone conclusion that the group would fail. Throughout these opening hours it was made clear that this meeting would be about the group doing some introspective thinking and about digging in to some real questions.
But, within all the reflective talk was this reality that the World Can't Wait was not going to go away now that Obama was elected. Contrary to CODE Pink's press release on the Obama victory, the war is not so over to the group and this was obvious during the meeting.

The World Can't Wait organized behind a Call in 2006, which laid out several points of unity. These points of unity began with the phrase "your government."
YOUR GOVERNMENT, on the basis of outrageous lies, is waging a murderous and utterly illegitimate war in Iraq, with other countries in their sights.
YOUR GOVERNMENT is openly torturing people, and justifying it.
YOUR GOVERNMENT puts people in jail on the merest suspicion, refusing them lawyers, and either holding them indefinitely or deporting them in the dead of night.
YOUR GOVERNMENT is moving each day closer to a theocracy, where a narrow and hateful brand of Christian fundamentalism will rule.
YOUR GOVERNMENT suppresses the science that doesn't fit its religious, political and economic agenda, forcing present and future generations to pay a terrible price.
YOUR GOVERNMENT is moving to deny women here, and all over the world, the right to birth control and abortion.
YOUR GOVERNMENT enforces a culture of greed, bigotry, intolerance and ignorance.

Americans who agreed there was a need for resistance to what their government was doing organized to fight torture, wars, suppression, and theocracy.
The group indicated that it understood Obama's election was good because it represented majority hatred for what Bush stood for. But, the group emphasized that even though Obama won, the American government is still doing the very things the Call detailed and it is very unlikely that government will stop committing these wrongs in our name if a group for independent political action like World Can't Wait shuts down.
Many times members of World Can't Wait highlighted the fact that while Obama has brought a lot of attention to the need to close Guantanamo, preventive detention has not been challenged. Extraordinary rendition has not been opposed. And, Obama is now floating this idea of national security courts replacing military commissions, a change that would be essentially one step forward and two steps back.
The World Can't Wait spent midday during the meeting in small group breakout sessions. Six different groups each had discussions around three big questions: what will change (and how) under an Obama presidency, what has changed in the political terrain among the people, and what is the role for mass, independent action now.
Many suggested the rhetoric coming out of Washington will change, Obama will work to restore our reputation, but in the group I was in, I really made a point to get people to consider what it means to "be realistic", which I feel is something many ask me to consider.
I encouraged the group to look at tactics and strategy and figure out how to better organize effectively.
I encouraged the group to consider pragmatism versus adhering to moral principles and also consider the history of social movements.
Many opposing the Iraq War expected their protesting to matter more. That's not to say it couldn't have mattered more, but I think some looked to past successes in social movements that involved vibrant protesting and thought if they raised their voice it was a done deal that they would have an effect on policy in this country. And such a mindset cannot and will not sustain a movement for independent political action.
A group like World Can't Wait also has a tendency to be strident and let ideologies be a dividing line. This division may be why certain goals and objectives were not met in the past, and many in the small group discussion acknowledged this fact.
The meeting came back together in the afternoon for a conversation between Hal Snyder, a member of Working Families Win in Chicago and also an organizer with World Can't Wait, and Sunsara Taylor, a writer for Revolution Newspaper. Two ideologies clashed but ultimately both were able to deliberate and unite behind the idea that World Can't Wait still has a legitimate role to play in the future of this country.
Taylor described how Obama is now basically re-branding empire and people who are part of Obama's team like John Brennan indicate this fact. She emphasized the need to fight against the idea that the pendulum is going to swing absent a mass movement of resistance. And she proclaimed that Obama does not represent "our interests" and therefore, what does it mean to give Obama a chance?
"Give him a chance to do what?" she said.
Snyder rebutted her arguments by comparing the situation we are in to a maelstrom and its currents. He said to those that fear working with Obama that finding common ground does not mean conceding your values or your points and we should not fall into the trap of Republicans by thinking the person who disagrees with me is my enemy. He acknowledged that social change does not come without struggle and because of that, the best thing we can do is inform ourselves and those around us; we need to create an antidote to the "shock" we are experiencing (a reference to Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine").
Taylor contended that Obama got people to believe in the system again and really Obama's presidency will be about making people "okay" with crimes of empire. She explained that elections are about getting people to think like those that rule. And she called out those who are suggesting now that we cannot make demands of Obama because we are going to get a backlash.
Snyder said he believed change comes from the establishment being moved and being able to be moved. And he admitted that people within World Can't Wait may have different visions and may need to split up to work on those visions and then went on and described some "what if" scenarios, things that could have happened but didn't happen over the past few years (like Republicans maintaining a majority in Congress in 2006).
World Can't Wait followed the conversation with a wide ranging discussion of what small groups had discussed. Each had much to say. (And I will highlight what was said in a summation article which I plan to post on Monday.)
World Can't Wait showed they were very conscientious of the fact that there needs to be a movement for change in this country.
World Can't Wait indicated that they hope to provide leadership in the movement and knows that they must conscientiously reflect on this moment in history comprehensively and scientifically in order to move forward and be effective on the current political terrain.
At night, a panel convened for an evening forum titled, "Stop the Endless Wars: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iran, and the War on Terror." The panel featured Dennis Loo (who frequently publishes articles to OpEdNews), Jill McLaughlin (who frequently publishes articles to OpEdNews), Jorge Mujica (who helped organize the mega marches on March 10th in 2006 against attacks on immigrants" rights), Marc Falkoff (a lawyer who currently represents 16 Guantanamo detainees), Phil Aliff (member of IVAW), and Matthis Chiroux (who is a G.I. resister currently being prosecuted by the military for refusing to deploy to Iraq).
(As my schedule permits, I will post some remarks from the compelling forum. Falkoff's remarks were especially poignant.)
A summation will come tomorrow.
At this point, World Can't Wait is planning to organize inauguration and March 2009 protests (to mark another unfortunate anniversary of war and occupation), to hold "We Are Not Your Soldiers" tours where veterans against the war speak to high school students about resisting military recruitment, to stop torture, fire John Yoo, and organize support for prosecutions of war criminals who committed crimes in the Bush Administration, and to stop Prop 8, attacks on abortion and evolution, and the fascist re-making of society.
It's a daunting agenda, one that few could tell you how they plan to achieve these goals or objectives. But, that's what Sunday is for. Sunday, November 23rd will be for discussing how to move forward and what to do to stop policies that need to be repudiated.
After this weekend, World Can't Wait, like this nation, will have gone through a re-branding. It's not altogether clear what their contribution to Obama's plans for change will be. But, I can promise this much---
No one is going to sit back and let Obama will amnesia on us all. Not one member is going to let Obama ask us to move forward without confronting and dealing with the Bush crimes which were committed in our name over the past eight years.
In closing, everyone should have an opportunity to go to one of these meetings where a whole range of people gather to discuss a vision for a future. Rob Kall, OpEdNews Editor-in-Chief has detailed being at a few big meetings in the past few weeks.
Anyone who has the chance to participate in something like this should.
Meetings are what will bring about change. Deliberation, synthesis, and the development of goals and objectives have the power to do a lot for any movement planning to affect or effect change.
You may feel comfortable in your little bubble, your little shell. You may feel like this is the best you can do when you post an article or write a posting for your blog. But, that's not enough.
Obama has raised the expectations of Americans and presented us all with an opportunity that Bush definitely did not give us. Groups like World Can't Wait are seizing on this moment no matter how they view it (negatively or positively).
And you owe it to yourself and the people of the world to be a part of a movement for independent political action in this country.
The future is unwritten. Which one we get is up to us.

Kevin Gosztola goes to Columbia College in Chicago where he is studying film. He hopes to become a documentary filmmaker. He is currently working as a production assistant on a documentary called "Seriously Green" which traces the development of the Green Party throughout the 2008 election.

Main Projects Organizers Kevin Gosztola Re-Branding the World Can't Wait


World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.