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Redirecting the Revolution

Saddam statue fallsAs scenes of fallen Saddam statues saturate the airwaves, hundreds of thousands in America are wondering, "What now?" As pundits glorify this undemocratic war, and as public opinion shifts to a sense of strong, justified righteousness, a new generation of progressives also ask, "What now?"

Well, for one thing, a few toppled statues doesn't mean the war is over, and there are still tough times ahead for the Iraqis -- many have no water or electricity. The entire infrastructure of Iraq will have to be rebuilt, and who is going to pay for that? Who's going to profit from that? Rebuilding Iraq, and rebuilding the damaged relationship between the U.S. and Europe, are still hurdles we have yet to cross. Members of the anti-war movement should be watching these developments closely.

America's anti-war movement, while strong, has suffered serious defeats along with its glowing successes. Talk among TV pundits and a tightly sealed American mind discredited the movement from the start. And extreme actions by radicals within the movement -- like the vandalism of stores and businesses during protests and the blocking of shipments to troops at the Oakland ports -- haven't helped to convince the conservative majority of the movement's validity.

Despite these setbacks, the anti-war movement says a lot about America. It shows there is an incredible number of like-minded, progressive people in this country -- a strong base for a grassroots movement. It shows that through the Internet, a large number of people can come together and make a difference.

It shows that change is possible.

So let's answer that question in a larger sense. What now? Well, run with what works and don't fix it if it ain't broke! Now we need to harness all of that progressive energy and shift the focus from an anti-war movement to a massive progressive movment on many levels.

Internet-based organizations like Moveon.org and United for Peace and Justice have shown that the Internet is an invaluable tool for progressive reforms. This is evident in the hundreds of thousands of signatures gathered by Internet petitions against the war, and the high volume of calls to congressmen and women across the country during the "Virtual March on Washington" this past February. Democracy can work and we can make it work for us.

The worst thing to do is feel defeated or hopeless. Steps can be taken. By keeping these Internet-based organizations alive, encouraging strong community organizations, and just talking to one another and spreading the word we can continue to make a difference.

Now is the time to keep our representatives accountable to those who elected them. Now is the time to make Democrats be Democrats. Now is the time to stop driving gas-guzzling SUVs. Now is the time for embracing alternative energy. Now is the time for improved healthcare. Now is the time to close the income gap. Now is the time to blow up our TVs. Now is the time to eat locally grown food. Now is the time for community. Now is the time to stop media consolidation. Now is the time to listen to others. Now is the time for open discussion. Now is the time for a little *!#%*# democracy. Now is the time to redirect the revolution.

Gerard Matthews, 22, is a senior at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway where, he says, "we're not all rednecks."

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