After the furious burst of activity during the period prior to our nation’s latest foreign misadventure, people were in a funk. A feeling swept over many folks that “with all we’ve done, and didn’t prevent the war, what’s the use?”

The worm, of course, has turned, just like we all said it would. The lies are being exposed. The real shame is the horrible damage that Bush and his fascist-minded buddies are doing to our wonderful nation, and the innocent dead and maimed, both American and Iraqi. Our nation is now the most feared and hated on earth. Our nation’s resources are being stripped away to pay for an empire of extreme wealth for the benefit of a tiny handful of corporate rulers. Those precious civil liberties that previous generations fought a revolution and a civil war and defeated the Nazis to win and preserve are being stolen away by this gang of thieves.

So “what’s the use?”

The use is to build the mass movement that can defeat these lying criminals and build a world of peace, justice and prosperity for all the people. The stakes are way too high to, even for a moment, allow cynicism to take over.

Furthermore, everything that those of us who urged peace, not war, said would occur is, in fact, happening right now.

Unemployment is up. Our nation’s deficit is at unbelievable record levels, now approaching $500 billion. State, county and municipal governments are in massive financial crisis, while the super-rich wallow in yet another huge tax cut for the wealthy.

The ultra-right’s answer: call out the cops!

Republicans in Texas illegally used so-called Homeland Security forces, the Federal Aviation Agency, and Texas state troopers to attempt to round up Democratic legislators who refused to give them a quorum to pass an undemocratic redistricting bill.

In order to pass “pension reform” legislation (meaning allowing the rich corporations to even further under-fund pension plans, thereby giving well-to-do folks the ability to put more into their 401(k)s each year), U.S. House Republicans called the Washington D.C. police, attempting to have Democratic legislators evicted.

The fight is on!

Here are some things you can do:

• Labor is mobilizing with its allies to oppose Bush’s plan to pass the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) Agreement. This is slated to go to a vote within the next couple of months. Together we can stop this latest job theft. Contact your legislator and urge a “no” vote on this giveaway to the corporations.

• Progressive forces throughout the nation are mobilizing to oppose Bush’s Plan Colombia, which will spread the war in that nation. Urge your legislator to vote “no.” This one is too close to call, so we can make a difference.

• Labor, retirees and all progressive forces are fighting for health care for all. As we begin to move into a new election year, demand that any politician who wants our vote must stand for health care for all.

Coalitions are now forming to register and get out the vote. 2004 will be the most important election in our lifetimes. We can do it! United, we can defeat Bush and the ultra-right and put our nation on the road to justice, peace and prosperity for all.

Bruce Bostick is an organizer working on special projects for the United Steelworkers of America. He can be reached at bruce@admiral.cc