Thursday, January 20, 2005


Bush's 2nd Inauguration - thoughts

"The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world."
--President George W. Bush in his 2nd inaugural speech

If by "freedom" you realize Dubya means "our best American interests and/or Christianity" and by "peace" he really means "profit", then this rings as one of the most truthful and eloquent things the President has ever said.

Of course, there were the usual allusions to uniting this country, but the sad fact is that America remains as disunited as it has been at any time since the peak of the civil rights movement and it will remain that way as long as those in charge of our country collude either intentionally or unintentionally with the media to exacerbate our differences and use certain points of public policy and personal morality to keep us in our Tiny Little Boxes where we can be more easily controlled.

As dodgy old Chief Justice Rehnquist--there's no way he survives the next four years is there?--gave Bush the oath of office, it mattered not the speech that followed because it has already been made clear through Bush's appointments, his demeanor and his press conferences since the election that his next term will be just like the first, only more so, with more smugness and an even greater sense of righteous enlightenment. ("Don't like the war in Iraq? Fuck you, we're spreading democracy. Did I hear you ask about weapons of mass destruction? What are you, a traitor? Next question...")

It's clear from recent stories and speculations that Iran is next on the neocons next, a challenge for those "democracy spreaders" if ever there was one and the ultimate goal in a thirty-year plan the neocons have been secretly hatching to create an American hegemony in the Middle East. Because that's where the oil is see and everything in their political vision comes down to two things--oil politics and playing "to the conservative base" which means selling out homosexuals, minorities and women to try and approximate some anitquated, never-actually-existed vision of a wholesome, family values America. Everything else either gets shunted aside or is allowed to wither on the vine. Like Social Security. And public school education. So it goes.

If the progressives seem like a defeated lot, well, we are even though every poll and every accounting shows that a majority of Americans share at least some, if not most, progressive values: the protection of a woman's right to choose; a desire for clean air and clean drinking water; safe borders and a desire to avoid foreign conflicts; more money for schools--even public ones--and fewer tax breaks for the rich; despite thirty years of relentless attacks by the right, a slim majority of Americans even still support some kind of affirmative action for minorities. Yet with all of these common virtues, we have an administration in place that supports none of them, except on the rare occasion where one of these values intersects with a political or financial gain that the Right can make. How did this happen?

One, we haven't had a truly uncontested, uncontroversial democratic presidential election in this country since 1996. Just think, the Republic of the Congo and Nigeria, two historically troubled democracies, have had more successful, undisputed elections since then. Clearly, operatives have successfully and systematically subverted the will of the American people in key locations twice over the last four years. Two, the progressive side has suffered from a lack of unity and a perceived "personality deficit" in the last two presidential elections. Either Ralph Nader helps to nibble us to death in 2000 or dynamic, charismatic thinkers like Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich are viewed as "too high strung" or "too fringe" to make much of an impact within the Democratic party, giving us mediocrities like John Kerry to carry forth the banner of progressivism--something he did remarkably well given his background as a more moderate Democratic senator, but something he never seemed truly comfortable with during the campaign. His discomfort played out in endless parsings and clarifications of his positions, which the GOP then labelled as "flip-flops" to the delight and eager repetition of a lazy and conservatively slanted mass media.

So what do we do for the next four years? Despite what some might suggest, Canada is not a realistic option. We can't bury our heads in the sand, but then no person can fight, fight, fight 24-7-365 with little or no expectation of meaningful result without going as batty as Flavor Flav with a busted clock. The best approach is to raise your voice as often as possible, in a way that makes you feel comfortable to speak out against the lies, distortions and half truths the Bushies and the media spin our way every day. Read alternative media. Pay attention when Bush spokespeople suddenly change rationales and soundbites (e.g."we went to Iraq to rid them of weapons of mass destruction...we went to Iraq to spread democracy and freedom.") Do something every day, or at least every week, that will lay the groundwork to put people in office who will protect what you value most, even if you don't totally subscribe to the progressive agenda. It's called due diligence and it beats losing yourself in the latest reality TV show any day of the week. It's not even that much hard work.

The best thing that can be said about where we stand today is that we don't have to worry about Bush stealing another election. If we're not careful, we could get another damaging conservative fraud like Rudy Guiliani in 2008, but the grassroots organization and the outrage is already in place to prevent another hijacking of the American presidency the next time around. We must whether the storm, not fall into lockstep with the "so-called majority" and know that assuming Bush and his cadre don't find a way to end our world as we know it in the next four years, their time will be up and the pendulum should swing our way for a change. It's not much to hang your hat on I admit, but it beats spending the next four years face down in your beer, wondering what the hell is going on.

Dissents and Laments


Blogger etherealfire said...

This is a great post. BTW, though many may joke in our hour of despair about moving to Canada, I think really that most all of us will never give up the fight to preserve the integrity of our country's original philosophies. Thanks for the heartening words and ideas for making it through this, day to day!

9:53 AM  
Blogger Jo said...

What a great post! Yes yes yes! What are the sorts of things you suggest for weekly or daily helping of The Cause? I can never figure out how to take action.

8:05 AM  

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