While surfing through the web today, I have noticed quite a few right-wing types popping up in the discussion boards of progressive weblogs and other sites. There is the usual smug self-satisfaction about them, of course, but there is also something else. Dripping with what passes for compassion and empathy in the typical blowhard dittohead, there is the condescending extension of a very thorny olive branch.
“You wimps lost,” they say. “Now we have to all put this past us and unite as a nation. Our enemies would love to see us stay divided.”
Now, the unity thing is a great concept. However, I don’t care how many popular or electoral votes Bush won by (apparently legitimately, but time will tell on that), I don’t follow people who I know to be lost. If the majority of those who bothered to show up on Tuesday believed that four more years of what the neocons and their ignorant puppet have given us in the past four was the better of two options, then so be it. I could no more have changed their minds than all the publicly disseminated information about the true nature and character of the Bushies did. If the efforts of Michael Moore and Bruce Springsteen weren’t enough, then what possibly could be affected by a lonely blogger screaming out into the digital wilderness? Corny imagery aside, I’d have to say “not much at all.”
Furthermore, I don’t particularly buy the line that our external “enemies” are concerned about our internal political strife. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that our worst enemies– as a nation, that is– aren’t external at all. My perception– and that of 55,313,030 other (counted) Tuesday voters– is that the Bush administration had done such a poor job (putting it mildly there) as to warrant a big, fat pink slip. The Bush administration, I submit, was responsible– at the very least through criminal negligence– for facilitating the success of the worst single act of terrorism by a foreign agent on U.S. soil. In true Orwellian fashion, they used the political capital of that disaster to purchase a slew of sins after that. Those sins include, but are not limited to, a bloody, phony war that has destabilized an entire nation and boosted ‘terrorist’ recruitment worldwide; skyrocketing national budget deficits snatched from the jaws of the previous administration’s budget surplus; the initiation of all sorts of assaults on civil liberties, from snooping on library activities to raising the flag of gay-baiting and -bashing to ever newer heights; violating the Geneva Conventions and the very concept of international law; and, finally, just being plain ol’ jerks.
Before I ramble too far down this uncertain path, let me get back to our friends, the Bush constituency. The big question I couldn’t seem to answer was how 58,884,526 of my fellow citizens were able look at the past four years and say to themselves, “You know, that was really cool. Let’s do it again!”
Was it fear? Fear of terrorists? Didn’t they know that 9/11 wouldn’t have happened if the Bushies had been doing their job? Didn’t they understand that invading a weak, nonthreatening Arab nation, while simultaneously giving unconditional support to Israel’s genocidal application of apartheid to Palestine, might just have encouraged more support for the violent militants of political Islam?
Was their problem ignorance? Did they not know their Emperor? I could wax on about the apparent lack of knowledge Bush supporters have for their Chosen Christian Warrior, but Jim Lobe has written an article that succinctly sums up the stunning misperceptions most Bush supporters took with them into the voting booths.
Could the Bush supporters’ have been suffering from a fatal case of arrogance? Did they understand how brutally corrupt their Emperor had been, and did they not care? Perhaps they felt, as did many U.S. citizens in decades past, that the world is merely raw material for their Manifest Destiny. If only I could convince myself that this sentiment motivates a very tiny minority.
In any case, this catastrophic combination of fear, ignorance, and arrogance, combined with God-knows-what-else, has resulted in the U.S. electorate giving the George W. Bush administration a clear, if not unanimous, endorsement for the past four years. Worse yet, Bush and his neocon handlers are undoubtedly taking Tuesday’s election result as a mandate for
running roughshod over everything that gets in the way of their imperial ambitions and fantasies. Still worse, the world has been watching. While the rest of the world was quite aware of the illegitimacy of the first Bush administration (thanks to the work of Greg Palast and many others), they no doubt can see that a majority of our electorate nonetheless decided to accept Bush and his crew. This means that the line between how the rest of the world views our government’s policies, which heretofore usually clearly separated how those same people viewed us as the “American people,” has now been blurred or even erased. In democratic fashion, with all eyes watching, we have endorsed our government’s criminal behavior.
What is the long-suffering progressive to do, you ask? At this point I am all but stumped. I am tempted to fall back on a certain cynical, fatalistic optimism (if such a thing can be said to exist), much as I did after the election theft of 2000. Perhaps these Bush supporters will finally snap out of it, I tell myself, after four more years of expanded military engagements, the renewal of the draft, a steadily worsening economy, greater job exportation, a few more terrorist attacks, etc.; maybe all I need to do is sit back and wait for these neocons to give their supporters the kind of ‘government’ they had pulled down their proverbial pants, bent over, and begged for.
Is that really an option for me, or for any of us who tried to stop the bleeding by voting for Kerry? We obviously don’t have time or energy to waste trying to reason with the 59 million who at this point are so disconnected from reality that they voted to reinstall the worst presidential administration this country has ever had (considering Wilson’s and Nixon’s respective resumés, that’s saying a ton). I believe that our energies would be best spent trying to encourage the revolution of sorts that has already begun within the Democratic Party. With apologies to Ralph Nader, who I voted for in 2000 and who was sabotaged this time around by a bipartisan chop block, the rotted roots of our two-party system are just too entrenched to hope for any meaningful third-party agitation just yet. There is, however, a ray of hope that the likes of Dennis Kucinich and Howard Dean (who isn’t exactly a progressive icon, but who can be worked with) can revitalize and unify the progressive energies of the electorate. Also, the further expansion of progressive media, led by the myriad outlets available through the still-democratic internet, gives one a good feeling about the growing left-wing counterrevolution to the decades-and-billions-of-dollars-in-the-making right-wing media empire. With better political organization, and with better public distribution of information, some good can be accomplished in the next four years. We won’t be able to convert the most stubborn of the kool-aid guzzlers, but we might be able to shine the light for those honest-hearted people who’ve been badly misguided by the propaganda of the renegade right (while being hung out to dry by those who should be leading the left).
There is another source of optimism that exists within the Republican Party itself. There seem to be many in the GOP who are painfully aware that the Bushie neocons have nothing practical to do with conservatism. Fiscal responsibility, limited foreign engagement, smaller government, and states’ rights have all been dumped into the toilet by the Bush administration, which has instead relied upon variations of the most cynical and craven (and successful) ploys hatched by the architects of Nixon’s Southern Strategy in order to push through their vaguely fascist agenda.
Fear not, though. Not all Republican voters– maybe not even in the Red States– are ignorant, brutish Cro-Magnons. I happen to know some Republican voters, and they are really good people. What’s more, I know better than to believe that they voted for Bush because they are incorrigibly stupid. I believe that if they have more information, and if they get a taste (over the next few years) of just how bad these neocon clowns can make things, then they will start to realize the error of their choice. This does mean, unfortunately, that things will have to get a lot worse before enough of these people start paying attention.
In the meantime, I think it is up to us progressives– and, of course, us sensible conservatives– to keep fighting through the media and through our representatives in Congress. I am especially optimistic on that front here in Illinois (we’ve got Dick Durbin and Barack Obama in the senate!) Granted, this whole thing really sucks right now, and it is depressing, but we have a chance to turn it around if we can survive the next four years.
Otherwise, I really like Toronto.