|November 7, 2004|
“Nations do go crazy sometimes, and the progression of symptoms we've been exhibiting here in the Good Ol' USA has entered rubber room territory”
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
Yeah, I know the drill: I'm supposed to 'get over it'. Well, I will not pretend to act like this is fine. That the system worked. That we did what we could, that they won honestly, or, even if they didn't, that it's time to move on.
No, I am devastated and I weep for my country. But I am also as angry as I am heartsick.
I am devastated because this time Bush really was elected. Not by the vote count; oh no, voter fraud was rampant. What the Republicans did in Florida in 2000, they refined in Georgia in 2002, and they got down to a science this time around, especially in Ohio and, yes, Florida. This fraud wasn't so "in your face" all across the country that it cried out for us to rise up and do something about it, nope, it was just enough for that precious 50% + 1 of the vote. Enough to declare victory.
As for us rising up and doing something about it - 2004 proved what 2000 merely hinted at: we are not rising up. We are not going to. We are sad but we will do nothing except make vague threats about next time. Next time we'll get them. Next time.
That has sealed it. This is what has elected Bush. It is the complacent acceptance that has elected him. Everyone, from Kerry on down, has said, "Ok, time to move on". That is Bush's real mandate. We all just rolled over, and now we're lying in pathetic little blue puddles of our despair, trying to pull ourselves up by our metaphorical bootstraps by promising ourselves that we really will show 'em next time. Meanwhile, Bush can do whatever he wants. Who's going to stop him? Not us. We're going back to work, back to real life; paying bills, buying groceries, catching up on the latest update on whatever the murder trial du jour is, or whatever reality show is out there; debasing the human spirit for 'entertainment' and commercial revenues. We're busy, we're tired, we'll fight next time.
Within a few short hours of Kerry's concession speech, the left wing focus shifted to how we will win next time. Next time. This pathetic mewl of defiance completely falls within the definition of insanity: repeating the same behavior and expecting different results. We are like the poor weak little kid lying in the snow, bruised and bloodied and nose snotty and bleeding and who can't find his glasses. As soon as the bully who did it and his friends are around the corner, the kid issues a feeble cry, "I'm gonna get you next time! I'll really kick your butt then!" And then the hot tears really start. I understand the need for defiance, but why should we believe for a minute that in two years it will be different? That there will be no voter fraud, no cheating, no dirty tricks? That they won't use these next two years to get better at controlling elections than they are now? How insane is it to pat ourselves on the back and say, "Gosh, look, we came so close! Next time we'll do it; next time, yeah, next time"? Wake up, this was the time, and we took a licking and said thank you. There won't be a next time, not as long as we lie to ourselves.
While we're sitting around sniveling and dreaming of our revenge, the bully and his friends are going to get bigger and stronger. These people dream of world domination. The American electoral process is a minor impediment to them. Ignoring this reality is the road to insanity and failure.
It's a bitter pill to swallow, but I say at least be big enough to see this for what it is.
The next election will be less of an election than this election. Oh, we'll get little victories here and there, enough to make this Matrix-like reality significantly believable for the millions of us who would truly like to believe that our votes count and, if they didn't, we really would do whatever it takes, but, oh well, we came so close. Next time we'll do it. Next time.
There will be no next time on those terms. This country is now headed inexorably down a road that will take a generation or more to get off of, If we even can. If America as we know it even survives.
Nations do go crazy sometimes, and the progression of symptoms we've been exhibiting here in the Good Ol' USA has entered rubber room territory. We are a people in dangerous denial. Don't participate in it by accepting this insanity as your reality. Even as everyone around you buys into the comfort zone of 'next time', stay strong by never acknowledging it as your truth. Whatever else you do, for God's sake, at least see this for what it really was.
The extreme right-wing of the Republican party has not only sealed a majority rule in this election, they now have carte blanche for the next two years to further consolidate their hold on everything that truly fosters democratic participation: the media, the Supreme Court, voting machines, gerrymandered Republican districts that guarantee majority re-election indefinitely. You name it, their iron fist is now wrapped around it. Even the Internet.
Never forget: by rolling over as we all collectively just did, we have kept in office the man who granted himself the power to take any of us, declare us enemies of the state, strip us of our citizenship, torture us and jail us indefinitely, with no due process. Just because they've only done it so far to swarthy looking men who don't really look 'American' to Bush's supporters doesn't mean the rest of us are exempt. All the warm fuzziness of network anchor assurances do not change that.
We have given Bush two completely unobstructed years to enhance and consolidate those powers before facing the electorate again. By that time, the electoral process will be more akin to some bizarre national obsessive compulsive ritual than any kind of real participatory process: voting will become useless repetitive behavior compulsively acted out to relieve national anxiety with no reality based connection. We'll vote in record numbers again, the votes will be manipulated, and our TV pundits will console us with meaningless explanations. More insane behavior. But don't think about it now. The kids have soccer practice to get to. Gotta’ get gas. There's a new terrorist threat. We voted, what else are we supposed to do? We're busy. Besides, things aren't really that bad here. Look at how we turned out the vote. We came so close. Next time we'll do it. Next time.
When the 2006 elections come around, and we're out there plugging away, we'll still come soooo close, just not quite close enough. We'll win a few, but we'll lose more. But there's always next time, right? We'll do it next time. Next time.
Americans used to be so smug about Soviet elections. What a joke they were. Not like us. Well, welcome to the new America. We'll all go vote on our shiny new privately owned electronic machines, machines that will be everywhere by the next national 'election', with votes that will be counted by privatized vote counters. Don't worry your little heads about paper trails or accountability. To question is to undermine confidence in our leadership. Good citizens don't do that. Go home and turn on your privately owned corporate media outlets who will soothingly tell you that everything is all right. A few malcontents may have to be put down, but the people will have spoken: the Great Leader can continue his Holy Mission. God loves us, we're Americans.
And the next election will be even less of an election than the previous election. And the election after that even less. But they will look great on TV.
Why are we taking this so complacently? I mean, seriously, what is it going to take? When will enough be enough? Are we waiting for someone to tell us what to do? Are we waiting for someone to do it for us? Or are we so afraid to lose what we have that we will trade what we should value most for it?
I think of the men who formed this nation. They were a tiny minority, but they didn't wait for someone to tell them it was time for a revolution. They thought; long, deep and hard, and then they acted. One of those men said, "Any man willing to trade liberty for security will have neither." I don't think most of us can even conceive of the true depth of that concept. These men, our founding fathers, weren't poor. They had a lot to lose. Some of them lost everything. Some of those signatures on your Declaration of Independence are names of men who started out their fight wealthy men of property and who died broken and penniless by the time it was over. But they believed that freedom was more important than their wealth and comfort. These weren't slaves fighting for their freedom, with nothing to lose but a life of slavery. These were men who led comfortable middle and upper class lives. Could that happen now? Who among us really has the stomach for that? We are so comfortable. We are shackled by our comfort and so terrified of losing it that we ignore the price we are paying with our humanity, and our sanity. Never mind. Turn on the TV, we'll fight next time. Next time.
The most important thing to be done right now, at the very least, is to face the truth. Whatever else we do, and as hard as it is, at least face this honestly. Acknowledge what we really know happened. Think, for God's sake. What have we become? We just had a second sham election and we did nothing about it except talk about next time. We're killing tens of thousands of people who are no threat to us. Our children are cannon fodder for the profits of the ultra wealthy. Too many of us think this is a good way to be because it is God's will. This really is who America is right now. Refusing to see that while dreaming about 'next time' borders on pathological behavior. Don't do it.
In Robert Heinlein's classic book "Stranger in a Strange Land", there was a character who was a 'Fair Witness'. A Fair Witness was trained to be a scientifically objective witness, so objective that their testimony in a court of law was automatically accepted as Truth, unaffected by any subjectivity, emotion, or bias. We need to be our own Fair Witnesses to this time in our country. Be rigorously honest with yourself about this.
In WW II Germany, the good German citizens of towns downwind of Auschwitz and Dachau swore that they never knew what was being done by their government. As hundreds and hundreds of thousands of bodies were incinerated not even a few miles upwind of them, they swore they never noticed the smell that was horribly obvious to the liberating soldiers. They didn't want to know and therefore they didn't. Perhaps they did it out of misguided nationalism, or fear for their very lives, but they did it. They were as insane as the Nazis. Ignoring the truth is the road to insanity and failure.
We have to be like the few in Germany who held on to the truth and their humanity through the darkest times. Like those who worked in the resistance. Who hid Jews at their own peril, because it was the right thing, the sane thing, to do. Who looked at the truth head on and survived with their sanity and their humanity bruised but intact. We have to be Fair Witnesses to the truth around us, never giving in to the easy and comfortable propaganda that let's us off the hook. That starts with a brutally honest look at what just happened.
When madness is all around, like a turbulent, relentless sea, the only thing worth hanging onto is a hard, unflinching grasp of the truth.
No matter what happens now, at least hang on to the truth.
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
Interested in contributing an article to BuzzFlash? Click here for more info.
Articles in the BuzzFlash Contributor section are posted as-is. Given the timeliness of some Contributor articles, BuzzFlash cannot verify or guarantee the accuracy of every word. We strive to correct inaccuracies when they are brought to our attention.