Monday, August 16, 2004

Man, I'm Bushed 

Mark Morford, a columnist at sfgate.com (the San Francisco Chronicle's Web site) has a great column dated Wednesday 11th August titled Time To Get Out The Bush. While I may not agree with this guy (?) on all the things he writes, this is one of the best relatively "mainstream" post-constitutional US media articles I've yet seen that covers all the bases regardless of the reader's own politics and ideology. He writes:
This is the new rallying cry. If you care at all about the soul of this country, if you care at all about women's rights and gay rights and true spiritual freedom and the environment and our international standing, if you care at all about actually reducing the anti-U.S. hatred in the world, as opposed to amplifying it a thousandfold, then oh my god yes, this election matters.
While this is obviously pitched at an almost stereotypical "San Francisco liberal" (em phasis on the sneer in the proper BushCo style), the meat-and-potatoes Goldwater conservatives and the more thoughtful neocons might also take a few things to heart here. If you agree with the (paleo)conservative mantra is "Less government, no foreign wars unless America's essential liberty is directly at stake, a free and open marketplace for all", there's not much to like in this régime. Think of the budget deficit that must be financed using money that could have been invested in growing American businesses and giving Americans jobs at a decent wage. Think of the change in international attitudes towards America during the past thirty years alone. Countries that once worked with us, or at least didn't needlessly work against us, now question and hector American policy and interests at every point. With the collapse of the previously reasonably stable bipolar world and its replacement with a lot of little, less stable, powers, conservatives and liberals should be alarmed. Anybody can look forward and see that, regardless of your ideology, this change is certain to bring increased military expenditures, increased risks, increased loss of American lives when American society is more reluctant than at any time in history to pay those prices, especially when there is less than total agreement on the value purchased with those lives.

What has been that 'value'? We don't know; we can't even come to agreement as a society. Public discourse has been horribly mutilated for quite some time, and has largely ceased to exist since the "double whammy" of the aborted 2000 Presidential election and the aftermath of the attacks of 11 September 2001. Many who would otherwise protest mightily at this historically unprecedented expansion of raw Executive power have been cowed into appalled silence. Others who might ordinarily defend and encourage actions that this régime is taking, based on their own principles, are likewise silenced by what they see as reckless arrogance and deliberate negligence. The field has been abandoned to the most extreme, intolerant, dangerous individuals on any side, who are more interested in "scoring points" with their own core constituents than with making public policy that enhances the principles and ideas that made America great to begin with.

The tragedy is that even though America is still undeniably a great country, Americans are doing their level best not to pay attention to precisely why that is. We have become so focused on the issues that divide us from each other and from the outside world, regardless of the merit of those issues, that we have become largely incapable of seeing what we have in common, and what divides us from those who truly would do us harm. We have utterly forgotten the wisdom of Dwight Eisenhower, Harry S Truman, Franklin and Teddy Roosevelt, let alone the Founding Fathers and all those brave men and women who have given their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to gain and preserve the freedoms that we now deliberately scorn.

Yes, Mr. Morford, you're right: This election [if it happens - JD] will be the most important in American history. But getting out the Bush won't really be enough. We have a long, difficult, dangerous road ahead of us if the United States of America is ever again to be "the land of the free and the home of the brave".

May God, by whatever name you know Him, restore the United States of America. But don't wait for Him to do it all by Himself.

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