Friday, November 05, 2004

THIS IS NOT THE AMERICA IN WHICH I GREW UP

(Note: This was written on September 29, 2004)

I am writing this essay based on an overwhelming sense of frustration and helplessness concerning the direction my country has taken in the past four years under the direction of the administration of President George W. Bush, and the seeming lack of understanding by a large number of my fellow citizens of the dangerous changes brought about by this President.

I am an avid reader/listener/watcher of the printed, radio and television news. What I perceive to be the reality of the world today is not the same reality presented daily by the Bush administration. The Bush spin on reality is amazing in its total opposition to the reality presented by the news media (of all sides). One example is the day I bought a newspaper in the Rome, Italy airport on the front page of which every headline and article was about terrorist and genocidal acts: in Israel, Iraq, Sudan, Europe and elsewhere. And yet, when I listened to a summary of the Republican national convention the next day, I learned that we now live in a safer world than before the Bush administration came to power. Do the American people understand the difference between reality and “spin?”

Are we better off today than we were four years ago, in terms of domestic issues? The Bush folks tell us that we are, and yet I see a very different reality. I see an economy that is faltering; jobs, especially good, well-paying ones, disappearing faster than ice cream and cake at a kids birthday party; health care and medicines becoming more expensive and out of reach for more people (while the drug and insurance companies make out like bandits); public education falling apart because of falling levels of funding; and crime on the rise. Life for all but the wealthiest Americans has become more difficult and worrisome no matter what domestic indicator is used.

Are we safer today that we were four years ago? On the international front, terrorism is stronger than ever, even according to the State Department. The Bush invasion and occupation of Iraq has created a magnet for terrorists, and a fertile training ground for killing and terrorizing Americans and those who dare collaborate with them. Bush has changed Iraq into a country where terrorism (non-governmental) has changed from a minor occurrence, at best, into a major industry with far-reaching implications world-wide. North Korea and Iran have accelerated their development of nuclear weapons during the past four years, with some tough talk but nothing more from the Bush administration. And Bush has turned unequaled sympathy and support for the United States by people all over the world into fear and loathing in the three years since September 11, 2001. We are increasingly alone in the world, with only our historically unprecedented military might to comfort us. I don’t consider this a safer condition than before.

On the domestic front, we are certainly more aware of the threat of terrorism, and faced more and more with inspections, screenings, body and property searches and other intrusions into our normal routines. Bush Cabinet members tell us that we are “traitors” or supporters of terrorism if we don’t agree with the administration about invading Iraq, and the over-zealous, far-right John Ashcroft and others of his ilk have eroded many of our Constitutional rights and freedoms. Are we safer today? In Portland, Oregon, the police don’t bother arresting known criminals (drug dealers, burglars, etc.) because they know that these “perps” will be out on the streets again within hours as a result of no jail space. We have a brand new jail facility in Portland that sits empty because the County has no money to run it.

“A safer world; a more hopeful America” was the theme of the Republican convention in New York City. The Bush team has made the world a lot less safe, and I don’t know any Americans who feel more hopeful about the future. If we strip away the spin, what’s left is “a more dangerous world, a shakier future for America.” Bush has instituted some very far-reaching foreign and domestic policies that do not bode well for the future of the world. His doctrine of pre-emptive attack is an arrogant and dangerous turn towards global instability. Imagine, if you can, what our reaction would be if China declared the unilateral right to attack any country it considered to be a threat, including the USA. Bush has pushed for development and testing of a new breed of nuclear weapons; never mind that the nations of the world have been moving steadily towards nuclear dis-armament. Bush’s actions prohibiting support for birth control in other countries, and his meager spending of the promised funding for AIDs relief have doomed millions of people in the world to continued poverty and disease. Bush’s record on the environment has set America’s progress on this front back decades, with magnified reverberations world-wide. And Bush’s touted War on Terror is, in his own mangled words, a successful catastrophe.

The United States of America under George W. Bush is rapidly becoming a fascist country. This sounds extreme, but the signs are all there: ultra-nationalism, increasing reliance on military and security forces to control the citizenry, state-supported consolidation of wealth in the pockets of a small percentage of the population, military aggression against other countries, labeling liberals and progressives as “traitors,” and scapegoating of minorities (gays and lesbians). Fascist Amerika will certainly not be a safer and more hopeful America!

Why do so many of my fellow citizens support George W. Bush and his arrogant group? In my lifetime there have always been differences between Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, haves and have-nots. But this time is different. The gap between us is a growing chasm that soon will have no possible bridge. We seem to be in a growing cultural civil war that may not have a pleasant reconciliation.

The bottom line is: this is not the America in which I grew up; these are not the values that I so strongly support as American values; the strengths and goodness that are America are being squandered by a group of selfish, radical and arrogant people, with disastrous impacts on the future. I can only hope that the people of America understand what is happening, and vote the fascists out of office before it’s too late.

1 comment:

4fishies said...

Well said, BFish! We wonder why the post-election dialogue centers around what the Dems did wrong or are not doing (phrase ownership: "morality", "patriotism", etc). Why not instead focus the spotlight on the truth as seen through the world's lense? How can we better educate ourselves on the policy impacts (both short and long term) that this administration fosters?

Our children (two of those grandsons in your profile) don't have the context to fully grasp the horror of the violence of the war and subsequent unrest in Iraq (thank goodness they don't, by the way). What they do understand is that fighting is not an acceptable resolution to disagreement -- you get sent to your room for that kind of behavior!

As we write this response, we are still in a state of shock that Bush was re-elected. It is difficult to face the reality of America in 2004. Our environment is exposed as never before (anyone else read up on the Bush Energy Policy??), our diplomatic relations are frayed and getting more strained by the day, our country is severly divided economically and politically... It's enough to make you want to jump in the gas-guzzling SUV, drive through McDonalds for a quick family dinner (super-size my trans-fatty fries, please) and plop down on the LazyBoy to watch several hours of easy-on-the-brain network programming.

Occasionally I'll get all the way to the sports section in the paper. You know, after tearing through the front page and the metro section for all the inspiration you need for a busy day. Art Spander is a sports columnist from the Bay Area who wrote something that helps ease the sting:

"The great thing about democracy is that it gives every voter a chance to do something stupid."

Hmmm.

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