The narrow victory of George W. Bush to a second term in office is a great disappointment for liberals, progressives, and lucky others who possess functioning brains. Just days after claiming victory, he proposed a reactionary agenda that includes such nightmares as privatization of social security, drilling in ANWR, and extension of his ludicrous tax cut scheme to beyond 2010. And, what might be scaring people the most, Bush will pack the Supreme Court with neoconservatives, who sit for life, tipping a delicate balance that could undo Roe v. Wade and other landmark cases. Bush himself, in interviews after the election, hit on the truth: the direction he is taking the country was endorsed on November 2, and this can do nothing but convince him it is the just, God-sanctioned path to continue on as it takes the entire world down the crapper.
On the morning of 3 November, I awoke to find Instant Messenger away messages prophesizing the end of the world, profanity-laced diatribes against Bush along with the idiots who voted for him, and more than a few plans of expatriating from this backwards country. While I understand your rage, these are childish overreactions. They are neither overreactions to the policies, for they are monstrous; nor to the man, for he is still ignorant; nor to the process, for it is money-driven and unjust. They are overreactions to the reality of the situation.
Here’s a wake-up call: we were born under Reagan. Liberal has been a dirty word since we learned to talk. Secularism and the softer variants of Christianity have been on a steep decline. The U.S. has been a fundamentalist nation since we were old enough to know what that meant. Let the fifty year olds grumble. They have known another America. We have not. You wanted to loosen your collar, sip a latte made with organic soymilk, and sit on your ass for four years, having done your part. Well, sorry, but it’s not an option.
The problems would not have gone away. The government needs to be scrutinized every second of every day. Those who throw up their hands in absolute disgust remind me of the protestors of the Iraq war who really thought their handmade signs would throw a wrench in the plans of the powerful. If the U.S. wasn’t on top, another country would. But since it is the U.S., we are in unique position to alter the course of world events. Our domestic resistance can give the oppressed a margin of survival that they need in their struggles for freedom and dignity.
But this involves hard work, and lots of it. It involves turning immature protest movements into effective and well-funded umbrella organizations like MoveOn.org. It requires transforming disillusionment, boredom with politics, and vague white rage into systemic changes. As with everything, it starts with each and every one of us on a daily basis. We have to, in the words of Gandhi, be the change we wish to see. Right now, we top off the tanks of our cars, the ones with “No War in Iraq” bumper stickers and lace up our slave-made shoes and pull on a t-shirt that reads “Resist American Empire.” We’re all addicts wondering why there’s a drug problem. Even a President Kucinich could not have cured our lust for the spoils of Empire.
If you’re going to run away to Europe, have fun. I’ll be here, doing the same things I’ve been doing for years, and what I’d be doing even if the election had gone differently.
You can stay pissed, but please stay. Don’t take the easy way out. This is not the time to tune out. This is the time to prepare for 2008, and 2012, and a lifetime of struggle against injustice. Don’t act surprised. America was full of idiots on 1 November. It was also full of 56,158,908 Kerry supporters. Nothing has changed except your perception of a preexisting problem. So let’s work on the solution to that problem. Don’t turn your back on what you know is right.
When and if you’re ready, we’ll be here.