I am holding my breath. Almost literally. Much of last evening and this morning was spent viewing or listening to election coverage — CBS News, MSNBC, National Public Radio, and Fox were my channels of choice. The latter network was chosen, naturally, for opposition research.
The balloting and vote count were fascinating to watch. After exit polls gave the impression that Kerry was winning handily, the truth finally emerged — this was a horce race. At 3:05 Wednesday morning, the race was too close to call. Ohio was the focus: The Bushites insisted they’d won the Buckeye state; Democrats said the race was not yet over. As the world watched and waited, right-wing media took the Bush line as left-leaning journalists hoped against hope that sanity would win the day.
It didn’t, of course. I awoke to the news that Kerry shortly will concede the election to the Shrub. I am still numb at this point — hence, the inability to breathe consistently: The hell that was the last four years is about to get worse. Much worse. The smirking one now thinks — erroneously — he has a mandate.
A FOX analyst said chilling words very early this morning: “This is a Republican country.” In other words, non-GOPsters are in for a world of hurt — quite bluntly, it appears half the nation is screwed. And so is the US’s electoral system.
Who or what is to blame for the nightmare we face? I suspect it is Christian fundamentalism combined with right-wing fear and good old American bloodlust. Another factor is a Democratic party that resolutely refused to budge beyond Demublicanism. From Counterpunch:
The strategy of the Democratic Party as formulated by DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe amounted to belief in the simple potency of corporate cash, plus hysterical demonization of Bush and Nader, represented at full stretch by Michael Moore, who began the year backing General Wesley Clarke and ended it as a pied piper for Kerry. They came to the Rubicon of November 2 replete with fantasies, about the unknown cell phone vote, the youth vote (which actually remained unchanged from 2000), the galvanizing potential of Bruce Springsteen and Eminem.
Week after week Kerry and his boosters displayed an unmatched deafness to political tone. The haughty elitist from Boston probably lost most of the Midwest forever when he said in the high summer that foreign leaders hoped he would win. The applause of the French in Cannes for Michael Moore’s 9/11 was the sound of the cement drying over the corpse of Kerry’s chances of carrying the Midwest. Soros’s dollars were like flowers on the grave. After the billionairess Portuguese-American Teresa Heinz Kerry said in mid-October that Laura Bush had never held a job it was all over.
If there was a visual premonition of why George Bush would achieve a popular majority beyond challenge it was probably the photographs of gay couples celebrating their marriages outside San Francisco’s city hall. America is a very Christian country. In the regular national survey conducted by the University of Chicago in 2002, 53 per cent of the adult population identified themselves as Protestant, 25 per cent as Catholic, 3 per cent as Christians of some other denomination, 3 per cent as adhering to “other religions”, 2 per cent as Jewish and 14 per cent as having “no religion”. That’s a lot of Christians, and though many of them may have had a mature tolerance for the preference of Dick and Lynn Cheney’s daughter Mary, a strong percentage felt very strongly that state sanction of same sex marriage was going way too far.
There was a ballot initiative in Ohio to ban gay marriage and it was probably what helped Bush overcome the smoldering ruins of the Ohio economy and the increasing unpopularity of the war.
October surprises? No candidate was more burdened by them than George Bush. Just in the last couple of weeks, headlines brought tidings of US marines killed in Baghdad and other US troops rising up in mutiny against lack of equipment to protect their lives. The president’s brother Neil was exposed as influence peddling on the basis of his family connections. The economic numbers remained grim as they have been all year. And this was just the icing on the cake. You can troll back over the past fifteen months and find scarce a headline or news story bringing good tidings for Bush. History is replete with revolutions caused by a rise in the price of bread. This year the price of America’s primal fluid–oil–on which every household depends, tripled.
But Kerry and the Democrats were never able to capitalize on any of these headlines, a failure which started when Democrats in Congress, Kerry included, gave the green light to the war on Iraq, and which continued when Kerry conclusively threw away the war and WMD issues in August. When he tried to a chord change at NYU on September 20 it was too late and even then his position remained incoherent. He offered no way out. More tunnel, no light.
And what of the Green Party, the one I supported, the one that garnered only a few thousand votes in the balloting? We aren’t surprised.
So, we have a win for Bush, for Jerry Falwell, for violence and greed, for bigotry, for lies. As MSNBC puts it, slightly more than half the nation is A-OK with these horrors:
They don’t care that Iraq is turning into murderous quicksand and a killing field for our children. They don’t care that the Bush presidency has made us less safe by creating more terrorists, inspiring more anti-American hatred and refusing to engage in the hard work that would be necessary to make a meaningful dent in our myriad vulnerabilities at home. They don’t care that he has mortgaged our children’s future to give trillions to the wealthiest among us. They don’t care that the economy continues to hemorrhage well-paying jobs and replace them with Wal-Mart; that the number without health insurance is over forty million and rising. They don’t care that Medicare premiums are rising to fund the coffers of pharmaceutical companies. They don’t care that the air they breathe and the water they drink is being slowly poisoned and though they call themselves conservatives, they even don’t care that the size of the government and its share of our national income has increased by roughly a quarter in just four years. This is not a world of rational debate and issue preference.
It’s one of “them” and “us.” He’s one of “them” and not one of “us” and that’s all they care about. True it’s an illusion. After all, Bush is a millionaire’s son who went to Yale and Harvard and sat out Vietnam, not even bothering to show up for his cushy National Guard duty, and succeeded only in trading on his father’s name and connections in adult life. But somehow, they feel he understands them. He speaks their language. Our guys don’t. And unless they learn it, we will continue to condemn this country and those parts of the world it affects to a regime of malign neglect at best — malignant and malicious assault at worse.
The sad truth: Michael Moore was wrong when he opined that most of the nation was on the side of decency. It isn’t. The victors believe in legally mandated discrimination. They don’t care about endangering women’s reproductive rights. They do believe in war and revenge. And they will stand by war-criminal “leaders” who lie. Election 2004 proved that.
The US truly is divided between “us” and “them,” and the slight majority of “them” leaves “us” in a precipitous position, in a dangerous place — potentially for a very long time. Our only choices: Fight or flee.
Four more years. Forget Osama. This is terror.