Wednesday, November 03, 2004


I still believe in America, just like I believe that I will outlive this diagnosis of a 100%-fatal syndrome, and dance with my kids at their college graduations. America stands for hope, and that’s why I believe in America, no matter how crippled it might be at any one moment. Though America is crippled, and the cure has yet to be found, let’s not give up on her.

I know that I have the strength to endure the calamities ahead: I’ve already lived through 12 years of the destructive and venal rule of Reagan and the first Bush. And this time I have no regrets, because I know that we did everything we could. The case was made very clearly.

Given the discrepancy between the exit polls and the ballot tallies, as well as the fact that voting machines used were based on designs with inherent ease-of-abuse features, a reasonable person may now tenably believe that the election was stolen, and that Bush actually lost. Profound as this crime is, what am I to do about it? If there was substantial fraud significant enough to throw the election, it was very carefully done, so as to escape being obvious. And undetectable fraud is not something we can concern ourselves with: If you can’t prove it, it didn’t happen. Yes, American voting machines still need to be improved, brought up to some kind of minimum rational standard, but as of now we have to accept the consensus result, even if we are simply accepting a crime.

I have no regrets. The choice was stark. I haven’t blogged much about this, but I have spent over a year in daily conversation with Republican voters on the internet, posting several times as day. I won’t call it a battle, because my approach was to always remain civil, and try to focus on the issues. This approach brought me volumes of ridicule and personal attack. My hope was that perhaps some people who were sitting on the fence might grow disaffected with the abusive tactics of their allies, or might see some validity in some of my points. At least I hoped that they would come to think that I was a respectable person, even though I voted differently. One of my major strategies was to adopt some of the tenets of the rightist agenda, and show how the current administration fails miserably to reach even its own goals, much less in matching the values of the American people. I gave money to the Democrats and to, the first time I had ever donated to a campaign. My wife volunteered at a phone bank. A neighbor traveled to an adjacent swing-state to go door to door there. We did all that we could and that’s why I have no regrets.

While it may be comforting to reflect that over 55 million Americans, or 48% of those who voted, were not fooled by the current administration, that’s no comfort when there should have been a landslide of rejection, given that the case was so stark and clear.

So why the outcome?

I personally believe that the confederacy that the Republicans have built over the years is a minority and saw its high-water mark in the 2000 election. This is the confederacy of racists, religious bigots, the amoral super-rich, and angry ignoramuses. But if they are a minority, the outcome of yesterday’s election should have been different. I think the factor that made the difference was war, and the right-wing media nurturing misconceptions on an agar of ignorance.

Any unpopular war has a lifecycle. Even though the internet age and the media have compressed that lifecycle, it is still the same. The time will come when most Americans see the incompetent blunder in Iraq, and the vast global strategic mishandling of the war on terror, for what they are. But we are not yet in that point in the lifecycle. We have passed out of the stage of initial support and into the phase of dread and attempts to find safety. It is ironic and sad that many among us, preyed on by right-wing media, seek safety in supporting the very man who brought on the trauma.

But keep in mind that the average I.Q. in the U.S. is 100. That’s a human reality that cannot be changed. Also keep in mind that America, like so many other countries, is a prisoner of its history. I feel that America’s history is, on the whole, a tale that inspires hope. But we are still afflicted by the sins of slavery, and the awful pride that was the Confederacy. If you are not an American, you may not understand what I am talking about. But there are many people here who, without even knowing it, are living lives that are echoes of the attempt to retain Confederate values after the Civil War.

The feigned family values of the Republican party leverage this retrograde constituency. The gay marriage issue serves as a case in point. The Democrats are by no means a progressive party, but they do have a tendancy to be more open to broad societal changes that carry the weight of historical inevitability. But there is a friction over such issues, and the price to be paid is paid by those who are more tolerant. Hence the Democrats paid the price, but not just for this year's advances in gay marriage -- They will always pay the price for any cause of justice the party does not outright oppose. Too bad. But the price has to be paid sometime.

To my friends overseas I say: Your country would never accept the leaders we accept, but your country is different. Try to understand that America will emerge from this darkness some day. To friends at home I say: Don’t despair, but instead keeping living and thinking freely, the conscientious people that you are.

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