Monday, November 03, 2008


There have been 3 elections in my adult life that have been super important--1980, 2000, and now. 1980 ushered in the era of Republican Party rejection of our country's struggle to improve our general economic well-being while paying heed to the environment, instead focusing on robbing the nation of both our natural resources (remember James Watt?) and selling off our assets. Lowering taxes on the rich led to us going from the world's largest creditor to the world's largest debtor in a matter of months while increasing the disparity between rich and poor for the first time since the Great Depression. 2000 resulted in finishing us off as a viable world power economically; we no longer "control our own destiny", to borrow a sports phrase. Not only has our debt risen to such heights that it threatens our very ability to pay it off properly, but the open greed and rapacity of the conservative movement has also diminished our standing in the company of nations. We are not envied or admired any more, we are despised throughout the entire world. The litany of lies and deceptions the Smirky Administration has perpetrated on us has reverberated around the world, making the United States of America the first superpower in history to be so reviled. (Other empires were feared or resented, but mostly they were grudgingly respected for a century or more until they could be overthrown by the locals wanting self-government. We didn't even last 60 years before becoming so hated as to encourage an attack on our own soil that was cheered on by many.)
The difference between the election tomorrow and those two was that this time, we know how high the stakes truly are. Ronald Reagan was seen as a joke by most people, even after he became the Republican nominee, except for the people of California, who had had to endure his term as governor--they knew what was coming. And Bush was even more of a joke; his only success in his entire life was in being elected governor of a state where the governor has no real power. The true horror of both those presidencies came in retrospect. What Reagan's presidency initiated, and Bush's finished, has been the almost complete dismantling of our system of governance.
Taxes, which are the primary method by which our government pays for what it does, have become so disdained that politicians fear to even say the word out loud, even when it is obvious that our fiscal standing is precipitously poised to collapse.
Trust in government at any level has eroded to the point that the Bush Administration, which by any measure is the most corrupt and venal in the history of the country, can do anything it wants without most people even noticing. Approve the torture of US citizens? Oh, gee, Clinton was worse. (Somehow.) Make up "facts" to convince Congress and the public to assent to make war on a country that did not attack us? Who cares. Launch a countrywide assault on the mechanics of elections themselves in order to cheat the actual will of the people? Wait, is that Paris Hilton over there?
The vaunted power of the press to curb any excesses of the three branches of our government has been either neutered or co-opted, first by the Reagan-era elimination of the Fairness Doctrine, which allowed for the creation of TV and radio stations which have no desire to even fake objectivity, and secondly by the similar neutering of any oversight bodies, which allowed for an egregious consolidation of media outlets. We no longer have much of a press, let alone a free press, in the US; less than a handful of companies own the vast majority of newspapers, and ownership of our broadcast media is even more concentrated. And all of these media are owned primarily by conservatives singularly uninterested in anything but the bottom line.
We may have already lost the battle to save our country, but one thing is for sure: if John McCain is elected, it is entirely possible we will have lost the last chance to do anything about it. This election, we know what is at stake. Does anyone truly believe that if McCain is at the helm, China and the other countries that own the paper--literally--on our country won't simply call in their loans, devastating us financially? Why wouldn't they, given McCain's unstable character and hawkish tendencies? They could do so simply as a means of protecting themselves from military attack! Does anyone truly believe that if McCain is elected, the crimes of the Bush Administration won't be erased even more completely than they have been already? Does anyone truly believe that if McCain is elected, the machinery of governance will not come grinding to a halt as a Congress that has just enough obstruction-minded conservatives left in it becomes unable to pass any worthwhile bill whatsoever that has a chance of being signed into law? (Since 2006, we've already seen how that will look.)
More loftily, though, this election is about the mindset of our country. The contrast between the two candidates could not be more stark. Barack Obama, to all but the most cynical or deluded, really does operate from a worldview driven by hope and pragmatism, while John McCain, to all, sees only scary things in the world that need to be suppressed. Do we want to continue on the same path that gave us Iran-Contra, Fox News Channel, Florida 2000, 9/11, the "War on Terror", the Terri Schiavo mess, waterboarding and Abu Ghraib, the mortgage bubble/collapse and our current economic meltdown, and Sarah Palin? (I know, I know, Bill Clinton had oral sex. The Horror!) Or do we instead want to try and fix some of the things that Republicans have done to us? I don't know if it's at all possible for Barack Obama to "change" much in the time he may have, but I damn sure know that McCain isn't going to do anything I want done.
Hope v. Fear: that is the storyline here. I hope that Obama can help, and I am deathly afraid of John McCain.

Labels: , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home