For the first years of the Bush presidency, I, like many intellectuals, viewed our commander-in-chief as a bumbling idiot who had stumbled into office with the backing of oil lobbyists who had installed him as a puppet ruler. But in the last few weeks, a much more sinister picture of George W. Bush has emerged.
He should be compared, not to Zelig, the comic title character in Woody Allen’s film, but to Hitler, who came to power in Germany through the sheer force of his ideological, yet misguided beliefs.
It turns out that George Bush is no fool, as his performances against John Kerry, a one-time ivy-league debate champion, have shown. George has conducted his ideological war against those who don’t frame the world in his simplistic terms with a fanatical, yet insidious fervor. As he once did in his successful campaign against Ann Richards, then incumbent governor of Texas, he has used his political lieutenants like Karl Rove to engage in smear tactics against Kerry. At the same time, he has isolated himself from the give-and-take of Washington politics, carrying out his agenda of militarism and world domination and squandering $400 billion of our money that could have gone towards protecting our social security, paying our healthcare bills, and educating our children.
And he has managed to keep the Democrats on Capitol Hill silent through tactics of sheer intimidation.
The result is a country that many economic experts, including Paul Krugman of the New York Times, characterize as a third world banana republic on the verge of economic breakdown. Indeed, if we were not the mighty United States, we might well be Argentina today, with a radically devalued currency and collapsed property values. Such a future, by many estimates, is only five years away. And don’t forget that, by then, Bush would have retired to Crawford, Texas, where he will be building his presidential library, while our children and grandchildren will be busy taking second and third jobs in the local McDonalds and Burger Kings just to put the food on the table, and we will be lining up at the emergency room at the county hospital to get routine medical help.
How did Bush accomplish all this? And why did no one stop him?
I would have to say that part of the blame has to be shared by the Democratic Party leadership, which seems to be non-existent.
Could it be that Bush has so polarized corporate interests in the country that any sign of caring for the ordinary citizens of this nation is labeled as “liberalism” today and sneered at by the average Joe Blow who gets his information from Fox News, which is anything but news? Could it be that, thanks to our media worship, our third-rate education system, and our culture of anti-intellectualism, most Americans are so ignorant that they don’t know the difference between what is and what could have been?
I suspect it is all of the above. Of course, Ralph Nader was right when he said that the Democrats and Republicans work for the same guys. Having said that, though, if the last four years have shown one thing, it is that there is a difference between the Democrats and Republicans. On that score, Nader and his follower Michael Moore were completely wrong. It is hard to imagine that a President Gore would have unilaterally gone to war against Iraq without U.N. support or evidence of weapons of mass destruction or that he would have refused to sign the Kyoto environmental accords. It is hard to imagine that he would have supported an education bill like No Child Left Behind without adequately funding it or given away our hard-earned money to Halliburton.
The Democrats’ problem is that it is hard to generate mass hysteria over issues like healthcare, which most citizens find too complicated, rather than Islamic terrorists, who are easy to hate. Just as Reagan inspired the great unwashed with his pitch for star wars and his zeal for supply-side economics, which turned out to be religion rather than an economic theory, the junior Bush has managed to unite the masses against the fear of a foreign enemy and real fundamentalist zeal. And the Clintons and the Daschles are standing by, just as they stood by as the Supreme Court gave the presidency wrongfully to Bush while the Congressional black caucus alone protested. One can’t help wondering if the corporate interests put a lot of pressure on the Democrats behind the scenes to force them to support the election of Bush or else pull the money out. Certain things about the last stolen election we will never know but I am hoping that if there is any tampering of votes this time in Florida, which many news stories indicate is already underway, we the people need to rise up and not concede the election no matter what, even if it means not getting any bill passed or any governance done for the next four years. After all, it can’t be worse than squandering billions and killing millions.
We must remember that we need to deconstruct George W. Bush’s America, and reconstruct it in a different, more egalitarian model.
Sarita Sarvate writes commentaries for Pacific News Service and KQED.