Then, during the last few days of the campaign, I got increasingly worried, not about the Congressional races, but about the city council elections in my hometown of Albany. This election had been the buzz of the town for over a year, because its results would determine the future of our shoreline. If the two candidates supported by the Sierra Club and Democratic Representatives Barbara Lee and Loni Hancock did not win, the owners of the Golden Gate Fields racetrack would build a casino and a mall on the last little bit of pristine beach left along the San Francisco Bay.
Yes, it is true. Even though most residents of Albany don’t even know it, there is a place called Albany Beach in my city.
I had been promising to volunteer for the campaign for months, but never made it, what with pressing demands of children, job, and my own health.
That changed this autumn, when I actually made it to the Sierra Club office to call registered voters and urge them to vote for the candidates that would save our shoreline.
And what an experience that was. After hanging up on all those telemarketers all those years, I finally got a taste of my own medicine, as citizen after citizen told me to get lost.
“Remember Karl Rove,” a fellow volunteer said. “We need to imitate him. We just need to make sure that all our supporters show up at the polling place.”
It was disheartening to note that in a liberal city like Albany there could even be a disagreement about whether to save our beach or not. But the other side had portrayed the vote as a matter of financial survival for our community, and the city was passionately divided.
On Monday night, I sat with my 18-year-old to coach him on his first ballot, only to realize that he was ahead of the game. “Don’t you want to vote for the proposition to remove congestion, Mom?” he asked me.
On Tuesday night, when I got home to watch the election results, I felt different, excited, engaged. I had actually participated in this crazy process called democracy. Not only had I voted, but I had actually campaigned.
And what a sweet night it turned out to be. As state after state went blue, I couldn’t help feeling that at last George W. Bush had his comeuppance.
“Rumsfeld will be gone now,” I thought to myself, least expecting it to happen less than 12 hours later.
Even the staunchest supporters of Reagan recently revealed that the 40th president had no inner life. Similarly, I wonder if the sycophants that have gathered around W for the last six years will one day admit that he has no conscience; that his psychological profile matches that of a sociopath.
Sadly, the damage has been done. United States will now withdraw its troops from Iraq, leaving the cradle of civilization in the throes of a civil war. Half a million or so Iraqis that have perished in the war and the insurgencies, or died as a result of American sanctions, will not come back to life. American young men who have lost their limbs will never be whole again. Billions of dollars that have been squandered on killing innocent civilians will not now be available for education, healthcare, or job training at home. Mind you, those billions would have gone to the likes of Halliburton anyway.
But hopefully, we will no longer have a war-mongering dictator wielding his will on the world without restraint.
To show the world that we are not anti-Muslim, that we are not in the Middle East just for its oil, that we actually believe in democracy and civil rights, much more is needed.
Condoleezza Rice said recently that “there was no magic bullet to solve the problem of Iraq.” It is hardly surprising that a woman who has been a token female African American in this bloodthirsty White House could find only a military metaphor to speak of solutions for Iraq.
But I must disagree with Rice. There is a magic bullet for restoring America’s credibility around the world. There is a solution for righting the wrongs that have been done, not only to Iraqis, but to Nicaraguans and Iranis and Cubans and many other hapless citizens of powerless nations for decades, if not centuries. That magic bullet is not spelled with the letter “B;” it is spelled with the letter “I.”
As in “Impeachment.”
Congress must now open hearings on the Iraq war to determine if the president and his cronies lied to Congress and the American public about the reasons for going to war. The proceedings should shed light on the war crimes that have been committed by Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and others.
George Bush must not only be impeached, but he should be tried for atrocities in Iraq under the Geneva Convention.
An impeachment and a war crimes tribunal will certainly require a lot of time and energy. Perhaps nothing else will happen in the meantime. Perhaps it will divide our nation.
But it will be a risk worth taking. For, history will record what happens to those who wield their power recklessly, so that future presidents will not act in such imperialistic manner.
Such steps will enable Americans to leave this sad episode behind.
Such proceedings will also help me fully rejoice the victory of my candidates in the local election; perhaps even take pride in the belief that it was my effort that made the difference.
Only then will we have restored full sanity to our wonderful nation.
Sarita Sarvate writes commentaries for Pacific News Service and KQED. A collection of her writings can be found at www.saritasarvate.com