After the recent announcement by Karl Rove that the Republican National Convention in 2004 is to occur in early September (days from 9/11) in order to capitalize on George W. Bush's re-election campaign themes of "national security" and "national strength", I find myself feeling angry about the present state of national politics in the United States. This feels unusual for me. Though I have never completely agreed with the aims and goals of the Republican party, I always maintained a sense of reserve that kept my opinion hovering somewhere around the American equivalent of "Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition" rather than "fat, greedy, bastard children of shiftless, lazy whores, drunk on power". While it is true that Republicans such as Jesse Helms and Newt Gingrich always were dreadful irritants, I always assumed that more moderate elements of the GOP could be more practical and that some sense of compromise in the national interest was possible. With the news that the Republican right wishes to further co-opt a day of national tragedy for all Americans to favor an opportunistic political agenda, well, it turns my stomach and makes me re-consider the lineage of Mssrs. Bush, Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz et al.
Yet, there is another part of me that recognizes that this phenomenon is a natural and inevitable feature of the national body politic. The right wing of the Republican party has been complaining for 20-25 years that they have been unable to enact their vision for the United States because of the dreaded influences of liberals, Democrats, and secular humanists. Each setback in their attempt to implement this vision only seemed to distill the right wing message, forced it to mutate, and made it find a form that seemed "kinder and gentler" than it had any hope of being. In 2000, that message finally found enough traction to bring George W. "The Shrub" Bush into power.
The power and potency of that message must peak at some point. Writer Hunter S. Thompson sums up this feeling in regard to the previous cycle of liberal, leftist Democratic politics of the 1960's in his novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. In it, the novel's protagonist Raoul Duke comments:
Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era -- the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run.... but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant....
There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda.... You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning....
And that, I think, was the handle -- that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting -- on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave....
So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark -- the place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.
I keep hoping to see some sign that the wave of right wing Republicanism currently embodied in the fat, lazy bastards drunk on the power of office is about to break. I need to feel that though things may not be exactly to my liking, things are headed in a positive direction and that some sense of national sanity can be achieved. Moreover, I need to feel that the mass of the American people is committed to something higher (or at least different) than the vain glory of "prememptive" wars abroad and the opiate of blind patriotism at home. I would like there to be some spirited debate about issues that doesn't resort to the term "treason" in regard to criticism Presidential policy. I want to see a balanced budget and a healthy economy. I want to feel that my government does not lock up its citizens and throw away the key. I want to feel that the United States can in its strength and character be a useful citizen of the world, and not simply an agent to shape the world in the American image.
In this regard, I carefully note that events in Iraq have begin to deviate from the vision put forth from the Bush Administration. In particular, the Shiite minority has proved to be more effective at organizing than the best brains in the White House thought (or more likely didn't think), and are far more anti-American than anyone thought. Perhaps these are the seeds that will eventually bear fruit to bring the Bush administration to account? We shall see.
on 2003-04-23 at 11:26 a.m.
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