Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Since it seems to be trendy to bitch about the election and/or make stirring posts about Our Civic Duty, consider this my two bits.

First, I'm disappointed and shocked. Our civil liberties will need defending. Chances are, the US will continue to lose international support. The US may end up very alone. Things look bleak, and action will be necessary.
That said, I want to give my gut to the noble e-speeches cropping up in my Friends List, in high-profile political blogs, in a few scant op-eds floating around. I do agree that we will need to shout louder and hit harder and raise more money and cause more hell. But will the inspiration be there for the public? My first reaction to Kerry's concession was not plotting to overthrow the Bush regime, nor was it dreaming up a new non-profit to defend us. It was to leave. Expatriation for an ex-patriot. In essence, I said, "Fuck this." Because I didn't choose him the first time around, and I didn't choose him this time, but apparently by dint of being an American, I deserve this circus. My first point: I, like many, simply want to leave it all behind.
A mass exodus, however tempting, seems unlikely. At the first signs of the flood, most industrialized countries would close their borders, leaving the ones to whom our lined American pockets would be a boon. Historically and by the fact of human nature, no one does anything until their standard of living is in peril. Not just in rhetorical terms. The Patriot Act chafes us and robs us of our basic right to privacy, but it doesn't keep food off of our tables. Until, like wars past, everyone knows someone who was injured or killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, or whereever we invade next, nothing will change. The US presence stayed in Vietnam for almost a decade --that's how long it took the people to impress upon the government that something had to change. And that was a certain majority America talking. Second point: When people can live normally, politics floats to the periphery.
The majority was tired of seeing the death toll. For some reason, the number, somewhere near 1100 now, of Iraq casualties flashes on the screen and then goes down the memory hole. No one is impressing the horrors of war onto us. No one is showing us that No Child Left Behind is a steaming heap of shit that will make struggling schools worse off than before. No one is showing us how borrowing some healthcare ideas from those Crazy Canadians or "Old Europe" may actually help us, especially our senior citizens choosing between food or pills. The media is failing us because, pay attention, they make money off of partisan politics. The punditry and business and dog and pony show of it all is good for business. Don't want to alienate the (left/right)-leaning advertiser? Tweak the story, change the wording. It doesn't seem to make a difference because we're locked into the two-party system anyway. Another crazy idea from those countries that aren't US. Final point: Media + two-party system = political circle jerk.

So my basic message is, yes, your heart is in the right place. I will help, for as long as I'm an American. But please, and I mean this without aggression or arrogance, put your money where your mouth is. A lot of people can talk or write well, but who can follow up?

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