"But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother."
People are sheep.
A bit harsh, you say? A bit elitist, you stupid beret-wearing, clove-cigarette-smoking Francophile? Well, I don't wear hats, I don't smoke, and French people smell bad. But people are still sheep.
Don't think I'm not including myself in that category. I like to think I have my own mind and make decisions based on rational thought, but I know it's not true for some aspects of my life. Why do I like Philadelphia sports teams? Because I was raised near Philadelphia. There's no rational reason for me to cheer for the Phillies and Eagles, especially since for most of my life both of them have been really, really bad. So in some ways, I'm just as much a sheep as anyone else. But this isn't about me.
It's about the sheep who voted for George W. Bush. Now, George Bush may be a great guy to have a beer with (which seems to be the reason a lot of people vote for him; maybe they all know personally, since it seems like he drank with a lot of people in his day), but is that really a criterion on which to base your choice of president? Other sheep feel safe because Bush is "tough on terror." Hmmm. The worst terrorist attack in history (not just American history, either) occurred while Bush was president. I'm not saying it was his fault, I'm just pointing out a fact. How exactly is he tough on terror?
Basically, what Bush and his bunch of ultra-conservative pals (I won't call them Republicans, because two of the three greatest presidents EVER were Republicans) are peddling is the politics of exclusion. You can talk all you want about Bush being tough on terror and not allowing the damned Frenchies and Krauts to push us around, but essentially a vote for Bush is a vote for exclusion. I don't know how anyone who voted for Bush can deny it.
Well, maybe they can try. But consider: in Bush's world, gay people are stuff you wipe off your shoe. Now, I don't really care if gay people can marry or not -- I'm not gay, so it doesn't affect me. Since it doesn't affect me, let them marry -- who cares? It's not like straight people are so good at marriage. But the sheep who voted for Bush -- and passed man-woman marriage definition amendments in 11 states -- cannot stand the thought of gay people existing. Since gay people aren't going away, ultra-conservatives must marginalize them. They're proud of it. The politics of exclusion.
Here in Arizona, we passed a weird little proposition that requires people to have proof of citizenship for a raft of perks (like voting) for which they already need proof of citizenship. Yes, illegal immigrants are swarming over our borders to vote (it reminds of Anthony Michael Hall's character in The Breakfast Club, who has a fake I.D. so he can vote). The same people who voted for Proposition 200 would scream bloody murder if the state went after the companies who employ illegal immigrants, because then their greens fees would go up because the companies would have to charge more to water the golf courses. The politics of exclusion.
Ultra-conservatives want our children held to higher standards in school. No Child Left Behind and all that. Great. Now pay for it. As a teacher, I can tell you that we are leaving plenty of children behind. But because they don't look like nice, upstanding citizens and are probably pregnant anyway, who cares? The politics of exclusion.
The rest of the world? Fuck 'em. That's the Bush way. Unless, of course, they do exactly what we want them to do. If they have a democracy and the democracy votes not to join us in our little Iraqi adventure, then they're cowards. Fuck 'em. We're Americans!
Why are people sheep? Why do some of these ultra-conservatives proclaim to be Christian but only help other Christians (if that) who are in need? Why do they want to return to some bucolic world that never actually existed? Why has Bush betrayed the roots of the Republican Party? In my mind, we have had three great presidents. Yes, only three, because "great" is a word that gets thrown around too much. The three great presidents: Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (interesting that two are from the same family). Lincoln and Teddy would be horrified by what the Republican Party has turned into, and would be mocked by the Republicans of today. So why has it come to this?
Because people are afraid. The voter turnout was nice, but all it did was show the fear. Democrats feared a Bush win, and Republicans feared a Kerry win. If Bush was such a great president, the voter turnout would have been less, and Bush would have won more handily. Yes, I know he's the first candidate since 1988 to get over 50% of the vote, but 51% isn't exactly a landslide. The point is: sheep are afraid of change, of anything that's a little weird in the world, and of making sacrifices. Americans these days want everything handed to them without paying for it. We don't want to know the cost of the war in Iraq. We don't want to know the cost of making us less dependent on oil. We don't want to know what it costs to educate our children. These things make us afraid, and Bush tells us we can do all these things -- fight a war, get cheap gas, destroy the environment -- without paying for it. That's what Americans like to hear. The third great president, FDR, asked Americans to make sacrifices so that the soldiers fighting a real enemy -- Nazi Germany and Japan -- could have it a little better. Can you imagine Bush asking Americans to sacrifice for our troops? The support for his little war, even among hard-core conservatives, would evaporate. So he bankrupts our future so he can play "Risk" on a global scale.
There is good news. Progressives have already won. Ultra-conservatives think they've won, with their four more years of cheap oil and no gay marriage. But they haven't. Human life progresses. If not for liberals (a great word that Democrats can't seem to reclaim, even though it's easy), we'd still have slavery. That's why Lincoln was a liberal, even though he was a Republican. If not for liberals, we'd have unregulated industries pumping all sorts of toxins into our atmosphere. Oops. We still have that, but it would be worse if not for T. Roosevelt and liberals that followed him. If not for liberals, we'd still be denying blacks the vote. Gays will eventually be tolerated more in society. No, the discrimination won't go away anytime quickly -- are blacks accepted everywhere? -- but it's going to happen. And we're going to run out of oil sooner rather than later. And people will change -- they won't like it, but they will. Ultra-conservatives (I suppose we should call them reactionaries) will always lose. Always. It's because of evolution (another word reactionaries don't like, but it's still a good word). Evolution of knowledge. The more we understand, the less they will be able to defend their policies. They can stick to them, but they won't be able to defend them, and soon, people who want to discriminate against gay people will be as marginalized as the KKK. Sure, they'll still be there, living in the past, but the rest of society will have moved on.
That doesn't mean I'm happy about the election. People, Americans in particular, are sheep. We like to pretend we're not, but we are. Everyone misses their mommies and daddies making the monsters go away when they're little. Well, no one wants to grow up, so we find surrogate daddies. That's all Bush is, and that's all Kerry would have been. Kerry might have been a more benevolent daddy, but still. Americans wanted Bush, and now they have him. Enjoy it.
I hope Bush goes even more psycho than he already has. I hope the death toll in Iraq hits 5 figures. All the soldiers voted for Bush, so fuck 'em -- they can die for something as stupid as that. I hope gas prices continue to rise, because then Bush will have to give more and more subsidy money to oil companies (you pay a huge gas tax, you just don't know it) to keep prices artificially low. I hope Bush erects a huge fence on our southern border to keep all the swarthy people out. I hope Roe v. Wade gets overturned. I hope more and more discrimination exists against gay people. I hope Cheney's daughter feels it. Fuck her, why should she be special? I do not hope the terrorists hit America again, but it wouldn't surprise me if it happened, because terrorists don't necessarily hate America, they hate George Bush. I hope all this stuff happens so normal people who voted for Bush for one reason -- because he made them feel "safe" -- can realize what it's like to live in a reactionary Wonderland. It's what we wanted.