Tuesday, September 09, 2003

All, all honorable men

Last night, I wrote of my reactions to Mr. Bush’s speech. I wrote, “They say you get the government you deserve, and I'd like to know just what the hell we did to deserve George Bush the Sequel. Come to think of it, I can think of a few things. We're doomed.” This prompted Erik to ask who is the “we” I was referring to.

Well, the people of the United States, generally, and in a broader sense, the secular establishment of the western world. The citizens of the empire.

George W. Bush is not an anomaly in human experience. He is not some Klingon commander that hijacked our ship and crew; at least, not without a little help from the Courts. He is, as we all are, the product of our history. We have made him out of our collective choices, when we’ve chosen how what passes for American culture will be expressed, and how we will deal with other peoples and the environment.

President Bush is the product of the conservative, authoritarian, militaristic, manifest destiny attitudes that has been a pervasive thread in American life for a long time. He is a manifestation of our impulses to get revenge and assert our might, to exploit our natural resources, to have some damn law and order around here.

OK, some of us identify ourselves with other threads in America’s history: liberal, progressive, libertarian, anarchist, indifferent, oblivious, etc. That’s valid; we can say, “he’s not my choice.” But he’s still our mutual problem, our mutual responsibility. So we begin with some questions: What is the payoff to us, generally, of having a man like this in the oval office? What are the costs in terms of economics, conscience and blood? Are the costs so great that we’re willing to vote in someone else, and give up the payoffs, the empire, and the profits?

Are we willing to be the change we wish to see in the world, or shall we leave that role to the Germans and the French?

He hath brought many captives home to Rome,
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious? …
O judgment: thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason.

No comments: