Today, I fear, is one of the saddest days for America. As we usher in a continuation of failed policies and nationalistic arrogance, we are on the brink of a cultural war, and are far more divided than in the recent past. For many of us, the election of George Bush shakes us to our absolute core. How is it possible that a failed businessman of princely beginnings, a meandering drunk who suddenly found God, a coward who avoided the war, a leader who misled, can garner the vote of so many Americans?
I cried when the stacked Supreme Court stopped the election of 2000. And I hoped since that fateful day that George Bush would prove me wrong. He has not. After 9/11, George Bush squandered the goodwill of the world with his insistence on unilateralism through his Oedipal fixation with Iraq. Today, as Saddam Hussein rests in jail writing poetry, we have neither weapons of mass destruction nor a direct connection to Al-Qaeda. Instead, we have more than 1,100 dead soldiers. Fallujah is waiting in the wings to increase the body count.
But the pro-lifers are gleeful. George Bush repetitively states that he believes in the “sanctity of life” despite the dead soldier count and the fact that more than 100,000 Iraqis have reportedly been killed. During his brief tenure as governor of Texas, George put many hundreds to death in Huntsville without losing a wink of sleep, or struggling with a scintilla of moral angst. Death must really tear at his heartstrings. Ironic, too, that abortion is still legal in this country after George’s first four years. Apparently the cultures crowd believes talk is more important than results.
The red state partisans love George Bush. He is their moral guy, full of rectitude. He allows his Vice President go duck hunting with a Supreme Court justice. His administration releases the name of a secret CIA operative. He is good friends with Enron executives. He stonewalls the 9/11 investigation to the dismay of grieving families. He complicity condones mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib through his unyielding support of Rumsfeld and the Neocons. No one seems to care in the land of the red.
No, the values crowd cares only about their unfettered access to a gun and the exclusion of a sexual minority, since it is professed in the name of God. Bin Laden would be happy with such religious piety. Nor do the redlanders care about their economic interests. Open the immigration floodgates and keep Wal-Mart flowing with a steady supply of low wage workers. Suppress wages for everyone, don’t increase the minimum wage, quell union support. Marginalize health care access. Give huge tax cuts to the wealthy. “That’s okay,” shouts the red crowd, “George is with us on the values issues.”
Even the Catholics joined in the fray, as a majority voted with George Bush this time around. The Church that once stood for world peace, helping the poor, and sanctity of all life, has bishops declaring that it is a sin to vote for John Kerry. A sin? You’ve got to be kidding me. These are the same bishops who had trouble cleaning up their own house, now getting into bed with the religious right, a group that openly despised the Catholic Church. And they are telling me not to vote for another Catholic?
Even the Jewish vote was depressed for Kerry. As the Bushian evangelicals have pounced on the unyielding support of Israel to fulfill their biblical prophecy, the Jewish vote is slowly turning to the land of the red. Strange bedfellows.
John Kerry is a true American hero who willingly fought for his country and continues to fight for all Americans. He and John Edwards deserved better. We let them down. I pray that we will do better in the future.