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Paying the price

Fri, Jan 21st, 2005
Posted in Commentary

George Bush’s second term as President upholds the notion that people get the kind of government they deserve. A fractious America, divided on everything from morals to pre-emptive war, did the best it could with the archaic two-party election apparatus it had available. This last election was truly the case where money was used to sell a candidate no differently than a company sells a brand of soap.

In the last election, George Bush sold fear better than John Kerry could sell reason; the war on terror had more appeal than finding the peace in Iraq; the fear of gay marriage played better than treating all people fairly; and the fear of abortion had more appeal than letting women make health choices.

While we are a country divided in values, there are also great cultural divides that separate us. We are a country influenced by geography and ethnicity. The exurbs, enclaves of prosperity with six figure incomes, McMansions, and super churches where you can wrestle, bowl and jujitsu for Jesus, are as different to us in Fillmore County as rain and snow.

Here we are grounded in our connection to the land and our small-town reliance on each other - a support network of family, friends, community, and church. In this regard, we probably have more links to our Canadian cousins, church going people of the Prairie, than our siblings to the south and their Armageddon style Christianity grounded in the absolutism of the old testament.

While we are a country divided, we are also a nation diminished. The world no longer expects great ideas from us.

Our response to 9-11 was to turn symbols like freedom, liberty and patriotism on their heads, to merge government and corporations into fascist enterprise, and to throw our armed forces into a bungled war thousands of miles away in Iraq.

The irony is that the UN weapons inspectors were right, there were no weapons of mass destruction. But our President, presented with the facts on WMD, would have invaded Iraq anyway, or so he says. Today he sees an experiment in democracy taking place, while others see the brink of chaos and civil war. He calls it “spreadin’ freedom”.

On the economic front, the US deficit forces the government to pay $168 billion in annual payments, approximately 7 percent of the federal budget. This is more than the government will spend on education, housing, transportation, science, space and technology combined in the next year.

The president received 53 percent of the vote; 47 percent opposed him. Another 40 percent of the eligible voters chose not to participate in the election at all.

Bush called this election a mandate on the war in Iraq. But we all know that this isn’t true, this election was really about selling fear. And we will all have to pay the price.

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