Rootsie's European Roots  

'Anyone but Bush'  
By Rootsie
February 29, 2004

When I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000, friends gently and not so gently pointed out my naivete, confusing 'ideological purity' with the realities of our political system. Sure Gore was appalling in many respects, but what about Bush? Nader is widely blamed even by so-called 'progressives' for Bush's election. Leaving the fact aside that the election was at the end stolen, Gore was his very own disaster. In debate after debate, he and Bush cordially agreed on every point as to the direction of American imperialism.

As far as I can tell, the only difference between Democrats and Republicans is how unapologetic the Republicans are. Republicans boldly side with corporate interests, while Democrats such as Kerry the 'liberal' roll out the rhetoric about the 'working man' and accept scads of special-interest payoffs. Democrats don't reflexively and shamelessly strangle domestic social programs. I think this is why most people I know feel they must vote for whoever the Democratic nominee is. The states are being gutted. But where the stakes are so terribly high, and where the 'terrorist threat' lives and breathes, the Democrats have nothing productive or progressive to say to the rest of the world. Kerry has a love affair going with the Israelis. He voted for the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has no problem with 'free trade.' Or 'economic restructuring.'

Arguably the most horrific genocide of the 20th century, and certainly of its last half, Rwanda, took place under Clinton's watch. He bombed Iraq every day, bombed Afghanistan, blew up a hospital in Sudan, put Aristide back in Haiti without support, but let Bosnia happen, let Rwanda happen. Most Americans have not allowed the horror of Rwanda to enter their consciousness, or contemplate that their country was in a position to stop it, and did nothing. Maybe when we consider our elections, we should think of what difference Democrat or Republican would make in the world outside the US. The answer is none.

There are millions of 'peace and justice' Americans who make noises about including the interests of the planet in their considerations. And yet they want to crucify Nader for having the audacity to frame the issues globally and cry 'Wolf'?

No doubt, the last 4 years of Bush have been a horror show, an assault on civil rights, human rights, and basic human decency against people everywhere. But I have to say there is an advantage to having the real global thugs, for whom Bush is a mere figurehead, front and center. One can only assume that the interests whom Bush represents are feeling confident that their New World Order is a fait accompli and they no longer need to work behind the scenes. That is the point. The global corporate takeover was proceeding nicely during the Clinton years, just under the radar, or beyond the concern of most Americans. Now with Bush the true ugliness is revealed, and it is unbearable for many who were oblivious before to see what this country has become. But the question is what do we do now? Do we install the 'kinder gentler' face of capitalist despotism, or do we stop right here and address the rot? All that electing a Democrat will do is to assuage the enflamed conscience of 'liberal' Americans. Will it stop Halliburton and Bechtel and the others?

And at home, let's tell the truth. Clinton is the president of the 'omnibus Crime Bill', the million new jail cells, the 100,000 new police dispatched to our bleeding inner cities for what? To cordon off suffering neighborhoods and drive the worst evidence of decades of racism and neglect from our sensibilities.

People such as myself who work in social services receive our paychecks contingent upon the continuation of poverty and racism. Our charity work does nothing to address issues of basic justice.

The thing is, we can afford to be 'sunshine patriots.' We educated liberals after all have it pretty good here. Pretty good jobs, nice cribs, nice cultural events, opportunities for 'spiritual growth'... We seem to believe that saying the right things is all we have to do. We seek and advocate personal empowerment and then plead our political powerlessness.

Nader has been jumping up and down for over 30 years, 'The Emperor! No clothes no clothes no clothes...' The fact that liberals and progressives are responding to him so hatefully says much about their regard, however unconsciously, for the status quo, or at least about their naivete. Not mine. Alas, I gave that up a long time ago. My life would be easier if I had not.

I sense a deep despair among liberals. To vote in November for either Democrat or Republican is to concede defeat. The rest of the world watches us, with our plenty and our privilege and our power and some of them are foolish enough to hope that at some point we will use our democratic process to put an end to this worldwide horror show. But we are too busy over here in the devil's camp making the devil's bargain.


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