Monday, July 28, 2003

Freedom Does Not Come In A Happy Meal

ìÖWhen stood next to the choice of American political parties (ìSo, would you like Right Wing, or Supersized Right Wing with Extra Fries?î) my English fuzzy middle-of-the-roadness probably translates easily as bomb-throwing Trotskyist...î

Other than the fact that I am not English, nor very middle of the road (though I do read the Guardian from time to time) this statement by Neil Gaiman pretty much sums up my feelings of American politics at the moment.

It seems to me that sometime during the last three years American politicians as a whole took one giant step to the right so now Liberals are, at best, Centrists while the Centrist are what we called in my youth, Conservatives while what passes for Conservative these days is an appalling confab of Religious Fundies, Racists and genuine, old school Fascists. The problem of course is that itís this last group who have hijacked the White House and replaced sound Fiscal practices with Voodoo Economics and fifty years of foreign diplomacy with the sort of crass Imperialism not seen since the days of the Caesars. You know, the really bad Caesars like Nero and Elagabalus, not the relatively cuddly Caesars like Julius or Augustus.

In other words, weíre only a pair of jackboots away from overt Dictatorship.

OK, maybe Iím exaggerating. Maybe Iím just giving in to the olí hyperbole. But when was the last time you saw a politician in this country that was honestly Liberal? Maybe it hasnít been just in the last three years that weíve shifted rightward; I suppose we could look back to Reagan and see a gradual shift to the right from there on, so that now weíve got to the point where members of the Project for a New American Century are running our country. Or ruining it, depending on how you like illegal invasions for dubious reasons.

The thing is, Iím not entirely sure that just voting Democrat and hoping for the best is going to cut it anymore since Democrats arenít really that much better; sure they are slightly better but how much, really? I kind of like Howard Dean and think he has a good chance of winning the Democratic nomination and even the White House. But he ainít liberal, by any stretch of the imagination.

Now, I know we canít swing back to the left in one fell swoop as itíd probably break our necks. Taking it one step at a time is a good way to start but still, Iím rather fed up with the Lesser-of-Two-Evils style of voting that has become the American standard practice for determining who will be elected Leader of the Free World (or appointed Caesar of the chained Empire, in Bushís case).

Of course, this is all assuming we will have a fair election in 2004, which is not a guarantee. It should be, considering itís in the constitution but thatís really the heart of my point; our own freedoms are no longer inalienable and none of our leaders seem to care very much, since they all seem to be getting corporate contributions to ensure that just the opposite becomes the norm. Which is why Iím wondering if voting and sending e-mails and letters to my representatives is even worth it. Iíve been doing just those things and according to what I was taught in Government class back in High school, this should be working. But itís not. So what do you do when the system doesnít work? And how do you do it in a way that functions within the parameters of the system and wonít earn you a visit from the friendly folks at the FBI or an open ended vacation in Cuba?

I donít know but I need to find out soon because, frankly, if I donít get my country back soon, I might start to consider the bomb throwing Trotskyists as a viable political alternative. Either that or just move to Canada.


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