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Political Animal

My Country, Tis of Them

By Brian Morton | Posted 11/10/2004

And so as we begin the work of healing our nation, tonight I call upon that character: Respect for each other, respect for our differences, generosity of spirit, and a willingness to work hard and work together to solve any problem. I was not elected to serve one party, but to serve one nation. The president of the United States is the president of every single American, of every race and every background. Whether you voted for me or not, I will do my best to serve your interests and I will work to earn your respect.

—George W. Bush, Dec. 13, 2000

So today I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent: To make this nation stronger and better I will need your support, and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust.

—George W. Bush, Nov. 3, 2004

One nation, divisible. E Pluribus Duo. Out of many, two peoples. One America believes that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden never worked together, that health care was more important than millionaires’ healthy bank accounts, that Alaska is not for drilling, that a thousand dead Americans in the desert is more important than whom people marry. Unfortunately, there is also an America that does not believe in these things. And there are more of them than there are of us.

In the last decade, we saw a president almost cast out of office because of consensual adult behavior; a governor of California driven out by a millionaire’s bought-and-paid-for recall campaign, built on top of the near bankruptcy of that state by energy conglomerates run by millionaires for millionaires; and a war started wholly by lies.

We saw a veteran who lost three limbs in an unpopular war (Georgia’s former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland) compared to the worst terrorist the country has ever seen, and another veteran (Sen. John Kerry), decorated with a Silver Star and three Purple Hearts, maligned as a traitor by the surrogates of a man who disappeared during that war and a man who said he had “other priorities.”

The nation’s bookshelves are filled with books that ally one-half of the nation with communists, socialists, and terrorists. The public airwaves have been bought, and the time they don’t spend cravenly assaulting, insulting, and demeaning each other for piddling sums of money, they use to deride the other half of America.

Good, honest working people are convinced that giving tax breaks to companies that move their labor overseas and their headquarters to mailboxes in Bermuda is a vote for their own well-being.

And in four short years, we went from the first balanced budget with a surplus in years to the largest deficit in the history of the nation.

In the coming four years, the Supreme Court will take a hard turn to the right. This will mean more religion in the public schools and more money for private schools over public ones, as things like vouchers are increasingly used to defund school systems in cities across the United States.

Because there are more of them than there are of us.

H.L. Mencken said, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want—and deserve to get it, good and hard.”

This House of Representatives, more political than ever, will not be interested in any scandals that may crop up in a second-term Bush White House. There will be no Watergates, no Iran-Contras. Abu Ghraib will vanish from memory. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s admission to committing a war crime in “disappearing” prisoners in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay won’t matter. Anything with a taint will be dismissed as “partisan politics by a discredited party” or a neutered “liberal media.” Even the effrontery of questioning this president may become a thing of the past; in his post-election press conference, Bush said “the will of the people” allowed him to forbid follow-up questions.

In regards to Iraq, Secretary of State Colin Powell cautioned the administration with his “Pottery Barn” rule: You break it, you bought it. Well, the Republicans have the White House, the Senate, the House, and the Supreme Court. They have a deficit, a war in Iraq, and the looming specter of bin Laden and the perpetual fear of another terrorist strike. And they can’t blame the liberal media or gay marriage or Bill Clinton for any of it. They own it.

We are all of us Americans, but in 2004 that means two things: When Social Security is bled dry for privatization, when millionaires retreat into their gated communities with their children sent to private Christian schools that you help to subsidize, with health care gradually becoming the province of only those with the money to afford it, and with safe and legal abortion a thing of the past, know that it’s what that America wanted.

And the rest of us can only wait and hope we, E Pluribus Unum, wake up and come to our senses. May hope, someday, truly be on the way.

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