Over the past five years, we in the anti-Bush crowd have wasted a lot of time and words expressing our outrage at the endless stream of atrocities committed by the Bush Cabal. The problem is not that the outrage was unjustified, but that it has achieved little of real substance. As a great Indian chief once said, good words do not mean much unless they amount to something.
For anyone who hasn’t been paying attention for the past five years, here’s how the all-too-familiar routine goes:
- Bush Cabal lies/kills/breaks law/etc.
- Media dispassionately reports it, being careful to present the known facts without passing judgement, lest they be accused of bias.
- Anti-Bush crowd expresses outrage.
- Pro-Bush crowd muddy waters with irrelevant or false information, attack on detractors, etc.
- Media presents a “balanced” account of this disagreement, being careful not to pass judgement, then writes it all off as partisan politics, and moves on to the next story.
- Disinterested observers (and even non-observers) write it all off as partisan politics and move on to the next story.
Having blogged against Bush for three years, I know that I myself have often fallen into the trap of venting my outrage over some incident of Bush deception which – while thoroughly deserving of my outrage – was hardly unexpected BY ME from these immoral swine. So I let rip. I hurl my screams into cyberspace, knowing even as I do that this horrible routine is just playing itself out all over again.
I mean, I do know better, but what can I say? I know – I know! - Bush is a liar and a cheat, a man who lacks the experience and intellect to even have been seriously considered as President of the USA. I know he was hand-picked as a puppet leader by the men who helped put his father in power. I know he is in thrall to the neo-conservatives who created the Iraq WMD lies, who concocted the “War On Ahem!” and covered up the truth about 9/11. I know he doesn’t really give a damn about ordinary, decent, hard-working people. I know he sees the Law as an obstacle to his own aims rather than a pillar of civilization.
I know all that, and more, and yet...
I cannot make a public argument against Bush starting from that premise. Because most of the public simply does not know everything that I know about Bush. So I have to pretend I DON’T know all that, and then try to build up my case. By the time I can do that (if I can bother to do that, yet again), the story has already “moved on” or (more usually) been succeeded by yet another piece of even-more-outrage-inducing shock.
What has all this outrage of ours achieved, really?
Well, it has helped bring Bush down to around 30% popularity. That is not nothing.
It has probably stopped him from launching an attack on Iran, which would have triggered a widespread conflict tantamount to WWIII. That is not nothing. These are things to be proud of.
But people in Iraq continue to suffer and die. People stripped of basic human rights continue to rot in Guantanamo Bay. People continue to be “rendered” to foreign countries for torture. People with no name are still trapped in secret US prisons around the globe. Our outrage has done nothing – nothing of real substance – to help these people. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and their fellow cabalists remain in power. They continue to ignore the law. They stare at the cameras with their sneering arrogance and they laugh at us. They give us the finger and tell us to go F___ ourselves.
So what are we going to do about it? Get even more outraged?
Let me put it this way…
Bush has no moral compass. He was brought up in a family that values power above all else. The Bush family has made their fortune by never failing to underestimate the stupidity of the broader public. They have never considered themselves part of the unwashed masses (that’s you and me, BTW) and they never will. Dubya learned from experience that the Law does not apply to him. He learned that it is an easily malleable tool. He governs from that perspective. Yet we, who know where Bush comes from, do not publicly judge him from that perspective.
Why not? Because the Bush media persona is a totally different character, a folksy cowboy, and we fear that the public simply would not recognize the person we describe. Besides, we know that any such assault on Bush’s character will be written off as partisan politics, or the crazed ramblings of a demented fool.
So we take a step back. We bite our tongue. We delete that sentence we were going to write. We choose our words a bit more carefully. We water it down. And the Bush myth rides on...
What’s the solution? Well, here is what I think we need to do.
First of all:
Change the story. Dictate the story. Control the story. Control the message. Control the language.
The so-called “war on terror” is a perfect example. Indeed, it is the single defining story of the Bush presidency. We all talk about it, all the time, even those of us who do not even believe it is real. Isn’t that crazy?
Don’t fall into Karl Rove’s traps! How can you have a war on “terror”? It’s ridiculous. What has been happening in the world since 9/11 is not even a “war” by any definition of that word. We have a problem with certain Islamic fundamentalists who use terror as one of many tactics to raise public awareness and promote their cause. Don’t be lazy: call it what it is. If you simply HAVE TO speak about Karl Rove’s “war”, do what I do – call it the “war on Ahem!” or the “war on terrrrrrrrsts”. Go on, take the piss. You are entitled!
Don’t just get angry, get ACTIVE. Screaming at your television does nothing. Writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper does something. Get involved with others. It is time we turned our widespread outrage into massive public protest.
And what happens when the media ignore that protest, as they have done time and time again? Worse yet, what happens when they paint the protesters as dangerous, crazy people? What happens then?
More protests. And more. Till Bush is gone, the truth comes out, and justice is served.
What’s the alternative?
Well, if you believe that even half the Democrats are not as spineless and corrupt as their GOP colleagues in the Senate and Congress, you might want to help reform the Democrats so that a future Democrat presidency will be nothing like Bush. Some progressives would argue that this mission is the key to rebuilding America. Maybe they are right. There are certainly a lot of good, intelligent people involved in the effort.
I wish them well, but it is not a battle I can find much enthusiasm for, given the Democrats history and the failings of current Democratic power-brokers like John Kerry and Hillary Clinton. These people gave Bush the thumbs-up for war in Iraq (and so much more) but have never really owned up to it. I can’t see them surrendering the reins of power anytime soon, even without Joe “Kiss me, George” Lieberman in their ranks.
In fact, I am beginning to believe that the whole concept of two-sided politics in modern Western democracies – that is, the Right and the Left, whatever you call them in various countries – is just another dud story. I am beginning to think there is only one real side of politics – we, the people. The Right is just a cruel hoax, foisted by business advocates on anyone gullible enough to believe it. And the Left (as it stands now in the USA, Britain and Australia, at any rate) is just Right-Wing-Lite, a hosed-down set of elitist pigs with their snouts still firmly buried in the public trough. They are all parasites, feeding on our taxpayer money. Their first loyalty is always to themselves.
One thing I have learned from doing this blog is that human nature is imperfect, to the point of being continually disappointing. One simply must accept that politicians will sometimes be corrupt, if they think that they can get away with it, and people will still vote for them – even if other people are dying – if they think it is in their own self-interest. Sad but true.
We get the politicians we deserve.
I guess what I am really trying to say here is as much a lesson for myself as anyone else: Control your outrage and channel it into something productive.
Get involved. Get active. Control the story.
En adalante, muchachos! Let’s go!