Our Declaration of Intolerance
It's like we're going backward.
Once America was seen as a beacon of hope and freedom. Today it's the world's bully.
We know how it happened. The smirking simpleton in the Oval Office, guided by Karl Rove, trumpeted by the venomous hatemongers of right-wing radio, and with the complicity of all but a few Republicans, discovered their ticket to political power: appeals to people's worst instincts.
And oh, how the people responded.
They demand religion in schools -- as long as it's their religion. They demand Constitutional amendments prohibiting gay marriage, abortion and flag-burning. Why? Those things offend them. They're wrong, the way they see things. And if you don't see things that way, if you're not offended, you're wrong, too.
But here's what's right: That we can invade a sovereign nation that posed no threat to us and kill tens of thousands of their citizens. And jail their elected president. And force a government we approve of on them. And unleash civil war.
Back at home, anyone who wants a timetable for troop withdrawal is "cutting and running" -- in other words, a base, dishonorable coward.
While the base, dishonorable coward who ordered the illegal aggression against Iraq -- a one-time reservist who declined overseas duty during Vietnam and then deserted -- tells us to relax and wait patiently. Wait as more of our troops die and more of the trillion dollars we're borrowing from China and Japan is squandered.
But don't worry about that gaping financial hole he pulled us into. In fact, feel good at how his tax cuts for the rich have shifted the economy into second gear.
Can't you just feel the gears whirring?
This is the man we allowed into the presidency. A spoiled frat boy and male cheerleader who drove every enterprise he ever led into the ground quickly and efficiently. As he's doing now to an entire nation.
He's a uniter, not a divider, he tells us, even as he exploits the worst tragedy in our history for political gain, fear being the only thing he has to offer. Even as his administration works to foment rage and retribution against the press for telling us what our goverment is doing, and against the federal judiciary (activist judges!) for sometimes issuing decisions Republicans disagree with.
Bush and his supporters profess to be patriots, but it's an allegiance based on cynicism on the part of his inner circle, and ignorance on the part of those who voted for him. They don't believe that all men are created equal, with the same right to the pursuit of happiness; otherwise, why deny a small fraction of the population the freedom to marry that everyone else enjoys? They don't believe in the 1st Amendment ("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion ..."); otherwise, why would they demand prayer in schools and religious symbols on government property?
No, theirs is a bellicose, lazy, unthinking jingoism, characterized by flag lapel pins, "Support our Troops" bumper stickers, intolerance for those with differing views and utter contempt for those who play fair. By the rules.
In other words, for those who strive to live in accordance with the high ideals enshrined in the document we profess to celebrate today.
Of course, they didn't install their man in the White House by playing by the rules, did they.
But their fraud is not the worst of it. The worst of it is all those millions of Americans who voted for George Bush not just the first time, but the second time, when his hypocrisy, lies, embarrassing stupidity, lack of vision (Let's go to Mars, everybody!), and cynical manipulation of a tragedy he could have prevented (if he'd been doing his job) had been plainly demonstrated for four years.
So on this 230th anniversary of our birth as a nation, let us pause and congratulate ourselves.
We finally got the government we deserve.
Steve Horowitz is a freelance advertising and political writer in Hollywood, Fla. His website is http://loveamericahatebush.com