Left Turn, Right Turn, Downturn:
Politics in America
Michael H. Glantz
30 January 2007
Left turn, Right turn, Downturn: Politics in America
What a mess our political system is in! People think that political systems last forever but they don't. Look at the many civilizations that have developed throughout time and have collapsed, having seemed invincible at the height of their ascendancy. I am worried that our democracy of sorts is in trouble, even on the decline. People seem to have lost interest, as well as faith, in their responsibility to vote after having weighed a range of issues. Many votes appear to be driven by one issue or another: abortion, taxes, religious fervor and environment, as well as on America's perceived as well as real responsibilities as a self-proclaimed superpower.
So what am I getting at here? I am a liberal person on social and environmental programs. I am tolerant of all religious perspectives and cultural differences. In the past 15 years, I have witnessed the rise to power of Bill Clinton as President, someone I would call a realist in Political Science terms. His two terms in office were followed by George W. Bush's two terms.
When Clinton defeated George Bush senior in the 1992 election, the country, politically speaking, made a left turn away from the policies of the Reagan-Bush era. With the contested election win by G.W. Bush the junior in 2000, the country voted to make a right turn. What has happened since the 2000 election and events early in the Bush the Second's administration has been a downturn.
The public does not know what it wants. The Bush administration has fostered a polarization (a chasm, really) of the electorate by talking in terms of patriots, god-fearing, righteousness: if you are not in support of Bush policies, you are labeled as unpatriotic. If you speak out against the war in Iraq, about weapons of mass destruction, about leaving the Iraqis to resolve their differences without US involvement, about corruption in Congress and the executive branch, and so forth, you are labeled as unpatriotic. If you support stem cell research or are in favor of abortion or birth control anywhere in the world --- not just for Americans --- you are godless.
In Bush's tenure in office so far (he still has two years to go), the country has gone from one with no foreign debt to one with enormous debt burdens placed on our children and grandchildren. We got into a war as a direct result of the intentional lies of our government, for reasons it has yet to disclose and that the public has yet to understand. The Iraq War has generated more hatred of the US worldwide than ever before. Even our long-standing allies, such as they are, have questioned the direction that Bush's America has chosen to go. What kind of leader would say publicly (even if he or she entertained the thought) that he would stay the course in Iraq even if it is only his wife and his dog who support him? The blindness of the President is matched only in bravado by the arrogance of his Vice President Cheney (a “Don't worry. Be happy” oblivious-to-reality Vice President).
I am told that there is a Chinese proverb, “it takes three generations for a family to be successful but only one to destroy that success.” It seems that such a proverb applies to America of the past fifteen years. Whatever goodwill we have had fostering democracy, freedom, immigration, humanity, we have lost much of it. That the torture tactics that were officially supported (until exposed and challenged as un-American, an attorney general who was involved in approving and later defending torture tactics in the name of freedom --- is that like destroying a village in order to save it?), an intransigent Secretary of Defense who listened to no one, an army that was sent into combat ill-equipped and misused, a president that can only present his speeches to selected audiences mostly on military bases and so forth, all point to a country on the decline.
And then there is the domestic side of the downslide of America where the national debt has deepened sharply, the outsourcing (exporting) of American jobs, the few-dollar tax returns with no mention of borrowing to keep the country's economy and two-front wars afloat (don't forget Afghanistan), the invasion of privacy and loss of human rights in a country that challenges other countries about their civil rights records.
We have lost the right to judge the misguided deeds of others without allowing ourselves to be judged. As a country, we no longer have any moral authority, having squandered it through government-sponsored torture of political and other prisoners. We have lost as well our clout, with regard to issues of war and on issues related to a cleaner environment such as global warming, whether local or global.
The Bush administration has been a disaster. Even members of his own party now question his judgment and his ability to lead the country on anything, especially two wars. It may be that it will end up that his wife and his dog, as he once quipped, will truly be his only supporters.
--Michael H. Glantz
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