November 3rd, 2004


Holding the Bridge

Needless to say, last night, I was discouraged and dismayed -- not merely that Bush had the edge, but that it was so close at all. People had come out in droves to say, "Yes, we support what this man has been doing, what he's done to America, what he's had America do to the world. We support pre-emptive invasions on dubious grounds. We support the abuses in Abu Ghraib, the slaughter of 100,000 civilians in misdirected revenge. We support the methodology of using violence to incite a fearful reaction from a civilian population, when it's a proper nation-state applying the methodology, especially if it's us. We support the detention of foreign nationals and US citizens in offshore prisons without charges or representation. We support Free Speech Zones."

Like so many of you, I gave some serious thought to running like hell, to whatever country might take me.

Maybe it's genetic, in my case. I come from a long line of travellers, Vikings, Pilgrims, and Pioneers. My immediate reaction when the pressures of day-to-day life build up too much is to mobilize. I want to hop in the car and drive and drive until nothing is familiar; I want to run away to sea; at the very least, I want to take a long, long walk. It's not a "productive solution"; it's a deep-seated instinct, rooted in generations of restlessness.

My long-standing determination to Stand and Fight for the principles I believe in were undermined by wondering if there was anything left to fight for -- if the world was worth saving. Maybe it was just time to move on, to find the next horizon... not that there are many left.

Before going to bed last night, and as we were waking up this morning, I said as much to quelonzia. Where did all of these assholes come from, I wondered? How did they take over my country?

Quel observed that the assholes have always been there. And, you know, she's right. 65 years ago, there was substantial U.S. sympathy for the various Fascist movmements in Europe, because they were law-and-order and anti-communist. A hundred fifty years ago, a significant percentage of the country thought that they had a moral right to own other human beings.

She also said what I've said many times: it's our damned country, and they can't have it.

When I joined the Coast Guard, I solemnly swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Simply because I have a DD-214 on file does not mean that I have rescinded that oath in my heart. Today, the greatest enemy to that document sits in the Oval Office, gloating.

My family's been here as long or longer than the Bushes, and Quel's family has been here since long before my raggedy-ass Pilgrim ancestors slogged ashore. We sure as hell have been here longer than most of the Religious Reich who prop up this smirking son of a bitch because he pays lip-service to their Invisible Friend. You want to draw a line between "Real Americans" and everyone else? We're as American as Plymouth Rock, baby, as John Alden and John Adams, as Edward Teach and the Salem trials. We forged this country, warts and all; we made a lot of stupid mistakes on the way, we did a lot of terrible things -- hell, we committed atrocities -- but stumble and flail as we might, we have been fighting for the principles of the Constitution and the Declaration and the Enlightenment for hundreds of years, the ideals of rights and freedoms, the idea of the Social Compact, the radical, insane, unprecedented notion that people matter.

I will not abandon that heritage, nor will I abdicate my responsibility.

And knowing that my wife stands with me makes my heart blaze. She stands with me, and that gives me the strength to stand.

We will not bow to oppression.
We will not let our flag be desecrated as a symbol of conquest.
We will not yield, and we will not flee.

They. Can't. Have. Our. Country.

I feel oddly focused. The situation is much less ambiguous today than yesterday.

For the last few years, I've tried to get people to see reason, and my attentions have been focused on keeping Bush from getting elected. So long as he was the "Appointee", I focused mostly on him, sure that his catastrophic regime was an accident of history foisted upon the public by a small junta of greedy power-grabbers. Now, it's clear that he has widespread support, more widespread than I was willing to let myself believe. A good chunk of the people want a leader who acts like a schoolyard bully and is more than willing to shove his views down the throats of his opposition, here and abroad.

This changes my perspective, and my approach.

In 1980, Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock, published its sequel, The Third Wave, perhaps the single best textbook on the rapid social changes brought about by rapid technological change, and the work that brought Thomas Kuhn's concept of paradigm shift into the public conciousness. In it, he described both the Soviet Union and the United States as archetypal "Second Wave" government paradigms, based on essentially industrial metaphors of clockwork and machinery.

I read The Third Wave in the late '80s, and was immediately blown away. The book had anticipated much of the intervening years, and, taken in context of its ideas, the 1980s made much more sense. Given that, in 1990, when Toffler published the third book in the series, Power/Shift, I grabbed a copy as soon as the hardback hit the shelves. Power/Shift extrapolated from his observations in THE THIRD WAVE, and predicted that both "Second Wave" nations would undergo dramatic change as the Third Wave of technological revolution progressed.

A year later, Soviet Communism collapsed.

For the last 13 years, I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Damn, that's a big shoe.

So what happens now?

Will we see Heinlein's Interregnum, where a religious revival plunges America into a hundred years of theocracy until another Revolution occurs?

Or will we see the future depicted in David Gerrold's A Matter For Men, wherein America grown arrogant and aggressive in its unchecked power gets slapped down by an alliance of the rest of the world?

Will we see a second Civil War that ends in the Cyberpunk clichê of a Balkanized America? Certainly, a recurring sentiment these days is "I don't want to share a country with them anymore".

I don't know.

In times of trial, people tend to fall back on faith to give them reassurance -- and this, arguably, is part of the problem. Nevertheless, I confess that I have the same impulse. I don't subscribe to any religion, but I do have faith -- faith in principles, faith in reason, faith in humanity and in my fellow human beings.

The misnamed "Neo-Conservatives" control all three branches of government. They have significant, if not overwhelming, popular support. Standing against their agenda will be a difficult task, immensely discouraging, full of setbacks, and quite possibly putting the liberty and physical safety of any opponent at risk. Many of my liberal friends are pessimistic.

Robert Buckminster Fuller once said, as so many have, that "Pessimism is a self-fulfilling prophecy."

Bucky being Bucky, however, he also added, "So is optimism."

I will not give up.

I will keep fighting -- and fight even harder -- for the "Reality-Based Community". I will work to achieve a clean environment and to restore the laws that protect it. I will struggle for the freedoms embodied in the Bill of Rights and the ideals of the Declaration of Independence. I will fight for the right for individuals to live and love and worship as they please. I will continue to hold the rights of real flesh-and-blood human beings above those of corporations.

It doesn't matter if I lose. It only matters that I try.
  • Current Music
    Leonard Cohen -- Anthem
Eye of the Dragon

I can see the fnords!

Of course, all of this assumes that our oft-voiced concerns about electronic voting machines and other forms of election fraud were just conspiracy-theory nutjob paranoia.

Which may or may not be the case.

Wired News: Watchdogs Spot E-Vote Glitches files Freedom of Information Act requests on voting records

Edit 041103 14:00: observes:
One thing that is very strange is how much the exit polls differed from the final results, especially in Ohio. Remember that Ohio uses Diebold voting machines in many areas. These machines have no paper trail. Early in the campaign, Diebold CEO Walden O'Dell, a GOP fundraiser, promised to deliver Ohio to Bush. He later regretted having said that.
  • Current Mood
    curious curious