I am now back on home soil. Or at least Romanian soil, which is my home, though not my mother soil. Can you have mother soil? Is there some fancy latin name for it? Like terra mater or something?
Anyway, as you might imagine my mind has been whirring with thoughts of the US election ever since it happened. Here is what I have so far concluded:
1. It seems, at least for now, to have been a very democratic election, with high turnout (in US terms) and enthusiasm on both sides. Unlike the well documented denial of the vote to many African Americans in Floirida in 2000, as of yet we have heard of no major abuses of democracy. And with so many lawyers and activists watching like hawks it seems likely that there really weren't any significant ones (though I am still suspicious of the computing technology in these new style polls. Is there any suspicion that the exit polls may have been way off not because they were way off, but because the figures were fiddled electronically?)
This is unquestionably a good thing. It's obviously the wrong result, from everybody's perspective, but at least it is the wrong result for the right reasons (ie that the people decided it and not a bunch of aging judges who were appointed by the Republican party in the first place)
2. Amidst the inevitable recriminations in the Democrat party is is clear that one of the things that will come out of this is a desire to "reach out to the heartland". This is obviously what the party needs to do. But how? How do you reach people who are so twisted that they profess to want to protect the "life" of a bunch of cells in someone else's uterus, but are quite happy with capital punishment and with the deaths of over a hundred thousand Iraqi civilians. You know real, living breathing Iraqis. Children and adults alike. I mean I am not a huge fan of the pope, but at least his position is consistent - if you're anti-abortion (and for the stated reason of being "pro-life"), you at least have to be "pro-life" across the board. JP2 is anti abortion (which I don't agree with), but also anti war and anti capital punsihment. At least that has an internal logic.
How do you reach out to people who believe that carrying guns is an inalienable right? I mean really. How the fuck do you deal with these people? People who believe that walking around tooled up is what the country needs. And people who are so committed to the constitution that they quote the gun bit over and over like it's axiomatic. But at the same time they are so anti-constitution that the idea of equality of rights is anathema to them. The equality of marriage (oughtn't it to be open to all?), the equality of citizens (regardless of colour or background). To hear them talk you'd think the entirety of the constitution read "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that every american should be allowed to arm themselves to the teeth with assault wepaons and the like, except for the people we don't really like, such as blacks, gays, women, and pretty much everyone who is not a white man with a northern European surname".
These people are often referred to (by themselves) as Christians. By others as the Christian Right. But where in the gospels (which is basically the only source we have to go on) is Jesus promoted as some kind of avenging angel, smiting homos and A-Rabs? He isn't, is he? I confess my knowledge of the bible is pretty limited, but he always seems to come across as this nice guy who protects the weak and asks people to love their neighbours and turn the other cheek if you get struck, and does a couple of miracles just to keep people interested. Where is Jesus the homophobe? Where is Jesus the NRA member? Where is Jesus the imperial crusader? Where is Jesus the hanging judge? What kind of Christian can read the bible and think that killing a hundred thousand Iraqi civilians is pretty much "The Way"? What kind of Christian can read the bible and think that by advocating the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, they are somehow doing "His Will"? Mad ones. That's who.
3. We are told that the US is a divided nation. I bloody hope it is. If there are 50% of the people who think that invading Iraq was a good thing to do in the war on terror, and that discrimnation and racism is a good thing, then thank god it is divided. There's hope there still.
Meanwhile I have work to do. So, I'll go ahead and get started. And return to this argument later.
Southport’s Summer of Discontent
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