Am Johal: Republican America! Republican Forever!

Published: Thu 4 Nov 2004 12:20 AM
Republican America! Republican Forever!
By Am Johal
Dear America,
I want a ride on the Elephant.
You are now Republican through and through. You are ‘God’s Country.’ In the Senate, in the House and in the Presidential offices. Your new Supreme Court nominees can overturn Roe v. Wade. You can keep fighting on in Iraq and take Iran to the brink. You can keep your deficits, your pharmacare, your tax cuts, and your big oil money flowing. And keep those Defense contracts primed up, baby. It’s going to be wild ride!
You beat the Democrats into oblivion. There’s nothing left of them. So this morning, given the immensity of the rout, we are all diminished, we are all impoverished and we are all possible recipients of your arrogance.
An election which defines a time and a generation only comes along about once every fifty years. This time the whole world was watching. This was the election where we all ended up liking John Kerry. But it wasn't good enough.
We wanted to fall in love with him.
We wanted the "Going Upriver" John Kerry, the shaggy haired 70's one, 27 years old, speaking against the war at the Senate Committee meetings just arrived from Vietnam. We wanted the earnest John Kerry preaching about "commitment" at the Yale debating club offices.
He was the right candidate at the right time. The Curse of the Bambino had been broken, the stage had been set and the Kerry storyline was compelling. He had us and then he lost us. But in the end, the mythology and the narrative of the campaign didn't fit the gravity of the times. It was underwhelming.
We wanted so much more. We expected so much more. We deserved so much more.
Perhaps John Kerry committed the most egregious violation of all humankind - he failed to inspire when the age and the time demanded it. We wanted to believe in somebody again. But he was too wooden, too much the icon Senator from Massachusetts, too weathered by experience to speak freely in the kind of language we were looking for.
Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "The age demanded that we sing and dance and jammed us into iron pants." That's how the last four years made us feel. We wanted to believe again. How many time do I have to say it?
We wanted that kind of Robert Kennedy feeling - hell we would have settled for Bill Clinton.
John, we weren’t asking for much.
To be fair, John Kerry's greatest moments were at the debates where he manhandled George W. Bush, beating him on every point, on erudition, style and experience, at will. It was embarrassing to watch the stupefied and awkward President attempting to parry the blows. If it had been a hockey fight, Kerry would have been like Tie Domi flipping Bush's sweater over his head and pummeling him with an endless barrage of blows. Kerry ended up being the Joe Frazier of American politics, but we wanted Ali. Kerry was like the ski-jumper from Wide World of Sports who falls on the runway and lands on his head in his Moment of Truth.
If the rest of the world was voting, John Kerry would have won.
This wasn't just a Democratic collapse of epic proportions where heads will roll and blame will be apportioned accordingly. The battle for the swing states was lost, John Edwards couldn't carry his home state, Clinton didn't bring Arkansas, Gore couldn't bring Tennessee and Richardson couldn't bring New Mexico. Voting for Republican America was a way for Middle America to flip the bird to the rest of the world. It was a big, giant "fuck you all" to the critics of America. It was an affirmation of the Bush White House and his handling of the wars, the economy, his leadership and his cabal of right wing ideologues.
But for the rest of us, we will look upon America as if it's Robert Altman's Nashville – that the “Best Before” date on the Bush White House passed long ago for most of rest of the world.
Republican America, you are a nation deluded about your place in the world, your visions of Empire, wearing an ideological straitjacket custom fitted by Pat Robertson and the Christian right.
This isn't a Chicken Little vision of the world, but things got a little meaner, a little harder, a little bit more serious after last night. Secular America was given a drubbing last night.
It’s roll up the sleeves time.
So sleep tight America, everthing’s going to be ok. The response to the Republican landslide will bring out the best side of you – the one we like. Your own citizenry will be engaged in a way that it never has been before. It will be a litigious time in the courts, but maybe politics will matter again.
The Bush that America voted for will be remembered as the most divisive, controversial President of modern times. But he found a way to win.
So it’s now up to you, people of America, to take back your country in other ways, to temper your nation’s excesses, to find a better way. We’ll be watching. We don’t have a choice.

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