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Living Out Loud: : The Electric Fence

Facing some difficult questions

By Susan Burke Steege · March 23rd, 2005 · Living Out Loud
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To be honest, I didn't think George Bush would win. Even on Election Day I remember being excited and optimistic in my belief that John Kerry and John Edwards were on their way to the White House. Like many other Americans, I was wrong.

It's been more than five months since the presidential elections, and the implications of a second Bush administration are now being realized. The slaughter in Iraq is ongoing, the cuts to social security are being planned and designs on Iran and Syria are being carefully disseminated. Additionally, an influential group known as the "Passion of the Right," are in control of White House policy and working to affect the lives of many of us who are not so aligned with their interpretation of "morality."

I realize what many readers are thinking -- quit your whining, get on with your life, you lost, so get over it. But I can't get over it.

The day before the election, I jokingly e-mailed a friend and said if The Idiot actually gets elected this time, please come over and give me a drink of water now and then because for the next four years, I'll be sitting on my couch with my mouth wide open in disbelief.

Five months later I'm not sitting on my couch; I am working, showering, taking care of my kids and going about daily life. But things are not the same, and there is no sense in pretending that they are or that this is simply a part of the normal American processes or that it's even okay. It's not okay.

The fact is 58 million Americans voted to elect G.W. Bush as President of the United States. The lingering question I have is why. He is a commensurate C-student, an AWOL chicken hawk pictured in uniform and with honors not his own, a former drug and alcohol abuser, a spoiled rich kid who was given everything, including the presidency, an inarticulate red-neck sell-out catering to born-again fundamentalist fanatics, a bloodthirsty war lord, a fascist iron-fisted ruler and a liar.

The most disturbing result since the elections is that his policies have been legitimized and accepted. G.W. Bush is not and never was a secret -- he does not hide who he is. He made no attempt to recreate his image during the past four years or during the elections. He continues to lie about the war in Iraq, the Pentagon's designs on Iran and Syria and our diplomatic alliances with Europe. If the time comes that we do wage war in Iran or Syria and alienate Europe, or if social security becomes an icon of the past, we will not be surprised because we will have all seen it coming.

Another troubling thought is that some of us occasionally grumble and mildly gripe, but do nothing. These people hope instead that the topic changes to movies, celebrities, computers, finances or anything that will avoid confronting the current political climate. They are fence sitters and it's the fence sitters who allow the direction of the current regime to continue.

As Condi Rice flip-flops back and forth in her rhetoric on Syria and possible plans of engagement, the biggest news splash is the Michael Jackson trial. I am often stunned at what seems to be complete avoidance of world events in what many like to describe as a "war-torn era."

Perhaps those who voted to legitimize this administration must now remain consistent in their belief that this is all okay and dissenters are traitors who must be attacked.

Others, like Sen. Joe Biden, might make some noise and complain and stomp feet, but in the end will remain compliant, because that is what they are supposed to do. More than a few will simply go back to sleep for another four years and hope this awful mess just goes away.

However, the time has come for us all to get down off our fences and take a bold stand. The fence is electric and the charge has hit to knock people off to one side or the other. The Bush administration has in essence declared war not only on the concept of terrorism, but on a mainstream American ideological concept as well -- democracy and, with the emergence of the Patriot Act, freedom.

I believe that the reason so many liberals remain angered five months after the election is because we are aware that war has been declared against us, as liberals, as intellectuals, as secularists, social economists and peacemakers.

The Bush Administration has catered to and united with fanatical fundamentalist Christians, a powerful business venture itself, under the guise of morality to bully and deride a fearful American public in order to promote its self-serving interests.

My question to any of the 58 million Bush supporters is this: Are you aware yet, on any level, what you have done and whom you have voted for? Are your fears of gay marriage so strong that you choose instead a war in which 100,000 people have perished? How does that loss of life equate with your pro-life stance? If you so uphold life, how can you support the death penalty; and if you support the death penalty, how can you justify the execution of the mentally ill, minors and those who committed crimes when they were minors and those who have been denied DNA and other testing to prove their innocence?

How can you support a person who does not want to provide basic and fundamental health care to the so many underinsured or uninsured Americans? How can you support cuts to needed services that provide assistance to our seniors, our needy, our children? If this is not a loss of life, then it's surely a loss in the quality of life. Are you aware of Jesus' own words in the New Testament, in which he declared that he "came to bring life and to bring life in its fullest"?

Do you really believe, as the Christians you claim to be, that personal financial gain is life in the fullest? Do you believe that it's only your life you should be considering?

Have you boxed yourself and your God into thinking that the only two moral issues in existence are abortion and homosexuality? How much coverage is there in that big Bible you tout devoted to these two issues?

Do you know yet that you've been duped?

I hope so, because if not, it means that you're the biggest and most egregious kind of hypocrite to walk the face of this earth. Or the possibility exists that you and many other Americans have just been brainwashed into accepting the current atrocities committed by this administration. Unfortunately, by remaining consistent in your belief that the president is unwaveringly "right," it increases the possibility that greater wrongs against humanity will be enacted.

These are pointed and often divisive issues -- ones that should not allow so much indecision, so many shrugs of the shoulders and shirking away. Christian ethics, morality and fundamentalism have clearly emerged into political life and American law, crossing the threshold of the separation of church and state.

Of all the questions I ponder, one I don't entertain is whether or not the election of G.W. Bush was one of moral priority. If it were truly a question of morality, then why wasn't there a discourse on the ethics of war and peace, of social welfare, of protecting the less fortunate and even less deserving, of providing economic rights for all. Where were the Christian ideologies there? Fundamentalists have turned instead to an Old Testament view of a vindictive and punishing God, striking down men and women for their indiscretions, forgetting that we all have personal indiscretions.

Fundamentalist over-zealousness, fear and self-indulgent piousness have eradicated any sense of logic and common sense and have turned to a form of political maneuvering that has overcome the law. The consequence will soon be that we can no longer turn to the Constitution to protect us, because it can be handily amended. A structure now exists, under the guise of the Patriot Act, to freely amend the law to impose doctrinal rigidity in the everyday lives of every American.

I do not believe that homosexuality or abortion as a matter of religious discourse has any place within political movements and believe it's wrong to use the Constitution to impose moral values.

This is primarily because it sets a powerful precedent. While this precedent seems beneficial to many Christians because Christianity is the current reigning religion, it is highly possible that there could be a new religious majority. If Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or atheism became the new majority religion and Christians found themselves in a minority, how eager would the fundamentalist be to have Muslim prayer in school? The Fundamentalist as a minority would be powerless, because the law would be on the side of the reigning religion and the lawmakers who choose to enforce religious doctrine.

Rather than crusade to use the law and the Constitution as a safeguard to impose religious doctrine, it should be used as a safeguard to protect it. Going back to grade school civics, the separation of church and state exists to protect your choice in religion, not to project your choice on others.

These matters are just as urgent as they were during the campaign before the elections, and possibly more urgent. There are still those who sit on the fence and will do so until the number of dead in Iraq, and possibly in the future in Iran and Syria, surmount to an astonishingly unacceptable number.

They will sit until their son or daughter comes home as one of the injured, the dead or the emotionally scarred. They will sit until they find out that they have no affordable health care alternative and little or no assistance in their senior years. They will sit until their jobs are eliminated or their pensions stolen. They will sit until they are targeted by a religious group as one of the "unholy." They will sit until something hits them directly in the face, something so electric that they cannot ignore any longer the direction our country has taken.

Before this time happens for you personally, re-examine your motivations, re-examine your beliefs, get off your fence and take a stand.

 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
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