Monday, September 06, 2004


I read a couple of things in the past couple of days which between them seem to sum up why I find current politics so depressing. The first, via Progressive Blog Digest, is a post by Digby on the fact that the Republicans actually got a bounce from their convention. The whole thing's worth reading, but here's a choice quote:

"It's time to recognize and put to use the ugly truth that not only do people respond to smears and dirty tricks --- they actually enjoy and respect them. "By any means necessary" is no longer a revolutionary concept. To many people, it is an All American ideal. It means that you believe that winning is the only option and you will do anything to achieve that. Apply that belief to terrorism and you can see why people respond to talk radio eliminationist rants and George W. Bush's Rambo rhetoric.

"People did not recoil at the Republican convention's ugliness as they did in 1992 because that rhetoric was aimed at parochial culture war issues alone. This is about a much bigger, nationalist grievance at the entire world. People believe that it's us against them, good against evil and they want our leaders to sound like movie heroes, not politicians, because in the movies the good guys always win."

The second is an article which Timothy Burke, of Easily Distracted (see sidebar), wrote at the time of Abu Ghraib, expressing his despair that a large number of Americans seemed to think have no problem with torturing Iraqi prisoners. While rejecting comparisons between Bush and Hitler, he sees the present-day political climate as comparable to late-Weimar Germany in the extent to which large numbers of voters and commentators are willing to discard morality.

More and more, this country seems to be becoming (or perhaps has always been) something that I don't want to be part of. Bush isn't Hitler, or anything close, thank God. But Bush's voters seem to me disturbingly similar to the sort of people who voted for Hitler: a coalition of the gullible and the evil. Setting aside the hard-core conservative ideologues, you have on the one hand those who want a "strong leader" and to hell with democracy and civil liberties, and whose "morality" is that whatever advances America's self-interest is good, period. On the other, you have those who are gullible enough to take what Bush and the Republicans say at face value.

And, like Burke, I don't know what we can do about it. Digby says "the stakes are so high that we have no choice but to try to win today by any means necessary and begin the hard work of repairing our politics --- and honestly, our culture --- after we have wrested power from those who have brought us to this place." I agree unreservedly with the first part of this statement. I agree with the second part too, but how? Even if Kerry wins, the people who bought the Swift Boat slander and cheered the Republican Convention will still be out there.

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