I haven't published much recently. It has been like watching a car crash that has taken agonizing years, instead of seconds. Bush's first words after the Nov 2000 elections chilled me to the bone, as all that has happened since was painted in the body language, and unstated threat that he was the new king and would never be held accountable for any action.
The Internet was young then, and only those who had gone there to see what was really happening about the impeachment debacle had a clue to how badly we were screwed. Even two years later many senior Democratic leaders did not have a clue about information that was commonplace on the 'Net.
Even now most people don't seem to be able to get their minds around how drastically their world has changed, taking many freedoms for granted because they haven't tested them, or themselves been at the pointy end of the loss. Instead each outrage is not enough in itself to galvanize and organize the opposition, except in a few rare and mostly insufficient cases.
Most Americans are somewhat aware that their lives are not as open as they were, but still have hope that it can be fixed without themselves standing out too far from the crowd and turning a bad situation instantly, personally, horrid. This is the mindset that allowed so many Jews to find themselves in the gas chambers.
Robert Kennedy is one opposition figure that has at least brought open facts in some detail into a focus that is just such a terrifying fact that we are a long way down a road most wish to think that we haven't gotten to yet. In response many "Uncle Tom" Democrats are still trying to treat hemorrhaging Democracy as "barely a flesh wound", fearful that confronting the bullies will only get us all beat up more.
Mark Crispin Miller has deeply researched the problem and stood to defend Kennedy from liberal "Uncle Toms" (specifically Salon and Farhad Manjoo) and in doing so better defines more reality in fewer words than I have seen recently.
We also hear that Democrats have been reluctant to speak out about election fraud because they fear that doing so might cut down voter turnout on Election Day. By such logic, we should henceforth utter not a peep about election fraud, so that the Democratic turnout will break records. Then, when the Republicans win yet again, because they've rigged the system, how will all those Democratic voters feel? Maybe those who haven't killed themselves, or fled the country, will recover just enough to vote again. Would it then be prudent for the Democrats to talk about election fraud? Or would it still seem sensible to keep the subject under wraps?
The argument is idiotic, yet the people who have seriously made it -- Bernie Sanders, Markos Moulitsas, Hillary Clinton's and Chuck Schumer's people, among others -- are extremely bright. The argument, as foolish as it is, does not bespeak a low I.Q., but, I would suggest, a subtler kind of incapacity: a refusal and/or inability to face a deeply terrifying truth. The Democrats refuse to talk about election fraud because they cannot, will not, wrap their minds around the implications of what happened in 2004, and what is happening right now, and what will keep on happening until we, as a people, face the issue. In short, whatever clever-sounding rationales they may invoke (no doubt in all sincerity), the Democrats won't talk about election fraud because they're in denial, which is itself based on a lethal combination of inertia, self-interest and, above all -- or below all -- fear.
Such fear is understandable. For the problem here is not simply mechanical or technological, legal or bureaucratic, requiring that we merely tweak the rules and/or build a better mousetrap. Any such expedient will naturally depend on a consensus of "both sides" -- and there's the rub, because in this great clash the "other side" detests American democracy itself. The movement now in power is not conservative but radical, intent on an apocalyptic program that is fundamentally opposed to the ideals of the Enlightenment, on which, lest we forget, this revolutionary secular republic was first founded. The movement frankly disbelieves in reason, and in all the other worldly goods that every rational American still takes for granted: pluralism, checks and balances, "the general welfare," freedom, progress, the pursuit of happiness. For this movement, condom use is worse than death by AIDS, however many millions the disease may kill; the ruination of the planet should be hastened, not prevented, as it means that He will be returning soon; the "war on terror" is a matter not of geopolitics but metaphysics, as our national enemy is "a guy named Satan"; homosexuals should not be citizens, the US having been conceived as a "Christian republic"; and -- most relevant to this debate -- the movement's adversaries, which means all the rest of us, are not human beings with divergent interests but literal "agents of Hell," demonic entities against which any tactic, however criminal or sinful, is permissible, because they are likely to use any tactic, regardless of its sinfulness or criminality, to force their evil program on the Righteous Ones.
Of course, that theocratic bloc does not comprise the whole Bush/Cheney movement, which, at the top, is heavily dominated too by frank neo-imperialists, corporate profiteers, careerist sociopaths and livid paranoids compelled by the intense self-hatred typical of such perennial types as Richard Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover. Revolution tends to work by unifying the energies, or bile, of only roughly complementary interests. This revolution certainly is no pure upsurge of religious fervor, for its plutocratic animus is just as powerful, apparently, as its crusade to "Christianize" the world. However, while it would be very foolish to ignore the movement's secular agenda (i.e., the avarice and power lust of Cheney/Rumsfeld and their corporate cronies), it is just as foolish to imagine that the movement's theocratic program is mere smoke, calculated just to daze the pious masses so that Congress and Wall Street can rob them blind.
This theocratic program is no secret, as the conquest of the GOP has been the top priority of US Christianist extremists since the early Nineties. It was their aim to put George W. Bush in office, and then to keep him there, despite the will of the electorate; and having done so, they have rapidly transformed our government into an instrument of their crusade. "George W. Bush is our agenda!" as the Rev. Lou Sheldon, head of the Traditional Values Coalition, boasted candidly to Salon's Michelle Goldberg a few years ago. He had every right to crow. The executive departments and top federal agencies are now in theocratic hands, and this government pursues no policy, foreign or domestic, that has not been devised or vetted by the party's theocratic apparat. The government now generously subsidizes many theocratic groups that proselytize explicitly, pushing both their own creed and the interests of the Bush Republicans. And now that Congress too is full of theocratic militants (who seem to have no strong opponents), the Supreme Court is just one seat away from an entrenched majority as frankly hostile to the church/state separation as it is to voting rights for all Americans.
The power and fury of the US theocratic movement have been amply documented by a range of keen observers, including Esther Kaplan, Paul Craig Roberts, Kevin Phillips, Stephenie Hendricks, Max Blumenthal, Frederick Carlson, Katherine Yurica, Michael Lerner and Salon's Michelle Goldberg, among others, as well as in my own books Cruel and Unusual and Fooled Again. The threat has also sounded strong alarms on solid Christian grounds, in writings by Jim Wallis, John Danforth, Jimmy Carter, Davidson Loehr, Rich Lang and Bruce Prescott. (Of course, the theocratic program is explicit also in the oratory and writings of the theocrats themselves.) It now remains for us to face the crucial fact that this regime's miraculous "re-election" in 2004 depended heavily on the countless block-the-vote activities of theocratic true believers, who did whatever they could do, from coast to coast, to cut the Kerry vote and pad the Bush vote. That effort was essential to the regime's inexplicable political success. Of all the interests collaborating in Bush/Cheney's drive against democracy, the theocrats alone have a grass-roots constituency -- not large enough, by any means, to sway elections honestly, but large enough, and fierce enough, and with sufficient funds and discipline, to help Bush/Cheney disenfranchise the majority. Although the corporations and the neo-cons wield awesome clout, they have no grass-roots muscle. The theocrats alone can claim that necessary asset, and it has given them enormous power.
The Republicans are indeed at a tipping point. If an honest government were to achieve power, sufficient to expose even what is common 'net knowledge, much less what is as yet still secret from everyone, a genuine house cleaning would land them all poor and in jail at best. They will not allow that to happen without violence.
If the propaganda cannot convince most people that what is sure to be surprising Republican victories are legitimately gotten, then the reaction could itself cause more reaction and bring on the worst "Uncle Tom Democrat" fears, and indeed would make some very unhappy times, and what has been a somewhat covert overthrow of the American Democracy overt.
With approval ratings in the 30% range, stealing an election is no less easy, but it would be harder to keep from being obvious to even the thickest dunderhead. And what happens then, be it whimper or boom, will not be at all pretty.
Update: I was wrong, while there was tremendous voter suppression and other dirty tricks, I think that the Democrat expectation of fraud actually reduced it in places like Ohio, and massive voter revulsion at late breaking sex scandals and similar incidents overshot Republican planning. Do the Republicans think that they can weather the next two years and let the massive Gerrymandering return things back? Only the next Congress will tell, it will be very dicey. With so much work and only two years, every action will have to be effective, rather than just feel good. (and there is so much more that would feel great, but might be less effective).