America has changed.
It's not the country I hoped it could be, it's not the country that I know that it should be.
Tuesday's election results prove this.
There are two primary conclusions that I have to this turn of events.
1) America is deeply afraid.
It's afraid of Al Qaeda and terrorism, certainly - but it seems that it's even more afraid of gays and the danger they represent to the special rights that straights have to be married. It's so afraid of criminals that in California they would - (no, already have) - condemn a man to life in prison for stealing a ham sandwich. It's afraid of trial lawyers who just might make irresponsible and negligent corporations and doctors accountable for the death and damage they inflict on the American people.
But most importantly, it's afraid of those godless intellectual heathens.
People who dare to rely on fact and truth, ignore blind faith and the so-called word of God (According to Billy Graham and Jerry Fallwell), failing to realize that every life, even life that has only just begun is precious and important and must be protected - unless of course, that life happens to be unwed mother of that potential child (partial-birth abortion ban), or the life or it happens to some scumsucking convicted criminal (doesn't matter if they actually commited the crime or not - a jury said they did, and they're never wrong, right?) or if that life happens to belong to a innocent person in a foreign land that just might - maybe - possibly - have some terrorists and weapons of mass destruction in it. It doesn't matter if that life includes innocent people whom we've bombed, tortured (at Abu Ghraib), held incommunicado and without contact or representation (Guantanemo Bay), and to be blunt - murdered - for the last two years. So far we've been very pro-life for nearly 100,000 Iraqis who no longer have a life - most of them non-combatants - and it's only going to continue.
If you want to make on omlette, you have to break some eggs, right?
Yes, we are afraid - but have no fear, GW Bush is on the job.
He'll protect us by ignoring critical intelligence briefings - like the August 6th, 2001 PDB that warned that "Bin Ladin determined to attack in the U.S.", or that joint FBI/CIA finding that Bin Ladin was reponsible for the bombing of the U.S. Cole in Feb of 2001.
He'll protect us by taking 7 minutes to read "My Pet Goat" after hearing that "America is under attack", so that he'll look Presidential instead of panicked and be sure to allow the "shoot down" order for our fighter planes that only the President can give.
Yes, he'll do a great job - because it's so obvious he's done a fantastic job so far and really done at rallying the entire world together with the righteousness and honor of his cause. Just as the ten countries - so far - who've quit the "coalition of the willing" and pulled their troops and support out of Iraq.
He'll remain firm and steadfast, except for when it relates to Gay Marrige which he used to say was "an issue for the states" but now says we need to change the Constitution to prevent, or the 9/11 Commission which he opposed until it became too politically unwieldy, or the Homeland Security Department which he refused to implement and then flip-flopped, turned around and created the largest federal agency in history.
He'll protect us, by letting 380 tons of explosives disappear.
He'll plan well for military action and follow the best advice, except for those Generals who ask too many question - obviously those guys are traitors.
In all seriousness, I have to congratulate Karl Rove and G.W. Bush for that total awesomeness of their campaign. They do indeed understand who and what America is - particularly in that wide red swath across the center of the country. Bush gets it. He knows who we are.
And that makes me, truly, deeply afraid.
2) America doesn't truly believe and buy-into all the above - and the election, well, was fixed!
This is not an possibility that I'm really desperate to put forward, like a sore loser who has to believe "we was robbed!".
I don't know if we were robbed.
But I also don't know if we weren't.
The kind of widespread election tampering that this would take is a serious charge and should be taken seriously and responsibly.
Air America's Randi Rhodes is fond of pointing out that the owner of Deibold, the company that provided voting machines for Ohio and Florida, was quoted at a Republican fund raiser as claiming that he would "Bring home the electoral votes of Ohio and Florida [for the President]".
Is that admitting to a crime in advance, or simply making a hopeful statement before a crowd of the Presidents faithful supporters?
I don't know.
Could hackers have gotten malicious and nearly undetectable code into the machines via their modem ports?
I don't know.
No one knows.
The main problem I have is that with the tone of this campaign - from the gross smears and lies about Kerry's Vietnam Service, the lies about his position on Iraq, the fake outrage at Kerry's very mild and frankly kind comments about Dick Cheney's daughter Mary ("He's not a good man"), the gross distortions of the record concerning Kerry's history in the Senate("Voted against over 80's weapons systems"), the distortions of Kerry own words ("He wants a Global Test before he uses troops"), all of which the Republicans basically got away with clean and without repurcussions - I don't find it that much of a stretch to consider the possibility that they could envision modifying the actual vote and expect to get away with it.
There is none - other than the exit polls during the election that showed the Kerry had a lead in both Ohio and Florida.
People used to trust exit polls, we used to use exit polls -- and exit polls only - to predict the outcome of elections.
Now, all of a sudden (after the 2000 election) people have begun to vigorously argue that polls are inaccurate. That we shouldn't get too excited about them or take them too literally because of the statistical margin of error.
I think that's demonstrably true. It's always been true. But polls are still valuable, especially for identifying when something bogus is going on.
Just imagine the perfect crime. A crime that adjusts the vote not too far, staying within the statistical margin of error but pushing it in the direction it needs to go, but far enough to be larger than what might trigger a recount (which is automatic in Ohio).
It would be the perfect crime, particular since so many of these machines have no audit trial what-so-ever, wouldn't it? Besides how stupid would it be to steal the election and get caught?
Maybe that's what happened, maybe it's not. I don't know. None of us know.
And that possibility scares me even more than first one.
It should scare you too.
So, now we have been through Black Tuesday. The vote is over. The reasons why it turned out the way it did may indeed be moot.
We must look forward now.
We must look into a future - with near complete Republican control of the Federal Government - that indicates a increasingly conservative Supreme Court which could seriously challenge not only Roe V Wade but many other civil liberty and rights issues, the Privatizing of Social Security which is likely to make the system vulnerable to the ups and down of the stock market not to mention drain much of the current funds from availability of the current seniors and cause massive, immediate cuts in services.
In this future Businesses are likely to do well, profits are likely to soar, teh stock market will rally - things will be good for them but not their employees (as they lose healthcare and benefits) - nor consumers and their customers (as federal regulations for environmental and consumers safety and employee compensation continue to be eroded or neglected).
I think we've made a grave mistake and the only way for us to change direction and realize what we've done and how damaging it's going to be to America and the world - is for it to happen! People can debate and argue all they want, but the truth won't be clear until it staring us in the face - we're like a junkie who can get off the neo-conservative hyper-evangelical neo-facist juice until we hit rock bottom. Only then will be finally begin to look up and turn around toward a truly brighter future.
Those of us who see the darkness approaching have to get our flashlights together, save all our batteries and keep illuminating the way out.
Black Tuesday may be over, and it may indeed be a long time before we see again the dawn, but for now we need to dust off our dispair, control our fear and marshall our anger and become shepards who remember which way leads back to the light - help others to find their way back -until that dawn comes and America finally begins to realize the promises of liberty, freedom and justice that it has made, and why it's needs to keep those promises.
People - get your everyready's out - it's going to be a long, long - long - night.