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The horror of four more years
A nation divided as it hasnít been since the Civil War

GEORGE W. BUSH has been elected president without the help of corrupt, partisan Florida officials and a Republican-dominated Supreme Court.

It is hard to escape the conclusion that in voting for Bush, more than half the nation endorsed ó and embraced ó his lies and, even more disturbingly, his vision for our future.

The most obvious lies, of course, center on Iraq.

The evil Saddam Hussein did not posses weapons of mass destruction. The United States was in no imminent danger from that monster. And Saddam engaged in no collusion with our very real enemies in Al Qaeda. More than 1100 men and women in uniform have paid the price for those lies with their lives. Upwards of ten thousand more have been maimed or wounded. And more than 100,000 innocent, noncombatant Iraqi civilians have lost their lives. An odious regime has been deposed, but as with Richard M. Nixonís frighteningly miscalculated invasion of Cambodia, an entire region has been unsettled and perhaps destabilized. As Iraq slips into civil war, chaos reigns. No peace is at hand.

An even more odious lie haunts us at home. Four years ago, Bush promised to govern from the center, to be president of all the people. Instead he has favored the rich, ignored the middle and working classes, and shafted the poor. He has appointed not conservative, but radical right-wing judges to the courts. Together with his Bible-thumping attorney general, he has curtailed civil liberties. And, even more tangible, he has squandered a budget surplus husbanded during Bill Clintonís term of office, thus mortgaging the future of a generation now coming of age.

Democracy, H.L. Mencken said, is a system where people get what they deserve, and they deserve to get it good and hard. This election proves that mordant cynic right. Itís hard to fathom how citizens in even traditionally Republican Kansas can vote so clearly against their own economic self-interest. Even more disturbing is how slightly more than a majority of Ohioans, who saw at least 200,000 jobs vaporize during the Bushís first four years in office, can identify with this economic royalist.

The television experts tell us we can credit the transcendent appeal of "moral values." If the 11 states that overwhelmingly adopted so-called defense-of-marriage acts are any indication, then we are heading for a divisive national debate about what constitutes Thomas Jeffersonís 18th-century concept of the "pursuit of happiness" in the 21st century. Make no mistake: the frightened ó and frightening ó primitive religionists bent on foisting their backward-looking views on the rest of us will not rest until the US Constitution is amended to prohibit men and women of the same sex from formalizing their mutual emotional commitment and enjoying the material benefits and protections enjoyed by their heterosexual fellow citizens.

If a more inclusive imagining of love threatens these people, then the idea that a woman should have the right to choose whether or not she should bear children terrifies them. We predict that in the months and years to come, the concept of choice, as defined in the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, will come under even more intensive assault. The next salvo in that battle will follow the retirement or death of the cancer-riddled Chief Justice William Rehnquist. What so many of us have anticipated with dread, a Bush appointment to the nationís highest court, appears to be no longer a question of "if"; itís now only a matter of when.

The nationís best ó and perhaps only ó hope for a modicum of civil government lies with the Senate. Although the Republicans have increased their majority there, the party of reaction is still short of a controlling 66-vote two-thirds. Our hopes may lie with moderate Republicans like Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Maineís Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.

Bush assumes the mantle of leadership in his own right with the nation divided as it hasnít been since the Civil War. One has to look back to the bad old days of Nixonís Watergate era to find anything that suggests the stench that afflicts our national life.

George W. Bush may have won the election, but he is not our president. Before homegrown American anarchist Joe Hill was executed by firing squad just before the US entered World War I, he shouted, "Donít mourn, organize!" The battle continues.

What do you think? Send an e-mail to letters[a]phx.com

Issue Date: November 5 - 11, 2004
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