Still Believe in America? I don't
“I believe in America.”
So begins the classic The Godfather, directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Of course the undertaker, immediately after proclaiming his faith in the almighty US of A, asks Marlin Brando to kill some young men who got a suspended sentence for beating up his daughter. Call it the George Bush of America—proclaim faith in the rule of law while plotting to murder people.
I no longer believe in America, for the country I grew up in is simply gone. I know precisely when I was sure my faith vanished: the Sunday night the Supreme Court stole the Election 2000 and dumped the rule of law in the trash bin with Bush vs. Gore.
Having the election stolen from Al Gore was and is an outrage, but in my mind the damage has been far, far greater to the faith in the rule of law and, equally, the license it gave Bush and the Republicans to do whatever they wanted. Why shouldn’t they? Had it not just been empirically shown to them that they were indeed above the law?
My greatest fears have been realized over the following four years as Bush, Cheney and the GOP have behaved precisely like they answer to no one—which, of course, is the plain truth. The rule of law is dead and the United States no longer exists in anything like it’s form of only five years ago.
Scoff if you will—remember Cheney’s secret energy plan? It was just a plan for energy with meetings held in public buildings by public officials, but once Cheney was aware his great giveaway to the oil companies would be exposed he just made it secret and kept it that way. Still believe in America?
Congress, on the most flimsiest evidence imaginable, granted preemptive war powers for nothing but lies, which of course turned out to be total horseshit. Congress just sits there after being lied to and its sons and daughters killed while shelling out hundreds of billions to continue the horror. Still believe in America?
Jose Padilla is under lock and key with no charge and no plans for trial. He’s a US citizen completely stripped of his rights just on the say-so of some anonymous security official. Still believe in America?
Yesterday a Texas Senator encouraged and made excuses for domestic terrorism—violence against judges by a Senator. Still believe in America?
In California the GOP, incredibly, decided it didn’t like the results of a perfectly legitimate election for Governor and hijacked another election to nullify it just four months later. Still believe in America?
The Air Force, after reviewing irrefutable evidence that rape was widespread in its cadet officer corps, decided no administrative action was necessary for the staff of the academy. Still believe in America?
Bush was allegedly elected in 2004 yet in at least 35 states there is no way—none—to demonstrate how those votes were actually counted (this occurs precisely nowhere in the rest of the world’s democracies). Still believe in America?
I don’t. The America I knew and the rule of law are dead. Have been ever since the Supreme Court showed us all the rule of law no longer mattered.
How is it possible for Bush to get even five votes? Well, in the second debate Bush flatly stated he never said they weren’t looking for unimportant Osama anymore, but you got some wood? Incredibly, the next day the national media coverage was about how poor Dick Cheney was upset about the perfectly accurate description of his out-of-the-closet daughter as a “lesbian.” 9-11, Osama escaping, Osama not being pursued, flatly contradicting the truth of this by Bush, yet it was all outrage about a lesbian from our “liberal” media. Still believe in America?
I got my ass kicked silly yesterday by a very intelligent, mature Kossack I should try to emulate for this view. If everyone thought this way the country would collapse and life would a Hobbesian nightmare!
Just because I know the rule of law is dead and my country is gone does not mean everyone should just chuck all civility and become rapacious animals. It does not mean we should set up a rifle link for Kossacks so they can be ready for the barricades. It does not mean anyone should follow my example.
I do not judge humans for their violations of the law, I judge them for the harm they do others. Quite conveniently that always meshes with the violation of some law, but it means nothing to me. The rule of law is dead.
I try to be the best person I can be—to my family, to myself, my fellow citizens, and to my country. In some areas I have a long way to go, obviously. But I know the right thing to do, and just because the rule of law is dead does not mean I’m going to go violate it whenever I can. Besides the obvious issue of hurting others, no matter how illegitimate the authority the cops can still coercively smash my life for not playing by their rules, so of course I keep my meek citizen profile. Just because something is dead doesn’t mean one has to raze the entire ecosystem—if there ever is any progress for the US it won’t come about my smashing it. I hope that’s clear.
What do I do? Precisely what I like—trying to be a good person while sulking and weaving out of various levels of depression as the horror show goes on—the Schiavo case, Arnie threatening to negate the California legislature this year, more deaths and mayhem every day out of Iraq. Sometimes I write, but not very well. Give money to liberal causes, hope there’s a campaign I can get excited about in 2006.
Act As If, in other words. As if it were 1998 and votes were still counted, the President actually got elected, and California held elections every four years. I don’t think it’s going to work—voting machines here still can’t be audited—but it’s the only alternative I have. I no longer believe in America, but I have to try to.