|Picked this up off the Quaker peace concerns email list today. It is
written by one of my near neighbors, Randolph T. Holhut, who has been a
journalist in New England for more than 20 years. He edited "The George
Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books), and can be reached at email@example.com.
'One Last Chance to Save Our Democracy'
... And We Better Not Blow It
by Randolph T. Holhut
Dummerston, Vermont - Thursday, October 28 -- What is democracy?
The great essayist E. B. White was asked that question by the Writers War
Board in the summer of 1944. This was his reply.
"It is the line that forms on the right. It is the don't in 'Don't
Shove.' It is the hole in the stuffed shirt through which the sawdust
slowly trickles; it is the dent in the high hat. Democracy is the
recurrent suspicion that more than half the people are right more than half
of the time. It is the feeling of privacy in voting booths, the feeling of
communion in libraries, the feeling of vitality everywhere. Democracy is
the score at the beginning of the ninth. It is an idea which hasn't been
disproved yet, a song the words of which have not gone bad. It's the
mustard on the hot dog, and the cream in the rationed coffee. Democracy is
a request from a War Board, in the middle of a morning in the middle of a
war, wanting to know what democracy is."
I've thought often about White's words over the past few months. This
nation has gone through all manner of trials and tribulations over the past
two centuries, and has managed to survive. It has managed to survive
because of the most powerful idea the world has ever known -- that we, the
people, are the government. Power comes not from a king. Not from a man
on a white horse. We, the people, are from where all power flows in a
It is exactly what George W. Bush and his followers fear the most.
The Bush administration's contempt for democracy and the rule of law is
well documented. They believe in force, rather than consensus. Dissent is
not tolerated. Disagreement is not allowed. Facts are irrelevant. You
are either with us, or you are with the forces of evil.
They have shamelessly manipulated the fears of Americans in the post-9/11
world for political gain. They have lied brazenly and repeatedly and got
away with it. They say God is on their side. They believe that they alone
know what is right and good, and that all who disagree must be destroyed.
Quite simply, it is the antithesis of democracy. It is a stew of
theocratic fascism that threatens to destroy all we hold dear.
Because they believe in the righteousness of their cause, I don't think
we'll see the scheming men of the Bush administration go away quietly
should they lose the election.
They are doing everything in their power to discourage people who aren't
Bush supporters from voting. They plan to contest the election results in
the courts with such ferocity that it will make what happened in Florida in
2000 seem tame by comparison. Everything up to and including armed force
is not out of the realm of possibility, for we know that the Republican
Party of George W. Bush cares only about power, and will do anything to
Should John Kerry prevail and win with a solid majority that cannot be
stolen away from him, we know the Republicans will not accept his
legitimacy, and, just as they did with Bill Clinton in 1992, they will work
to destroy his presidency before it even has a chance to begin.
I hate to think we may be on the verge of civil war, but the depth of the
political divisions in this nation and the willingness of the GOP to
exploit them have made it almost impossible for a Democratic president to
govern. Republicans believe they are on the verge of assuming permanent
control of every level of government, and that this control is their
John Dean, the former Nixon legal counsel who definitely knows evil when he
sees it, is right when he recently wrote that "only a miracle, it strikes
me, can prevent this election from descending into post-election chaos."
This fear is the fruit of an administration that doesn't believe in
democracy, only in the maintenance of its own power. And too many
Americans have either not noticed, don't care, or think that a one-party
theocracy is a splendid idea.
As a proud member of what's become known as the "reality-based community,"
it's hard to stay optimistic. My sense of despair over the past three
years has grown with each passing week, as I have watched the gross
incompetence and brazen lies of the Bush administration destroy nearly
everything I love about this nation.
"This isn't 'politics as usual' -- not even an extreme version of it, not
McCarthyism revisited, Reaganism times two, or Nixon in a Stetson hat,"
wrote Moscow Times columnist Chris Floyd last week. "There's never been
anything like it in American life before: a messianic cult backed by vast
corporate power, a massive cadre of religious zealots, a highly disciplined
party, an overwhelming media machine and the mammoth force of history's
most powerful government -- all led by men who 'create new realities' out
of lies, blood, theft and torment."
It may sound melodramatic, but it is true. The fate of our democracy
really does hang in the balance in this election. Regardless of what you
think of John Kerry, it is imperative that he win. The Bush cult must be
swept away, so that our government can begin the process of being returned
back to its rightful owners -- we, the people.