|How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Saddam.
||[Mar. 20th, 2003|05:57 pm]
I'm a fairly good American, in the sense that I make about as honest attempt to listen to and internally process the political events not only within the country and around the world, but also around my state and county. I'm generally a well established member of the Republican party, even though when necessary I'll defend that choice by saying I like to vote in Republican primaries to pick my enemies. Yes, I voted for Gore, but I also voted against Lautenberg, who is a pro-war Democrat senator. I tend to be anti-military, anti-war, and I'm not so sure that this war is going to be a good thing. To be Republican, even to be pro-Bush is not a curse or a pox, it is a choice in a world filled with difficult, and sometimes sisyphean, choices.
But, that's why I elect a government to do the dirty work for me- I don't think I know what's right, but I elect people who can accept the burden of that decision. Take, for instance, if I am a shareholder in a public company, and vote for members of a board of directors. I'm depending on them to be honest and efficient, and I'm not going to harass them each and every time they decide to buy a tiny factory in Cambodia or lay off six people in Peoria. As a shareholder, I do one of two things- I either use my vote to create change, or I sell my shares and get out of the company. Anything beyond that, I am implicitly trusting the management to make good decisions. That's why I'm a shareholder, and not a business director. Occasionally, I vote by proxy, and the vote doesn't go my way. I have to decide- do I sell, or do I hold on and wait?
Most of us live in a democracy. We elect a leadership to make the difficult decisions that we're not prepared to make. Like, does this dollar of budget go to war, or aid, or jobs, or health, or social security? I don't know and I am probably incapable of answering those questions well. I assume, I trust, that the leaders I elect will know these things or construct a Cabinet to figure these things out. I participate in democracy as a voter to make sure that whatever the decision may be, I have to place some sort of trust in the leaders who get elected, or I have to wait for election time to create the changes that are more aligned with my beliefs. Occasionally, I vote for the opposition, and the vote doesn't go my way. I can either stay, and accept the leadership, or I can expatriate. I stay, and I choose to stay.
And, I find myself closer and closer to reelecting Bush to a second term. I think the people who call him an "idiot" or "dumb" or "megalomanaical" have no understanding of the office or the position to which he was elected. I don't think he's doing a great job, but as yet, I have little evidence to see that Gore would have done a better job, and I was willing to vote for him. I'm certain that Nader would have been absolutely the wrong man for the job. There's a difference between criticizing the nature of the role of president, and the person who fills the shoes. Most of the global hand-wringing is over whether Bush has too much power, but they really should be saying that the American President has too much power, that Americans, as a whole, are the problem, and should be looking to intervene militarily in the American system of government. However, they are willing to protest, to wave banners that say "Bush is a war criminal", but are unwilling to accept the consequences of what such a statement means. Would you go to war, to depose him? Would you bring him to trial, in front of the UN? If so, what have you done today, besides hold a placard, to see that day happen?
I look at a man who has endured the destruction of things he holds sacred with resolve, I've even seen the day wehn the proverbial "old oil man" speaks of a day when we live in a hydrogen economy. Could I expect such resolve, and yet such flexibility, from any other face today? Was the mistake of Florida's ballots an unhappy conspiracy, or was it a stupid accident that saved my skin?
In life, there are two choices- live with the way things are, or work to change the system. As America, we have a responsibility to manage our economic might wisely. We cannot, as some would wish, simply abdicate the responsibility of our domestic product. If the decision is that, on the whole, we are doing the right thing, then the world needs to learn to shut up and let us do our thing. If the decision is that we are wrong, then the world needs to find a way to change us. Either way leads to a huge suffering- the imposition upon, the suffering of Americans, or the imposition upon, the suffering of those countries deemed a threat or a challenge to America. This is not a time for moderation, for indecision, for diplomacy. Bush, for better or worse, is the leader of my country, and for once, let's let him get to the job of leadering, or accept the consequences of what the opposite would mean. Indeed, in life not all things are dualisms. This does not mean that in life there are never dualisms. Sometimes, it's as easy as one and zero. In this universe, Bush is either president, or he is not. In this life, Saddam is either ruler of Iraq, or he is not. Either way, either choice, we must pay a huge price.
This is not naive hawkishness. I do fear a world where myself and the people I love are running in fear, either from a government bent on repressing our lifestyle, terrorists bent on ruling us by fear, or from the constant worry of either. If I weren't certain that there's something fundamentally right about how I conduct myself as a global citizen, both in the fact that I live cradle-to-grave ecologically and humanely, I would change. I accept that sometimes, my choices will put me at risk. Every day, I make decisions and make assertions that could dramatically alter my ability to earn a living and feed myself and the people I love. I also recognize that there is no inalienable right that I hold. I depend on a governemnt, not to keep me safe, but to work toward security and to insure the inalienability of my rights as a citizen. Sometimes, my right to be free comes at the price of freedoms- this is the inescapable sacrifice of rejecting anarchy. Sometimes, my freedom comes at a price- and that price is typically paid by others. I don't pay my taxes grudgingly, I don't do my civic duties reluctantly. I do my best to honor the price paid by the citizens of the world every day- from diplomats, to soldiers, to the children of foreign nations. There is much work to be done. For the soldiers, it is the job of keeping the peace. For the children, it is to attend school, learn how to make the world better, and to strive to get there. For President Bush, it will be to go to sleep tonight knowing how many people have to live or die with each stroke of his pen. I am none of these things, and I'm not willing to tell them how to do the work they are charged to do.
I do, however, wish them all the same thing that I wish for every day- a few moments of quiet happiness in the rush of the endless insanity of life. It doesn't seem like there's a lot of it about, and that's the real tragedy of our lives today.