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Oct 28, 2004 12:00 am
For me personally, the upcoming election is all about shame.
This actually was going to be the presidential election that I finally sat out, no longer convinced that my vote really mattered – or that it would even be counted. To be brutally honest, I'm still not sure that it does. I've got this sneaking suspicion the ballots cast by a lot of people like me will be sleeping alongside Jimmy Hoffa by sundown on Nov. 2. For Halliburton, Murdoch, GM, DuPont and all the other billion-dollar corporate interests President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney so willingly serve, the stakes are simply too high.
At this very moment, powerful old rich white men in expensive suits are working overtime to hold on to their power and profits. And if you think everything they're plotting is legal, honest and ethical, well, good luck to you – and give my regards to Rod Serling next time you bump into him.
My shame set in when it became apparent oil millionaire Bush wasn't very interested in settling the score with Osama bin laden. I guess the lesson there is we shouldn't expect a rich oilman to ruffle the feathers of other rich oilmen like those who run Saudi Arabia – home of most of the 9-11 hijackers.
My shame multiplied when we started killing Iraqis under the guise of helping them. It grew as I watched the religious 'leaders' who heartily endorse Bush embracing the war. So much for those 'WWJD?' bracelets that were all the rage a couple of years ago, I guess. And my shame, as it continued to grow, became tinged with fury as the news media became nothing more than cheerleaders for the whole sordid mess, either afraid or unwilling to ask the questions and point the fingers that could have headed off so much death and destruction.
I was ashamed to the point of sickness. I took to encouraging everyone who would listen not to vote. Don't waste your time, I told them as I watched the bombs drop and TV analysts fawn over all things military, worshiping Viagra-dependent clones such as Rumsfeld and Cheney like some kind of modern-day, electronic idols.
I reassured my friends that – for people like me, at least – America really didn't exist anymore. Don't even bother with voting, I said over and over. It's too late – we lost. It's all been taken over by the richest of the rich. Get a hobby, join a cult, whatever floats your boat, but don't worry about voting because the Halliburton boys have already got this one in the bag.
And I believed it. In a way, I still do. I think if they have to shoot people like me to keep us away from the polls next week, they're more than willing to do it. The stakes are really that high. They've pumped billions into Bush and his mindless band of arrogant, hypocritical followers, and they will do whatever it takes to guarantee their investment.
But my shame did a funny thing as it reached its zenith, on, of all days, this past Sept. 11.
All the GOP pretty boys had taken a break from slanting the news long enough to allow most networks to indulge in some anniversary coverage of the 9-11 attacks – the same terrorist attacks, as you recall, that Bush has yet to avenge as promised. Someone started talking about the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania when the passengers overtook the hijackers, referring to it as "our first victory in the war on terror."
That got my attention, mainly because it's been our only victory against terrorism so far. As they discussed the now familiar story of how the passengers already knew what had happened in New York and Washington, how they made their final phone calls to loved ones before trying to take back the plane, I heard something that had escaped my attention up until then.
With that plane hurdling through the sky and knowing that, win or lose, they probably weren't going to live, how do you think these people arrived at their decision to storm the cockpit?
My shame was complete.
Just imagine that kind of faith in the system. With Cheney hunkering in a bunker and Bush running scared just like most spoiled rich boys tend to do in times of trouble, flying circles around the country in his daddy's old airplane, this small group of people, ordinary, run-of-the-mill Americans, knew they had to make a very quick, life-or-death decision.
And so they voted. And in one split second I knew I had to do the same.
For if my cause seems lost, how must theirs have seemed? I can only imagine that jet roaring through the air, heading toward certain death at the speed of sound while those wild-eyed killers jabbered their maniacal, hate-filled tirades.
The shame is still overwhelming, but for a far different reason. I will vote – and I hope you will too.
If for nothing else, do it for them.