in the Machine
July 4, 2001
by William Rivers Pitt
"It was then that I began to look into the seams of your
doctrine. I wanted only to pick at a single knot; but when
I had got that undone, the whole thing raveled out."
- Henrik Ibsen
Something has gone wrong.
This is your day: you wake to the braying of your alarm clock.
Depending on your situation you will either wake the children,
feed the baby, walk the dog, prepare breakfast…or you will
dress as quickly as you can and streak out the door alone
because you hit the snooze button one too many times again.
By reasonable statistical probability, this is likely the
beginning of your day.
You go to your place of work. If you are 23-35 years old,
you will probably be in a cubicle. If you are older, you might
have your own office. You probably like your job well enough,
whatever it may be. The money is reasonably good. You have
friends there, 5:01 p.m. Friday drinking buddies. You might
even call what you do a career. If it isn't, then it's a step
along the way to one.
You work away the day and head home. At some point in the
evening you will flake out for a while in front of a TV or
a computer monitor. You might have a beer or a glass of wine.
You go to bed pretty early because you have to get up early.
If you are 23-35 years old, this will still bug you a bit.
This is your day. Add a dash of color here and there - a
blue sky, love, bourbon. You've been doing it for a while
now, and you have gotten into that groove. You may have passed
several seasons worth of days like this already.
But now, something is wrong.
There is this tension in the air. You can feel it on your
skin. When you are walking down the street, you are sizing
things up, trying to put your finger on what is troubling
you. It comes to you one day, out of a closet in your mind.
You are afraid.
What are you afraid of? Well, there has been a lot of nerve-wracking
stuff on the news lately, for one. Didn't we almost go to
war with China? Is the environment really as messed up as
they say? Are the lights going to go out? Will I be able to
afford gasoline in next month? Did someone just say 'recession'?
The odds are that you've been pretty comfortable these last
eight years. If you are a teenager, it is likely that you
can only remember times of relative peace and prosperity,
and you never saw "The Day After." If you are older,
you can probably remember that you were almost always able
to find a job doing something or other.
Now, it all seems to be unraveling.
There is more to it than that. Something happened. It went
on for so long that you eventually tuned it out, treated it
like the bad noise it was. You just wanted it to be over.
Eventually it was, and you tried to get back into that groove
again. But all the days you have passed since have been burdened
by your unease.
Something happened on November 7th. Something happened on
December 13th. Something happened on January 20th. Everything
in between was a riot of incivility and utterly inescapable
media saturation. It made you nervous. Over and over, you
heard from the media the words, "This is a peaceful and orderly
transfer of power." The words pacified you, put you at ease,
like the soothing voice of the airline pilot over the airplane
loudspeaker. Just a few bumps, folks. We'll be through this
It seemed as though a lot of people were really angry at
the time. Were they afraid, too?
This is your day, but you are no longer soothed. It rankles
you, somewhere down inside you where love for your country
holds a candle in the gloom. What happened was wrong, and
something is badly out of joint.
If what you fear is true, then so much damage has been done.
If what you fear is true, a Presidential election in America
has gone horribly awry. The Supreme Court was at the center
of it all, you remember, but you can't recall the legalistic
details. The end result, however, seemed like they picked
the President instead of the American people. You wonder about
the political connections involved in that selection.
This is your day, and everything has changed. America may
appear to be humming along as usual, but she is now haunted.
You are the ghost in the machine.
Perhaps the time has come for you to take the next step.
More than anything else, it is the uncertainty that is making
you afraid. When you walk those streets, you are looking into
people's faces. You are wondering whose side they are on.
You are wondering if they are on your side, even though you
are none too sure what side you are on.
There are places on the Internet you can go, areas of information
where those who share your fears can write, read, and become
informed. There are forums, and there are organizations.
Begin with these:
(Citizens for Legitimate Government)
If you cannot trust what you find on the Internet, there
are books available for you to read about what is troubling
Begin with these:
Betrayal of America, by Vincent Bugliosi - regarding
the Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore;
and Dirty, by Jake Tapper - Salon.com author wrote
a balanced yet edgy review of the days between the election
and the Supreme Court decision;
Math, by Paul Krugman - excellent read on the truth
of the Bush tax cut.
There are other good works out there on the subject. Find
America is filled with ghosts like you. You haunt the body
politic with your doubts and fears. The beginning of wisdom
heralds the end of fear. What you find will make you angry,
to be certain. But it is a far better thing to be angry than
Take the step. Cleanse our house of ghosts.
If you know someone who feels as you do, send this to them.
Advise them to send it along to others who are haunted. The
time has come.