Democratic Underground  

The Asterisk Residency
June 29, 2002
By Laurin Suiter (ZombyWoof)

Not many generations hence, the "official" history of early 21st century America will have settled itself comfortably within the musty bindings of encyclopedias and decorative coffee table tomes of our bookcases and libraries. This history will provide a record to the effect that George Walker Bush was the 43rd President of the United States for four years, perhaps eight. It will document how the United States endured one of the most turbulent eras of its history, its effects unsettled in even the future reader‘s time.

Details of the 2000 presidential election, unprecedented in its narrowness of margin, will grimly remind many of the elderly among us of the contentiousness and unease we felt as we witnessed fraud, disenfranchisement, and systematic abuses that culminated in a Supreme Court decision that none, as Vincent Bugliosi decreed, dared call treason.

"Official" history will certainly not call it that, for it disrupts the conceit of the orderly and sanitized version of American Democracy that it peddles for our unquestioning consumption.

Of course, the beauty of history is that 'we the people', if that clause is to survive, are the owners and guardians of history. We the people, do not have to let it be written this way. To quote Howard Zinn, in his masterful A People's History of the United States: "A historian, or a journalist, or anyone telling a story, is forced to choose, out of an infinite number of facts, what to present, what to omit. And that decision inevitably would reflect, whether consciously or not, the interests of the historian."

Are the interests of 'we the people' at odds with the interests of George Walker Bush and his handlers? The corporations? Their massive propaganda disseminators we call the "media"? And whose interests will be served by future historians? Theirs or ours? We the people can be our own historians. The facts are out there. We can choose what to present, what to omit.

We see their insidious version of history being manufactured on our televisions, computers, radios, and in newspapers and magazines, day after endless day - providing primary source material for the Year 2050 Edition of 21st Century United States History, published by AOL-Time-Life-Warner. Polls are manufactured as "evidence" that All Is Well with our noble leadership. They will "prove" that Americans were not just proud, but loyal and obedient to their masters. The majority's unquestioning faith in George W. Bush validates his 'presidency', and makes the voices of dissent null and void. Alternate views will be marginalized and scoffed at as belonging to fringe malcontents. It is possible that those views will not be known at all.

If we let it.

We see this marginalizing on the op-ed pages. The oracles of the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the venerable New York Times point the way. They reinforce notions that even the most mild dissensions must be tempered with such popular catch-phrases in the lexicon such as, "we must be unified!" "but we are at war," "giving up a little freedom to stop terrorism will protect us," and so on, bleating like so many sick sheep.

Perhaps the greatest obstacle is not merely countering and combating these poisonous ideas. It seems to be that old stand-by, apathy, and its sidekick, ignorance. People are busy, they have responsibilities, most certainly bills, obligations, and all manner of demands on limited time. Some are just too lazy to do the work, to deal with the initial discomfort that questioning harbors. Some will stubbornly cling to the myths of their upbringing, fly a tattered flag from their antennas and be satisfied that they have done the maximum effort that real patriotism requires.

The asterisk. No president in our history, no matter how contested the election - whether 1800, 1824, 1876, or 1960, has ever been marked with that subtle little star, that brands their legacy and leaves his legitimacy in doubt. None ever ascended to power through such fraudulent and yet thoroughly American legalistic means. A bloodless coup. 2000 was the first. "Official" history will do all it can to make sure it remains as unblemished as its predecessors. To them, doing otherwise would mean admitting we have failed at our grand experiment. They are likely to succeed in its omission.

The admission of failure is not acceptable. For the rest of us, perfecting a Democracy is messy and difficult, even ungrateful work. An asterisk would be a sign of the experiment's success. It would mean we love our country enough to confront, challenge, and overcome its flaws.

Work for the asterisk. Work for its ideal, if nothing else. History is ours.

Printer-friendly version
Tell a friend about this article Tell a friend about this article
Discuss this article
Democratic Underground Homepage