By Daniel Patrick Welch
California awoke one morning to find itself governed by
a giant cockroach. It's official: we are now living inside
a Kafka novel - though even Kafka couldn't have predicted
the turn of events that would bring us to this point.
To be fair, Schwarzenegger is not a hyper-violent, frozen,
misogynist, monosyllabic robot. He just plays one onscreen.
In reality, he is - well, by now we all know who he is.
The frightening part is that the people of California knew,
too. There is some indication that tracking polls showed his
support slipping in the wake of all last week's revelations.
Polls are tricky things, of course, but if this is true then
the election happened just in time. The Republicans have become
adept at cherrypicking such opportunities and milking them
for all they're worth.
What you have to remember is that things are much worse
on a national scale. I'm not sure if it makes it easier or
more difficult to get out of bed to remind ourselves that
no matter what happened in California, war criminals still
skulk around the White House, and crimes against humanity
continue in our name all over the world.
A cornered dog may be a dangerous thing, but it is important
to keep in mind that things really are crumbling all around
them. Any pseudo-momentum emanating from Arnold's testosterone
boost can't compare to the lift they got out of lying to start
a war and the tragedy of the attacks of September 11.
As long as we have an adolescent political system based
on individual personality, we will never be immune to such
outbreaks of mass stupidity. Changes are essential to curb
the manipulation that money and media can buy, as well as
to refocus our political system on politics: the pursuit of
policies and solutions that will be of benefit to the vast
majority of people. What a novel idea!
I admit it does seem a long way off this morning, even if
we do ignore California. The cabal in power is truly out of
control, and now also panicked, desperate, mean and vengeful.
I don't say this gleefully - to contradict Martha Stewart,
it's not a good thing.
They are gamblers at heart, enormous risk-takers with our
money, reputation and future. They have no problem going into
Syria if the roll of the dice didn't pan out in Iraq, Afghanistan,
No, we really have no right to stay in bed. Even if the
old adage is true, that the problem with democracy is that
everyone gets what the majority deserves - except of course,
for Bush's "election," in which the majority did not, alas,
prevail - we still have our work cut out for us.
There's too much to be done, or in the case of this insane
government, too much to prevent being done. But Americans
do need to open our eyes to the damage being done in our name.
The world is recoiling in just a bit more shock and awe this
morning; the fact that ordinary people could actually vote
for this nightmare has always been the most difficult thing
for foreigners to comprehend.
But it is essential to remember that we are almost always
voting in a vacuum. Given a real choice, Americans just might
make the right decision one of these days. Get out of bed
- you're going to be late for work.
Daniel Patrick Welch lives and writes in Salem, Massachusetts,
USA, with his wife, Julia Nambalirwa-Lugudde. Together they
Greenhouse School. A writer, singer, linguist and activist,
he has appeared on radio
and can be available for further interviews. Past articles,
translations are available at danielpwelch.com.