Democratic Underground

George W. Bush is Not My President
by Anonymous

It is now some days past the inauguration of George W. Bush and there is no reason to believe that the worst fears of Democrats, women, blacks, environmentalists, and many other Americans will not be realized. Bush is moving aggressively to push the conservative Republican agenda as he simultaneously talks of changing the tone and creating a new era of achievement and compromise.

Mr. Bush's cabinet appointments are particularly at odds with this empty rhetoric of bipartisanship, while the issues he has chosen to make his primary focus in the first days of his administration read like a wish list of the far right. Not only has he chosen to appoint right wing ideologues like John Ashcroft to positions of vast influence and power, but he and his advisors have stacked advisory committees and executive appointments with corporate partisans and lobbyists, whose agenda is obvious. He has chosen massive tax cuts, school vouchers, and 'faith based' charity use of federal funds as the main thrust of the crucial first hundred days of his administration.

Meanwhile, no one now in the White House seems to know or accept the fact that Mr. Bush lost the popular vote and in all probability lost the electoral count. If not for a conservative Supreme Court that conveniently abandoned its longstanding commitment to state's rights, the count would have continued and Bush would have lost altogether. Yet, he and his advisors parade around arrogantly as if they won in a landslide, acting as if they have a mandate of the sort that swept Ronald Reagan to power.

So why are Republicans behaving this way, and more importantly why do Americans perpetually accept much of the transparently false reasoning at the core of conservatism? I believe the reasons are fairly clear:

Republicans are the party of the status quo. Both parties have largely been controlled by corporate interests. However, starting with FDR and the New Deal, Democrats began to represent the poor and disenfranchised, while Republicans moved in the opposite direction and continued their allegiance to the rich and to big business. For the last fifty years, Republicans main reason for being has been to be the fiscal guardians for that 1% of us who have over 90% of the wealth. This is what they were sent there to do and why corporations give them hundreds of millions of dollars.

When Mr. Bush gave his inaugural address and boiled his 'vision' down to a $1.6 trillion tax cut targeted largely to high income tax payers, it can be understood as his towing the line of those who put him there. This is why he accrued more campaign contributions than any candidate in history.

But this still doesn't explain why Americans accept the Republican agenda when so many of them, in fact the vast majority, do not stand to benefit in any way from the corporate orgy that occurs when Republicans are in power. The answers lie chiefly in anger, fundamentalism and racism.

Republicans embody white male America (literally and figuratively) and the society they once controlled without challenge. As our society has taken baby steps toward power sharing and true egalitarian principles, Republicans simultaneously moved further right as a direct exploitation of white rage and the sense that 'special interests' had taken something that was rightfully theirs. Reagan was the ultimate personification of this angry backlash. He achieved what he did based on this white rage combined with a virulent nationalism, expertly nurtured by the 'military industrial complex' as they incessantly told us we were not prepared to do battle with the Russians.

Certainly, fundamentalist Christians have been chief among these angry groups, as they stood to lose the most. As with any fundamentalist religion, the Southern fundamentalists depend on lock step allegiance of the congregation. Progressive attitudes are antithetical to their base principles, since more freedom and more acceptance of the individual, by definition, attacks the fundamentalist foundation.

As women, blacks, and homosexuals took direct action in the '60's, '70's and '80's, whites, fundamentalists and those in power felt threatened and often retreated toward angry stances on welfare, taxation, equal rights, education, gun control and a host of other domestic issues. As outright or overt racism, sexism, or homophobia became publicly unacceptable, code words were invented to represent these hostile and reactionary attitudes.

A case in point would be the 'state's rights' movement. This position is inherently racist, as well as sexist, since the underlying fact is that state legislatures are more prone to be disproportionately and even unfairly 'conservative' due to the influence of rural attitudes, a particular susceptibility to corruption, and the easy exploitation of knee jerk issues (like race, sexual orientation and religion) by religious groups. In contrast, structural differences in the institutions, and the fact that the goings on in D.C. are far more public, tend to make the federal government more progressive and liberal, and the players there more accountable to a more diverse electorate.

Welfare also became a hot button issue of the '80's and '90's, with racism being the underlying context (blacks being the primary recipients). More recently, school vouchers represent a coded way of saying "I don't want my kids going to school with 'minorities'".

During all of this, Republicans could be counted upon to be the party of the 'anti', positioning themselves as the party against more things than they were for. Time after time they have voted against or diluted any progressive legislation that would further voting rights or equal rights for minorities, women and gays. They have even gone so far as to vote against bills making hate crimes federal offenses. They have steadfastly continued to exploit the fault lines of our society, staking claim to the moral high ground and allowing that no one but they are moral, all the while, hurling money at the rich.

This is where George W. Bush is coming from, and angry America is his constituency. During the campaign he hoodwinked many Americans into believing there is no real difference between Democrats and Republicans by repackaging a 'thousand points of light' as 'compassionate conservatism'. It's all the same, and they are who they have always been.


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