Democratic Underground

Unity is a Two Way Street
September 24, 2001
by John Emerson

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During this crisis we've been hearing a lot about "unity" and supporting the President. So okay, let's have unity. Who are the enemies of unity?

When Bin Laden or whoever it was wanted to hit America where it hurt, they attacked New York City. The constituents of Jesse Helms, Trent Lott, Dick Armey, and Helen Chenoweth were safe. That's why President Bush was sent to Nebraska.

The Republicans talk a lot bout the "Heartland" and "real Americans" - in contrast to "you people" (Democrats). Our little friend Andrew Sullivan just suggested that the "blue areas" form a disloyal fifth column in the war against terrorism.

But it isn't the liberal Democrats that are saying that Bin Laden was an instrument of God, punishing the U.S for its sins. It's Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson - pillars of the Republican party and big George W. Bush supporters. For years the Christian right has been talking about New York and California falling into the sea, and they weren't kidding. Like Bin Laden, they want New York to disappear.

It wasn't liberals who took a cake and a Bible to the Ayatollah. It wasn't liberals who sympathized with the Ayatollah's death sentence on impious Salman Rushdie.

The man responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing, Timothy McVeigh, wasn't a liberal. The Congresswoman who said "Now maybe people will listen" when she heard about this bombing wasn't a liberal either; it was Idaho's Republican representative Helen Chenoweth. (It was in Idaho that Claude Dallas became a local hero by killing two federal agents).

It isn't liberals who have published a death threat against George W. Bush (together with most of the Supreme Court). It's the anti-abortion terrorists of the Nuremberg Files. Anti-abortion terrorists have killed at least a dozen people in recent years, but you never hear them called that in the media. You hear a lot about "eco-terrorists" though.

It was Jesse Helms (R, NC) who relayed a military death threat against President Clinton: "If he visits the military bases down here, he should bring a bodyguard." There were no consequences for Sen. Helms - he was just kidding (what a funny guy!)

The Republicans did not support any of President Clinton's military actions: "I can support the troops without supporting the President." (Trent Lott)

And when it looked like Gore might win the election, it was the conservative Bill Kristol who stated his intention of refusing to acknowledge his legitimacy. But when George W. Bush won, we were all supposed to roll over for unity's sake.

I think we can safely conclude that the main source of disunity in this country is the vehement, unremitting, and sometimes quite murderous hatred of conservatives for liberals. But there is an even deeper layer to this. The swing voter in the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling awarding the Presidency, Anthony Kennedy, finally made his decision because he feared that a protracted recount and legal struggle would lead to civil disorder. Since he didn't fear any that any disorder would arise if the Presidency was awarded to Bush, obviously it was the Republican goon squads who decided the question. Is this democracy?

So anyway, I'm in favor of unity. I expect a war and I don't expect a short war (I hope I'm wrong!). Where are we going to get this unity?

First, Bush is going to have to get rid of quite a few of his friends. He actually has made a nice start in distancing himself from Falwell and Robertson, but he must be held to this. And since these men and their believers have been an integral part of the Republican party for twenty or more years now, he's going to have to form some new alliances.

Second, he's going to have to drop all agendas not directly related to the present crisis. His attempt to use his tainted paper-thin victory to ram through a right-wing agenda was questionable from the beginning. Now it is unconscionable. On September 11 Bush dropped his international unilateralism almost instantly. In the same way, he is going to have to drop his domestic right-wing agenda, and really become the moderate he was pretending to be.

Third, Bush's handlers are going to have to understand that our agreement to pretend that Bush is competent to be President is based on loyalty and is not to be taken literally. We should make contact with the rational members of his inner circle (Colin Powell is the only one I can think of) and explain that our agreement to support him is conditional on his being kept under control by his handlers.

Frankly, I don't think that this will be as hard as it sounds. Even the most reactionary Republicans must be terrified by the prospect of having GWB's hands on the controls in a time like this (though of course, as with Reagan, many of them are probably also tempted by the power they can gain if they get control of GWB's mind.

A final thought on Unity. If President Bush actually believes in Unity, he should make a speech stating loud and clear that, for him, New York City (and even San francisco!) is also a part of the Heartland.