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Broken Promises
September 16, 2003
By Douglas Snider

George W. Bush did not keep any of his campaign promises - at least not the ones he made publicly to the American people. He did however live up to the promise of his less than stellar résumé. As could have been expected w hen the reins of the world's last surviving super power were handed to a man who had barely distinguished himself as president of his college fraternity, colossal failure was all but inevitable. Record deficits, staggering unemployment, environmental retreat and a brutal invasion spiraling to daily mayhem have eclipsed what little hope we carried into a new millennium.

So we made a huge mistake. A minority of America actually voted for him, and far too few of us took him seriously enough to prevent an election so close that it could be snatched away by unprincipled manipulation and judicial fiat.

That doesn't mean we have to remain a dysfunctional nation. People who hold views that are legitimately conservative have no more need to defend this administration than the rest of the nation has to accept it.

The traditional pride of most Americans has nothing to do with rolling over a starved and depleted nation. It has nothing do with honoring bogus heroes who shame the real heroes they send into harm's way. It has nothing to do with cheap plastic flags flapping to shreds on our SUV's. It has nothing to do with surrendering the wages we earn for our families to a powerful elite who will only gain wealth and power from our sacrifice.

Our past pride has been in how we have advanced humanity and unselfishly shared our bounty and enlightenment with the less fortunate of the world. Our shining light to the world is now flickering on the brink of extinction. Except for the brief time that we stood united in stunned solidarity, we have become a nation divided and a nation weakened by our division. If ever there were a time when we need to stand united as a nation it is when our democracy is so perilously close to becoming something else, when our noble experiment has became much less than noble.

Staying the course, the rallying cry of Bush I and now II, is not an option when the perilous course we have taken is so contrary to our tradition, our collective beliefs and the vision of our forefathers. This errant cowboy president glorifies the very worst of what we have become.

We have forsaken rugged individualism for arrogant unilateralism. Patience stemming from unchallenged power has given way to rash and fearful military adventurism. The nation that anguished over the fate of a single whale has been led to ignore the calculated slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians. Our intolerance of injustice is giving way to intolerance of the most hateful variety.

In only the past few weeks there has been at least a hint that a whisper of change is stirring. Voices are being heard that the Bush administration does not want us to hear. Serious questions are being given serious consideration. There is finally some hope that the American people can meet again on common and familiar ground and become truly united in restoring the America we almost lost.

In the coming election year when we weigh our solitary votes against those who bask in Bush's well-secured glory at $2,000 a pop, we have to make a difference as individuals. If we choose our leaders responsibly we can return to a time when we did not have to consider the political passions of others before we spoke openly and honestly among them.

This is one time the majority cannot afford to remain silent. If we lack the courage to take a stand now to rebuild our battered democracy we will, in our lifetimes, witness America going the way of history's other fleeting global powers and the world will be poorer for its passing.

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