Democratic Underground

Does Anyone Really Know There is a War Going On?

July 3, 2004
By Dan Gougherty

With half of 2004 behind us, a historically crucial presidential election in four months and fourteen months removed from Bush's pompous proclamation of "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq, I am really beginning to wonder if average the American realizes we are at war. Is anyone paying attention?

My regular job provides me with the opportunity to travel extensively in Northern California and Western Nevada and allows me to talk with a wide variety of people. I come in contact with people ranging from hay farmers in the irrigated lands of arid Western Nevada to software developers in Silicon Valley; from goat ranchers in the San Joaquin Valley to environmental activist in California's Lost Coast region.

These people represent a wide variety of political philosophies and are aware of the war in Iraq but don't seem too attached to it. By attached, I mean they are aware we have troops over there and some of our troops have been killed, but that's about it. They don't really seem to care.

When the topic of Iraqi death tolls come up, there is almost universal astonishment that several thousand have perished. When mentioning that troops are being held past their commitments, a sort of de-facto draft, they are taken aback, if for only a moment. Muqtada al-Sadr who?

On some level, I can understand why these otherwise normal, thoughtful, individuals lack attachment to the war. Not one of them had an immediate or even extended family member in the military. A few had friend-of-a-friend type connections, but not much else. Others were so narrowly focused on other political or social issues that the war is out on their periphery.

As far as I could tell, none of them had to make any significant sacrifce because of the war. If no sacrifice is made, they have no attachment to the war.

People reading this old enough to remember the rationing during WWII know about sacrificing. Even Vietnam-era Americans sacrificed by paying higher taxes for all those bombs. Of course, tens of thousands of families had to sacrifice their children in those wars.

But in the post 9/11 world, Bush has not once urged American to make any sort of tangible sacrifice to fight his war on terror. To the contrary, he told us repeatedly that no sacrifice in needed. Everything is going to be fine.

In fact, things are so good we are going to "trickle down" some tax break crumbs to you wage earners and throw the whole enchilada of tax breaks to the donor class. Oh, lets not forget they are getting their news from the Big Brother; also known as Fox, CBS, NBC, ABC and CNN.

Maybe that's the plan. Throw some money at the "little people," as Leona Helmsley would call them so they can scurry off for another six pack and while you're at it, make sure the American public doesn't see flag-draped coffins returning, much less armed combat in Iraq.

Barring some catastrophic event, most people will not have to make any sacrifice, outside of higher gasoline prices for their SUV's, that will attach them to the war in a way that will influence how, and if, they vote. That would be sad. Like all of us, they too have a lot to lose.

For me, I will continue to blog away in the hope that I will influence at least one person in Florida, Ohio or any other battleground state to vote Bush out of office. That one vote might be the difference.

In the mean time I think I will head to the beach to celebrate the Fourth of July and keep an eye out for those "exploding beer coolers" John Ashcroft has warned us about.

Visit Dan Gougherty's blog at

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