Lately, I’ve been trying to recall the sensation of “the fear years.” That horrible epoch between 9/11/01 and ~1/1/04 when anyone who dared criticize Generalissimo Bush was libeled as a traitor. Iraq War II is the great end product of the fear years and it represents a complete failure of our system. Most of our elected leaders failed to inquire critically. Many Democrats who surely knew better – I knew there was no way Bush wouldn’t use the war authority if it was given! – did not vote their conscious. The professional bureaucrcy was bullied and usurped. The neutered barnacles in the SCLM became an appendage of the ruling party. Many citizens protested, but the multitudinal majority went along without introspection.
Never Again! Nope. Too late. It already happen. Fascism Lite. Witness the concentration camp at Gitmo. Recall the scapegoating, the jingoism, the hatred. There was magical realism suited to any Latin American dictatorship: Great Leader still being great while looking like an outpatient during the moment of crisis, Hussein subbing for bin Laden, Freedom Fries!
Some of the failures are systematic. Of any democratic country the USA has, arguably, the least representative government. The votes of a handful of Iowans and New Hampsherites holds disproportionate sway over our Presidential candidates. Our current President was elected after a putsch and a Supreme Court coup d’etat engineered by his dad’s appointees. Our representatives are gerrymandered into extremist districts. At least our Senators have to run statewide, but their legislative body still gives disproportionate sway to a minority of citizens.
The fear years are over and Generalissimo Bush and his junta have been exposed for the mess of incompetents that they are, but the mass of the citizenry has given up its freedoms of privacy to the government (or corporations). Power in our semi-democratic system has been concentrated in the hands of the executive.
What if there is another 9/11-caliber attack?
I believe that the America forged, however hypocritically and imperfectly, by the ideals of the American Revolution will be at a crossroads. A vocal and large minority of Americans will never trust Bush again or give him the benefit of the doubt. Will the middlemen join with them and demand a change to a more effective leader? A true democratic uprising. Or, will they rally behind the only leader they have, as they did after 9/11, and get caught up in expunging the treasonous groups in their midst?
Perhaps this is a false choice, but you can feel strains of both the democratic and fascist tendencies in the air right now. Should another 9/11 occur, one can only hope that George W. Bush is not President.