Sunday, September 10, 2006

Forethought and Fearmongering

As we approach another election season, there are questions that inevitably come to mind. Why is there always a new Al Quaeda tape found during the run up to a vote. Is Osama on the ballot? There was a new Al Quaeda tape that turned up just prior to the 2004 election also. This seems convenient timing for an administration that wants to scare its base into voting. There are wonderful ways to motivate the electorate, fear is an amazing motivator. I lived in Washington, D.C. on September 11th 2001, and can appreciate some of the anxiety of what this anniversary brings. That does not mean that I understand or appreciate the idea that we as a group should dwell on fear.

The United States did not cower in fear when hijackings were all the rage in the 1970s. O.K. many of us did not go on TWA or Pan Am for obvious reasons. Maybe some people stopped flying, but I don't remember, Presidents Carter, Reagan or Bush saying vote me into office or the hijackers are going to take over. I don't remember hearing that Truman or Eisenhower said vote me in because we need to get ready for the Soviets to attack. Currently, we have elected leaders who are relying on scaring people into voting for them.

The Republicans have had 6 years of unchecked power. They have increased the amount of government spending to levels never attained before. The armed forces of America are more involved than at any time in recent memory. All of these things have been done, and they are still running an electoral campaign of fear. Do you feel any better about the state of the country than you did 5 years ago? Are our ports safer, air or sea, than they were before this war on terror began? Do you think we are headed in the right direction economically, socially, or diplomatically? Are you happier about the place this country holds in the world, than it did when the Republicans gained control? One final question Do you think the country is more united than it was 6 years ago?

These are all important questions because we are in peak election season. The Democrats need to put forth a plan to follow the security reccomendations of the 9/11 commission. This is something that crosses party lines, but the Republicans refuse to do. The Democrats need to refocus our resources on something other than tax cuts and corporate welfare. Rather than committing to rebuild Falujah, commit to rebuild New Orleans. Rather than guaranteeing universal health care in Iraq, offer universal heath care in Terrebone Parish or Liberty City. Rather than fully funding the first responders in Baghdad, let's try out the idea in Brooklyn. I'm not suggesting isolationism, far from it. I'm suggesting a bit of forethought.

As I teach, I ask my students to think before they speak or act. I wish I could ask the same of my President.

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