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Election Song

By       Message Todd Huffman, M.D.     Permalink
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A favorite line of song, penned by the Canadian band The Magnetic Fields, poses the question: If you don't mind, why don't you mind? Where is your sense of indignation? To anyone who isn't yet appalled by the extent of the disaster that is the Bush presidency, I could not think of how better to ask it: Why don't you mind?

Not a day goes by without some new disclosure, some new bit of headline evidence that the Bush presidency is the most catastrophic presidency in the history of our great country. The consequences of this fact will effect not only yours and my personal future and fortunes, but those of our children and theirs. Where is your sense of indignation?

What can be safely said is this: Poverty is up by nearly 50 percent since this president took office. Somewhere between five and ten million Americans have lost their health insurance. Income inequality is the highest since the 1920s. Real median income has declined five consecutive years, the longest such streak since the Great Depression. And the Bush budget cuts have left Americans with the most threadbare social safety net since that dreadful era.

Almost 30 percent of American manufacturing jobs have been lost over these past five years. Manufacturing now accounts for less than 13 percent of our Gross Domestic Product, while the finance, insurance and real estate sector accounts for greater than 20 percent. Under Bush, moving money around has surpassed making things as the greatest share of our GDP.

Bush inherited massive budget surpluses but has turned those into massive deficits. While our net foreign indebtedness took over 200 years to reach $1 trillion, just since 2001 it has increased by another $3 trillion. While just five years ago our national debt stood at just over $5 trillion, now it stands at over $8 trillion. America has become a rentier nation, living off unearned income and racking up millions more debt every second of every day. Why don't you mind?

The trade deficit has exploded to over $800 billion per year, and the United States is having to borrow more than $2 billion per day to pay for our profligacy. And it is China our greatest strategic adversary that loans us much of those sums. Never could anyone have imagined that the most powerful and arguably democratic nation the world has ever known would give its most threatening competitor and the world's largest remaining communist nation such direct control over its economic destiny. Where is your sense of indignation?

It does not matter, not much anyway, to Bush Republicans that their out-of-control spending and their tax cuts for the rich have driven this nation into a downward spiral of debt. The spend-and-spend, big business, cheap labor, big government, socially regressive Republican Party has also become the political vehicle of the radically religious who, believing Jesus is coming at any minute, believe therefore that long-term fiscal responsibility is of little concern, to say nothing of social and environmental responsibility.

Under Bush, the United States has become the world's leading crusader state, led by a congregation of born-again politicians enriching the rich under the guise of Christian compassion, and brandishing Bibles as public policy guides. Rather than public policy based on the national interest, our government's public policy is now largely based on faith. Faith-based social policy, faith-based war, faith-based science, faith-based education, and faith-based medicine, all are leading our nation down a road to ruin. Why don't you mind?

Corruption is rampant. Money spent each year by lobbyists in Washington has doubled to $3 billion in just the past six years. Cronies with little experience are given high-ranking positions, or offered Supreme Court judgeships, or given no-bid contracts worth tens of billions of dollars. The Republican majority leader in the House was indicted and was forced to resign. The Republican majority leader in the Senate is under investigation for insider trading. One Republican congressman has been convicted on bribery charges, and several more are under indictment after lobbyist-in-disgrace Jack Abramoff spilled his guts to the FBI in return for a reduced sentence. Where is your sense of indignation?

Meanwhile, the White House smite squad tears down all who dare disagree with its policies, or leave the congregation under protest, and blames the media when it all too occasionally goes off-message and reports the real news.

As for Bush himself, he was asleep at the switch before 9/11, ignoring a memo entitled "Bin Laden Determined To Strike Inside the United States". He was asleep at the switch before Katrina washed away a major American city and almost as many people as who died on 9/11. And he is asleep at the switch as the world faces a potential catastrophe in global warming. Why don't you mind?

The extent of the disaster that is the Bush presidency is almost beyond cataloguing. Readers can easily and will undoubtedly come up with many more examples of incompetence, corruption, deceit, and neglect. But my space is limited, and allows only one more: Iraq.

The war on Iraq, based at best on faulty intelligence and at worst on outright lies has proved a gigantic distortion of national priorities. It has grievously, perhaps irreparably, damaged America's moral standing in the world. It has caused nearly 3000 American deaths and tens if not hundreds of thousands of Iraqi. It has consumed our treasury to the tune of half a trillion dollars thus far, with no end in sight.

The war on Iraq has sapped our military, our credibility, our economy, and our morale, and has alienated much of the world. The illegal detention and abuse by American soldiers of detainees at Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and Guantanamo have led the Muslim world to believe that democracy is just another costume for tyranny. And, worst of all, the war on Iraq has diverted our attention from destroying the chief culprit of 9/11, and has allowed the greater threats to our country North Korea and Iran to accelerate their nuclear weapons programs out of fear of being next on Bush's "axis-of-evil" hit list. Where is your sense of indignation?

So what can you do? It is easy to feel helpless, or to lapse into indifference. But what these perilous times cannot bear is indifference. We can no longer stand on the sidelines and wait for some non-existent catalyst to suddenly appear and mobilize a movement that we can then join. It is past time to take action. The profile of courage required is in the mirror.

The election is next week. Vote, ask your friends if they're planning to vote, ask your family, your co-workers, your neighbors, your fellow members of your congregation. Hell, ask the check-out girl, the teller, even strangers on the street and at the mall. Good people of all political persuasions opposed to what the Bush Republicans are doing to our country must not rest until we take back the Senate and House on November 7th.

And it will not end there. We must not rest until in 2008 we take back the White House, the people's house, and hang on it a banner reading "Mission Accomplished".

It will most certainly not be easy. But "not easy" is not a synonym for "let's give up". Rather, it just means "we have to be more imaginative and work harder and do more and work together to make things right again". We must come alive with the immediacy of our challenges. The time for turning our great nation away from the road to ruin is fast passing.
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Todd Huffman is a pediatrician and writer living in Eugene, Oregon. He is a regular contributor to many newspapers and publications throughout the Pacific Northwest.

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