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Reflections From the Heartland Part III

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Reflections From the Heartland Part III:

Sinking Ships, Silver Linings

Jesse Lee OpEdNews.Com

The last article in this series ended with words of hope that Bush 's stranglehold on the hearts and minds of the Heartland might yet be broken. Little did I know what would unfold in the weeks since then.

Welcome to the party, George, we 've got the pot boilin ' for ya.

Before getting into the meat of this article though, a correction is in order. The point of this series has been to dissect fanatical Bushism, and to find out how it functions and whence it came. Recent weeks have proven that this author drastically underestimated a factor which was mentioned in passing in the majority of the testimonials on which this series is based, namely the new Cable News Era. This revolution has taken hold on a new and grandiose level since 9/11, and the fact that it has only existed in the presence of this administration, and more specifically during the time that it has been viewed as inappropriate to criticize this administration, has skewed the perception of the true nature of that beast. The relationship between cable news and popular opinion is what is referred to as a positive (mutually reinforcing) cycle. We have seen the nature of cable news in several cases: the D.C. sniper, the Laci Peterson case, and indeed, the gung-ho "Showdown Iraq". It is a snowballing effect in which the more the public sees, the more it wants to see, the more the networks show, etc., etc.- before you know it you 've got 24 hour coverage on all major outlets.

And now George gets to taste his own medicine, and it seems the boys weren 't quite prepared for it. All hail cable news, for she is our new master.

The disgrace enveloping this administration (no small thanks to cable news), has predictably sparked comparisons to Nixon, with many wondering whether Cheney will be to Bush what Agnew was to Nixon. But the comparison runs deeper than that, particularly in the Heartland. It is easy to remember Nixon 's demise as a sudden surprise uprooting an administration with reasonable support from the public beforehand. In truth though, Watergate was only a kill shot from a press and a populace whom had had enough. Nixon had represented a sort of panicked reaction from a nation perceiving that it was being overrun by drugs (especially pot), sex, and rock and roll. He brought an appearance of staunch, black and white, conservative morality, which ultimately proved to be little more than a cover for the corruption and greed which has plagued the very heart of the Republican party since the 50 's. In the beginning the country welcomed the sense of security Nixon brought to a world seemingly gone topsy-turvy, but gradually the country eased back to its senses and grew tired of impure moralizing and hard right-wing social policies. When it turned out that he was a full-blown hypocrite, the entire nation was more than ready to show him the door.

To many in the Heartland, Clinton was a second coming of the horrors of hippy-dom. He had smoked pot, had a reputation as a sexual scoundrel, he even played the sax (can you call that rock and roll?). The Monica Lewinsky affair confirmed all of their worst fears, convincing them that although things seemed to be going fine with the country, liberals were at heart morally bankrupt. Despite the fact that Kenneth Starr and the Republicans came out the losers in the immediate aftermath, the long, drawn-out tales of kinky sex which Starr 's efforts exposed did tremendous harm to the liberal cause in America.

Enter Nixon; Enter Bush. This is what some readers had to say:

A friend of mine ...supported Bush because she thinks he is a leader.  Even when she found out that he had been AWOL from TANG, that didn't change her opinion much.  She is still behind him because Clinton was so morally reprehensible to her.

- unnamed location

The really unfortunate thing is, when asked why they support Bush, these supporters have a great deal of difficulty spitting out anything original. In other words, they don't have a clue. "I hate liberals and the Clintons".

- A small town in PA

Some of the people here are so pro-Bush, but I think its because they think he is a religious guy ...But the scariest thing by far is the sheer ignorance of his supporters.

-Rolla, MO

Bush took the stage with the words "Born-Again Christian" in bright letters on the marquee. He invoked God in his speeches at a pace so startling that Blair, his closest ally, has had to publicly distance himself from that practice when prompted that perhaps Christian faith was a deep common bond between the two men. But this administration has displayed the true colors of the Republican elite, engineering a government of, for, and by the rich on a scale that Nixon and Reagan could only have imagined. To repay the dutiful campaigning of figures like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, Bush has also enacted a socially conservative agenda that would make much of America shudder were it not so buried by foreign policy issues in the media. Many Americans are, however, starting to turn their eyes in that direction, and the fact that this administration is terrified of a Supreme Court resignation is an indication that it is afraid it may have pushed too far, just as Nixon did. If Bush is caught in a web of lies, he may find that his loyal followers quickly disappear.

Pro-war signs were everywhere during the war, but are now thinning out. Iowans don't like lying anymore than folks inside the Beltway. Des Moines, IA

There is also another large, looming problem for both Bush and Blair. In their strained efforts to build public approval for war, both leaders were forced to borrow support from across the political aisle. Blair found himself surrounded by conservative allies, making up the bulk of his support in Parliament. Not surprisingly, the hypocrites turned on him the moment questions came up about intelligence after the war, despite the fact that intelligence was obviously hyped for the entire duration of the build-up. As a consequence, Blair has found himself abandoned, and left to sink by all sides.

Bush borrowed from the left when in his speech at the American Enterprise Institute he introduced the "liberation" argument. Right-wing regurgitators seized the opportunity to beat liberals over the head with what was essentially a liberal, anti-conservative rationalization, and relished the opportunity to do so. But as it has become clear that Saddam Hussein was not an immanent threat (although he may be now), Bush has found himself with nothing else to justify the continuing US casualties except for that liberal argument. And surprise, surprise, it doesn 't sit so well with Bush 's conservative base. George Will 's recent column in the Washington Post goes so far as to call the Bush presidency a crisis for the future of conservatism, pointing first and foremost to the fact that Americans are now dying for the sake of the biggest nation-building project in fifty years.

The first piece in this series began with a quote from a woman whom had been called a "traitor" by her husband of forty-two years when she mentioned that she would like to go to D.C. and protest. She was kind enough to follow up with me, and this is what she said:

Tonight, after hearing about the forged Niger papers and the death toll in Iraq since Bush declared the war over, a commentator spoke about how we could combat guerrilla warfare. My husband didn't hear him out but growled, "Bring the army home!"

Not a dramatic change but a step in the right direction. Small town, PA

Whether or not this current trend leads to the downfall of Bush his neocon manipulators, it must certainly be said that they have reawakened America 's political imagination, and have taught us all to value what we have and what America truly stands for. This administration, the greediest of the greedy, have broken the stagnant status quo into which this nation had sunk, and the corporate empire for which they stand may well live to regret the time that they finally over-stretched and pushed the slumbering free citizens of this nation to the breaking point. Those who have stood and fought this administration have invoked the spirit of Thomas Paine and all those whom have preached on behalf of humanity and meant it. This series is written in commemoration of those who stood for truth and justice even in the daunting, hateful face of fanatical Bushism. All over the country, small towns saw their first ever anti-war protests, and a pledge of allegiance to the core principles of democracy could be heard piercing through the insincere and hateful rhetoric of fascism. These are some of the heroic stories a few such citizens related to me:

The seemingly few of us here (Missouri, near KC) who were opposed to the war were relegated to the loony bin. The one exception was when we marched in Lawrence, KS- over 1,000 people were there March 15th (and it was VERY COLD). Grandmothers on their scooters, all different ages. That was a great experience.

There is a little more room for discussion now, since Bush is hanging himself with deceit, but it's a long road. outside KC, MO

I belong to a loosely organized group of people opposed to the war in Iraq.  It's not an easy thing in this very Republican town of Midland, MI.  (world headquarters of Dow Chemical Co.)

In spite of being in a community of only 40,000 that overwhelmingly voted for President Bush, we attracted hundreds to anti-war demonstrations at the courthouse, and put together a series of full page newspaper ads that were an inspiration to other groups around the nation.

check out our web page at:

We are still meeting regularly, trying to work as we can to bring out
the truth and make our leaders accountable. Midland, MI

     For the first time in my life, (I am 52) I have become politically active because I have hated this war from the get go.  I became a member of MoveOn last December.  I recently rewrote an article on why I think this war is illegal from a lawyer's perspective and so far it has been published on DissidentVoice.org and  Britons4Peace.org.uk.  In it I make an appeal to the British to help us out. 

    Since I was nominated to be the local coordinator for MoveOn, I initially sent the same article in letter form, sans appeal to the British, to MoveOn.  The local newspaper wanted me to keep it abreast of MoveOn's (subversive) activities so it has received two different versions of this article, one pre-war and one post-war.   The article has never appeared in the local paper, although the paper mentioned me as having written a treatise on the war.  I can get my article published on the West coast and in Britain, but not here.- unnamed location

I have attended many local peace rallies, and have seen the one-fingered salute from people passing by in cars.  The good news is that an equal number have waved or honked their support.  At my own expense, I put out an alternative, monthly newspaper in Oshkosh called "A Second Opinion".  I have attached the latest edition.  "A Second Opinion" has really caught on.  All 75 copies that I put in the public library are gone each month.  I put another 25 copies in a local coffeehouse and in the student union at UWO.  A friend of mine has told me that his friends in a south-side (blue-collar side of town) Lutheran church choir consider "A Second Opinion" to be next to the Bible for information!  He Xeroxes copies for them every month and brings them to choir practice!  People have begun emailing me asking for copies to be sent to them directly as an attachment.  My sense is that more and more people understand that something is wrong in this country and are doing an end-run around the corporate controlled media to educate themselves.  Bush is going to find out that he can only live a lie so long. - Oshkosh, WI

I found this last testimonial particularly intriguing and inspiring. In emulation, I am initiating a project through OpEdNews.com called The Responsive Citizen. It will be a printable bi-weekly newsletter, one page front and back, which will be designed to convert a hostile or uncommitted audience. It will feature a capsule summary of damning mainstream news articles (e.g. the Washington Post or the New York Times) with links to the full articles as well as one poignant yet accessible opinion piece hand-picked by myself and my colleagues at OpEdNews. The idea is,  the newsletter can be distributed at points of interest, just as the last contributor did, in order to sow the seeds of doubt and dissent where the right has tried to salt the land.

For all those in the Heartland and elsewhere who would like to play a role in educating your fellow citizens and deposing King George, please email me at kirkout79@hotmail.com and I will put you on my list- the file will be sent straight to your inbox.  All you will have to do is print out (or Xerox) perhaps 100 copies and drop them off at your leisure. If you want to join the fight beyond simple petition-signing, here 's your shot.

It is time to put this administration in its proper historical place, one of ignominy and warning to future generations. The sleeping giant of American populism has awoken, and we must keep it at attention. In the past two years the word "progressive" has gained credence, and progressives stand poised to offer an alternative vision for the New American Century. MoveOn stands as a testament to this fact, and it gives us an opportunity to swarm politicians who think they can get away with murder. September 11th will be looked at as perhaps the most significant turning point in history since WWII, a day when America realized it could no longer afford its own malaise. We can follow Bush towards the Clash of Civilizations, or we can begin a quest for a world in which there is no cause for hate the likes of that which is currently growing in the Middle East and beyond. This age of global terrorism and nuclear proliferation is indeed a new and dangerous one, and it is time to step up and plan for the future of humanity itself. In order to set the world off on the right foot (any more hesitation could mean catastrophe), Bush and the neocons must be vanquished. Do what you can, just as these brave souls have.

Jesse Lee lives in Washington, D.C. and is a regular columnist for opednews.  He is also a founding contributor to the platform of 2020 Democrats.  He encourages comments at kirkout79@hotmail.com. This article is copyright by Jesse Lee and  originally published by opednews.com but permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog, or web media so long as this credit is attached.


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