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Election Results Challenge Our Faith in America and Its People

Election Results Challenge Our Faith in America and Its People


Like most urban intellectuals, I have been profoundly disturbed by the turns taken in the USA—in the fields of education, the economy, jobs, the environment, social security, health care, the loss of civil liberties and, not least of all, foreign policy.

Like most of us on the left, I was confident that we would turn the tide by voting the current administration out of office on November 2, 2004. I had faith in logic; faith in the democratic process, faith in the American people. And I still do--but only because I do not believe this election was “fair and square.” Rather, I believe Bev Harris, Greg Palast and millions of others whose “beliefs” rest on logic and statistical probability. The most recent W.-Cheney fiat simply does not make sense; not unless you “believe” that fifty million Americans are stupid enough to have ignored the stark realities of “life in these United States.” Believing that Americans are stupid has long been a favorite pastime of the international community and the domestic intelligentsia. For most people, it’s more comforting to believe that the American people are stupid than it is to believe a handful of crooks just put Richard Nixon to shame with a sham election conducted in the world’s “greatest democracy.” The very suggestion that a few heavy-handed, fiscally well-endowed and well-connected individuals may have participated in a felonious assault on democracy by manufacturing and manipulating electronic voting systems in favor of their patron is perhaps more disturbing than the notion that the results of this election are “legitimate”. And yet, this much is clear: this level of criminal behavior is entirely consistent with the logic of the current administration.

The notion of an honest election is predicated on the belief that most Americans are either ignorant, indifferent or complete idiots. Call it denial, call it wishful thinking on my part, but, as an American citizen, it’s harder for me to believe that 60 million Americans are out of touch enough to have put Bush back in office than it is to believe a medium-sized bushel of crooks has stolen the election. The election was declared a done deal before a thorough investigation had been conducted into allegations of voter fraud, and it isn’t really over until the electoral college is seated on December 12. The mainstream media is suppressing the “votergate” story that is spreading like wildfire on the internet; where it is getting coverage, the charges are being dismissed as “internet conspiracy theories.” Is this the “urban legend du jour” or might many millions of people be “on to” something? 

I am “reality-based” enough to believe that perhaps 40 million hapless souls were bamboozled by a President who pretends to be a “man of the people,” a “populist” whose egregious language skills endear him to anyone who’s ever experienced the anxiety of having to pass a standardized language, geography, math or civics test in the public school system in this country, but who nevertheless struts around in $3,000 suits meticulously hand-sewn by an Italian tailor in Washington, and who is in reality a millionaire oil-magnate. The Bush-Cheney Machine has perfected the art of propaganda and probably succeeded in persuading 40 million voters. But the difference between 40 and 60 million is significant, especially when, according to the preliminary results, the discrepancy involves about 3.5 million. Millions believe the results are rigged: that alone must be cause for extensive investigation, if not a total annulment of the election and a call for a “re-run”. 

If, as one theory in circulation would have it, the farm folk are simply stricken by the same fear fueled faith in the Fuhrer pathology that drove millions of Germans and Austrians to fall in line behind Hitler, then perhaps my friend Esther is correct in saying, “We are doomed.”

But my logic, my belief and my faith in the “goodness” of the American people tells me that no one with a shred of compassion who is remotely aware of the impact our current foreign and domestic policies are having on real people living real lives could so much as consider continuing on the country’s current path. Far too many people in this country have been stricken, directly or indirectly, by the continuous stream of “surgical strikes” to the domestic sphere. My logic, my belief and my faith tell me that most Americans are compassionate people and the suffering these surgical strikes have wrought on the American people—across the board—cannot have been “trumped” by the so-called “value” issues; if this is not the case, the American people are not stupid, they are morally bankrupt. In other words, if W.-Cheney won the election “fair and square,” the “political capital” the machine now intends to spend is moral bankruptcy going by the name of the “value-added vote”. That seems to be the stark reality that the press is afraid to face.

My extensive experience in “faith-based” communities is that they are anything but indifferent to the suffering of others. Poverty has been a major concern of every Christian I have ever known. Maybe I know the wrong kind of Christians, but my experience in these communities ranges from fundamentalist evangelical denominations to Protestant, Catholic and Episcopalian—and none of them could have been said to have been indifferent to poverty and privation. I am myself profoundly religious and firmly believe in the power of prayer, and I believe my God always sides with the poor, not with oil-magnates and millionaires.

Against this backdrop, the results of the election do not make sense. Let’s forget about mounting evidence, forget the dismissals of “votergate” as an “internet conspiracy theory,” the fact is that millions upon millions of people do not believe the results. That alone is enough to merit a thorough investigation and, since the electronic system has rendered recounts obsolete, a new election.

Lilian Friedberg   is a writer, translator, editor and performing artist from Chicago, IL. She recently completed her PhD in Germanic Studies at the University of Illinois. Her work has appeared in such venues as American Indian Quarterly, African Studies Quarterly, German Quarterly, New German Critique, Denver Quarterly, Chicago Review, Transition and various other venues. She recently co-edited, with Sander Gilman, a volume of selected essays by German Jewish journalist Henryk Broder, (A Jew in the New Germany, Univ. of Illinois Press). Friedberg is artistic director of the Chicago Djembe Project, an arts organization dedicated to respect and cooperation across cultures and genders through the African djembe drum tradition.

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