In Pitt's fine piece, I came upon this passage:
Much of this can be undone or contained, to be sure, except for all the death. The laws can be rolled back. Sensible policies can be applied to the wars we are losing. New Orleans can be rebuilt. The media can be re-regulated. With a proper amount of effort and attention, most of the damage that has been done can be fixed. Except for all the death.
But that is not winning, not really, because the problem is not so much that these things happened and now have to be fixed. The problem is that they were allowed to happen at all. A lot of things have gone astonishingly wrong in America if a passage of time such as this exists in the first place. It has happened, all of it. This is no long nightmare. It is as real as the nose on your face.It is a disgrace, a scar on our history and our consciousness. Worse, the fact that all this did happen means it can happen again. The power-hungry now have a marvelous blueprint for the unmaking of a republic, and they will likely be surprised at how trifling easy it is to pull off.
It was at this point that I began to protest inwardly against Pitt's analysis. The idea that the Bushites have laid out a "blueprint" for future power-hungry predators in America, and that these future would-be despots eager to unmake our republic will likely find it "trifling easy" to pull it off-- these simply did not ring true to me.
I continue to worry --though less with every new flock of Bushite chickens coming home to roost-- about America's capacity to overcome the evil regime still in power. But as for future recurrences of democratic deconstruction following the same blueprint, I think the truth is quite the contrary.
As the costs of this American dalliance with evil continue to mount, this era is more likely to be an innoculation against America going down this road again, than the clearing of a trail for future travelers.
Nations can become deeply sensitized to old errors and excesses-- particularly those which proved to be the path to national disaster. Consider the example of Japan and Germany after their catastrophic defeats in World War II.
Japan, ruined by its militaristic ventures, repudiated militarism more fully than any other major power had ever done. True, in the case of Japan, the occupying American power played a major role in getting Japan's new constitution to codify Japan's commitment to limiting its military to purely defensive postures. But the Japanese embrace of its non-militaristic path shows that it was not American pressure alone that has preserved that commitment for more than two generations.
And with West Germany, it was the Germans themselves who enacted laws --laws that in America would be violations of the first amendment-- forbidding the kind of hate speech that had played so nefarious a role in the Nazis' rise to power and to creating the environment in which the Holocaust could take place.
In America, as the Bushite regime (one hopes) is increasingly discredited and stripped of its power, a similar kind of national sensitization to the components of the Bushite disgrace is likely to occur. Not, to be sure, to such a degree as with those two fascist powers that lost millions of lives and were physically in ruins at the close of a war in which the victors came to occupy them. But in the same direction, nonetheless.
At the very end of his essay, William Rivers Pitt seems to hold out a related kind of hope. He starts talking about "winning," apparently indicating that he is coming to believe, as am I, that the Bushite regime is starting to head toward the stage that Dick Cheney so famously declared the Iraqi insurgency to be in not so terribly long ago, it's "death throes." And then Pitt looks toward what winning should mean in the wake of such "wretched years" --such wanton damage to so many things-- that the Bushites have brought to America:
winning means trying to fix everything that is broken, that it means holding the proper people accountable for their actions. Be it likewise resolved that winning means not forgetting, that it means something good absolutely must come from these wretched years. If that good boils down to two words - "Never Again" - then that is victory enough.
There are two elements here that will help to assure that the pattern of evil employed by the Bushites becomes not a blueprint to be followed again but an innoculation to mobilize the immune system of the American body politic to repel in the future: "holding the proper people accountable for their actions" and "not forgetting."
Those two elements point toward the larger and deeper point: what is important here is not just that this particular regime be overcome, but that the patterns expressing themselves through the regime be exposed and discredited. The contempt for law. The lust for power. The constant strategy of dividing people and creating enmity. The arrogance and bullying. The unbridled greed. The lust for domination. The self-righteousness. And above all, the lies upon lies upon lies so that the foundations of the democratic process were eaten up by the acid of deception.
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