[+/-] Reflections on 2004
I began the year optimistically, working with the Howard Dean campaign. With his bumper sticker on my car and his sign in my front yard (both firsts for me) I met regularly with other local activists to expound Dean’s message: we wanted our country back from the kleptocrats that had hijacked it. We wanted out of Iraq not because we were anti-war pacifists per se – in fact most “Deaniacs” I met had supported the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan – but because our cold calculating realism told us that it was against America’s best interests.
As the background investigation for my security clearance progressed (I work in the intelligence community), a friend in the neighborhood phoned me to say that the investigator had stopped by his home asking questions about me. “Does he support any organizations that advocate the violent overthrow of the US government?”
“No,” my friend responded, “but he used to have a Howard Dean sign on his lawn.”
The investigator apparently laughed, and said that someone else had mentioned that. Not that it mattered: in the end my clearance was granted. I was free to continue working for a defense contractor staffed with people that worship Chimpy McFlightsuit. Yee-haw.
A Dean presidency was not to be. Every four years the national news media collectively destroy the democratic frontrunner: Kennedy in ’80, Hart in ’84, Biden in ’88… 2004 was no exception, as Dean fell and Kerry became the nominee. Good man, lousy candidate. Grassroots support withered, and, of course, Bush “won.”
The outcome was predictably depressing, but I was more saddened to learn that according to our European allies the election “did not meet democratic standards.” This third stolen election in a row (evidence strongly suggests that 2002 was also stolen) was nicely summarized in the headline of the London Daily Mirror: “How Can 59,054,087 People Be So Dumb?”
What has become of us? I am so very ashamed to be an American right now. The last time religion crowded out reason it was called the Dark Ages. Is a theocratic police state the new American dream?
With so much evil being perpetrated in my name, I have been hard-pressed to find joy during this year, much less this holiday season. My solace has been to focus on the small pleasures that come from having an amazing wife and four loving and joyful kids. Becoming lost in the moment is healthy. But although we continue to thrive, we all have passports and stand ready to find freedom elsewhere should the vise of authoritarianism tighten further.
I know many of you feel the same way. Together let us hope for a more humane 2005.