On the John
Completed on May 16, 2006
There are some days when I’m glad that George Bush defeated John Kerry.
Nothing like a classic supervillain. Nothing like a man who, for so many Americans, embodies everything that is wrong with this country, while at the same time boldly and faithfully representing the other half…or at least half of the other half. Maybe it had to be this way.
What would we have gained if, on January 20th 2005, John Kerry had been sworn into office as the 44th president in U.S. history? What if Al Gore had been sworn in as the 43rd? Would we be any better off? With Gore following Clinton, probably. With Kerry following Bush, probably not. I voted for both of them. Not that it matters much now.
No, sometimes I feel like this was the only way to do it: ripping off eight years of fanatical madness. Eight years of senseless war and financial insecurity and good ol’ national schizophrenia. We’ve been in a state of rising ugliness for the past five years as Bush has played to, benefited from, and stretched out the ideological chasm in this country, and now we’ve come so far that the Vice President’s tragic and accidental shooting of his friend has turned into a political WWF Smackdown.
Maybe this is all for the best.
Maybe we need this whole Bush/Cheney/Rummy/Rovey nightmare to be pushed beyond temporary psychosis and into the realm of the frighteningly absurd. Maybe collectively binge drinking ourselves back to reality is far better than simply getting sloshed and trying to ignore our Monday morning hangover. Maybe eight years of W. is the wake up call we all need.
And we need one bad.
We’ve seen from the bomb-turban cartoon incident just how quickly religious fanaticism can turn into a balls-out orgy of death. I don’t foresee anything near to that on the horizon in America, yet it is obvious that we are headed down a dirty road. Christianity contains great beauty and truth, yet its tenets have been turned on their head in the name of war, prejudice, and many, many social injustices. The current battle over gay rights—not to mention abortion—stems directly from the religious right’s insistence on cramming the Bible down the country’s throat.
We are America! Home of the brave and land of the free! This is not something that I take lightly. America is unique among world superpowers because we were founded not simply as a collection of land and people, but rather as a society tied together by certain ideals. The U.S. Constitution is one of the great landmarks of human progress and compassion, yet it has been misused, abused, and outright disregarded nearly as much as the Bible has been, and interestingly enough, the abusers have often been the very people expected to uphold those texts.
Despite the overwhelming misuse of the Bible and the Constitution by a staggering number of people over the course of hundreds and hundreds of years, I still feel that at their most pure, the Christian Bible and the Constitution can be sources of wonderful good for the people who follow them. But here’s the rub: while only Christians follow the Christian Bible, all Americans must follow the Constitution, and I’ve never met an American citizen of any religion who wasn’t, ya know, American.
In order for America to reach its potential as a great nation of true freedom for all, we have to do everything in our power to uphold the tenets that our country was founded on. This is where the Constitution and the Bible come head to head, and while the Bible guides the morality of a majority of Americans, the Constitution must—MUST—be the one document to which we all adhere.
The religious right does not represent the majority of American Christians, but unfortunately they wield the most power. Just look at the results for the 2004 presidential election, which was arguably influenced more by religious beliefs than American ones. I understand that it is extremely difficult for some people to separate their religion from themselves and thus from their country, but it is something that has to be done.
It is high time for Christians to acknowledge how their religion is being used and speak out against the extremists and fanatics who mean to use the good name of Jesus Christ for their own political ends.
Christians wouldn’t like it if a Jewish guy got into office and “In the name of the Torah” passed a law that forced all citizens to keep Kosher. American lawmaking that stems from ANY religious text is plain wrong.
It’s a safe bet that we’ll have Three More Years of George W. Bush; this man is much too crafty to self-explode like Nixon did. The keg is nearly empty at this (White) house party, and when the clock strikes ’08 let’s pray that we have the good sense to get out before the parents get home.
Copyright 2006, jm silverstein