Reality Always Wins
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The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community."... I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'
– Ron Suskind talking to senior Bush advisor, The New York Times Magazine
If there's a fair election on Tuesday, the Democrats will win it by a country mile. On the other hand, if Bush/Cheney manage to subvert the race again, their dominion will go on and on. The right intends to rule not just for "four more years," but for as long as it will take the rest of America to drive them out. At this great fight we will prevail, eventually, because Bush/Cheney's project is impossible. They can't reverse the course of history. They cannot contradict reality. The world is what it is, however vehement their prayers. It doesn't matter how much slack the American press will keep on cutting them, or how insistently their pre-selected audiences keep cheering at them, or how "resolved" Bush keeps on saying he is. All their brutal steps and brilliant fakery will only lead them to the same gigantic bone yard where so many other glorious crusades have ended up.
Bush/Cheney have to lose, as all such crackpot movements must. In fact, it wouldn't be inaccurate to call them losers – as that is clearly how, deep down, they see themselves, for all their would-be macho swagger. Here they are, completely dominant in all three branches of the federal government, triumphant in state legislatures coast to coast, and over-represented all throughout the corporate media; and yet they always sound like livid also-rans, compulsively attacking those whom they've already beaten . Sitting through their last convention, with its incessant nastiness and choral jeering, you would never know that the Republicans had been declared the winners of the previous election. Like Nixon, they cannot help but play the rabid underdog, always right yet somehow always wronged.
So if they're such a bunch of losers, how did they get so far so fast? How is it that they seem to be beyond us, leaving us all feeling paralyzed and stranded, here in "the reality-based community"? How did we let it happen? And what does it portend for the United States, and all the world, after Election Day?
From the get-go, this incredible regime has seized the state in broad daylight, while at the same time very deftly hiding it. Bush/Cheney have half-masked their subversive coup not just by planning it behind closed doors (this regime being, of course, more secretive than any other in our history), but, more fundamentally, by catering to the Establishment's desire to see no evil.
When governments go mad, not many eminent observers will allow themselves even to see it, much less comment on it. Rather than shout out the awful truth – i.e., that the emperor is not just naked, but insane – those with large investments in the status quo would much prefer to hold that there's a method to the madness, that the man on top is crazy like a fox ("Come on, he's only saying that, to please his base!"), or that he's just a figurehead, with wiser others close at hand to keep him an eye on him. To claim otherwise would be alarmist and naive, while those professionals in the know know better than to think that what has obviously happened here has obviously happened here. Thus the pundit comes across as a more reasonable person than those scary few who tell the truth out loud; and yet that soothing view is founded less on any rational analysis than on the pundit's sense of his own rationality, which he projects, complacently, onto the zealots at the top.
Such calming fantasy is surely not unique to high-end bloviators. All of us are prone to see things as we'd rather see them; and so it's only natural that most of us have looked away, and tried to change the subject, as the world has taken this apocalyptic turn. Of course, American democracy depends upon the press to counteract this self-delusive tendency; and yet the American press has been especially resolved not to perceive the clear and present danger. So have the Democrats, despite their formal status as the opposition party. Unrestrained by any check or balance, then, the Bushevik machine has rolled right over us, so that we're almost out of breath, just at the moment when we need to scream our loudest at this fatal pressure.
Many good Americans have clammed up not because the Busheviks have cunningly concealed their revolutionary program: on the contrary. It is Bush/Cheney's very brazenness that has long awed the opposition into silence. First of all, the rational have often been intimidated by the sheer outrageousness of Bush & Co.'s deeds and claims:
- The president remembers 9/11, and takes great pride in what he did that day.
What? Bush? George W. Bush – who, although forewarned repeatedly, did nothing to prevent the terrorist attacks, and ran away on 9/11, and later worked like mad to stop, then thwart, a full inquiry?
- This nation is now safer, thanks to Bush.
This nation? Safer? With a president whose henchmen purposely exposed an intel agent dedicated to preventing terrorists from sneaking bio-weapons, poison gas and atom bombs into this country? A president who has done almost nothing to secure our ports, borders, tunnels, railways, highways, airways, nuclear reactors and petro-chemical facilities? A president who might as well be working as the top recruitment officer for the international Islamist movement?
We have been daunted not just by the scale of Bush & Co.'s transgressions, but also by their stunning quantity. How could anyone keep up with so profuse a record of big lies and gigantic wrongs? No previous White House, however tarnished, could approach Bush/Cheney's for the scope or the diversity of its corruption: not McKinley's, not Harding's, not even Nixon's, not Ronald Reagan's (contrary to the rightist propaganda, Clinton's was among the least corrupt administrations in modern history). Nor has any prior leadership – in this country, at any rate – so often said one thing and then done differently, or claimed the opposite of what it actually had done. From the moment they siezed power, just after having posed as "moderate" and/or "conservative" for months, Bush/Cheney hit the ground goose-stepping, making every revolutionary change they could, and just as readily lying about every one. To find a government of comparable perverseness would require that we depart the realm of history altogether, and turn instead to George Orwell's nightmarish Oceania, where Bush's "Healthy Forests" and "Clear Skies," his "Help America Vote Act" and his "culture of life," and all his automatic plaudits for "democracy" and "freedom," would sound just as natural as they sound demented in the world we live in now.
In the face of so perverse a movement, what can any reasonable person say? While argument against it is essential, arguing with it is impossible, as it does not share with us any premises of rational exchange. To all points of dissent, it says, "Who cares what you think?" To all contrary evidence, it says, "I believe what I believe is right." And to the offer that we might at least agree to disagree, it says: "Go fuck yourself." Rage is finally all there is to it; and so there is more to do than just rage back at it, as that alone will only keep them going and ourselves stuck in an endless shouting match, in which we're always made to sound defensive, although in the right.
We're forced into this posture because Bush & Co. control the cameras and the microphones, and write the daily scripts, and therefore get to speak out first, and have the last word, too. But it is not just through such institutional advantage that Team Bush keeps its would-be prosecutors up against the wall. The Busheviks forever cloud the issue, and try to sieze the high ground, by projecting onto everybody else the raging evil that they feel within themselves.
This is, on the one hand, an exquisitely disorienting ploy: the criminals imputing their own criminality to those whom they have robbed and beaten and would surely kill if they could get away with it. In the heat of battle (which is all the time, as far as they're concerned), such pre-emptive noisy indignation fools a lot of people into thinking that the innocent are guilty and vice versa, as when Bush accuses Kerry of endangering the troops, or when Cheney claims that Edwards doesn't care about the safety of the nation. It is a most effective tactic, and therefore one that always must be thwarted and exposed – – and now especially, as the Busheviks, demonstrably intent (again) on stealing the election, are charging that the Democrats are trying to steal it.
What have Bush/Cheney not done in their struggle to protract their reign against the will of the electorate? The endless trickery in Florida, where the Bush-controlled electoral machine has been reformed in no way since 2000; the activities of Sproul & Associates in Colorado, West Virginia, Oregon, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, Arizona, Pennsylvania and wherever else the firm was hired by the Republicans to disenfranchise Democratic voters through the use of bogus "registration drives"; the theft of sensitive computer files from Democratic offices in Akron and Toledo, among other places; the vanishing of tens of thousands of absentee ballots sent from Democratic precincts; the RNC's employment of a multitude of goons to drive off Democratic voters on Election Day; these and many other problems or anomalies are solid evidence of a Republican conspiracy – and yet it is Republicans who are complaining of a Democratic plot to do that very thing.
Far more concerned, as usual, with "balance" than with truth, or with the health of this republic, the American press has largely failed to give these scandals the attention they require, preferring instead to warn feebly of the danger "on both sides," as if just one side were not doing it.
Thanks to journalistic gutlessness, Bush/Cheney's election theft tactics may succeed. If so, it will succeed because it is not just a tactic. Those who rant about a Democratic plot, or many of those mad Republicans, may well believe that they are threatened by the ruthless forces of John Kerry – just as Bush apparently believes that "freedom's on the march" both in Iraq and in Afghanistan, or just as Cheney may be telling what he thinks to be the truth when he insists that there are horrid weapons to be found eventually beneath the sands of outer Babylon. Paranoids make winning propaganda, but it is never finally clear, to them or anybody else, just how much of their own spin is mere pretense on their part, and how much they believe sincerely. That very ambiguity, in fact, may help explain why such ferocious propaganda often is so catastrophically successful. When the Nazis did their rabble-rousing, were they not themselves among the rabble they were rousing? When the Islamists deliberately use Bush's war on the Iraqis in their propaganda for worldwide jihad, are they not convinced of their own righteousness?
Bush/Cheney also are, of course, supreme manipulators; and yet they too are also true believers. Their projective impulse, then, is more than just a clever tactic, but, as well, a symptom of their paranoid world view.
To make such rancorous and demonizing propaganda, then, one must have a little of that demon in oneself. But do real democrats, or true republicans, require such propaganda? Have Bush/Cheney sped so far ahead of us because theirs is the only way to win? If so, we might as well give up. If we should ever try to see things as Bush/Cheney does, that effort to be like them would destroy us just as surely as their victory itself would do us in. Far from imitating them, this approach to governance must be opposed in its totality. We must answer every falsehood with the truth, and do so with the necessary moral force of righteous indignation. And this cathartic process must begin with a frank definition of the danger that the people face. We in "the reality-based community" believe whole-heartedly in this community, and fully honor that reality; and that reality today includes the threat of Christo-fascism. That movement is opposed to everything that this republic stands for: free thought, free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, popular self-government, the right to vote, equality before the law and the pursuit of happiness.
In defense of these essential rights, Bush/Cheney and their followers must be thwarted and contained. This fight cannot be won by arguing with them, because they won't engage in argument, or even tolerate it. Nor can it be won by merely raging at them, as such anger only serves to make them madder. The way to victory is to stand up and say no to them, and tell them that the rest of us stand proudly for the visionary line of our forefathers. Like Jefferson and Madison, we know that this world can and must be bettered for the sake of all who live here now, and all who will live after us. Such optimism is the very spirit of America, however painfully we are divided at this moment.