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There’s always one, isn’t there?

October 19, 2004

The motto of the United States is E Pluribus Unum, which I have always taken to mean ‘out of many, one’, referring to the creation of a unified state out of fifty smaller ones. Perhaps it also implies the American dream, how in a land of opportunity one man can rise above his peers and amass enormous power.

But I’ve started to think that maybe I’ve got the translation wrong. Since they ditched classical education at school, my Latin’s pretty weak. Maybe the motto means something along the lines of “there’s always one, isn’t there?”, John Cleese’s famous line of exasperation in Monty Python’s Life of Brian. The implication is that, in any given situation, there’ll always be at least one idiot who’ll stumble blithely onto the scene and mess things up for everyone.

It somehow seems a more fitting slogan for the US at this time – except that in these elections, we have two twits vying for control, or at least, one idiot and a Hollow Man. The fate of the world seems to ride on an election that will take place in a few short weeks. But when the choice is between Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse for, effectively, President of the World, who do we root for? Tough call.

The best option for the rest of the world is for the Hollow Man, John Kerry, to win by a landslide, with Ralph Nader getting significant support. That would indicate massive a sea change in American consciousness, hopefully powerful enough to fill the hollow space in Kerry’s heart with slightly less murderous policies than the incumbent.

Clearly, though, that’s not going to happen. In an election that should have been easy to win, Kerry is limping along. Not even his supporters are enthused. The US media is full of letters from Democrats saying things like “look, we’re sorry our candidate’s useless, but please vote for him anyway, since the other guy is the Antichrist”. A kneejerk conspiracy theorist like myself begins to suspect that maybe the Dems don’t really want to win the election. Who would?

Think about it: if the Dems win this one, they will inherit all the previous administration’s bad karma. All the fall out from George W Bush’s presidency will seem like their fault: war dead, the colossal national debt, unemployment, a fragile dollar and edgy markets. The Dems will prevaricate, hum and har, and generally fail to root out the instituional rot. They will be blamed for the mess, and in four years time the Republicans will be back with a vengeance, perhaps with, horror of horrors, Jeb Bush at the helm – Junior’s had his turn at world domination.

If Bush wins this one, it’s going to be a long, hard four years for the rest of the world. It’s going to be a dangerous time. The world will continue to polarise, and the bad craziness might just engulf us all.. But as the right wing consolidates and becomes clearer, so will the alternatives – and the alternative to a world in crisis is clearly not having a Democrat in the most powerful office in the world. That illusion needs to be shattered. The solution lies within ordinary people. American citizens need to withdraw their consent about what is done in their name, refuse to obey orders that conflict with their sense of justice, and open their hearts to people outside their country. The millions of Americans who detest Bush but have no faith in Kerry need to come together, both at hoe and with the rest of the world, and start to seriously consider the alternatives.

America is a country at war with itself, as well as the rest of the world. Statisticlly, Bush’s support base is small. Most Americans do not think like he does. In fact, most Americans couldn’t be bothered to go and vote, which is hardly surprising considering the choices. America needs a cultural change of the magnitude of that of the 1960s. And that’s not going to happen until things become so serious that the coach potatoes are shocked out of their lethargy and into some kind of action. In the 60s, it took years of war in Viet Nam to arose the rage and passion of all the Americans who had a different vision for their country. Maybe four years of Bush – while a bitter pill indeed – will be just what is needed to force Americans back into the real world.

Let’s just hope he doesn’t blow us all up before it’s over.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Tom Naka permalink
    October 7, 2005 10:18 am

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  2. WorldTrader permalink
    October 8, 2005 4:57 pm

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