Monday, November 08, 2004

Seeing Red

I have a demon that needs exorcism. There is this image of a map with states in blue and red. I hear a sound of a soulless coup rise up from Washington, and replace our National Anthem, or even God Bless America. It is a chant of “Mandate! Mandate!” It is a head-spinning vision that needs purging.

I watched the 2004 election returns in stunned horror, but not really surprise. I could see this coming for a while. I imagine this slow torture of liberty is how it happened in Germany, in 1940. Now, though, it seems the Dark Tower stands taller than ever.

The talking heads run off at the mouth about the problem: the process, the fix, the history and the possibilities, but they ignore the obvious. Quality raw materials are required for any process to produce quality finished goods. The electorate is becoming dumber. Over 60% of people in the U.S. still believe that Iraq was directly responsible for the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Towers despite the media outlets’ – lap dogs to power that they are – admission that there was no connection. What does a guy have to do to get a point made? Kill someone?

Only in Copernicus’ times when a vast majority of people believed that the sun rotated around the earth can we find such a conditioned programmed response that short circuits human intellect. The Bush administration is really riding the cultural wave of anti-intellectualism that is sweeping America. In fact, the Bushies serve as guardian and poster child for such a movement. The reactionary mood is so strong, in fact, how long before stoning adulterers and applying leeches to cure migraines become Republican party platform planks?

Looking at the electoral map on November 3rd, it seems as though the entire middle of the country has become the green room for the Jerry Springer show. The bright red center, surrounded by the blue coastal states makes it appear like some viral strain from outer space is spreading outward toward the edges of the country. I suspect that if we did time lapse overlay photography of these electoral college maps for the past six or seven elections, the red would look like a spill: a red menace of a different kind.

Of course, this map only reflects the victory for which candidate won that state’s electoral votes. It does not illustrate the angst and division of the people within that state. Perhaps blending the blue and red colors in ratio commensurate with the popular vote of each candidate might better give us a sense of any “mandate”. The states would appear in various shades of purple based on the blue and red concentrations. If the ambiguity of the nation were reflected in this manner – this “purple polemic” if you will – we would begin to see that no one really knows what to do. What do we do about illegal immigrants? What about abortion? How do we fight the terrorists and still keep our liberties? The real battleground state is the one in our minds; the real war on terror is the one being waged against our intellect. The real enemy repudiates learning and insists on an electorate armed with speculation, tabloid journalism, reality-based TV and gossip.
The real loser is a more open America. The real loser is us.
MB 2004


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