Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Where Do We Go From Here?

On behalf of the United States of America in general and the state of Ohio in particular, I would like to apologize to the rest of the world. We had a chance to change the face of our nation, a chance to take the first step toward getting this country back on track, and we blew it.

Somehow, despite four years that were rife with failures, the Bush administration managed to be elected to a second term in office. The Bush presidency has a record that I would describe as "indefensible," and yet somehow he keeps his job for another four years. I have never held in high regard the intelligence level of the American public as a whole, but I have never been quite as dispirited and ashamed as I am right now.

My feelings are not limited merely to Mr. Bush's re-election. Ohio voters also approved an amendment to the state's constitution that outlaws gay marriage and severely limits the rights even of straight couples who are not married, and other states passed similar measures. My despair is growing over the direction this nation is taking. I feel that the country's elected leadership is turning to the right in large part because that is the party that embraces the intolerance and narrow-mindedness of the majority. I fear that the coming years will see an increase in the marginalization of minority groups.

This was a nation founded on the principle of equality for all. In practice, it did not start off that way, but through years of struggle great progress has been made toward having equality in fact as well as in name. This election seems to have been a rejection of the very idea of progress and equality. It seems as though many Americans cannot be satisfied with letting others live their lives as they please, but instead must try to legislate morality from their own narrow view.

Unfortunately, this isn't a problem just with social issues. The re-election of Mr. Bush is, intended or not, an affirmation of his foreign policy. His seeming need to "bring democracy" to the Middle East is a frightening prospect. I would venture to say that the primary reason there is so much anti-American sentiment in the world is because we meddle too much in affairs that don't concern us. Attempting to impose democracy on sovereign nations that don't want it is out of bounds. This will make terrorism more of a threat, not less. Mr. Bush and, apparently, a majority of Americans cannot see this for the same reason that they cannot see that gay marriage is not a threat to any "traditional" way of life: because they have an inherent need to force their own views onto other people, even when those people want nothing to do with it.

The citizenry of the United States has spoken, its voice replete with ignorance and intolerance. It's unfortunate, but it's the truth. The only positive aspect of this is that we now know unequivocally that George W. Bush will not win the next election. My greatest hope is that he does not manage to push things beyond the point of repair in the meantime.

No comments: