Americans live in a divided country. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as red versus blue or north versus south. It is a large chasm, a great divide between Americans who understand the concept of democracy and embrace it, and those who either don’t understand the concept or understand it, but reject it.
At one extreme, you have religious conservatives who are more honest than most about their disdain for democracy. They want to live by their interpretation of the bible, and that interpretation is dramatically non-democratic. There are ongoing attempts by some in the movement to create communities around America that are governed solely by biblical teachings, and not secular law (think the Amish in suburbia). Like their counterparts from Somalia to Tehran, they make no bones about preferring theocracy to democracy.
A second group, however, is far more disingenuous about their contempt for the American experiment. They are today’s far-right conservatives who love to prostrate themselves before the flag and publicly espouse their love of all things American, but who have no allegiance to democratic principles. This group is reflected in Weekly Standard editor William Kristol. On a recent Sunday talk show, Kristol attacked opponents of Iraq escalation in Congress, saying, “It’s just unbelievable. … It’s so irresponsible that they can’t be quiet for six or nine months.”
This is the, “I-like-democracy-as-long-as-everyone-agrees-with-me” camp, which, of course, is inherently anti-democratic. Bush and Cheney are poster boys for ILDALAEAWM. For Bush, democracy is what he says it is. Cheney is just an evil bastard who would have risen to power in any totalitarian regime of the twentieth century. But they and other standard bearers like George Will, Bill Bennett, Coulter, Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, David Brooks, and D’Nesh DeSouza, among many others both more or less extreme, yearn for an America that is a different animal than the one brought into existence by Jefferson and company.
Under the banner of “Super Patriotism,” the anti-democracy crowd and its big-business sugar daddies have taken over the media to spew their repressive ideology. Every idea they support is wrong. Every principle they stand for is bogus. Yet no one seems to care. Bill Kristol has a remarkable record of championing the losing side of every issue from Iraq to immigration. Instead of being shamed out of Washington, however, Kristol is rewarded for his ignorance with a regular column in Time magazine.
With Bush stealing two elections, the “I-hate-democracy” crowd bought and bullied its way into the White House, and once there, didn’t waste any time taking a jackhammer to the country’s democratic foundation. Fortunately, through sheer stupidity, they brought the temple down on themselves, and their hubris and opportunism has become obvious to even the dullest American.
The great divide remains, however, and, despite the descent of Bush into the black hole of popularity, the corporate media continues to push its anti-democracy agenda. It’s going to take a lot of political courage on the part of the Democrats to reign back in the many-headed media monster, but it is absolutely necessary if we hope to resurrect true democracy and begin closing the political chasm that separates this fractured country.
United we stand. Divided we fall.