Published on Monday, April 19, 2004 by CommonDreams.org
Blood Vote - The Consequences of Voting for George W. Bush
by John D. Goldhammer
And let us bathe our hands in . . . blood up to the elbows, and besmear our swords. Then we walk forth, even to the market place, And waving our red weapons o'er our heads, Let's all cry "peace, freedom and liberty!"
On a crisp Colorado evening in the fall of 1945, my mom helped me put on the sailor suit my father had given me-a perfect replica of his Navy uniform. I was four years old and I still remember that night. World War II had just ended. Far away in the Philippines, my father was waiting for the ship that would finally take him home. Holding a small American flag in one hand, and clutching my mother's hand with the other, we joined thousands of people in a celebration march through the streets of Denver. Even at that young age I could feel that our country had accomplished something noble and worthwhile. At the time, I had no real comprehension of how many lives were lost. I just knew was that my father was coming home. That was a different war.
Fifty-nine years later, thinking about voting in the approaching election, I find myself deeply saddened and disturbed by what has happened to our country. I worry about our future in a world faced with an American administration that is looked upon as arrogant and aggressive, a rogue superpower that frightens and intimidates other countries.
What will it mean to vote for George W. Bush for a second term? When I answer that question I realize that we face a presidential election that will be a profound referendum on the very nature of what it means to be an American, a referendum holding ominous portents for the future of the United States and for the world. A vote for the Bush cadre will leave those voters with bloodied hands, making them accomplices to each and every casualty of a foreign policy that has alienated us from our allies and inflamed our enemies, a foreign policy that also has ensnared us in an unnecessary war in Iraq.
Voting for Bush II will support and perpetuate what amounts to a full-blown, political cult -a fanatical political predator with fundamentalist religious fangs and moneyed, special interest claws. The religious right's cult mind set has corrupted our country's current leadership, which has, in turn, further deformed an already dysfunctional foreign policy into an empire-building rogue state.
With characteristic religious cult missionizing, Bush II and his inner group of fundamentalist crusaders, who have commandeered Republican minds, are intent upon "blessing" the Moslem world with "Almighty God's gift of freedom" while fundamentalist Islam is equally intent on "blessing" the West with Allah's Islamic theocracy. Two ideological cults at war with each other-two sides of the same coin: lethal groupthink-outmoded, medieval, brutal and dehumanizing cult behaviors that could easily drag the civilized world back into the dark ages.
A "blood vote" for Bush II will also insure a continuation of the long, bloody "slog" in Iraq, a war that has done nothing to prevent terrorism. Instead our invasion and military occupation have inspired even more widespread hatred of the U.S. while creating a recruitment bonanza for radical groups around the globe. Voting for Bush II will "give aid and comfort to the enemy," significantly advancing Islamic terrorists' ideological agenda, which these statements by one prominent, fundamentalist, Iranian ayatollah make quite clear: "Moslems have no alternative . . . to an armed holy war against profane governments. . . . . It will . . . be the duty of every able-bodied adult male to volunteer for this war of conquest, the final aim of which is to put Koranic law in power from one end of the earth to the other." So we have the same old "empire building" but from the other cult's perspective.
If George II retains his corporate/religious/political crown, we will have the onerous privilege of living with foreboding, unforeseen consequences of powerful, economic (oil/military/industrial) "special interest" groups pulling the strings of what amounts to a puppet presidency. Corporate charters riddled with tax loopholes, combined with legions of powerful lobbyists and corporate welfare disguised as "tax incentives," are in reality licenses to pillage around the globe. Modern pirate ships fly a corporate logo while the finger-puppet government of George W. Bush, under the influence of its self-righteous, radical right-wing religious agenda, gorges itself on the resources and lives of innocent people in order to make the world safer for the Fortune 500. Meanwhile "missile defense" receives more funding than the entire State Department, a prescription drug plan turns out to be taxpayer assistance for drug companies, tax cuts shift the tax burden even more to middle class wage earners while corporate taxes hit a sixty-year low point, and schools can't afford textbooks. But preparations for development and testing of a new class of smaller, "offensive," low-yield nuclear weapons receive four times the funding given to "programs to safeguard "real" weapons of mass destruction and fissionable materials in the former Soviet Union."
This is not in any way implying that terrorism is not a threat; it most certainly is! Fundamentalism, whether Islamic or Christian, is a deadly form of groupthink that is without doubt one of the most lethal threats the civilized world has ever faced. In the middle ages, fanatical religious crusaders wreaked death and destruction across Europe and the Middle East but geography and logistics provided some temporary restraints. Now, because of technology, religious fanaticism is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Destructive ideologies (another "real" weapon of mass destruction) can reach the ends of the earth at the speed of light.
We have a Tyrannosaurus Rex in the living room that nobody wants to look at: destructive cult / group dynamics that reinforce and spread beliefs that are far more devastating than any plague. No one wants to look at the religious face of this marauding beast because it has become politically incorrect to challenge or critique religious beliefs. Problem is, religious fundamentalism, whatever the packaging, is not religion. It is a group-inspired, ideological epidemic that thrives behind the mask of religion.
Nearly all religious cults believe they are the "chosen" people, that they have a mission to save (convert) every non-believer. As George W. prepared for the presidential election in 1999, he assembled a group of pastors for a "laying on of hands" and told them that he was "called to a higher office." Bush II and many of his closest advisors have been infected with a viral strain of Evangelical Christianity that believes the United States is indeed "called" to save the world. This egomaniacal "messiah complex" permeates the political atmosphere of the Bush administration, the "Bush Doctrine," and our "National
Security Strategy." It is the same group fanaticism that fueled the incomprehensible savagery of the European Christians' Crusades during the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries.
A vote for George W. Bush is a handshake with an old devil-a "blood vote." It pulls the trigger for a continuation of the this U.S. president's religious imperialism and political hegemony. G. W. Bush made his agenda quite clear when he proclaimed that the United States is "called to bring God's gift of liberty to every human being in the world." - good news for Christians, bad news for any other beliefs.
Cults have nauseatingly familiar behavior patterns. For one, they attack former members; In particular, they attack people who leave and then criticize the organization. The cult mind set cannot stand critical thinking or any opinion that opposes their agenda. Hence the worn-out, primitive, tribal "us versus them" (George W's "You're either with us or against us") absolutism that divides the world into enemy camps, not to mention reinforcing this same dynamic among terrorist cults and extremists everywhere. So we see the frantic scurrying of political rats, exposed to the light of public (democratic) scrutiny, desperately trying to assassinate the character of each defector, whether the former Secretary of the Treasury, Paul O'Neil, or Richard Clarke, the Bush administration's National Coordinator for Counterterrorism. In order to combat this "tyranny of the majority," a democracy needs to embrace what Tocqueville termed, the "antagonism of opinions," the ability to openly explore different perspectives and the integrity to admit our mistakes and make constructive changes.
Cults need outside enemies in order to survive, to rally popular support, and to recruit new followers-new meat for the ideological slaughter house. Hence we hear constant references to "the enemy" from Bush and his ideological clones. When I hear that term, I wonder exactly who or what he's referring to-Bin Laden, Al Qaeda, Iran, North Korea, non-Christians, terrorism in general, some "gathering threat," anyone who is "not with us," or all of the above? An outside enemy also serves an important psychological function; we are saved from looking honestly at our own shortcomings and failures, which then enables us to project all of our problems onto the "enemy" who is then responsible for our high unemployment, for a poor economy, high oil prices …etc. Of course this shadow dynamic works in reverse from the Islamic fundamentalist perspective. And you can rest assured that the Bush II cult, will, predictably, use fear of an "enemy," whether a political opponent or terrorism, to scare the public into voting for a continuation of the bloody status quo. Many talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, who are themselves imprisoned in the same cult dynamic, see political differences and the world as a "war between good and evil." Instead of seeing others as individuals, they only see people as defined by a group stereotype, usually some label: "liberals," or "conservatives," etc., etc.
It comes as no surprise that cult-like groups obsess over secrecy. Unnecessary secrecy undermines the democratic process most often in the form of concealment and stonewalling-withholding information that is vital to a well-informed electorate; secrecy is also a universal destructive group dynamic. A political cult will use every means at its disposal to control and manipulate information, to keep what is really happening under wraps, usually in the name of "national security" or "executive privilege." While our national security is certainly necessary, much of what disappears behind this black curtain is designed to keep the "public" blissfully ignorant of the real intent, the true motives and, in particular, the power structures that shape and control the cult's real agenda. This is the opposite of an "open society," and constructive debate. Moreover, unnecessary secrecy, combined with other dysfunctional group dynamics, create many of the self-destructive disconnects responsible for the lack of vital information and intelligence being communicated to other agencies-information that might have prevented the 9/11 tragedy. Our government (over many decades) has deteriorated into an unwieldy, lumbering complex of cult-like (often well-intended and idealistic but extraordinarily dysfunctional) bureaucracies, all intent on self-preservation. We now have fifteen separate intelligence agencies, many with overlapping, redundant activities.
Placing the group's mission ahead of human life is a defining characteristic of cults. In practice this means that individuals are expendable. Thus we casually accept the conscience-numbing daily news of death and dismemberment-some shattered, bloody mixture of Iraqi civilians, U.S. soldiers, journalists, missionaries and aid workers. Similarly, economic "interests," and ever-greater profits at any cost supersede the individual. And America, the world's preeminent superpower (for now) slips down the well-traveled, blood-soaked, body-strewn slope of "preventive war" (considered by many to be a war crime) and empire building cloaked in the verbal smoke screens of liberation, freedom and democracy.
George W. Bush, in declaring "war" on terrorism has, ironically made you and I unwilling partners in a religious and economic jihad against his designated "axis of evil," a list of purported state sponsors of terrorism and potential developers of weapons of mass destruction. But, as the Madrid mass murders illustrate, terrorists can function with deadly efficiency without state boundaries or state sponsorship. For terrorists, concentrations of military forces and equipment become taxpayer-financed target practice. Witness the gory spectacle now taking place in Iraq, where the United States foreign policy has created a ghastly assembly line of death and destruction. Instead of training camps in Afghanistan, terrorists now have much more valuable on-the-job training in Iraq. There is no military deterrent for suicide bombers who have nothing to lose and have been brainwashed into believing that death is a passport into Paradise.
What then do we do about terrorism and terrorists? Once again, like that "different war" so long ago, we need the cooperation and help of our allies and friends around the world. But first, we need to be a real friend to other nations, respecting differences between nations, cultures and ideas. And I am convinced that we must, with intense and focused international collaboration among non-violent, peace-loving peoples, work together to find and arrest each and every individual who commits a terrorist act or any other crime against humanity. We cannot allow any sanctuary on the planet for such criminals, neither mosque nor church, or even state sovereignty, which far too often has been a shield for genocide and other atrocities while the world looks the other way.
Education about the danger of destructive group dynamics needs to be a number one priority around the world. The civilized world must come to grips with cult-like groups, political or ideological, that teach others to hate, especially children. Cult indoctrination and brainwashing masquerading as "teaching" urgently needs to be understood as a deadly group dynamic that must no longer be tolerated.
This is a unique time, a time when each vote will carry awesome consequences, a time befitting of American writer and patriot Thomas Paine's warning over two hundred years ago: "He who is the author of a war lets loose the whole contagion of hell and opens a vein that bleeds a nation to death."
John D. Goldhammer, Ph.D., is a Seattle Washington (USA) writer, psychologist, and author of 'Under the Influence: The Destructive Effects of Group Dynamics' (Prometheus Books). His newest book, 'Radical Dreaming' (Kensington/Citadel Press) was just released. He created and taught these university classes: Psychology of Groups and The Psychology of Hate. firstname.lastname@example.org.
1.) The dictionary defines a cult as, "Obsessive devotion or veneration for a person, principle, or ideal." For further explanation of common cult dynamics, see: Goldhammer, 'Under the Influence: The Destructive Effects of Group Dynamics' (New York: Prometheus Books, 1996).
2.) Khomeini, Sayings of the Ayatollah Khomeini, 4.
3.) Krepon, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January-February 2003. The Bush administration has announced that it does not support portions of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and that it is opposed to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. See: George Perkovich, Foreign Affairs, March-April 2003 for reviews of theses treaties.
4.) Howard Fineman, "Bush and God," Newsweek, 10 March 2004, p. 26.
5.) Ibid., pp. 24, 28.
6.) Tocqueville, Democracy in America (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994), p. xxix.
7.) Anna Quindlen, "The Elephant In the Room," Newsweek, 5 April 2004, p. 72.
8.) When the Iraq war began, Kennedy advisor and historian Arthur Schlesinger wrote that "The president has adopted a policy of 'anticipatory self-defense' that is alarmingly similar to the policy that imperial Japan employed at Pearl Harbor, on a date which, as an earlier American president said it would, lives in infamy. Franklin D. Roosevelt was right, but today it is we Americans who live in infamy." (Arthur Schlesinger, Los Angeles Times, 23 March 2003).
9.) Thomas Paine, The American Crisis (1776-83,) 5