We need things to celebrate. A President and administration have been returned to office that are incredibly skillful in using spin, diversion, secrecy, intimidation, and dirty tricks to get what they want.
What they want is unquestioned dominance and power; unquestioned privatization of every conceivable governmental function; and unquestioned concentration of wealth. They want this both here and abroad, and they will do whatever they deem necessary to achieve their goals.
While they frame their actions as compassionate, life enhancing, and democracy producing, they are just the opposite. Their actions show little regard for our constitution; little regard for the lives of present and future generations here or abroad; and little regard for other species or the environment here or abroad.
This is an administration whose arrogance, insensitivity, groupthink, and tunnel-vision are so pervasive, so deep, that it is incapable of perceiving the immense damage it is doing. It is also incapable of changing its ways - witness its recent appointees, e.g., Gonzales and Rice, and the policies they have endorsed. It basically asserts that it has a mandate for more of the same, only this time with greater vigor and greater abandon. Nothing is to be off limits - everything is fair game.
All of this is aided and abetted by a compliant and acquiescent mainstream media that refuses to do its job. This is especially true of media monopolies such as Fox, Sinclair, and Clear Channel which have become extensions of the Administration - spinning and endlessly repeating some stories, and undermining and suppressing others.
So what’s to celebrate? “What’s to celebrate” is that citizens are catching on and mobilizing. The alternative, progressive, internet-based media such as commondreams.org, alternet.org, and tompaine.com are flourishing. Progressive political groups such as MoveOn (moveon.org), Center for American Progress (americanprogress.org), and Campaign for America’s Future (ourfuture.org) are also prospering. Progressive media watchdog groups such as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (fair.org), Center for Media and Democracy (prwatch.org), and Media Matters for America (mediamatters.org) are also experiencing rapid growth.
Also “to celebrate” are the many timely and excellent videos that are available directly and inexpensively over the internet for citizen education, empowerment, and action. Titles such as “Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War,” “Unconstitutional: The War on Our Civil Liberties,” and “Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear & the Selling of American Empire” are but a few of the many fine videos available. Michael Moore’s award winning “Fahrenheit 9/11” and earlier “Bowling for Columbine,” served a similar function first in theaters, and now in living rooms, across the country.
“What’s to celebrate” is that these and other trends produced record voter turnout in the November 2 Presidential election. Unfortunately, the election was marred by all sorts of vote suppression, vote fraud, irregularities, and illegalities, especially in states such as Ohio and Florida.
Extensive, high quality evidence suggests that had this vote suppression, vote fraud, etc. not occurred in Ohio, it is very likely that Ohio, and thus the Presidency, would have gone to Kerry. In general, the mainstream media either did not report this evidence, or reported it in such a way as to undermine its credibility. The progressive media followed the story, however, and reported it on sites such as freepress.org, and yesmagazine.org/cmblog.
“What’s to celebrate” is that because of the above described questions about the validity of Ohio’s electoral votes, on January 6th, 32 Representatives and 1 Senator formally challenged -- for only the third time in history -- the joint electoral vote count by both chambers of Congress.
Some would say “get over it.” But no citizen, regardless of political persuasion, should “get over it” when one of the foundations of our democracy - fair and honest elections - is under assault.
I’ll close with Margaret Mead’s famous observation: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
A shorter version of these comments was delivered at the Counter Inauguration Observance sponsored by the faculty, student, and staff group Peace Not War at Saint Mary’s College on January 20. The present comments appeared in the January 24 edition of The Observer, the independent newspaper serving the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College. Joseph Miller is Chair of the Department of Psychology at Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, IN. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.