Thursday, November 04, 2004

113. Reply to Tom Englehardt

Well, I think you stand a reasonable chance of winning (sooner or later). I remain a guarded optimist, though unlike you not much of a gambler, I'm afraid. Still I'm rooting for you. Somehow your email cheered me up and so I thank you. regards, tom

I read your latest, Tom, and I share your grief. I'm also thinking about how to explain the inexplicable loss of $500 from the family account!!!

It wasn't the gambling (after all it was never a sure bet) so much as the need to DO something and make a statement of some kind. A painful statement, as it turned out.

I have been getting messages from friends all day. There is a definite tone of anger directed at Americans in general as apart from just Bush and his people. I have been writing back to tell people to calm down. There is a great deal of shock and disbelief that that the American public has actually endorsed this guy and his shenanigans.

It's a difficult time for all of us -- Four More Years of this shite?? -- but we must not lose faith. This reminds me of the darkest days of the Vietnam War when I was an international student in the United States -- at the University of Texas in Austin, of all places -- and I remember quite clearly how hostile and divided the country felt. Bush has managed to bring us back to those days, bless his l'il "Texan" heart. But of course a lot of people in Texas (then and now) don't look upon Bush and his family as Texans at all.

This election has been a major setback for sensible and progressive ideas in America. It has been viewed as an endorsement of neo-imperialism overseas. It's only fair to say in this context that a lot of non-Americans (Europeans, principally) simply don't understand the very forceful role of religion in American life outside the large urban areas. The emphasis on matters such as abortion and gay marriage in the election are simply set aside by Europeans as totally irrelevant to the main issues. This, I believe, is a mistake.

There is a cultural divide, and, unfortunately, it is growing wider. We are in danger of no longer understanding each other across the Atlantic. There is also a growing cultural divide within the USA which is immediately apparent from the voting habits of the Red and Blue states since the last election in 2000 -- apart from New Hampshire, who crossed over?

Well, I am not an election analyst or a pollster or a political junkie. I'm just a disappointed Irish Republican (funny how these emotive terms change meaning according to where you live). The Irish are Republicans -- Brits Out!! -- until they go to America, where they all become Democrats until they move up in the world and move out of the old neighbourhoods and become wishy-washy and start playing golf and complaining about new immigrants!! The melting pot, so-called. The worst racists in the world were my (two generations ago) Irish second cousins in New York and Chicago and San Francisco. They'd be thrown out of the pub by popular acclaim at home -- get the f*** outa here, ye snotty-nosed, jumped-up bastards. Ireland is extremely democratic (also republican with a capital "R") and anything that sticks up gets whacked down. And talked about, which is worse.

The Democrats are going to move further to the Right ("moral values") in a sick attempt to capture future Ohios and the South and the Midwest without which -- they believe -- there will be no hope of winning any future national election. The urge for power is a strong urge indeed. Tony Blair pulled it off in Britain by gutting and transforming the old Labour Party -- they used to sing "The Red Flag" and call each other "comrade", for God's sake.

The alternative is to educate American voters so that they don't respond quite so enthusiastically to "strong leaders" and knee-jerk populism. That might take a few election cycles. In the long run it may be a wiser course than taking on the attributes, chameleon-like, of your ideological opponents.

Best wishes,

Oh yikes, that $500! I'm so sorry. That piles grief on grief, but if it's any consolation to you in a state of grief you're a lovely, eloquent letter writer. Just a wonderful letter you sent my way. regards, tom