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November, 2004

Avoiding Complexity?

By Barbara Rubin Brier

Editor's Note: This is the fourth in what will hopefully be a long series of essays about the election. Feel free to send me your own thougts at writing@noahbrier.com.

I fell asleep with the TV on last night, worried, but still hopeful that Ohio would go to Kerry.  I slept fitfully, finally giving in to the urge to learn the truth just after 5 AM.  I didn't want to put on the TV.  Something must have told me the news wouldn't be good. I don't think I wanted to hear it from some self-satisfied TV anchor, proud to have held back on the call, proud to have gotten it right, proud to have stayed up all night. In spite of his purported liberal bias, I knew Tom Brokaw wouldn't admit his disappointment with the outcome.  All I'd hear was about 'democracy in action,'  the huge turnout, the decisive victory.  All I could think about was that a Bush victory would be the beginning of the end.  I logged on, scanned the page quickly, and went back to bed, knowing full well that sleep was out of the question.

I wanted to blame someone.  Those damn 18 to 29 year old's, not turning out as needed ... someone. I wanted to blame Bush and his band of thieves.  But I realized that it was more than that, I had to blame the American myth, the swaggering cowboy who shoots from the hip and sees the world in black and white.  There were millions of people who didn't see what I saw in this election. There were million of people who wanted this born again cowboy to lead them. It scares me to death.

I fear a world where people prefer to avoid complexity.  I fear the 'ends justify the means' philosophy of the Bush administration as much as I fear terrorism. I fear their paternalistic arrogance, which smacks of totalitarianism.  My sense is that Bush, and even more so, Cheney and Rumsfeld, believe that they know what's best for each and every American citizen and therefore should be empowered to make decisions without consulting us.

I am scared America!  Scared that we have allowed our principles to be eroded. Appalled that we have relinquished the high moral ground. Devastated that I am embarrassed to be an American.  We have frittered away the world's good will.  We have frittered away our children's financial security.  We have frittered away the wisdom of the founding fathers.

I want to believe that we can make it through the next four years without irreparable damage to the future of American democracy, but my heart's not in it. I'm beginning to think that our history of wealth and power has blinded our citizenry to the kinds of immorality that bring down civilizations.  I know that sounds overly dramatic, but I can't get past that 'Nero fiddled while Rome burned' feeling.  Perhaps it will fade with time.  I went to work today.  I did what I had to do.  I put one foot in front of the other. I expect I'll do the same tomorrow.

But it will be with a heavy heart.

Barbara Rubin Brier is a former journalist and currently works as an educational change consultant. She also happens to be a very smart lady and a good mother.

November 3, 2004
Noah Brier | Thanks for reading. | Don't fake the funk on a nasty dunk.