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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

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