In the aftermath of 9/11, US President George W. Bush enjoyed a public popularity not bestowed upon any Republican president in recent history. Few Americans raised eyebrows in the face of Bush’s questionable actions in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. The Bush Administration garnered overwhelming public support for the bombing of Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq. Even Bush’s once-frowned-upon domestic policies seemed to gain a favorable light. A nation that had vastly backed liberal policies even in the face of the right-wing-fueled explosion of the Monica Lewinsky scandal now rallied in support of a figurehead representing conservative pro-life campaigns, gay marriage bans, and tax breaks for the rich. By the time Bush ran for re-election in 2004, there were as many people backing Bush for his neo-conservative domestic policies as there were people fearing a regime change during war-time.
But oh how the tables have turned! Since the War in Iraq has revealed itself as a farce, and the vast majority of Americans are looking at the whole ordeal as “another Vietnam,” America is growing weary of Bush’s weak leadership. In 2004, Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 helped in initializing Bush-hating as a popular pastime, but the facts made public by films, books, and articles by like-minded journalists have transformed the hype from a popular fad to a genuine realization of the domestic action atrocities surrounding the attacks. Bush’s corrupt relationship with the Saudi royal family, the quest for control of the world’s oil, and the human rights abuses taking place at Guantanamo Bay are just a few of the items to take a strong presence in the minds of the public.
Domestically, Bush’s popularity is almost as low as his international acclaim. As the economy has dropped in a rapid downward spiral and people continue to cry out for our troops to be brought home, the American people are pointing their fingers at the White House and demanding justice. Homosexuals are demanding the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts and women are grasping desperately to keep their right to choose. And of course, the government’s lackadaisical response to Hurricane Katrina devastated the entire country as their government’s racism was unveiled to the world.
Additionally, the internet has brought a rising popularity to grassroots and independent journalism, as the misrepresented initiatives are revealed and the falseness of altruistic foreign aid is exposed. “Proud of my Country, Ashamed of my Government!” bumper stickers are everywhere as the people grow ever-more aware of the international crimes of their imperialistic government.
These widespread realizations have led to a country screaming for change; and they’re not just going back to the yearning for a democrat in office! They want more change than that! Two years ago, most Americans agreed that the 2008 Democratic ticket would go to Hillary Clinton. But the public’s perceptions have shifted in recent years, and now that the people have realized that they were duped about the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden, the existence of WMD in Iraq, and the real perpetrators of 9/11, their skepticism has increased and their awareness has broadened. Democrats do not want to back a candidate who supported the bombing of Bosnia in order to take the world’s focus off of her husband’s sex scandal, nor a candidate who had a hand in Whitewater, nor a candidate who initially supported the War in Iraq. And to the astonishment of most and the elation of many, underdog Obama crushed Hillary in the Democratic primaries.
With his “Change We Can Believe In” slogan growing ever-more popular, the American people’s hopes and aspirations have shifted toward a brighter tomorrow, and not just in the starry-eyed sense of revolutionary fervor. People are looking to Obama for real leadership in a time of domestic and international crisis, and Obama has made large strides as a confident, charismatic, and revolutionary candidate. People are counting on Barack to bring the economy back to where it was in the days of Clinton, to improve education and healthcare, to begin repairs on the horrific international view of their country, and, most importantly, to bring our troops home. Barack has succeeding in rallying his supporters and even transforming large numbers of non-believers, not just through a laundry list of false promises as done by candidates before him, but through a plan for a detailed course of action and a genuine empowerment of the people themselves. As his official campaign web site reads: “I’m asking you to believe. Not just in my ability to bring about real change in Washington…. I’m asking you to believe in yours.”
But the election isn’t in the bag just yet. McCain has been critical of Bush’s approach to Iraq without publicly attacking him or denouncing the effort, earning a balanced favor between both proponents and opponents of the war. He has proposed a removal of American troops from direct combat by 2013, a suggested plan that may seem too prolonged for many, but which may seem more realistic than plans announced by his opponent. Additionally, his domestic politics are less neo-conservative than those of Bush, bringing a sense of balance to the idea of Republicanism which has long been viewed as extreme throughout the ring-wing domination of the Bush regime. He has also proposed making the Bush tax cuts permanent, which has gained the favor of the rich, while simultaneously guaranteeing the elimination of the Alternative Minimum Tax, in order to assist the middle class. Indeed, McCain is walking a fine and balanced line, careful not to enrage anyone on either side, and this politicking is earning him considerable favor from conservatives and tempting some not-so-liberal Democrats to make the cross-over. It is possible that Obama is too extreme to win the hearts of the Bible-Belt and Red-State Americans, and because of this, McCain may just triumph.
If McCain wins the election, he will be wise to continue his veer away from the neo-conservative ideals and war-mongering behaviors of his cowboy predecessor. A complete severance of ideological ties with the Bush regime is McCain’s only hope of winning the favor of the American people, and bringing even the slightest amount of dignity back to the GOP.
In any event, it is clear that the American people are crying out for change. And, while bringing our troops home is certainly at the top of the list, it is just one item in a huge catalog of issues that US citizens are enraged about. A racial and socio-economic balance is desperately needed in order to bridge the gap between rich and poor. Drastic changes are needed in the healthcare industry, and even the well-insured members of the upper-class are beginning to see through the façade of equality as uninsured patients are triaged for hours at a time in even the “top” hospitals in the country. With more people awakening to the realities of healthcare systems in other countries, including the “Third World” nation of Cuba, anger is rising quicker than the cost of prescription drugs. Additionally, people are beginning to balk at the cost of higher education, and the majority of 20-somethings around the US are now facing the realities of our flawed education system. Signing that promissory note didn’t seem like such a big deal when you were 18, but those of us lucky enough to attend college are now looking at student loan bills that we’ll be paying off well into our 40’s and 50’s. Fingers are pointing at the criminal justice system, as more and more people are realizing the flaws in its racist and elitist system. Taxes and gas prices are, of course, at the forefront of everyone’s complaint list, and as the war drones on and gas prices have more than doubled, people are starting to see the real reasons behind the invasion of Iraq. With grassroots journalism on the rise, an ever-increasing number of US citizens are now awakened to the realities of our international reputation and are not only tired of being the most hated country on earth, but are awakening to the international crimes that the US government commits in their names every day. With all of these pressing issues, who wouldn’t be demanding change?
Many believe that Barack is the only clear answer, and millions have rallied behind him, demanding the extreme changes that are so desperately needed to transform America into the country its principles declare it to be. Still others feel that a closer adherence to conservative principles with a more “balanced” approach is the answer. Either way, it is clear that the Bush regime’s popularity has run out. The vast majority of Americans have awakened to the realities of Bush’s backward politics and are ready for political and social change, both domestically and internationally. How drastic that change will be and by what approach remains to be seen. Only time will tell.
1st July 2008