The Decision By: Arthur Joel Katz - 11/08/04

The American people have decided to reelect George Bush. And so a great darkness has fallen upon our land and perhaps the whole earth, a darkness which may not be relieved by light for many decades if ever. The fact that the majority have so decided does not require the minority to support Bush, nor is there any reason not to attempt to derail his future decisions when, in the opinion of the minority, they are not in the interests of the country.

If proof of this proposition is required, consider the fact that in Germany in 1933 Hitler was legally elected chancellor, having a plurality of the votes in the Bundesrat. His position was confirmed in a subsequent vote in 1933, much marred by Nazi arrests of the opposition and other similar tactics, when he won almost 50% of the vote in a multi party system. No subsequent vote was ever held.

This is not to suggest that Bush is another Hitler. I do mean to suggest that the election we have just had may be the last fair election this country will ever have, assuming that it was “fair,” a matter of some doubt. My pessimism is due to the fact that given the control of the media by the media barons who support Bush, the gerrymandering of districts by Republican controlled legislatures, and the suppression of dissent in the name of Patriotism. Like the Nazis, the Republicans may amend the constitution to abrogate many of the protections we take for granted. Among them are freedom of speech and separation of church and state. And if this is not done by constitutional amendment, it will be done by judges appointed to uphold the theocracies’ view of the place of religion in the state and the requirement that speech be in accord with the party line.

If you think I go too far on the civil rights point, consider the numerous people arrested for protesting peacefully at Republican rallies. Consider the numerous arrests of people held without bail and often incognito. Consider what the appointment of one or two judges of conservative bent may have to the problem of maintaining our schools as secular institutions. Already there is in process an attempt to require the teaching of “creationism,” clearly a religious point of view, in place of or alongside of evolution. No doubt it will succeed. “Under God” is now permitted in the pledge. Throughout the South, the attempt to put religious symbols, the ten commandments, the cross and the like, has been held back by the Supreme Court. It will not be held back long. And so it goes.

Each of us has a decision to make about what to do about this tyranny. Some of us could flee, as some did in Nazi Germany, even Germans who were not Jews but saw the writing on the wall. Indeed, my wife and I have talked about moving to Canada. As it happens she is a Canadian citizen, although she was in the process of obtaining her American citizenship before the election. Thus, moving to Canada would be simple for us. It would involve, however, the same kind of stress felt by those who left Germany once the Nazis took power. At my age, I am unwilling to suffer that stress and start anew in some strange, even though eminently more democratic a place. Besides, the United States is my country and I care about what becomes of her.

Some of us will retreat to political neutrality. We will go about our business and avoid political controversy. We will adjust to the limits the majority imposes on us. This was a policy adopted by many Jews in Germany. Obviously, it did not save them. And it did not save those non-Jews in Germany who had opposed the Nazis. Life in Germany without membership in the Nazi party or at least public adherence to its views became a practical impossibility.

There have been reports that Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and Charles Schumer of New York are considering leaving the senate to run for governor of their respective states. This, it is said, because they have political ambitions which cannot be fulfilled by the minority status of their party. If true, then Chris Dodd and Chuck Schumer be damned!

Some of us will fight! We may be fighting a lost cause, but there is no other practical course. Fleeing to Canada will not do. Withdrawal is selfish and in the long run disastrous. Political ambition, understandable in normal times, is not permitted now. If we care for our country, there is no other choice. No retreat. No licking of wounds. Badly damaged as we are, come out of our corner for round two and fight like free men and women.

Arthur Joel Katz is a contributing writer for Liberal Slant

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