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This scares me

Other folks have linked to Ron Suskind's New York Times Magazine article "Without a Doubt", but I'll do so in my own journal as well because of how much it scares me.

Suskind describes more clearly than many others have the way that Bush and his cronies operate and think:
In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''
But that isn't what really scares me - I already knew that, and it doesn't matter what a small group of people think, even if they have power - unless they have a lot of popular support. So this is what really scares me:
And for those who don't get it? That was explained to me in late 2002 by Mark McKinnon, a longtime senior media adviser to Bush, who now runs his own consulting firm and helps the president. He started by challenging me. ''You think he's an idiot, don't you?'' I said, no, I didn't. ''No, you do, all of you do, up and down the West Coast, the East Coast, a few blocks in southern Manhattan called Wall Street. Let me clue you in. We don't care. You see, you're outnumbered 2 to 1 by folks in the big, wide middle of America, busy working people who don't read The New York Times or Washington Post or The L.A. Times. And you know what they like? They like the way he walks and the way he points, the way he exudes confidence. They have faith in him. And when you attack him for his malaprops, his jumbled syntax, it's good for us. Because you know what those folks don't like? They don't like you!'' In this instance, the final ''you,'' of course, meant the entire reality-based community.
This scares me for two reasons. One: The extent to which people who are against Bush think that simply pointing out things he does that they don't approve of will change the minds of people who support him or are undecided. So many of such people are talking a language that only other members of their community will understand. Two: I guess I thought that most of the people in my country had the same ultimate goal - a better life for everyone - and only disagreed with the specifics of how to get there. But if many people in my country have the goal of being part of an empire where they try to remake the world in their own image...well, then we're on a road that might have lots more hatred, violence, and bloodshed than I imagined.

I wish I knew how to respond to this, other than talking about it.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 19th, 2004 11:20 am (UTC)
I wish I did too. It's just so foreign to me that people would want something like that.
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 19th, 2004 12:59 pm (UTC)
The thing is, to them that is the same as the first goal. Their life is as good as it gets, and they want everyone to have it. That's the main error I see on both sides: thinking that everyone ought to be just like them, that they lead the ideal life and everyone should want it.

I agree. But to me there's a difference between "I want everyone to have my life (even people who are different from me)" and "I want everyone to be like me (and I want people who are different from me to disappear, by force if necessary)." In the past I've thought most people had the former sort of delusion. I'm now starting to fear that too many people have the latter sort of delusion. That's what scares me.
Oct. 21st, 2004 12:30 am (UTC)
Their life is as good as it gets, and they want everyone to have it. That's the main error I see on both sides: thinking that everyone ought to be just like them, that they lead the ideal life and everyone should want it.

I've always been good at stating the obvious, I hear Americans are good at that, and I am that, so I'll offer no further apology. The fundamental problems include: 1) There's not enough for everyone to have what America has. 2) While America wastes lives and fortunes on stabilizing places we're unwanted, the growing and enormously populous Asian baby superpowers will block access to the remaining resources, and America will by then have become obsolete and irrelevant in improving the day-to-day lives of others throughout the world. 3) Tax cuts only really help people who make enough money to pay lots of taxes. The bulk of America only gets more disenfranchised.

For all those people living in the middle of the country, outnumbering the left and right coasts by 2-to-1, working for people who don't read the papers, live gets just that much ruder. What's the end game? Civil war, or at least civil unrest, and a political revolution, but the damage is already done by then. Whatever happened to the world of my youth when being smarter and better informed and more world-aware than the old politicians was a widely-held value? A belief in real education and progressivism has lost out to the coporate greed. The revolutionaries of future America will be operating without the critical thinking skills of the college kids of the Viet Nam era.

I know not to get too excited about this week's polls, but I'm not happy by what I see.

Current Mood: backing slowly away toward the Exit door, just in case.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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