(a letter I received yesterday--with permission)
Dear Friends, (disculpa que no está traducida al Español)
Most of you on this list are friends from other countries. By now I'm sure you've heard about the re-election of George W. Bush as president of the United States. It's not that bad, it's worse.
Not only was he elected by the electoral college as in 2000, but he also won the popular vote. Unlike when Al Gore ran against Bush, yesterday more Americans decided that Bush would make a better president than Kerry. A better leader of the most powerful country in the world. They chose to support the president, his conservative values, and his doctrine of pre-emption to police the world as he - and a select few - see fit.
Sadly, looking over the names on this list, it's clear to me that the majority of you are better informed about America's system of governance and the repercussions of yesterday's vote than my own fellow citizens. Still, I want to make it clear that America is a sophisticated democracy of checks and balances which limit the power of our president. I won't turn this email into American Government 101 but suffice it to say that American policy is shaped not by a single C student, Born-Again, megalomaniac, but also a house of regional representatives and state senators as well as a court of judges who interpret our constitution.
What absolutely devastates me about this election is not that Bush got re-elected. Rather it's how yesterday's vote - despite a still divided country - so greatly skews the balance of power away from liberals and towards conservatives. The conservatives expanded their lead in the senate and even defeated the Democratic senate leader. As our chief justice William Rehnquist failed to return to work yesterday because of thyroid cancer, it is clear that the supreme court will become radically more conservative over the next four years. This will inevitably result in several steps back in the fight for civil rights as well as - most likely - the outlawing of abortion throughout most of our country. Finally, you can count on the executive branch of our government to become more radical in it's Neo-conservative ideology. As Daniel Shorr explains, it is unlikely that Colin Powell (a surprising voice of reason and moderation) will remain Secretary of State in Bush's second term. You can expect a more conservative replacement whose focus will not be fixing Afghanistan and Iraq and intervening in Sudan, but rather invading Iran and North Korea.
I see very little silver lining in all of this. I laid in bed this morning for two hours staring at the ceiling. I feel a mix of depression and anger that the girl next to me is knitting and talking excitedly about a punk show tonight.
What has become clearest to me is that the majority of Americans really do want a conservative government. And so, looking towards the future, it's not just a matter of political change, but also sociological revolution. Our society is clearly confused. It happens to good people. It happened to Russia under Stalin, Germany under Hitler, Italy under Mussolini, and Spain under Franco. Now let's be honest with ourselves, the re-election of George W. Bush is nowhere as grave as those four examples, but it does represent a step in the wrong direction.
Only the future will tell if Bush's re-election was the beginning of our downfall or one step back for two steps forward. I know I will do my best to make sure it is the latter. Over this past year we have seen new technologies force the kind of networking, transparency, and critical thinking that regimes like our current one detest. Bloggers are uniting. Independent voices are making podcasts heard by more and more people each week. Via instant messaging and cell phones and text messages we are in constant communication. This media revolution is the start of the sociological revolution that needs to take place in America for us to once more progress in the right direction.
The only way the majority of Americans will begin to realize the folly of their decision yesterday is if a broad discussion takes place. The internet is the best place for that to happen, but we need to deliver it to those who still depend on cable television and AM radio for all their information. Typing these emails is not enough, writing on a blog is not enough, reading the newspaper is not enough. All we're doing is preaching to our own choir, patting ourselves on the back.
Nick Lewis and a number of other quality bloggers have started the Progressive Bloggers Alliance. It has done well so far attracting intelligent, progressive bloggers eager to make change. But the word needs to be spread beyond bloggers and the internet savvy. We need outreach. We need to make posters, to mail out press releases to traditional media, to make and display bumper stickers that will get people to the discussion. I'm not talking about propaganda, but engagement. Bringing people to the discussion. It's not even a matter of conservatives versus liberals. There are a number of very intelligent conservatives out there (David Brooks, Andrew Sullivan, Glenn Reynolds, Francis Fukuyama) and most of them did not vote for George W. Bush ... for obvious reasons.
So I ask for your help. I ask you to come visit the blog I write on with two friends and participate, to comment. Start your own blog. It's free with Blogger. Join the Progressive Bloggers Alliance. Make posters, write press announcements, call into talk shows, stay up to date on the newspapers, show up to rallies. Network, network, network. No matter where you live, your opinions and comments and perspectives can have an effect on thousands of Americans who ever more increasingly turn to the internet for their news and discussion of issues.
That's all for now. I'm sorry this has gotten so long. It's a bitter and painful day for America. I know how much anti-Americanism already exists in the world. I've probably talked to each of you about it while traveling. But I ask you to not just hate America, but help change it.