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A New Silent Majority?


Last year around this time, President Bush said that 2002 would be a “war year”. Whatever else can be said about the President or his administration, he has made good on that promise. The enforcement of the No-fly Zone in Iraq, the facilitation of the continuing Israeli domination of the Palestinians, and the work our drug warriors are doing in our nation’s various spheres of influence are all acts of war, couched in the predictable rhetoric of liberation, freedom, and the like.

The US government certainly excels at “projecting its power” globally. It’s not for nothing that Rumsfeld boasted of our military’s capacity to handle wars in Iraq and North Korea simultaneously; it’s arguable that the “worst-case scenario” that the Executive branch frets over involves the US locked in continual conflict with the rest of the world. Logistically, that’s an untenable concept, since there is no way a small cabal in Washington can dominate people throughout the world until the end of time. Of course, once upon a time it could be argued that the American people wouldn’t submit to constant searches, frisks, and interrogations to establish their suitability to travel or to earn a wage, but that clearly has come to pass.

How hard was it for Washington to create a citizenry that expects rough treatment for the privilege to fly on what are essentially government-subsidized airlines? No harder than it was to convince those same people that they actually need government protection from plants that grow more or less naturally in the wild. No harder than it was to convince them that every election since Roe V Wade seemingly rested on the possibility of that case getting overturned. It was a simple matter of politicians and an obedient media class repeating the same worn-out phrases, occasionally altered according to demographic considerations.

Another war year, as the President might say, but with a different cast of characters. The Senator from Hazzard County no longer Majority Leader, replaced by Senator Frist, who will undoubtedly serve the interests of his portfolio while leading the Senate Republicans. His ascension apparently is to be a quick one; rumors are floating that he may replace Cheney on the ticket in 2004, and may in fact audition for W’s spot in 2008. This may prove problematic for some conservatives; World Net Daily chides Frist for being too much in favor of “gun control.” Nonetheless, Frist appeals to folks like Bill Kristol and the gang at National Review, and he undoubtedly will live long and prosper as a leading figure in the Republican Party.

And that may be great for the people who own this country, whoever they are. But those of us who live here have to realize that 2004 may shape up as the last important election in our lifetimes. There are no expectations that the current state of emergency will ever end. Our country is embroiled in numerous “peacekeeping missions”, armed conflicts, and amorphously-defined wars, but none of these have an exit strategy. There can be no exit strategy, of course, because no exit is intended. Seemingly until the end of time itself, one can expect American troops to guard the international interests of purportedly American corporations. Whatever those are.

The interests shift, coalesce, redefine themselves outside the public consciousness, and the official enemies themselves do likewise. Is Al Qaeda allied with Saddam or not? It depends on both who you ask and when you ask the question. Is Saddam the next Hitler? Is Hezbollah actually more dangerous than Al Qaeda? Are they all working in tandem to take away my freedom, right here in Baton Rouge where I slap mosquitoes with a spatula and eat Popsicles for breakfast? Again, it depends on when the question is asked. One thing all parties admitted to mainstream discussion agrees on is that the American system is under the gravest of external threats, and that to defeat that threat [or those threats] we all have to band together. To be unified by figures as diverse as Bill Frist and Tom Daschle.

Unless our names are Noam Chomsky or Gore Vidal. Or Cynthia McKinney. Or Earl Hilliard. Or Bob Barr. Then we are to be excoriated for committing heresies. Our purportedly secular government seems curiously ill-equipped to handle external criticism of its actions or even its motives; when folks were separating church and state, it seems they were actually intent on hanging a flag over the altar where the cross used to be. How long do we have to devote ourselves to this Cult of the Flag, symbolic of so many promises that were never meant, that could never be kept through all the trails of tears, through all the exoduses in search of decent wages and the much-ballyhooed American Dream?

It has to end now. If the United States is to survive for longer than, say, another decade, candidates have to run for federal office in 2004 who are willing to build an electoral coalition that actively wants to challenge the hegemony of the Washington government. Reactions of various municipalities to the USA PATRIOT act indicate that there are many issues on which local governments violently disagree with both the means and the ends of Washington passing such legislation. Every time we are treated like suspects by people with badges and guns, it should make us wonder who they work for and why they’re working against us. It should make us wonder why our various governments are going bankrupt to support such ventures in totalitarianism. More to the point, it should make us resolve to fight.

ANTHONY GANCARSKI dreams of being President someday. With that in mind, he hereby asks former President Bush to adopt him. Adoption agents and other interested parties can email this writer at


ANTHONY GANCARSKI is a regular CounterPunch columnist. He can be reached at

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