George W. Bush has never won a majority of votes in any New England state; not in 2000, not in 2004. And yet, his popularity among his base of reactionary, homophobic religious zealots in the Red States of America gives him the power to force policies upon us that we would never choose for ourselves: the power to take our clean air and water, our wealth, our children, and even our freedom. What can we do about it?
It isn't hard to guess what George W. Bush's second term will be like. We can expect Bush to continue to pursue the aggressive, unilateralist foreign policy advocated by his neo-conservative advisors. We can expect the United States to continue removing itself from international organizations and exempting itself from international law. We can expect our NATO allies to be pushed around or ignored depending on the requirements of the moment. We can expect more oil-rich dictatorships to be conquered and transformed into American puppet states in the name of antiterrorism while Osama bin Laden continues to be ignored.
Domestically, we can expect more tax breaks for Bush's wealthy friends and campaign contributors as the tax burden continues to be shifted to the middle class and the poor. We can expect the federal budget deficit to continue growing as the Republican Congress continues to shower its Red State constituents with federal largesse, and as Bush's wars grow in number and size. We can expect the further erosion of our civil liberties as the "War on Terror" gives the government more power to monitor our activities. We can expect the further erosion of the separation of church and state as more federal money is doled out to religious organizations. We can expect to see scientific research and science education held hostage to the beliefs of a clique of conservative religious zealots. We can expect the continued degradation of the environment as corporate polluters continue making environmental policy. We can expect to see the threat of global warming continue to be dismissed. We can expect the draft to be reinstated to provide the aggressive neo-conservative war machine with ever-expanding supplies of cannon fodder. We can expect the Supreme Court to tilt further to the right as Bush appoints anywhere from two to four Antonin Scalia clones, while making Scalia himself the court's Chief Justice. And above all, we can expect more dishonesty and prevarication from our leaders as they continue to deny responsibility for the consequences of their actions.
What benefits can New England expect to reap from these policies? Precious few. Our wealthiest citizens will keep more of their wealth, and that's about it. Otherwise New England can expect to receive nothing. On the other hand, we can expect to see our tax dollars spirited away to benefit the inhabitants of the Red States. We can expect to see our sons and daughters sent off to fight and die for the sake of the neo-conservative dream of global hegemony. We can expect to see our environment become more polluted. We can expect to see our public school systems starved of funds while their curricula are dictated to us by Red State religious fanatics.
And what can we do to stop it? The results of the recent elections make it plain that we have no hope of regaining political control of this country. Whether those results were due to growing numbers of conservative voters or simply to electoral fraud, the outcome is the same: the Bush wing of the Republican Party will remain in power for the foreseeable future, and there's nothing we can do about it.
At least, there's nothing we can do about it at the voting booth, but that does not mean that we are powerless to affect our fate. One hundred and forty-four years ago, the people of the slave states saw that they had lost control of the national government, and were unlikely to regain it. They feared for the future of their way of life, and acted to preserve it. That way of life was one we find abhorrent, and the world was a better place when it was finally extinguished. Ulysses S. Grant wisely wrote that it was one of the worst causes for which a people ever fought.
If we of New England took the same path as the people of the slave states, would anyone say it was not a cause worth fighting for? The way of life we would be preserving would be the one for which our Founding Fathers fought: the cause of individual liberty, of free inquiry, of freedom from religious oppression, of freedom from tyranny, of freedom from fear.
For the people of New England, the choice is a stark one, and a clear one: submit to the rule of an ideology and way of life that are alien to our most cherished traditions and beliefs, or act to win our freedom. I know which choice I prefer.