"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science."
-Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man
Unless there's evidence of massive voter fraud on the part of the Republicans, it looks like George W. Bush has won re-election.
Before last night, I had spent quite a while wondering what I would do to protest a Bush victory. I really couldn't think of anything fitting.
After last night, I realized that this isn't really about America or politics anymore. It requires personal adaptation.
The Scales Fall
It is now apparent that more than 50% of American voters cannot make rational political decision. They vote based on their gut or based on wedge issues. They cannot see the big picture. To be fair, one can probably lump many voters on the left into this category, too. You know the ones I mean. The environmentalist who thinks that environmentalism trumps national security, or the pacifist who cannot justify war for any reason.
Yesterday, America re-elected the worst President in U.S. history. A man who has brought wide-scale corruption, environmental degradation, disastrous foreign policy and increased terrorism. What does a President have to do to get thrown out of office?
Under normal circumstances, Americans would fire the president when they feel an acute malaise. There has to be a noticeable drop in the standard of living due to unemployment or underemployment or due to high crime rates. Things are definitely worse than they were under Clinton, but that's no longer enough. Bush's perpetual "war on terrorism" is a political weapon that uses fear to keep people from voting the way they should. This means that terrorist attacks against America will actually help Bush win re-election, not hurt him. We shouldn't be surprised that the Bush administration pretends it's doing something abroad (e.g., the war in Iraq), while simultaneously weakening homeland security. The "American Death Spiral," if you will.
Things will get a lot worse before they get better.
The Stars Fall
Government funding for America's technological infrastructure is collapsing. Science funding is down, funding for education (including higher education) is down, and there is no government road map to keep America competitive.
The Bush administration's policy is to stack government science committees with representatives from industries that have something to lose if any progress is made. Drug companies to run the FDA, energy executives to set energy policy, polluters to govern the EPA, and right-wing ignoramuses to oversee stem cell research (or rather, to prevent it).
This is a perversion. Government exists to serve the needs of the people, and without it, people cannot compete with corporate influence. Government is supposed to do those things that corporations and private interests cannot or will not do.
Corporations will happily hire their PhD's in India or China, and build factories elsewhere. Why should they pay more to hire Americans? Americans have no special skills anymore.
America's star is sure to fall.
Politically, not much has changed. The Democratic political machine is just getting fired up, and it will be stronger in 2006 and stronger still in 2008. I shall redouble my efforts as a Democratic volunteer.
However, on a personal level, things need to change. I have always had faith in American innovation and American democracy. We had the best universities and the best scientific research. Our society was imperfect, but it was both liberal and wonderful. I always believed America could meet any challenge. I believed that the American dream would always be out there. I believed that an investment in America was an investment in myself.
I no longer believe this. I'm not saying that America is doomed to fall way behind the rest of the world. I just don't have any confidence that it can stay ahead. America's values are no longer much different from any other country. The United States is violent, ignorant, unjust, and now it tortures prisoners.
I can and I will work to change this, but I no longer fight for America's honor as if it were my own. America isn't me anymore.
I'm taking a card from the Republican playbook. In the Republican world, social Darwinism is the order of the day. They say that society must have its winners and its losers. Well then, I will be a winner. I will be more competitive than ever. I will fight for my own interests first, and my country's interests second. I will ask not what I can do for my country. I won't even ask what my country can do for me. I will ask what I can do for myself.
In practical terms what does this mean? I haven't had time to think things through in much detail, but there are a couple of areas that I can work on.
Financially, I need to get my house in order. I can't make financial decisions based on loyalty to America or to progressive agendas. I can't sit back and have faith that hard work and traditional virtues are enough. If I have to invest in overseas institutions or in oil companies, so be it.
As for homeland security, it doesn't really exist. The government is actually motivated to promote insecurity. I must learn to be responsible for my own security, and that means stocking up on food, water and medical supplies. It means ensuring that I am much more self-sufficient.
If you're a Republican reading this, you're probably celebrating right now. You're wondering why I wasn't some sort of survivalist all along. You have a point. I should be the master my own destiny, and not trust in the goodwill of others.
What you Republicans haven't figured out is that your strategy has destroyed America's reputation, and now it is destroying America. It rewards investment in the best solution for the individual, not the best solution for the country. It promotes disinvestment in the United States.
So, if it is social Darwinism you seek, it is social Darwinism you shall have. Just remember, in natural selection, only the fittest survive, and I am the fittest!