Why Americans allow Bush to "pass the buck"
From: email@example.com (Mike Doughney)
Subject: Re: OT: Why Americans allow Bush to "pass the buck"
Date: 17 Apr 2004 09:55:09 GMT
Organization: MTD Media LLC
X-Newsreader: trn 4.0-test76 (Apr 2, 2001)
Originator: firstname.lastname@example.org (Mike Doughney)
In article <email@example.com>,
Uncle Tantra <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
<editing, to what is perhaps the core of the argument:>
>They're not going to force Bush to take any personal responsibility for
>his actions. When all of this blows up, and they're faced with the stag-
>gering vastness of his misdeeds and illegal acts and war crimes, they're
>going to let him skate. They're going to give him a "Get out of jail free"
>card and elect someone new and try to put the whole nasty business
>behind them and forget that it ever happened.
>Because the American public doesn't want to take any responsibility for
>The truth is that *they* -- the American people -- are essentially the
>ones responsible for the war crimes done in their name. In a democracy
>the "buck" stops with the people. And they don't want to be reminded
>of that. They'll let Bush get away with everything for a very good reason.
>*They* want to get away with condoning it.
While everything you say might someday come to pass, everything you
describe exists in and is made possible by the more general context of
life in America for many decades if not more than a century. And in
that context are two central myths: the myth of American supremacy,
and the myth of American democracy.
That myth of American supremacy exists in two forms: secular and
religious. We live in a culture saturated with Christian (so-called)
"fundamentalism," relative to most of the rest of the Western world,
because that kind of Christianity is in turn a reflection of the same
kind of supremacist myth; it layers on top of, and takes some of its
claimed legitimacy from, the more general, secular supremacist
myth. Such a secular myth has long been with us, but the current,
dominant political form of it has risen out of the drumbeat of an
atheistic at its core, neocon propaganda that proclaims that America
will lead the planet in a "new American Century" once all those
lily-livered, light-in-the-loafers, pinko queer liberals who think too
much are discredited and removed from positions in which they are just
in the way. Both forms are manifestations of the same thing, one side
of true believers, the other, the exploiters of the religious who
truly believe in only the arbitrary exercise of raw power over others,
and sometimes it's impossible to tell the two apart, when they can
often be seen standing side-by-side.
Likewise, the American supremacist myth has a domestic and an
international component. Domestically, taken to the extreme end
towards which we may be heading, it leads to a one-party system;
domestically, in the religious context, it works to discredit even the
suggestion that any expression or interpersonal relationship can be
allowed to exist that runs contrary to the dominant evangelical
interpretation of Biblical laws. Coupled with this is an attack on
religious pluralism, in which those practicing faiths other than
Christianity, or who are atheists, are faced with second-class
citizenship, despite the obvious centrality of religious freedom in
American history and culture. Internationally, this supremacist myth
results in the go-it-alone, the rest of the world can kindly fuck
itself, kind of debacle that is shaping up in the Middle East and
eventually elsewhere, which also seems to assume that America is a
land of (or unopposed acquirer of) infinite resources of every kind
which can be used to bend the rest of the planet to its unique
assumptions about social architecture. Missionaries (with or without
aid work), and short-term missionary tourism, have a role in the
religious aspect of the international expression of this supremacist
myth, along with everything involving Israel as an expression of the
fulfillment of Christian prophecy.
The myth of American democracy sets up a number of problems that have
played out in the run-up to this action in Iraq. The myth of
democracy, as you have laid out in your post, suggests that everyone
is responsible for the state of and the actions of the nation. The
flip side of this is that, when those in charge go and do something
abominable and unthinkable, that action can't be seen for what it is,
because in a democracy, it would have to be taken as an affront to the
intent, and self-image, of every American. This myth makes an accurate
assessment of these kinds of actions of our government impossible by
most people, because the dissonance between the self-image of a good
and just American people and the true actions of the U.S. government
must be reconciled somehow. That dissonance might be reconciled by the
kind of outcome that you've laid out in the first paragraph of yours I
quoted above - as you say, figuring out how to forget the whole
episode and letting Bush and company get away with it.
While some might hold up Gerald Ford's pardon of Nixon, and Ford's
subsequent loss of the next election, as some kind of example of
America's intolerance of this kind of behavior, I would say that that
episode is an example of the contrary. Nixon got away with it, and
thus there is no warning, no downside, no cautionary historical
example of what might happen to a clearly criminal President. We are
not a nation that has a long history of bloody coup attempts that
might bring home the potential lethality of poor-to-criminal
governance. In fact, after the Clinton administration, we have the
association of "impeachment" with the conflation of serious criminal
abuses with the triviality of the aftermath of a White House blowjob,
making the very idea of "impeachment" of a President something of a
joke in all possible directions.
>Karma, that elegant piece of operating system software that runs the
>universe, isn't fooled for a moment by the Nuremberg Defense. It
>knows *exactly* where the buck stops. And it knows how to collect
>on debts owed, and with interest.
I don't believe in karma, other than how it might be an expression of
long-term social or institutional memory. What I do see happening is
the continuation of events much as they are until, or unless, there
are serious consequences for the U.S. of some kind. One of three
things may happen, or a combination of these things.
One is economic collapse, brought about by overextension, natural
catastrophe, or any number of possible causes that aren't presently
obvious. Issues of energy and water supply figure in here too.
Another is domestic social unrest, leading to vigilante action and
low-intensity conflict, stemming from the domestic aspect of the
The third is the obvious - that the international aspect of the
American supremacist myth, and the military campaigns that are the
inevitable result of that, come up against the simple fact that the
rest of the planet is occupied by nations, corporations and webs of
influence that won't stand for it over the long term.
Which brings me full circle back to the myth of American
democracy. The simple fact is that there is very little that we as
individuals in this country can do about the present situation,
despite the assumption that we as a people should or must be doing
something about it. I've referred to the present day as the
"post-protest era" because the effectiveness of protest against the
government seems much less effective and results in a greater cost to
the individual, as a loss of personal freedom or privacy, than in
What I'm keeping an eye on right now is the development of what might
be called Christian neo-vigilante groups at the local level; these may
become the ultimate expression of the supremacist myth in everyday
American life through the enforcement, through intimidation and
perhaps eventually other more direct means (since the means are always
described in an open-ended fashion), of the currently fashionable set
of evangelical wet dreams regarding the imposition of their version of
Biblical law. There may be opportunities to address these developments
and thus more generally address the problem of these supremacist myths
at both levels.
Another development is the fact that more and more people are
discussing emigrating from the U.S. to other places more openly, with
varying degrees of seriousness. The mere broaching of this subject in
a place where such a thing rarely happens, particularly when it's
accompanied by an admission that life really might be better somewhere
else, is one of those simple things that might serve to erode the
supremacy myth over time.
Posted by Mike Doughney at April 21, 2004 06:22 AM