Sunday, November 14, 2004


Two incidents that highlight a disturbing trend in America: the growing intolerance of political opposition to President Bush, and the criminalisation of political dissent.

First, from Orcinus: those who voted against Bush are being told to "move on" - with violence. Take this example, of someone who still had pro-Kerry bumper stickers on his car after the election:

On Saturday, Gary Jimenez discovered two tires slashed on his Volvo station wagon with its four anti-Bush bumper stickers. Lest he miss the point, the vandals left a note on the windshield that said: "We voted . . . Now you can either move to another country (maybe France, Germany, Iran or Pakistan will take you) or stop your whiney belly aching. This country was founded by righteous God-fearing men of integrity like George W. Bush. Now, take off these bumper stickers. We don't want to see them again."

"Bush won, so shut up" is a popular meme on the American right, but it's a gross misrepresentation of democracy. In a democracy, the only thing entailed by winning the vote is respect for the legitimacy of the outcome - Bush won, and so he gets to be President and exercise the powers of the office. But there's no requirement that people cease or forswear political opposition. That's the sort of attitude you get in a monarchy, where everyone supposedly has a duty to loyally line up behind "their" king. But then, the American system has been characterised as an "elected monarchy", and this is an example of why it is so toxic.

Secondly, from Kevin Drum: high school students protesting against the war is now a matter for the Secret Service. While no-one was arrested (the Secret Service having apparently heard of Bob Dylan), the fact that they were even called is symbolic of an attitude that opposing the President's policies is in some way a crime.

These are just the latest in a long line of examples highlighting the move away from democracy in America under Bush. The President's supporters like to say that "September 11th changed everything". Unfortunately, one of the things it seems to have changed is America's nature as an open and democratic society. And that represents a far greater victory for the terrorists than the deaths of 3000-odd people.