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Opinion by Anna Cherkasova


It is almost the end of this semester. I have papers due, and finals are coming up unjustifiably fast. Instead of getting ready for them, I am sitting here and writing this op/ed. Why? Because THIS is something that bothers me, and I will not be able to think about anything else until I let you know what it is.

A couple of weeks ago I heard a UT (University of Texas) professor expressing a very interesting thought. It was about Americans and how they are their leaders’ worst critics. “Ahmadi-Nejad,” he said, “does not attack President Bush as hard as columnists do in some American newspapers.”
Interesting. Perhaps it is even good—freedom of speech, so to speak. But is it right to criticize the President if we ourselves are not willing to do anything about things that the President handles in an unsatisfactory way—that is according to our standards.

By no means am I the greatest fan of the current administration, but quite frankly car stickers like “it was an inside job” or “somewhere in Texas a village is missing its idiot,” or “vote Democrat and the ass you save might be your own” are getting old. It is easy to put a sticker on your bumper, it is harder to, through actions, stand up for your beliefs.

You see, despite what the popular wisdom suggests, the current administration and the President are very clever. When they went to Iraq, they did not make us feel like we were really in a war—that’s when the whole nation mobilizes and citizens, through increasing emptiness of their own pockets (I mean taxes) and missing members of their families (I mean draft) know how costly the war really is. The administration made sure that there are very few Americans who have to give up their way of living so the President’s unpopular policies can still go through.

Let’s admit it, the average citizen has not been so much as inconvenienced during this war. We are loathed to be disturbed. A lot of us want out of this mess but we don’t want to do anything about it ourselves. We are passing the buck. We all hope that there will be someone who will stand up to the administration, for all of us, and we can stay clean and happy and do nothing about anything.

Now that I’m writing this, it sure sounds like I’m trying to mobilize masses for demonstrations or something else of this nature. This is not the case. I just want us to look at ourselves through a different perspective.

Who were those people who voted for (forgive me for repeating a sticker here) that village idiot? Who were those blind ones who elected and four years later re-elected him?

No, those people weren’t hard core republicans in Wyoming and Oklahoma. Those people were us. White America, Black America, Latino America, rich America, poor America, middle-class America; we are all one America, and we have one president, elected by us and representing us. Our President.

So after we elected him we say: “Bush went into Iraq,” “Abu-Ghraib is Bush’s fault,” “Bush didn’t sign the Kyoto protocol,” “Bush got us into all this mess, it’s happening because of Bush.” Right? Not right.

We elected Bush and we are in Iraq now; we had Abu Ghraib and we are the ones not willing to give up our huge and voracious SUVs. Bush is our President and we elected him. As much as we don’t like to admit it, he reflects our values. In Democracy, the electorate is as responsible for the mistakes of an elected person, as this person himself (and perhaps one day herself) is.

As much as I like this professor who talked about Americans being their leaders’ worst critics, I have to disagree. Worst critics do more than just talk; they back up their complaints by actions. (Remember Ghandi’s complaints about British rule of India?) How else can critics show that they care? We, on the other hand, are great at critiquing, complaining, whining, but when push comes to shove, we remain still. This must stop.

HPU graduate Anna Cherkasova is pursuing her master’s degree at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.



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