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
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)
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