Monday, November 08, 2004

Shut Up?

On Friday, November 5, in the LETTERS TO THE EDITOR section of my local paper -- The Intelligencer -- a lovely gem of a letter was posted as a "memo to Michael Moore and George Soros and Bruce Springsteen." The writer of this letter was obviously relieved with President Bush's reelection and wanted to inform these three gentleman that they could "now shut up." The writer further suggested that all Bush supporters should start their own organization (a la MoveOn.org) called ShutUp.org in order "to silence the famous and not so famous Bush haters." First off, Ms. Gorman (the aforementioned letter writer), I should inform you someone has beaten your group of silencers to the domain you wanted. And I find it interesting that the ShutUp.org site currently sports links for Stun Guns, Pepper Spray, and other self-defense products as well as an offer for refinancing. With the exception of refinancing, these products might serve you well in your quest to silence opposing viewpoints. With regard to selecting a suitable domain name, perhaps you will have to go with the less trendy BushHatersShutUp.org or, more to your point, TheSilencers.org. As I am writing this, both of those domains are available. Second, not everyone who complained about the president, or who decided to vote for John F. Kerry, actually hated George W. Bush. True, many did -- and still do -- hate Bush. I myself do not believe that such hate is an effective catalyst for positive change, but at least those "Bush haters" believed something passionately and decided to do something about it via non-violent means. In addition, I should make it clear that I myself am not a "hater." I am merely disappointed with President Bush's record and I disagree with him on many points of policiy. Third, the Bush camp can tout his 50+% of the vote all they want. But there is no reason to be smug here. Yes, it is certainly enough of a majority to win the office, but it is far shy of being a true mandate. The president won his reelection by a margin of less than 5 million votes. That is less than the population of, say, New York City. I would say that is a fairly slim margin. With such a slim margin, there must have been a fair number of opposition votes, right? Right. 55+ million people voted against a 2nd term -- that's a hell of a lot of people! And they can't all be haters. I'm sure that a high percentage of them voted against Bush because of his own faltering record. Even the paper in Bush's adopted hometown of Crawford, TX, went against him. All I am trying to say here is that there must be something to the complaint. There are too many people and too many documented facts. Fourth... No, I don't want to continue this. I already wrote that regardless of the outcome and how hot one's emotions might be running right now, this is no time to be snarky. Ms. Gorman, in spite of the last few paragraphs, I think I can understand your frustration. Why? because it must mirror my own frustration with celebratory neo-conservatives and bewildered pundits. But we are both Americans, and we are both governed by the same Constitution. If there is any difference between us it is that I welcome and encourage the discourse of all Americans, now more than ever. Of course, I would prefer to not hear any more platitudes, curt dismissals, or cute (obscene?) phrases from either side of the political spectrum. All I desire is an exchange of facts and, yes, opinions, but not empty rhetoric or volatile emotional responses. Whether I like them or not, whether I agree with their platforms or not, and whether I have any faith in their abilities or not, the folks in the White House, in Congress, and in my State and local legislature represent me just as much as they represent you. And neither one of us should "shut up" when it comes to making certain that our concerns are being addressed. [Edited 11-08-2004 08:07am to be less snarky.]

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