Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The final word on the US elections

... at least from this errant blogger

Gloom, depression and a flurry of e-mails hit Britain on the day that Bush won. We took it very personally indeed. But if the irritable response to The Guardian's Operation Clark County tells us anything, it is that the time has come, with a dignified smile, to disengage. Britain is not the 51st state and America would rather we didn't act like we were. Their eagerness to make this point borders on the insensitive: from tipping our tea into the sea to building the replacement twin towers at 1776 feet. There is a more important point. In becoming obsessed with a show that has nothing to do with us, we have become hopelessly distracted from our own democratic power.

We can't blame George Bush for taking us into war against Iraq. Our government did that. We paid for the warplanes and bombs. We committed violence and economic torture on Iraq for years before we actually invaded it on a case that most of us knew was false all along. It wasn't as if no-one noticed, but the protests came to nothing. How have we got to the state where military action that is, to this day, causing death and mayhem cannot be stopped by the democratic will of the people?

There is a near-superpower capable of tempering Bush's right wing agenda and it is one we are supposed to be at the heart of. Europe has economic power and a good moral reputation based on a track record of challenging human rights abuse and promoting solidarity and justice. We have two sets of democratic representatives at the EU – parliament and the council of ministers, but when does our media ever tell us what they are up to?

We have our own elections in a few months, making this the best time to get whatever causes you believe in on the agenda in parliament.You may not like the people who lead us and you may not like the alternatives much (I certainly don't)– but now is the time to put the spangly stars and stripes to the back of our minds and start engaging in our own institutions, however grey and depressing they might seem.

(this article appears this week in The Friend)

1 comment:

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