I recalled the first day in my life I voted. I was so proud,and so struck with horror that night when the tampering of the ballots was revealed and George W Bush become the countries 42'nd President. I then recall walking back and forth across the street from where I lived,accompanied by my dad,on the afternoon of September 11'th,2001. Everyone was inside glued to the saturation news. Entertainment tonight reported movies and TV shows being withheld due to "patriotic sensitivity". They believed the entire nation was under attack. People in my own neighborhood began looking at me and my family with terrified expressions-wondering if our dark skin complexions indicated Arab heritage,possibly of the Muslim faith. And I remember that faith being constantly linked to anti American terrorists in everyday discussion on the street. Friends and neighbors all around me watched as their children,all near my age group,volunteered for Operation:Iraqi Freedom. On my end anyway,very few came back alive.
That was just the beginning. In 2004 another election came around. I waited with bated breath for John Kerry to be elected the 43's US president. But he backed down on his position as a stop the war candidate at the last minute. And GW did what his father did not: he got in for a second term. I lived my life everyday watching helplessly as people I'd known for years began to lose their homes,their jobs,much of their property. Every day people began saying they knew this war on terror was draining the economy. But most of them did nothing. All of a sudden people began to realize how much of a problem the Bush administration was with Rumsfeld,Ashcroft and Vice President Chaney. Even arch conservatives. Again I saw inaction. For the first time,myself than being in my mid 20's,I began wondering if the United States social and political info-structure was about to completely collapse.
Sometimes when I am running errands,I see a monster pickup trick with a tattered bumper sticker with a cartoon of GW Bush's face with writing next to it saying "Do You Miss Him Yet?". I understand where this is coming from. And I respect freedom of speech. But on a deeper level,I really think this exemplifies not only much of America's apathetic numbing to the facts of the first decade of this new millennium,but that it also goes far beyond the dubious effectiveness of George W Bush as commander in chief. My generation is categorized as Generation X. They were often a generation who alternately celebrated and lamented that they never had a war to fight. And thought they never would. Well they got one,and they volunteered. There was no draft. When someone does something wrong without knowing how wrong it is,they are acting in ignorance. If they do the wrong thing knowing full well of their wrong doing,they really are acting from pure stupidity. Sadly that ethic of stupidity defines that era for me. And my continued shame about it.
Was I myself stupid? Was I one of the few who saw what was going on? Those are difficult questions to ask. What I wonder is how many Americans feel as I do now? That they chose voluntarily not to value important things for the sake of their own stress level and frame of mind. In retrospect I realize how psychologically damaging the administration of "George the second",as the anti nuclear activist Helen Calidcott calls him,actually was to our society. That administration used the media,through censoring film,TV and literature to try to distort the constitution,and American's civil rights. Now there is a distrust of anyone trying to use politics to enact social change. More so I think than after Watergate. The fear runs deep into people's sense of low self esteem. It makes them doubt themselves-even treat their friends,family and neighbors somewhat shabbily due to their own worry and stress. I've experienced a great deal of this syndrome. And continue to even now. And to end this all where I started-that little blurb on a supermarket tabloid. All this mass cultural confusion from a man who might've been the nations president while dealing with symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. I don't know whether he can really recall or not his years as president. But millions of Americans such as myself sure can.