I voted for George W. Bush in the 2000 election. It wasn't entirely willing, but I liked the fact that the Texas Legislature hadn't been tearing itself apart with childish partisan displays lately, and I disliked Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, and Ralph Nader for longstanding personal reasons. So I voted for Bush and felt not too bad about it. But since then, I've been having doubts.

I've started reading weblogs. Political weblogs. Anti-war weblogs. I didn't have much faith in Bush and his American Empire before, and I should be hitting the zero-faith point any day now. I've been forcing myself to wallow, on a daily basis, in the ongoing descent of America into lunacy and fascism. I've watched the goodwill that we had with the entire world after September 11 turn to ashes as the Bush administration went out of their way to insult and alienate our traditional allies for the supposed crime of refusing to rubberstamp everything we asked for. I've watched attorney general John Ashcroft make a good run at repealing large swaths of the Constitution with the Patriot Act and the Patriot Act II. I've watched the So-Called Liberal Media shamelessly lob easy, loving questions to the president and ignore absolutely vast nationwide and worldwide anti-war protests in order to protect their "access" to a chief executive who clearly holds them in utter contempt. I've listened to the hawks in the administration push an invasion that most of the world opposes and that will have little real effect beyond enriching Halliburton/Dick Cheney and making it easier for Osama bin Laden to recruit more terrorists. I've listened to more and more people, many of whom were vocal critics of the previous White House occupant, thuggishly insist that criticizing this president is anti-American and treasonous. I've watched our insane Congresscritters change the names of French toast and French fries and propose digging up the graves of American servicemen at Normandy, all because our country no longer wants allies, just yes-men. I've watched Bush ignore the threat posed by a lunatic with nuclear weapons in favor of smacking around a weakling with model-airplane drones. I've watched the administration lie about their economic plans, about their judicial appointees, about a dozen different reasons for invading Iraq, about their connections to Halliburton, Enron and California's energy crisis, and so much more. I've listened with a great deal of nervousness as George Bush sounds more and more like a howling end-times fundamentalist, eager to bring about Armageddon because he thinks he's been chosen by God.

And I wonder, how in a million hells could anyone in this administration expect, even with all of the political wizardry and dirty tricks Karl Rove has at his fingertips, to retain the White House in 2004. Does John Ashcroft not realize that eventually, there's going to be another Democrat elected to the presidency? And then that Evil, Evil Democrat is going to have access to all the goodies in the Patriot Act? Of course, the paranoid answer is that the Republicans don't intend for there to be anymore elections--that way, they'll never leave office and can continue to hold onto all that delicious power. But frankly, paranoia is rarely useful or accurate as a fortune-telling tool. The UN didn't take over the world while Clinton was president. The black helicopters didn't fly, the secret troops in the Utah salt mines didn't march out, all the guns weren't rounded up, and Americans weren't put into concentration camps.

But sometimes, I like to let the little paranoiac deep in my soul come out to play. How would Bush and Co. handle a coup? My shifty-eyed paranoid alter ego says they'd arrange a fake assassination attempt, either prior to the Iraqi invasion, to use as one final bit of justification for an invasion, or before the 2004 elections--to prevent the collapse of the government, the elections will need to be called off, just temporarily, you see, until we can make sure these terrorists are safely rounded up, and to make sure the investigation proceeds smoothly, we're sure all law-abiding citizens won't mind having a little talk with Rev. Ashcroft's Ministry of Truth, reporting the location of any dissenters and Democrats, and accepting this bar code tattoo on your forehead... But like I said, the paranoid view, while fun for a nice bit of dystopian sci-fi, reveals nothing and proves less.

But in case anything big happens, remember where you heard it first...

Recommended reading:
What Liberal Media? by Eric Alterman
Blinded by the Right by David Brock
Silencing Political Dissent by Nancy Chang
Stupid White Men by Michael Moore