Criticism is the right and duty of citizenship

With the general election less than two weeks away, I find it unbelievable that Republicans still tolerate Bush's lies. Even those who claim to have "Christian values" turn a blind eye to his lies and convince themselves that he has their best interests at heart, that he can keep them safe from terrorism.

But a Bush victory in November would give the president a mandate to continue his policy of preemptive war, to continue corporate welfare through tax cuts, to further erode the First Amendment rights of individuals, to privatize Social Security, and to cut even more funding from social services. In spite of his campaign promises to the contrary, we can expect an attempt to, slowly but surely, reinstitute the military draft. We can also expect an attempt to alter the Twenty-Second Amendment (term limits for the presidency) so that he may run again in 2008. A continuation of Bush's policies will lead to a rapid erosion of the American standard of living. Unemployment will increase while wages and access to health care and social programs decrease.

Like his father and grandfather before him, George W. Bush believes in an imperial world view. Bush sees the corporation -- not the collection of individuals within a nation-state -- as the dominant power in the world. Bush wants corporations to have the unrestrained power to make money without having to worry about pesky environmental regulations, labor union contracts, or taxes cutting into their profits. This is what Bush means when he mentions the word "freedom." He is not talking about individual freedom, but corporate freedom. Bush wants to use preemptive war -- which may soon include the use of nuclear weapons -- in order to secure oil fields and pipeline routes for corporations. Never mind the turmoil and misery he creates. Just forbid the media to show the gruesome disfigurement that bullets and bombs leave on human flesh. Just forbid the media to show the body bags and caskets returning home. Just keep the television images clean and sanitized and convince people that you are fighting for some "higher purpose." And, of course, just stifle dissent by calling the dissenters "unpatriotic."

American GIs played a major role in bringing the troops home from Vietnam and similar actions are needed now against the unjust war in Iraq. War is the ultimate form of terrorism and there is no other way to look at it. In the days before the U.S. invasion and occupation, the Iraqi people were nervously shopping at open-air markets while children played nearby. Like all of us, they were hopeful that common sense would prevail and war would be avoided. Today, in an occupied Iraq, there is nothing to smile about. While families are being torn apart on all sides of the war, at least we Americans can sleep at night knowing that the Iraqi oil fields are safe. Never mind the death and destruction. Never mind that acts of terrorism will increase against us. At least the Oil Barons are making record profits!

Bush supporters say that open criticism of the Iraq war aids the enemy and hurts troop morale. But they fail to understand that criticism of elected leaders and their policies is the right and duty of U.S. citizenship. Blind deference to those in power is not only undemocratic but ignorant. GIs understand this. Unfortunately, the Bush loyalists don't.

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