THE REAL LEGACY OF G. W. BUSH
By Mary Pitt
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Toward the end of the reign of the Bush regime, Mr. Bush began to consider the “legacy” of his presidency, setting up a library to hold his papers and to assure that this nation would never forget his term in office. However, there is no way that the real legacy of his two-term rule would ever be memorialized in any facility bought and paid for by his political machine. He has made a mark on our American soul that will remain a very long time; like a large scar from an almost-fatal wound.
On September 11, 2001, the whole nation saw the awesome destruction of the World Trade Center. If not actually on the site, we saw it live on television or played and re-played on the news. The actual deed, followed by the speeches by President Bush and his followers and assistants, drove the knife of that legacy deep into the hearts of Americans everywhere. That legacy was a paralyzing fear; gut-wrenching, breath-taking, spine-tingling, blood-chilling FEAR!
To a generation that grew up with air-raid drills, stop-drop-and-cover admonitions pounded into our young consciousness, the horrors of Korea and Vietnam, and the seemingly never-ending Cold War, it took little chain-rattling for the fight-or-flight instinct to become activated. Add to that the patriotic adages that we have learned from history, “The Red, White, and Blue don’t run!” and you have a compliant herd of sheep that will do as commanded by whomever is in charge.
Under that impetus Congress, for the first time in history, granted the President the unmitigated authority to go to war without a Constitutional mandate. In addition, as he did precisely this, not once but twice, they also handed him the national credit card with no limit. Nobody asked how much it would cost. Nobody asked whether our “all-volunteer military” was strong enough to fight a two-front war. Nobody dared suggest the reinstatiement of the draft which had served this nation so well in the past. Instead, the National Guard was taken from their traditional obligations to protect the “home front” and sent to war. Armed militia were hired to supplement our forces and contracts were let for the furnishing of meals, transport, and other essential services, paid for by “credit card” and which remain unpaid.
The nation as a whole was deeply committed to the commands of The Ogre Under the Bed. Nobody but the few with immunity dared question any decision from the White House upon hearing the rattle of the chains. The Bill of Rights was shredded and the Constitution crumpled and tossed into the waste basket as Congress obediently passed the Patriot Act . All law enforcement in the country was bundled into a Department of Homeland Security and their focus was changed from one of catching crooks to catching “spooks”. If you spoke out against the policies of the administration, you might find yourself restrained from receiving a passport or prevented from boarding an airplane. The Ogre was under your bed and he was listening and waiting for you to offend!
In addition, the Holy Ghost was implicated as the President roamed the world proclaiming that he was doing The Lord’s Work. His words were accepted as the Word of God in churches throughout the land and the fear of retaliation according to the Good Book reinforced the Ogre Under the Bed. If you had not sufficient fear of the Ogre, the Devil would get you.
Eight years later, with a new President and a new spirit in the land, it was determined that the wars have reached their end and may be systematically ended. Now the people are suffering as the result of economic collapse brought on by the free-spending and the neglect of the previous administration, aso that the “spooks” that must be vanquished are of the more psychological perspective.
The Republican members of Congress are still under the spell of the Ogre as they struggle against the programs that are needed to place the nation back on the right track, to bind up the wounds of war, attend to the long-neglected workers as they lose their jobs due to the Wall Street-instigated crash, and go about the business of caring for the citizens. Only now they are “afraid” that we will not be able to pay our bills and are “worried about the future.” They seem lost and leaderless, unwilling or unable to resume their responsibilities of steering the nation without a real leader to tell them what to do.
The current President sees the world as it is rather than as it was in the middle of the last century and tries to move our gaze forward to building a better future. But first we must struggle with the Holy-Word-according-to-G-W-Bush as well as the Ogre Under the Bed. We must take off our tinfoil hats, open the closet door, and look around. The sun is shining, the future awaits and we must dust ourselves off and get to work restoring our nation and becoming, once again, a nation where the future is a promise and, together, we can resume the upward trek toward what we know that it can be.
We can place our trust in our personal God and, thus cheered, tread with a smile and a song toward that promised “Shining City on a Hill” of legend, treasuring the Brotherhood of Man. Together we can banish that Ogre of the Bush Legacy, shine the brave light of day on our fears and realize that we have been left with the greatest gift of the Bush Legacy; “Thank God it’s over!”
This writer is eighty years old and has spent a half century working with handicapped and deprived people and advocating on their behalf while caring for her own working-class family. She spends her “Sunset Years” in writing and struggling with The System.