Random Rants, by Thomas Andrew Olson

Friday, June 01, 2007

Seduced and Abandoned - Cindy Calls it Quits

When I first saw the title of Cindy Sheehan's piece, "Goodbye, America," in yesterday's Chron, I had an initial fleeting thought that she actually meant it. Was she so fed up with war, the Bushies, the Dems, and the failings of peace-activists that she finally just said "Fuck it all, I'm moving to Argentina and learning tango."?

Well...no. But the honest, gutsy outpouring that has characterized her contribution to the conversation since she first sat alone on a chair outside the Bush's Crawford ranch, was refreshing indeed.

Money quote: "I am deemed a radical because I believe partisan politics should be left by the wayside when thousands of people are dying in a war based on lies that is supported by Democrats and Republicans alike. It amazes me that people who are sharp on the issues and can zero-in like a laser beam on lies, misrepresentations and political expediency when it comes to one party, refuse to recognize it in their own party. Blind loyalty to party is dangerous, whatever side it occurs on. People of the world look on us Americans as jokes because we allow our political leaders so much murderous latitude and, if we don't find alternatives to this corrupt "two" party system, then our representative republic will die and be replaced with what we are rapidly descending into, with nary a check or a balance: a fascist corporate wasteland."

A lot of 3rd-party partisans would say "Amen, Sister!" to that. Multiple parties don't hurt Costa Rica any. In the 2002 election cycle, when I visited there, there were presidential candidates representing 12 political parties - every one got an equal voice in the debates. Costa Rica enjoys a better than 90% voter turnout, consistently. We can barely scrape up 50% in a good year.

When I read her article, I saw the pain of someone who finally understood the true nature of 2-party politics in America - which is about being the "in's" or the "out's" in DC. Nothing else matters. And both sides love to find sacrificial lambs for their cause. The "peace movement" left hooked themselves to Cindy like a giant pond leech and bled her dry as long as she would give.

But the neocon right loved her too, as they could use her as a lightning rod for ridicule, raw meat for the crowd, in support of their otherwise unsupportable positions. To jingoistic hacks like Hannity and Limbaugh, Cindy Sheehan was a dream come true, and it kept the "FoxNews Republicans" tuning in, and advertisers onboard. Who will they target now that she's gone?

When she began questioning the assumptions and agenda of her strategic partners, they turned on her, as extremists on both sides, with a reputation of eating their young, always will. So she said: "no more."

It's got to be the hardest thing in the world to conclude that one's child died for nothing in a pointless conflict crafted solely for the geopolitical ends of greedy and evil men. But she had much to teach us from her experience, in her utter transparency in the sharing, which had to be even harder than the personal pain she endured.

But I don't think the term she left us with - "Goodbye, America" - is accurate. She didn't leave America. America left her - and millions of the rest of us - a long time ago.

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