While I, like millions of other Americans, was disappointed in the outcome of the 2004 presidential election, I can't say I was surprised. A month out, I called a landslide in favor of Bush, much to the dismay of my coworkers and despite the fact that John Kerry handily reduced President Bush to the out-of-touch corporate puppet—not to mention moron—that he is in all three presidential debates. Closer to the election, however, I began to feel a little more hopeful that America wouldn't be stuck with Bush's misguided arrogance for another four years as the Kerry campaign gathered steam. And, I admit, I bought into the quadrennial notion that new and young voters were really going to come out in droves in a historic uprising that would change the face of American politics and, in turn, the world. Wrong. Again.
Even so, I suffered no depression as the sun rose on Nov. 3. I wasn't compelled to pack my bags for Canada, knowing that if my country had ever needed me, it needed me then—and needs me now—more than ever. So Bush won a second term. So it's true that more Americans than anyone imagined go about their daily lives in a state of denial and staunch refusal to examine even the most obvious of scientific fact or evidence, choosing instead to believe that as long as they've got leaders to assure them that everything is just peachy—the war in Iraq, the economy, stateside employment, health care, social security, homeland security, education, etc.—despite reality, everything must be as they say. Fine.
After 2008, we know there won't be another four years of George W. Bush. And, besides, we can all rest a little easier during the impending second term knowing that the Bush administration's singular voice of reason, Secretary of State Colin Powell, will at least be around to act as a sounding board for perspectives other than “stay the course” and “my country: right or wrong;” the rhetorical Republican bullshit that got us where we are in the first place.
Well, not anymore, America. Upon Powell's resignation announcement on Monday, Nov. 15, right-wingers rejoiced while many of the rest of us began to ponder just how powerless we've become in a country that still purports to govern itself by, for and of the people. Not those people—the ones in Washington, D.C. whom we elect (sometimes in spite of all that's sensible)—but us people. You know, the ones who ultimately pay the price, physically and financially, for the actions of the government for which we are also ultimately responsible.
The situation isn't hopeless, but without Colin Powell, it's certainly a lot less hopeful. Powell was the one guy on the Bush administration that still had some credibility with world leaders other than the doormat with an accent that is British Prime Minister Tony Blair. And with the future of Palestinian-Israeli relations completely up in the air following the death—and none too soon—of terrorism's godfather, Yassir Arafat, not having a rational voice like Powell's around could be far deadlier than most are willing to accept, and not just for Arabs and Jews.
I'm angry and frightened, as I assume many Americans are, that Colin Powell has left Bush, Cheney and the rest of their virtually totalitarian regime to their own devices with a blank check that includes the endorsement of all branches of American government. But I don't blame the guy. Powell's resignation has made me more motivated than ever not to let my country—my America—die the sad, dishonorable death it now faces without a passionate fight. Yes, we're bound as Americans to endure four more years of Bush rule. And yes, we'll be forced to watch King George further besmirch America's international reputation while its people lose more jobs, die of more preventable and treatable diseases, die in more battles, more wars and other such operations undertaken in the name of creating Bush's “culture of life.” But there's a light at the end of this dark tunnel, just as long as we endeavor to keep it lit.