What Democracy Is About:
Yesterday, in his anti-Congress hissy fit in front of the Fredericksburg Rotary Club, President Bush said, "Now, I understand people in Washington and people around the country may not have agreed with my decisions on how to protect America. I know that, and that's fair. That's what democracy should be all about. When people have a difference of opinion with the President, they ought to feel comfortable expressing that difference." So, according to the President, "democracy" is people being able to disagree with the President. In fact, one should "feel comfortable" to say that one disagrees with the President.
In his Manichean view of the world, one imagines that as long as jack-booted thugs aren't clubbing Paul Krugman into a bloody pulp in the streets, George W. Bush believes that he has protected democracy. It's an amazing reduction of the meaning of democracy, but one that isn't surprising. Essentially, Bush is saying that as long as we're all pacified with the wubbie of free speech, we should be singing "God Bless America" unto dreamy oblivion. But action by the majority against the wishes of the powerful? That shit's gotta stop. Said Bush, "But there should be no difference of opinion when it comes to making sure our troops have the funding they need, and there should be no difference of opinion about whether our commanders on the ground ought to be those who decide or those who recommend to the President and the Congress the best way to proceed." Got it? You can say, "George, what the fuck's wrong with you." But you better not attempt to do something about it.
George W. Bush wouldn't know democracy if it bit him on his nutsack and jumped around while screaming, "I'm Democracy, motherfucker." The notion that democracy is "all about" tolerating words of dissent is patronizing and degrading, and it's like having a suggestion box in the coffee room of the local Wal-Mart: hey, drop a note in, Consuela, and maybe the assistant managers will look into giving you more regular bathroom breaks. But the second Consuela tries to unionize, you shut that down. The illusion of participation is more important than actually having a say. And that ain't democracy.
Real democracy is like really great fucking: it's messy and sweaty and passionate and angry, and you give and take and sometimes you're on top and sometimes you're not, and sometimes you get what you want and sometimes you don't, but that's okay because you know there's gonna be a next time. For Bush and Cheney and many Republicans and some Democrats, democracy is like being told you can jack off in the corner while this big-dicked stud fucks your wife. Yank it as much as you want, but you can't jump in. Yeah, you can tell yourself that this is good enough for you, but wouldn't you rather be in the middle getting some and giving some?
In a real democracy, at some point the leaders actually listen to the citizens who, through elections, have said some action must be taken. When the majority of the country is calling for a withdrawal to end a war - a war, goddamnit, not some fucking worthless tax cut - then there needs to be leaders who say, "You know what? Our troops don't need the funds to fight. And fuck the need to listen to the generals on the ground, who just do what's needed to achieve the goals set for them by the civilian leadership. It's a circle jerk and we're done" and then, you know, act on that.
The Bush administration is getting schooled in how messy democracy is over in Iraq. Even as Condoleezza Rice desperately tries to convince Iraqis to hang together, a real experiment in democracy, one where the United States didn't try to game the system, would result in a Shia government that would then have to grapple with how much rights they want to give to the ethnic minorities in the country. It's gonna be a fucked up process that'll no doubt lead to chaos.
But that's democracy. Sometimes you don't get what you want. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes your entire ideology is chased out of the village like a syphilitic whore. Sometimes you can win. The Bush administration refuses to believe that sometimes when you agree to play the game, you agree that you might not win. It just changes the definitions and the rules.
Despite what the President says, democracy's not just being able to be free to say to your master, "I don't like the way you're whipping me."