Will The World Now See A Clash Of Fundamentalist Titans?
GABORONE, Botswana, Nov. 5 - Is there any reason to expect 'less of the same' from the Bush regime over the next four years? Probably not. If anything, we are likely to see much 'more of the same'. The massive, unprecedented turnout of voters has produced, not the hoped-for victory of working, and liberal, middle class people but the triumph of an apparently larger number of right-wing conservatives, many of whom are fundamentalist Christians or racially-biased Southerners, or in increased numbers, both.
Republicans also include many wealthy Americans who benefited from George Bush's huge tax cuts, though there are wealthy Democrats, too, who would equally have so profited. The conservative, religious right, disregarded, it seems, the marginal state of the economy, health care and jobs, or Bush's massive budget deficit, as they gave priority to supporting his war on Iraq and his claim that he would better protect the US against terrorism than Kerry would. They also supported his conservative position on social issues like gay rights and abortion, and seem to endorse his view that nature alone causes climate change.
I am not given much to religious analysis but I do take note of the difference between faith-based Christianity, and that for which faith and hope without charity is as " a tinkling cymbal and sounding brass". There are grave social dangers in religious practice that bases itself on doctrinalism and fundamentalism to the neglect of compassion. Bush based his campaign in 2000 on "conservative compassion", which the US and the world saw or heard little of during his first Presidency.
Bush prefers unilaterism to internationalism, as expressed in his view that America does not need UN approval to defend itself. He survived his decision to go to war on Iraq based on an untruth. He will feel much strengthened by popular faith-based electoral support, not only for himself as President, but for a Republican-controlled Congress too. He has a right wing Supreme Court, now, and will be able, during this reign, to appoint judges to keep it that way for a long time to come.
Bush has deeply polarised American society by his stands. John Kerry, his Democratic rival, may be calling for national unity, but it is in the nature of deep conservative, faith-based religious, self-righteous conviction that they must win - not compromise. They will not seek unity other than on their terms, like fundamentalists everywhere.
Regime change may have been one of the desired outcomes of the Bush Government in Iraq, from the beginning. There will be a fear, now, that Bush and his supporters may turn their attention to Iran, Syria, and other Middle East countries. Some Islamic fundamentalists are even more doctrinaire than the US religious right and regard America as the Great Satan. One may well have reason to fear religious extremists who live by rule rather than compassion and human caring. Suicide bombers or hijackers of airplanes may be willing to pursue terrorist activity more actively against a re-elected Bush. The US religious right is more supportive of Israel, recently, and may encourage intervention in one or more Middle East countries on behalf of Israel or against al Quaida.
At an early stage of Bush's first presidency, some of his critics had expressed their fears "of a new despotism creeping across America. Its consequences include recurring recession, open and hidden unemployment, the poisoning of air, water, soil, and subversion of the constitution. More broadly, consequences include widespread intervention in international politics through economic manipulation", (as in the case of Cuba, or support for Ariel Sharon in Israel), "covert action or military invasion". Dispensing with human rights was justified as a means of fighting terrorism by more strictly controlling entry into the United States, by detaining terrorist suspects without trial in Guantanamo Bay, and by the torture of Iraqis held in Abu Ghraib.
Bush's declared plans are to legislate permanent tax reductions for the rich and to develop anti-ballistic weapons in space. His family's oil interests and those of his vice-President, Dick Cheney have been served by his initiatives in Iraq. Early on in his first Presidency, the Enron scandal burst, the cause of which was enrichment of Directors, and one result of which was the loss of workers' pensions. How many successful prosecutions have there been? Capitalism is not about compasssion.
My own position about America has always been that with a population of 290 million, it is likely to have the best and worst of everything, and a great deal of different measures of good and bad in between. Last week, I wrote about the positive approach to education and work of many teachers and learners, with successful outcomes for millions of learners.
SADC is presently engaged in negotiating a trade deal with the US. Such dealings and relationships will no doubt continue because they serve the best interests of producers and consumers in both situations. We must make the most of such opportunities of trade and aid, to secure the best outcomes for ourselves.
America does take care of itself! Throughout its history, oppression of Black people characterised its society, but the heroism of many who opposed it brought change. That showed us that oppressive faith-based religions, devoid of compassion and tolerance, cannot endure forever, and if they become oppressive, will be resisted and eventually tamed.
By Patrick Van Rensburg
The Reporter / allAfrica Global Media
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