Monday, October 6, 2008

On the Brink of Country Divorce

– guest post by Denis Campbell, editor-in-chief of

In the middle of our worst economic crisis since the Depression, the McCain campaign wants to change the subject from issues to nonsense because his policies of the past 26-years cannot be defended. From the Keating 5 to the current guilt by association attack gambit, this silliness has snarky Sarah going gutter, no… make that cesspit, bringing up a shared directorship by Barack Obama with former radical Weather Underground member, William Ayers.

GOP talking point network FOX News’ attack dog Sean Hannity then went after Obama for his association with Acorn, a group bringing transparency and fairness to help inner city and low income people onto the property ladder as… the cause of the Fannie/Freddie and broader financial meltdown.

Senator McCain, I once met Patty Hearst and shared a speaker’s dais with Xaviera Hollander. Does that make me a Symbionese Liberation army sympathiser or hooker patron, happy or otherwise?

Yes, I considered the source, and it is all part of this last straw. I’ve reached the point of no return and will file divorce papers with my country if we make yet another (s)election error.

If, after 30-days of slimy, Swift-Boat attacks by the angry old man and his increasingly negative campaign aimed at dividing and destroying the country, voters are stupid enough to place another radical far-right team in the White House and bring the same global conflict, unchecked deregulation, special interests, economic disaster, ideologue Supreme Court appointees whilst perpetuating the mantra of fear, chanting U.S.A.!, placing flags on every stationary surface, declaring “Homeland security” the answer to any question and further eroding my ability to even question or write this…

I have no choice but to divorce my country.

From 27 December I can, if I choose, begin the process of becoming one of Her Majesty’s subjects, a citizen of the United Kingdom and the European Union that, despite its many flaws, cares more for her people and their rights than my own. Living abroad for 10-years, paying US taxes and voting in every election, even municipal ones, this is a step I never believed I would consider taking, especially as the son of a US immigrant.

My late-father came to his new country with a 1-way ticket, the clothes on his back, $100 in his pocket and a pregnant wife. This is a step pondered deeply and with regret for I feel I’m letting him down even though he died six years ago. He loved his adopted country with a passion and instilled in me the need to do both good and well.

In my teen years he became a citizen and I was inspired by him and US politics. A 1973 trip to Washington DC with the Close-Up program was equal parts education and inspiration. It would make politics a part of my life forever. We’d just re-elected President Nixon with a landslide victory. There was a cloud of suspicion growing around his role in a failed burglary at the Democratic National Committee HQ in the Watergate Office complex. And it would lead to his resignation in disgrace a year later.

This was before PC’s, Internet and CNN. News cycles were truly 24-hours long and you watched Uncle Walter Cronkite deliver news. During that week in Washington, we read about and met the men and women serving our country with honour. That 1973-74, 93rd Congress contained some of the most memorable people serving ‘Country First’ as more than a slogan and… a group of scoundrels who would be forced from office where today they would just lie, hide and obfuscate. The Paris Peace talks were underway to end the war in Vietnam, Roe v. Wade had just been decided, and our leaders led.

The Senate and House roll call included: Mike Mansfield, Gerald Ford, Robert Byrd, Tip O’Neill, John Anderson, Nelson Rockefeller, Edward Brooke, Ted Kennedy, Carl Albert and Phil Hart, the ‘Conscience of the Senate’ for whom a Senate office building would be named. They reached across the aisle to broker compromises and governed, even while Watergate was blowing up, from the middle ground.

Barack Obama and John McCain have been campaigning for 21- and 19-months respectively.

The fatigue of the seeming endless 3-minute campaign newscycle is exhausting. One cannot imagine the toll 24/7/366 travel takes on those in or covering the race. Party ideology though rather than forward vision guides too many decisions. While I never thought former Reagan speech writer Peggy Noonan and I would agree, her new book examines the polarisation and how dangerously small-minded, rude and petty our nation has become.

When I first moved abroad, there was a broader investigative and questioning foreign press (AWOL in the USA since Watergate). Watching 9-11 live on left an indelible impression, yet the world rallied around and supported the US. If you told me we would squander that goodwill through two unilateral wars, give the UN ‘the finger,’ shred or be a non-signatory to treaties, play the game our way or ‘take our ball and go home,’ that we’d build a prison camp on Cuba, participate in torture by sending people to jails in Syria and other less strict countries and shred rights to habeas corpus and free speech via far right executive ideologue vs. the rule of law… I would say you were crazy.

Living abroad, I saw how indoctrinated by the propaganda machine we all were. The blinders we Americans wear and how fully into the myth of country/party we fell was shocking.

After the 2000 (s)Election I became angry. Before we invaded Iraq, I was so incensed, I marched in Amsterdam for the 1st time in my life. Standing there next to grandmothers, parents and students who’d also never marched before; we were stupid enough to think 21-million people in 665 cities around the globe could make a difference. When the White House dismissed us all as “a focus group” (120,000 people in Amsterdam, more than protested the placement of US Trident missiles aimed at the then Soviet Union), that was when my life changed forever and awakening those in my own country became the only goal.

We stood side-by-side with Iraqi brothers and sisters whom the media made faceless, the government called ‘enemy’ and we asked for time to allow the UN inspectors to do their work and find WMD’s, which we all now know were a lie.

I was struck by how ridiculous it all was and how deep the takeover of America had become. So I became a voice for change that angered friend and foe alike by bringing foreign press articles and asking hard questions the herd of lemming-like sheep unable to turn these into real issues because the MSM were more interested in celebrity gossip that helped entertainment divisions make money. When ‘American Idol’ attracts more voters than a Presidential election, the idiots are indeed running the asylum.

No longer willing to support fluff over substance, if my country rewards malfeasance, lies, liars and votes or otherwise places a hothead 72-year old cancer survivor and his thoroughly unprepared trophy wife VP candidate a heartbeat from the highest office in the land, I’ll have no choice but to leave it metaphorically as well as physically.

I’m hoping my country has more sense and, sadly, can no longer hesitate to act. I also worry most about those with no other option.