Living in this country these last several years has made me question the American Character. For the longest time I always assumed that in the end the majority of Americans, when push came to shove, would do the right thing. Unfortunately, Bush?s re-election in 2004 has grossly disproved this naive notion.
The million-dollar question is - Why do so many Americans consistently vote against their best interests?
Taxes: The affluent minority in this country has received enormous tax breaks. The majority of Americans are not wealthy but for whatever reason believe that they are just an investment away from becoming rich, so they support these tax breaks on a hope that one day they too will benefit from them.
Labor: The Bush Administration, along with Aaahhnold here in CA, has taken a strong anti-worker stance, preferring to consistently side with Corporate America instead. Most Americans are workers yet have bought into the notion of the trickle down theory: the idea that coddling Big Business will somehow benefit everyone down the road.
National Security: For the first time in our history we were attacked on our very own soil under Bush?s watch. This feat was accomplished due to simple incompetence. Yet Bush and his followers have shamelessly been promoting a sense of false patriotism ever since. This war on ?terror? has been forced upon us by people who themselves never fought for this country. Bush was on vacation with the National Guard during Vietnam and Cheney had five deferments during this same period. But now, as old men, they pound their chests and easily send young men and women to their deaths in an unnecessary war. The politicians who voted for this preemptive strike won?t sacrifice their own children for this supposed noble cause of theirs. They showed they cared so much for our well being that they had no problem outing ?one of our own? agents. When the time came though to stand up and yell out Basta; the American public expressed its apathy and chose to continue forward with this disastrous charade.
Religion: Most Americans consider themselves to be religious, spending most of their Sundays in a church of some kind, and Bush and Company have convinced most of them that they are the Party of morals. From lies about Iraq, to numerous corruption scandals, to making a mockery of our constitutional rights, this administration?s actions seem to be in complete contrast to the teachings in the New Testament. If Republicans were held up to the creed of ?Actions Speak Louder than Words? then they would have long been voted out of existence. But obviously they are not and are still running strong.
The one consistent ray of hope that has shined throughout has been the African-American community. With this country?s history rooted in slavery and segregation, Black-Americans are logically weary of the White power structure. So when the Republican Party spins and lies, African-Americans are not fooled whatsoever.
In the 2000 presidential election 90% of Black voters voted for Al Gore (67% of Latinos voted for Gore), here in CA in 2003 only 17% of them voted for Arnold Schwarzeneggar in the re-call election (31% of Latinos voted for Schwarzeneggar), and in 2004 88% voted against Bush/Cheney (44% of the Latino vote went for Bush). More than anyone else African-Americans have consistently cut through the Republican pretense and voted in the country?s best interests.
African-Americans are a religious people. They have always looked toward religion for strength and hope, not necessarily for economic blessings, as has been the Anglo-American custom. They have looked toward their church for leadership against the harsh terrain that they faced in this society. This was especially evident during the Civil Rights Movement.
Black Americans also seem to share a strong belief that Government has the obligation to help better the lives of its citizenry. It was indeed Abraham Lincoln?s government that led to the Emancipation Proclamation, it was Franklin Roosevelt?s New Deal that created a stable middle-class, and it was Lyndon Johnson?s administration that helped move along the Civil Rights Movement. African-Americans have clearly never bought into the Republican mantra of ?Every man for himself.?
Many Blacks are blue-collar workers and they value the sacrifices that past generations have made for fair wages and benefits. As others should, African-Americans fully understand how damaging it would be if the gains labor has made over the decades would be rolled back. Republicans aren?t solely about lower taxes they are, in my opinion, about dismantling the backbone of America ? the American Worker.
Beginning with the 1970?s the Republican platform has grown much more hypocritical, mean spirited and, down right dishonest. After the scandalous Nixon years one would have thought that this party would have never again won another major election. But many continue to vote Republican. They refuse to accept the clear facts and have chosen instead to believe the fabrications that the Republican Party has learned to spew out so efficiently.
And today, after the obvious incompetence of the Bush Administration, it boggles the mind how over half the electorate can still be in full support of the Republican movement. In San Diego, the previous Republican Mayor quickly resigned after a web of corruption was uncovered in his administration just six months into his term. In the special election that followed a Republican candidate, once again, easily won the race.
To the outside world it is obvious as to what the right choice is, but here at home it is never as clear. Except for one quite perceptive group ? The African-American constituency. They are way ahead of the curve when it comes to the common sense department and I?m still waiting for the rest of the country to finally wake up and follow their lead.
Alejandro Diaz is a writer and frequent contributor to LatinoLA.