Saturday, August 13, 2005

With a bag on their head and the noise machine blaring 

In general, people expect governments to be responsive to things they care about. Its not a perfect system, of course, but the usual pattern is that reporters will write stories about the outrage of the day and then the local or provincial or federal government takes notice, and, if enough people are upset, then the appropriate government starts taking the issue more seriously and maybe it even gets dealt with.
In Canada, this is still the way things work because our governments are, for the most part, willing to listen to what people care about. Ideology can always have a distorting effect of course, as can lopsided elections. But in general we perceive a limit to how much government can ignore the concerns of its citizens, and how heavyhanded it can be in implementing its own agenda.
One of the scary things about the Bush administration is that they don't work this way. They govern with a bag over their heads, and the earphones blaring the right-wing noise machine. The media doesn't seem to have realized this yet. Reporters could save themselves a lot of work if they just stop bothering to write "outrage of the day" news stories about all of the things which the Bush administration doesn't care about. Here's the list so far, in no particular order, of the things to which the US can wave bye-bye:
- Teaching evolution in high schools
- Allowing women the right to choose abortion in the US
- Restricting political activity by ministers and religions
- Permitting or requiring equitable treatment of gay people or gay couples
- Developing or enforcing government regulations to prevent pollution, protect wildlife, conserve energy, or save the environment
- Regularizing the status and/or preventing the exploitation of illegal immigrants
- Decriminalizing any drugs
- Enforcing any government regulation which would promote unions or restrict the ability of companies to decertify
- Allowing any part of the Patriot Act to expire.
- Responding to Freedom of Information Act requests
- Complying with international trade regulations which disadvantage American businesses
- Permitting equal rights for women in Iraq and Afghanistan
I even wonder if its worthwhile for anyone to blog about these issues anymore -- they're just so gone.
The world will be lucky if it can get the US out of Iraq, stop them from starting a new war with Iran, and maybe convince the US to follow its own constitution and close down Guanatnamo and its secret prisons. I think that's the best we can hope for.

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