Monday, September 05, 2005

Angry but impotent

The more I read, hear, and see about the Katrina aftermath, the angrier I get. And I’ll bet I’m not alone.

I’m most angry about the complete lack of empathy expressed by the Bush administration. While people, poor American people, were suffering and dying in New Orleans, what was Bush doing? Strumming his guitar, and daydreaming about his Southern cronies’ rebuilt mansions. Mr. Bush: the poor are your people too. You’re supposed to care for, and protect, all of the people.

Shelley Powers made a very telling observation in the second of her trilogy (1, 2, 3) of post-Katrina articles:

Our current administration’s beliefs are that people are poor because they choose to be poor. As such, they are no longer the responsibility of the collective.
As an outsider in the US, I see the fumbling, the excuses, the arrogance, and the abandoment of responsibility as shocking. This is an embarassment; a national shame; and it feels like there’s little the people of the US can do to change that.

The third of Shelley's articles points out that citizens do have a vital role to play:

How could we have let this happen?

How? Easy: we let it happen.

We don’t vote for the best person for an office, and when we do put someone in office, we don’t hold them accountable.
Us resident aliens, of course, don’t get to vote at all.

More than anything else, this is pushing me towards thinking about citizenship. As a resident spouse of an American citizen, I can naturalize after three years of residence: nicely in time for the next Presidential election. Because the next time America chooses an administration, I want a say in it.


Don't become a naturalized citizen to vote, voting doesn't do any good. Just ask the majority of voters who cast ballots for Gore in 2000. Just ask the Florida residents who knew their votes were miscounted but watched as Bush’s dad’s friends on the Supreme Court stopped the recount. Even if the elections are not stolen, most Americans will not vote for the right candidate, they will pick the guy with the most money and slickest TV ads. So you will vote, just as I have, and hope that it goes your way, and then question whether you really want to be here when it all goes wrong.
Voting does a lot more good than not voting.

Public dissatisfaction can topple incumbent regimes: see for example the 1997 UK General Election, which decisively ended the Conservative Party’s 18 years of power.