The worst thing about all this is, if you cheat, and by cheating you keep winning ballgames, you're going to keep cheating until the refs finally blow the whistle on you. The problem is, I have no idea how that's gonna happen. I don't know what it's going to take. These people can get away with, seemingly, anything. I mean, we have visual evidence on the front page of every newspaper in the world of American soldiers torturing people, and it doesn't even lead to a single token resignation, even for show.
The more I think about this (and I think about it a lot -- too much, I'm certain, these days), the more depressed I get. Watching the convention, seeing former moderate Republicans become extremists and former extremist Republicans become totalitarians, hearing working-class people like my old man, who's getting fucked by GOP economic policy, swallow all the Swift Boat/flip-flop horseshit, I think Bush is gonna win in a walk. And if he doesn't win in a walk -- if it's at all close -- the Republicans are just going to cheat again to swing it their way; they've already laid the groundwork for a thousand dirty tricks to give them the win. And if it isn't close -- if by some miracle Kerry gains a clear victory -- they'll spend the next four years pulverizing him a la Clinton, making it essentially impossible for him to govern. It's hard to see an upside no matter what the result.
The worst thing about it is, no one seems able to call them on it. The ref just sits on his hands, and the whistle dangles from his neck unblown -- or worse, the ref's gone home already and it's a total free-for-all. The GOP, which actually operates the biggest propaganda machine in American history, says there's a liberal media bias; and people believe it. The GOP gerrymanders and redistricts in a way that may give them control of the House for a century; and nothing is done about it. The GOP tells the most flagrant, baseless lies imaginable about their opposition, repeating them over and over until they're basically unchallengable; and they're believed no matter how many times they're show to be unfactual. Worst of all, the GOP pushes through what I sincerely believe to be the worst economic policy in the history of this country, a policy that will have negative repercussions for decades and decades to come; and it barely even makes the radar as a campaign issue.
Meanwhile, the smear machine is constantly churning out new slanders, and pushing them and pushing them until they're all there is to talk about. If the Democrats ignore them, they'll be accused of ducking the questions, and the slanders will gain a false sheen of credibility; if the Democrats answer them, they dominate the campaign, preventing the real issues from being discussed and allowing the Republicans to set the terms of the debate. And the press, as per normal, goes along with the prevailing winds. No matter what slanders they cook up ('economic girly-men' -- fuck you, unemployed people! Purple Heart Band-Aids -- fuck you, veterans! the George Soros slander -- fuck you, Jews! the dis of the Log Cabin Republicans -- fuck you, faggots! the economic platform -- fuck you, everyone who isn't rich!), there's never enough outrage to make it stop.
I know I sound overly morbid and ultra-pessimistic, but I honestly don't know what to do about this. If Bush wins again, I'll be depressed in a way I can't imagine; it'll take away the last hope I have that the country isn't in an essentially irrevocable rightward tailspin. And the things it will take to break this cycle -- the average shithead smartening up and realizing when he's being lied to; the Democrats abandoning their asinine suck-up-to-business strategy and moving substantially to the left; the press growing some fucking stones -- are so unlikely to happen as to constitute wishful thinking. Meanwhile, the damage done by the current administration's totally fraudulent economic policy gets more and more extensive every day, and doing damage that it might be impossible to ever fix. (Yes, I am an economic girly-man. And we all know you can easily fix the economy by talking like a big macho tough guy.)
Sorry for this long-winded, moony response. I know history goes in cycles, and things in the world of politics can turn on a dime, and I'm being entirely too pessimistic about things. But watching that non-stop parade of lying, self-serving assholes bray and spit at the convention last night, and watching that throng of selfish, short-sighted, purple-heart-Band-Aid-wearing morons in the crowd lap it up, in conjunction with the unrelentingly bad news of the week as a whole, has made me mean. I probably should just put myself on a news quarantine, but I'm hooked for the duration.