election '96 What does it mean for the future of liberty?

J. Neil Schulman

There is a wish to start by being clever.

How about:

In America today, the Fugitive ran for president against the One-Armed Man, and the Fugitive won.


America decided today that it wished to stay off the Dole.


Today, Republican Party candidate Richard Nixon ran for president against Democratic Party candidate Richard Nixon. To no one's surprise, Richard Nixon won.

But I'm supposed to be talking about the election, and I digress.

When my daughter was four-years-old, her favorite TV program was Barney. You know, the purple dinosaur that teaches what passes for platitudes nowadays -- things like, "Don't pollute," "Animals are people, too," and "It doesn't matter whether you're Mexican, Chinese, or Jewish, just so long as you can sing with cheap synthesizer accompaniment."

As a forty-something California dad whose brain hadn't yet turned to hummus, I found myself watching a half hour of this bad music, worse dancing, and exquisitely bad writing several mornings a week, because I love my daughter and my daughter enjoyed this. I bought tapes of Barney Live and Barney in Concert and Barney's Magical Mystery Tour (or something like that) because I didn't want to disabuse her of the notion that she has a right to like what she likes and her opinion of what she likes, even as a small child, shouldn't be subject to the criticisms of her old man.

I had a hard time discovering what she saw in this wretched TV program, but if I loved her, it was my job to find out.

And that's the position I am now in with Bill Clinton, whom the American electorate have chosen to give a second term of office as President of the United States.

Oh, I'm perfectly capable of saying that Bill Clinton has no convictions -- and until he's convicted of something we're stuck with him. I'm cynical enough to believe everything bad that's been said about him -- everything from Bill Clinton and Hillary having contracts put out on anybody who gets in their way, to his having a bad coke habit, to his fucking every woman in Arkansas, to his having burned an American flag in Russia, to John Huang being his KGB controller. But you know what? Bill Clinton isn't really the issue anymore, and neither is Bob Dole.

The American people saw federal troops, under the command of an Ayn Rand-C.S. Lewis villainess, burn down a church full of people in Waco, Texas, because the pastor was a gun nut who might have slept with an underage girl. They didn't care. They identified with the troops.

They believed the federal government and the TV networks when they said that the Alfred Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was blown up by militia terrorists using a Ryder truck full of fertilizer, even though many military explosive experts say that's impossible.

They let the 104th Congress pass anti-terrorist legislation to save us from terrorist acts such as the Atlanta Olympic Park bombing and the downing of TWA Flight 800 -- even though there seems to be no evidence that either one was the result of terrorism.

The American people think the War on Drugs is a good idea, that immigrants come here and take our jobs, and that foreigners elsewhere also want our jobs. Meanwhile, most Americans who work don't even like their jobs, and most of the time would be delighted to tell their bosses to "take this job and shove it."

I was sitting around talking with a bunch of other libertarians a few weeks ago, and it was late at night and I was getting sort of giddy listening to the same ruling-elite theories I'd been hearing for the last 25 or so years. And, I realized that if David Rockefeller truly does have a master plan to rule us all, Dave has the same problem we do. After shoving the American people into public schools that keep them just literate enough to be able to pay a parking ticket, and addicting them to TV shows like Ricki Lake and Cops and video games like Mortal Kombat and Doom: nobody in America has the wherewithal to pay attention anymore. How can you give people orders to run a highly complex society the way David Rockefeller wants them to when he can't even get them to fucking pay attention?

The American people are bored, and cynical, and bombarded by pitchmen. We are divided and superstitious. Few people even have a clue.

Am I just nostalgic and idealistic, or were the "people" that Thomas Jefferson said could be trusted with self-government better than this?

Because, if the American people who fought and won the American Revolution weren't better than the American people we have now, then I had just better figure out what the American people see in Bill Clinton.

Because, if I don't love the wisdom of the American people in picking how much and by whom they are to be governed, I have nowhere else to place my faith in the future of this country.

J. Neil Schulman (jneil@pulpless.com) is the author of two award-winning science fiction novels, Alongside Night and The Rainbow Cadenza, short fiction, nonfiction, and screenwritings, including the CBS Twilight Zone episode "Profile in Silver." For more information about J. Neil, see his bio or "The World According to J. Neil Schulman".

This article is posted by permission of its author, J. Neil Schulman, and may be crossposted to other web sites, file bases, and news groups. Copyright © 1996 J. Neil Schulman. All rights reserved.

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