I for one have always enjoyed a good western. Sometimes when I claim to be watching MSNBC while practicing my ancient Stone Mason rituals, I may really be enjoying Sergio Leone’s epic spaghetti western “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” while playing a game of Twister.
Although I do enjoy Clint Eastwood’s ice-pick glare, his half-shredded cigars that puffer thick black smoke as though they have been dipped in turpentine for that extra kick, and the stained poncho that hangs nonchalantly down around his waist like the pungent stank off of a city dump, one thing I may never grow accustomed to is a cowboy attitude in politics.
For the idea behind the political system in America – for however much that idea comes to fruition is another story – is for the majority to rule for the whole, being that it is thought that what is best for the majority is, etc.
Cowboys on the other hand have always been better off riding solo across the prairie in some crisp white duds, for it is when they form a posse that the real trouble starts.
This is as apparent in the western genre as it would appear today in U.S. politics.
The Republican Party, more or less controlling all three branches of government (the judiciary branch is still being decided by a coin toss), has opted to use their power of majority to ignore the laws that the constitution intentionally provided to limit the powers of government and live the outlaw lifestyle atop of Capital Hill, while underhandedly trying to secure their future.
Recently in Texas, the Republican-controlled state senate tried to redefine the congressional district lines so that historically Democratic districts would be broken up and assimilated into heavy Republican districts.
For example, the city of Austin was to be split into four, and those four pieces of Austin would then be divided amongst neighboring districts. When Texas Democrats tried to flee to Oklahoma in an attempt to prevent a vote from occurring, the Department of Homeland Security helped hunt down a plane carrying fleeing legislators.
Homeland Security it would seem is no longer shackled to the terrorist color wheel, but like other government agencies is branching out into the misappropriation of funds for political gain. I for one am glad to see that as an institution, they have matured.
Beyond the blatant gluttony and the almost absurdist display of power this maneuver brings to mind, the real humdinger in this situation is that their proposal itself was illegal, as of 2001 the district lines were set by the census.
Manipulation seems to be a national trend for the Republican Party, where on the tails of a close call in many districts in the last election, the party has made it their number one concern to exploit their time in office to ensure their majority will stick in 2004.
By redefining voting districts, they propose to group like-minded voters while stifling the impact democratic voters may have by making them the minorities of districts. It is this sort of iron-fisted, power-at-any-cost mindset that has historically driven the Republican Party out of office before, for the American people do not bend over at the sight of a handsome dictator.
According to The New York Times, this year in Colorado, Republicans succeeded where the Texans failed and redefined their congressional districts under the supervision of presidential adviser Karl Rove.
The most discouraging thing about these developments is that while the Republicans could take the high road at no real political cost for the Democrats are offering nothing in the next election. Instead, the Republicans have chosen underhanded tactics, a mounting deficit and the threat of perpetual war as a political path, where they should be focused on stimulating our dilapidated economy and attending to our national problems.
Maybe the cowboy metaphor isn’t too far off, although I never really pictured President Bush as Eastwood’s Stranger. His eyes don’t have that sharp glimmer. Rather, I have always likened him to Yosemite Sam: his eyes squinted together from underneath the brim of hat while he hops around, antagonistically shooting his guns in the air as he screams about some rabbit, or in this case, Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden.
And while the west may have been won with lawlessness, the 2004 election will not be.