World gone wild

There’s something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there? It’s not anything you can see or touch exactly, but you can smell it. Truth and freedom have given way to propaganda and invasion of privacy. Debate and diplomacy have been supplanted by suppression and the big stick. The president stumps the nation singing the praises of torture and illegal surveillance. Meanwhile, America rots from the inside out; the stench of democracy in decay abounds.

It’s not too difficult to discern how we arrived here. As the recent fifth anniversary of 9/11 demonstrated, the terrorist attack on America remains fresh in the citizenry’s mind. Ours is a world gone wild with fear and vengeance. How could it not be, with the president and his administration working over our wounded psyches on a daily basis for the past five years?

Rhetorical questions have ready answers. Our misguided and illegal adventure abroad has so far claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis. The unanswered question remains: Who knows the way out?

As the November election approaches, that answer is slowly being revealed. Polls show that Americans no longer are responding to the Bush administration’s fear-mongering and that a majority think Democrats should be in charge of Congress. While it remains to be seen whether a recent $60 million campaign injection from the GOP can draw voters into the Republican camp, there are encouraging signs that the electorate, at long last, has finally had enough.

We saw it first in Ned Lamont’s defeat of incumbent conservative Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman in Connecticut in August. It would be difficult to find a Republican, let alone a Democrat, who’s been more supportive of the Bush administration’s “war on terror.” Yet voters abandoned the three-term senator for Lamont, a relatively unknown businessman with an anti-war message.

We saw it again in early September, when Senator Lincoln Chafee, the moderate Republican from Rhode Island and occasional thorn in the Bush administration’s side, came from behind to defeat conservative challenger Stephen Laffey in the primary. Chafee and Democratic challenger Sheldon Whitehouse oppose the war in Iraq. But a Whitehouse victory could tip the Senate in favor of the Democrats.

Here at home, a similar upset is in the works. Internal polling by Democratic challenger and retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Charlie Brown shows he has drawn even in his battle to wrest the 4th Congressional District from 16-year incumbent Representative John Doolittle. Doolittle’s seat was once considered unassailable, but his ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff have created an opening for Brown and his anti-war message to step through.

Can Brown and the rest of the Democrats stem the rot? Optimistically, we say yes, but we by no means mean to exude overconfidence. None of this will mean anything if those of us who seek a different direction do not go to the polls in November. That is why we urge you in the strongest possible terms not to abdicate the most important right a democracy can grant. The very future of that right may be at stake. Vote.