Perspective: I Had a Dream - and Now It's over; as George W Bush Settles in at the Oval Office for Another Four Years, the Post's Hyder Jawad Wonders What We Have Done to Deserve This

Article excerpt

Byline: Hyder Jawad

It was early on Tuesday afternoon when my mother telephoned me to say that there had been a death in the family. This was a regret, for sure, but not why I am today constrained by depression.

I do not know exactly when the real pain began. Perhaps it was in the early hours of Wednesday morning when Maine, the most easterly of the American states, gave one of their four electoral votes to George W Bush.

Perhaps it was when the oil price started to increase, a portent of a Bush victory, at around 3.30am.

I do know that the pain was there long before Fox News, that bastion of extreme right-wing garbage, called Ohio for Bush meaning that John Forbes Kerry would not become the 44th United States president.

For me, the dream, which began when I signed up last January as a volunteer for the Kerry campaign's media department, has ended. My respect for Kerry is surpassed only by my loathing for Bush, and now, after the greatest anticlimax in American electoral history, I fear for the future of the world.

How did we get here? Why does my mental pain present itself as a physical ailment? How did a failed businessman, a syntax-mangling former alcoholic acquire the most elevated office in politics? How did he convince a majority to confer upon him such a significant mandate?

The answer does not matter because, as a British citizen with Iraqi blood, I had no vote and therefore no right to complain.

What matters is that 60 million Americans, most of whom live in the heartlands, want Bush to be their leader and are today happy with the consequences. They warm to his moral leadership, his tough talking, his John Wayne demeanour, and his perceived ability to connect with the average person.

Kerry, though infinitely more intelligent, though more accomplished, though less divisive, though more presidential, was unable to convince enough people that his vision of America, and, indeed, of the world, was appropriate for these momentous times.

With a majority in the Senate, the House of Representatives, and ostensibly in the Supreme Court, Bush can act almost as he pleases and push forward a neoconservative agenda that is likely to alienate even more liberals and foreigners.

We are back to the politics of Pax Americana, where the United States needs or maybe even seeks an enemy - like the Soviet Union in the latter half of the twentieth century - as a means to assert its economic and moral control of the world.

It has never been forgotten in America that their greatest economic triumphs came from 19461973, when the Cold War was at its peak, and when fear had gripped the nation.

Bush espouses such principles and, using the overstated concept of al Qaida as his adversary, now boasts the perfect excuses to impose upon us his warped foreign policy. Where will the next war be? Iran, North Korea, Syria?

Those of us who dream of peace in the Middle East and of Palestine as a viable nation might have to accept that these plans have no place in the policies of Bush.

Economically, Bush preaches small government but has spent money like a socialist. America now has the greatest budget deficit in its history, and yet the tax cuts that defined his economic policies in 2001, and inexplicably favoured the top two percent of earners, are sure to be made permanent during his second term.

Kerry consistently made a point of stating that Bush was the first president since Herbert Hoover in 1932 to go into an election having lost more jobs than had been created. The unemployment levels were particularly pronounced in Ohio, yet this state voted for Bush by a margin of 51 per cent to 48 per cent.

What is it that encourages Americans to vote against their own economic interests? Why are states like Kansas and West Virginia, two of the poorest in the union, so pro-Bush and so anti-liberal? …