I might be in the minority, but I rather enjoyed Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. O.K. so the film was sexist, dialogue stilted, and Anakin Skywalker too petulant to live. For all it's over wrought simplicity, George Lucas cooked up a dark concoction of social commentary, perfect for our time. And Yoda rocks.
I saw Episode III the day it opened. Since then one piece of dialogue has stood out in my mind like a Greek chorus. Senator Padme (Luke and Leia's mom) states matter of factly "So this is how liberty dies, to thunderous applause." while witnessing the transition from republic to empirical tyranny. Lucas doesn't do subtle. The line spoken in a galaxy far, far away accurately speaks to George W. Bush's America.
We hear the applause when sitting in traffic. We hear the applause every time we turn on the television, every time we break out the credit cards, every time every time we take out the trash.
Forgive me for acknowledging the obvious when I say the dream has died. Not the Californian one, the American one. One nation under commerce, we now fight wars for oil and risk prolonged global warfare trying to secure an dwindling energy source that is fouling the environment and adding to the impact of global climate change. No longer the nation associated with progress, we are rapidly becoming a backwater bully.
Once upon a time I believed in the myth of American benevolence. By 1976 Uncle Sam had gone the way of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. In Junior High I began to question why "liberty and justice for all" did not include American Indians, and why the Vietnamese were not allowed the national sovereignty America demanded for itself. Year after year, the more knowledge I could absorb the less I trusted big government to protect the rights of people to live free of federal intrusion.
Federal courts attempting to override progressive marijuana laws enacted by a vote of Californians is an issue, as is the Bush Administration trying to undermine state regulations enacted to improve air quality by reducing auto emissions and other factors contributing to the build up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Remember when candidate Bush talked about respecting state's rights? Trapped in a purgatory of Orwellian doublespeak, most Americans are clear the Bush Administration has done nothing to improve the quality of their live, let alone the environmental quality of our communities.
Adrift without a sustaining myth, the national identity of the United States must now be redefined to exclude any claims of moral or ethical superiority. The Christian fundamentalist jihad endorsed by George W. Bush, wishes it had the power the Taliban once abused. Democrats want the power Republicans now abuse. Somehow I don't think the role of self proclaimed power monger is sufficient enough to sustain the myth of American superiority.
The growing police state is another example of how the American dream is being smothered under oppressive federal policies that eye everyone as a potential enemy combatant. In his 4½ years in office George and company has embraced domestic spying in such a way as too call into question the concept of liberty and justice for all. As if Abu Graib prison and the torture center at Guantanamo Bay weren't enough, the U.S. Patriot Act puts everybody on notice.
So here we are, adrift in a war of our making. Completely ignoring the domestic home front, the federal government of George W. Bush is bankrupting future generations in order to meet the short-term goals of his corporate masters. Unemployment and under employment are chronic drains on civil society, and will continue to emasculate national stability as long as jobs continue to be relocated overseas in order to increase shareholder dividends.
Where do we go from here? As a California secessionist I have a few ideas, but that's another column. Personally I have been adapting to a profound sense of loss. The force is no longer with us, abandoned somewhere between Camelot and Crawford. Corporate criminals now rule the roost. This can't be good.
My inner Jedi is telling me to relax. The current course of history can only go so far, right? The planet will long survive the unraveling of the United States of America. George W. Bush is doing his best to destroy the only beneficial elements of federal governance. Once they are gone, I suspect most Californians will want to separate themselves from more than just Darth Schwarzenegger.