If you've seen this column by Charlie Brooker, then you've probably already read this astonishing paragraph:
"On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?"
By calling for the assassination of an American president, Brooker isn't doing anything particularly shocking. This meme first started on crazy lefty-websites, then migrated into Nicholson Baker's novel Checkpoint. And now, here it is in the pages of the Guardian. Once is chance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy fire.
Remember that debate over whether Bush hatred was crazier than Clinton hatred? Debate settled.
Two observations: (1) Fellows such as Brooker make it awfully hard for conservatives who don't particularly care for Bush to vote for John Kerry. (2) If Bush is reelected, liberalism may self-destruct. The net effect of eight years of Bill Clinton on conservatives was to push them toward the center. With each passing day under Bush, liberalism is being further radicalized.
Which isn't good for any of us. A healthy democracy needs energetic, serious, thoughtful ideological opposites. As these two sides engage, they hone their ideas, present them in the public square and, if rejected, come up with new, better ideas. They compete, we all win.
Conservatives have come up with a pretty big idea: That democarcy is a universal solvent. They have applied this theory to a couple of trouble spots in the world and are coming up with decidedly mixed results. This is the perfect opportunity for liberalism to present an opposing theory. Instead, they have bogged down in seething, churning hatred. Their big idea is assassination.
Democracies need an engaged, loyal opposition as much as they need good leadership. Today's liberals are letting themselves--and the rest of us--down.
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