We The People have spoken: President Bush has won the nationwide popular vote by a small but clear margin. No doubt the result is partly a reflection of voters' nervousness about changing leadership during a time of stress and war. But the Bush Administration's enormous unpopularity overseas leads me to worry that the rest of the world will infer from this result something dark about the American people.
The U.S. is one of the most religious countries in the Western world, and fundamentalist Christianity plays a significant part in the Bush Administration's political success and agenda. Unfortunately, fundamentalist religion is a fertile medium for the growth of evil.
It is by no means the only such medium, of course. The Nazis weren't fundamentalists, although Hitler did (in his twisted way) try to create a new religion; Saddam Hussein's regime was a secular one, as was Stalin's. But we need look no further than those who attacked the U.S. on Sept. 11 2001, or those who send children to blow themselves up in crowded markets in Israel, to see religious fundamentalism at its most anti-human.
No one is accusing the "coalition of the willing" of crimes equivalent to those of Hitler or Stalin. The families of the thousands of innocent Iraqi dead might be forgiven for missing the distinction, however. And I couldn't fault gay Americans for fearing the future when influential religious leaders speak of them in apocalyptic terms.
I disagree with pretty much every aspect of the Bush agenda and I'm certain the U.S. will be the worse for it, especially economically. But it isn't the Bush team that ultimately worries me. Rather, it's the fact that the most powerful nation in the world is being guided by an electorate - for we are, after all, a functioning Republic - increasingly motivated and informed by the dogmatic side of Christianity. The United States did not start out as a Christian nation, but it is one now. Alas, it is not an enlightened form of Christianity that moves the masses, but an absolutist and increasingly benighted one. We're in danger of becoming a Fourth World, more and more separated (culturally, and soon economically) from our most important trading partners in Europe and Asia.
Oh, and how, exactly, do more marriages (of people who happen to be gay) threaten my marriage? My undying respect to the first person who sends me a rational explanation for that.