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Seattle Times Political Caucus

The Seattle Times Political Caucus is an online community aimed at adding diverse voices to our coverage of politics. How we'll use the Caucus will evolve over time. But the idea is to create a conversation with people of various backgrounds and political beliefs. As the election season unfolds, we'll ask participants to weigh in on key political questions and then post their comments here.

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August 31, 2008 4:46 PM

On to St. Paul

Posted by Richard Wagoner

This post is by Keith Houser of Bellevue, who is traveling to both Denver and St. Paul to "to observe history 'unembedded' and write about my experiences." Houser is a member of The Seattle Times Political Caucus.

By Keith Houser

While I approached the Democratic National Convention in Denver with ideas of what might be, I flew toward the Republican convention in St. Paul with reflections on what had already been. Three years earlier, almost to the day, Hurricane Katrina had devastated New Orleans. Now a new storm approached the same city, still languishing, unforgivably brutalized and neglected by the forces of nature and human criminality. It was criminal to do nothing to help the people of New Orleans while they drowned, and criminal to deny the survivors their right to return home three long years later.

The man George Bush appointed to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency before Katrina hit was a political crony with no experience in disaster management. National Guard troops who could have helped save lives were instead fighting Bush's war of choice in Iraq. And while hundreds were dying, stranded on rooftops as the water rose, Bush fiddled for days, among other things celebrating John McCain's birthday with him in Arizona.

Katrina exemplified everything tragic about the past seven and a half years. Our leaders proved they were worse than inept, they were completely uncaring. Troops went into battle insufficiently armed, VA hospitals went underfunded, environmental protections were gutted and unproductive debt soared as if future generations preferred to inherit a country depleted, impoverished, and plundered. We saw it in a slowly crumbling infrastructure in the form of decreasing industrial capacity, rising prices, scattered grain shortages, and in one instance, a dramatic bridge collapse, right in Minneapolis a few miles from where on Monday assembled Republican delegates would be toasting themselves as the world burned.

Like with Katrina, the Republican Party's callous indifference to the people they were supposed to care for would lay naked and obvious for the world to see should they decide to celebrate as the Big Easy drowned again. Perhaps they would be politically savvy enough to know that joy should not accompany disaster, at least on television. Or maybe the storm would whither away and spare the city. Either way, it was a testament to divine irony that nature itself would be reminding us all of what transpired three years ago, and what happens when a free citizenry falls asleep at the wheel by letting the demons in our midst run the levers of power.

This week Bush, Cheney, and their entire entourage of fear-mongering crazies were supposed to be passing on the torch to their new deputy, John McCain. They will find time to continue their festival of madness whether they decide to delay it or not. But one thing is for sure: John McCain represents a continuation of something bigger than himself. Regardless of his "maverick" title, he still panders to, speaks for, and dances with the same forces that have brought nothing but wreckage to our country in particular and our world in general. When I arrive in St. Paul, I'll find out for certain just how passive the locals are in accepting it.

Keith Houser, 26, describes himself as "a white suburban slacker from Bellevue with a knack for understanding belt-way intrigue and synthesizing global macro phenomena into a coherent world systems theory." He isn't affiliated with any political campaign.

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