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By Jill A. Bolstridge


Wednesday, May 13, 2009.


Left, right… what’s the difference?  Don’t both sides claim to represent “the people”?  To protect them?  To serve them?  What is claimed and what actually takes place are two entirely different things, as people throughout the world oftentimes resent the bodies in place who supposedly represent them.


Former US President George W. Bush may possibly go down as the worst case in recent history.  For a man who so adamantly professed to defend “freedom,” he certainly did a number on the individual freedoms of his people. 


During Bush’s reign, US citizens were mentally terrorized by the audaciously fascist Patriot Act, people were told whom they could and could not marry, and women’s reproductive rights were placed in a state of jeopardy for the first time since Roe vs. Wade.  Not to mention the tremendous amount of “freedoms” stripped away from the victims detained in Guantanamo Bay.


And Bush’s religious convictions were an enormous contributing factor to the demise of his leadership.  A rigid conservative with a strong passion to serve god, Bush ran an Administration which was, and continues to be, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands and massive human suffering on his home soil and abroad.  Ironic how the man who claims to follow the path of Christ is considered by many in the international community to be a mass murderer.  Wasn’t one of the ten commandments “Thou shall not kill”?  But I digress.  


Just over 6,000 miles away, another right-wing conservative leader was (and still is!) responsible for the oppression of his own people.  Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has received international criticism for the policies he has implemented since taking office in 2005.  Under his leadership, women have suffered from a crackdown on the dress code, the implementation of university quotas set in place to stop the growing presence of women in universities, and have lost other rights through the “Family Protection Plan,” which revoked the requirement that a husband obtain his wife’s consent before bringing a new wife into the home.


Unemployment in Iran has soared since he took office and massive amounts of the people’s money has been poured into the nation’s nuclear program, without the support of the United Nations.  Like Bush, Ahmadinejad has violated human rights and allowed torture within his regime.  According to Human Rights Watch, “The [Iranian] government routinely tortures and mistreats detained dissidents.”


Both leaders have invested billions in military interests while neglected their domestic education needs.  Both have instituted economic policies which have miserably failed and plummeted their respective countries into recent economic despair.  Perhaps worst of all, both Bush and Ahmadinejad are guilty of repressing the press and public criticism.  According to Human Rights Watch, “Respect for basic human rights in Iran, especially freedom of expression and assembly, deteriorated in 2006.” 


While Bush’s methods of oppression are certainly not as blatant, they are, perhaps, more sinister, as conservative media conglomerates supported and propagated the lies of the Bush Administration in order to maintain the good favor of their right-wing corporate sponsors.  Either way, true “freedom of the press” does not exist in either nation.


Both of these men oppress the people whom they claim to serve, and both do so in the name of ‘god.’  In the infamous words of the late George Carlin: “Military cemetaries around the world are filled with the bodies of brainwashed soldiers who were convinced God was on their side. America prays for God to destroy our enemies. Our enemies pray for God to destroy us. Somebody's gonna be disappointed. Somebody's wastin' their fuckin' time. Could it be... Everyone?”


Yet leftist leaders across the board don’t hold a much better track record.  Clinton, for example, never made due on his promises for free universal healthcare, and US foreign policy wasn’t a whole lot better under his leadership than it was under Bush’s reign.  Meanwhile, in Cuba, even the most avid supporters of the Revolution are desperate for a  better way of life, including more personal liberties and the freedom to travel.  A thorough investigation of world government would leave any reasonably intelligent human being wondering, “Is there any government that truly is ‘for the people’?”


Criticism of a government’s law enforcement is common place in most nations.  While police officers in every nation are supposedly “to serve and protect,” many would argue that the goal they serve is completely the opposite.  From traffic ticket quotas to institutional racism to horrific accounts of police brutality, it has been proven time and again that giving a man a gun and a badge and power over his fellow human beings does not always turn out the most positive results.


The criminal justice systems in hundreds of nations is laughable, at best.  In the United States, rapists are allowed to walk the streets while otherwise innocent men sit behind bars for tax evasion.  The richer you are, the easier it is to walk.  The man who can afford the expensive lawyer gets away with murder – in some cases, quite literally.


So what is the solution?  Or is there one?  Is it possible that corruption will never die?  Could we find a system that truly does represent and serve the people?  Or is it that, like in South Africa, one corrupt system, even when overthrown, will only be replaced by the next?  Could even a truly laissez faire government serve the people justly?  Or will there always be a greedy hidden agenda at work behind the scenes? 


Until the people of every oppressed country unite and take action under the battle hymn of “FUCK THE SYSTEM,” it is highly likely that the atrocities of systematized, agenda-backed systems and government bodies will never die.


Jill A. Bolstridge is with Rice'n'Peas Magazine, where this piece first appeared.


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