The basic mechanics of American democracy, imperfect and defective though they may be, still function.But I shudder to think what would have happened if another terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11 had happened before November 7, 2006. If two thousand dead Manhattan workers led to suspension of habeas corpus, warrantless wiretapping, re-discovery of medieval torture practices and people "disappearing" into secret prisons I would hate to think what a dirty nuke attack could have accomplished.
Karl Rove isn't all-powerful; today, he is a rejected loser. Republicans don't possess the power to dictate the outcome of elections with secret Diebold software. They can't magically produce Osama bin Laden the day before the election. They don't have the power to snap their fingers and hypnotize zombified Americans by exploiting a New Jersey court ruling on civil unions, or a John Kerry comment, or moronic buzzphrases and slogans designed to hide the truth (Americans heard all about how Democrats would bring their "San Francisco values" and their love of The Terrorists to Washington, and that moved nobody).
All of the hurdles and problems that are unquestionably present and serious -- a dysfunctional and corrupt national media, apathy on the part of Americans, the potent use of propaganda by the Bush administration, voter suppression tactics, gerrymandering and fundraising games -- can all be overcome. They just were.
Bush and his fellow loyalists in Congress have vividly reminded us that Herman Goering's famous Nuremberg quote is as relevant as ever:
Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.Let's hope we do better at proving Herman wrong when the next terror attack on US soil happens.