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Flash View, 11-2: The Stakes
It's Time to Repudiate Bush and Change Course

(Editor's note: The following originally appeared in the author's e-mail newsletter.)

By Daniel Trenner
Copyright 2004 Daniel Trenner

I am a dancer, and this has inadvertently made me an international diplomat. I have spent much of the last 20 plus years overseas, in 13 countries, more than 100 cities, teaching American Jazz, Tap, Improvisation, Technique, and bodywork to people of other cultures; and, bringing home what I learned overseas, have helped seed the revival of, and nurture the growing community of social dancing in the US. In the last years of the Clinton administration I co-created a Tango, Swing, and Salsa intercultural exchange in Havana, Cuba, under a US Treasury Special License. Our program was a model of the "people to people" diplomacy encouraged during the last Democratic administration. (Our license has been terminated under the Bush administration.)

Received overseas as an ambassador of "the best" of American culture, selling Jazz not hamburger, Contact Improvisation not corporate exploitation, I brought back an awareness of the cultures overseas in which I had immersed myself. Through my network of contacts, I maintain a "pulse" on the impressions of America formed by conscious people in allied, like-minded, nations. There is so much support for us. They accept that our "Empire" (for they do think of us so) has produced some of the most inspiring aspects of community development, social change, environmental stewardship, artistic exploration, peace, etcetera. I have personally experienced the power of this good will directed at Americans. It is a honor and privilege to receive it. This unofficial ambassadorship of American culture has become part of my life's work, and it compels me to speak out in this way.

There are Americans who create "laboratories of light" for people overseas. As one who has tried, I feel personally threatened, as never before, by the neo-con philosophers in charge at the White House. They are wasting the good will, sown over generations, by American thinkers, artists and activists overseas. Allow me to give you an unassailable reason why we need a change of political leadership in the US.

A situation is coming into being in which an American thinker, artist or activist will be boycotted before one could ever share an evolutionary idea, or attacked before even introducing oneself. All of us lumped into one hateful Empire, intent on exploiting and threatening their, foreign people's, lives. All of us are becoming targets. This is dangerous and unacceptable. It is derailing generations of do-gooding by Americans, and it is driving our friends from us.

The temptation to see the world from a sheltered perspective is a long time problem for Americans of all political persuasions. It has taken more than 20 years of prodding from friends from other cultures for me to see this with clarity. The American tendency to see things in black and white, right and wrong, is an aspect of our insular upbringing. It is arrogant, even if unintentionally so. My plea is that we find the will to look beyond ourselves. We are truly just one of many nations, albeit the most powerful, and the most blessed. The subtle nuances of our domestic politics are really never seen that well from the outside. We need to send a simple, straightforward, and united American voice out to the world community, saying that we can and will change course when we are wrong. That we can disavow the policies of our never-popularly-elected president, his entire executive team, and his never-mandated foreign policies.

My impression is that free thinking people overseas will forgive us our four-year aberration, but that they will not forgive us a choice that returns such forces of international injustice to power.

John Kerry will not easily solve our problems. Even as John Kerry takes office we will need to remain vigilant. A change in political power will not diminish the growing threats to the human rights of peoples everywhere; to the rights to live in peace and safety, to the right for justice for all, to access to modern healthcare for all, to clean water, to stop the wasting of our planet's resources and the militarizing of economies, to stop the masses from being driven into poverty....

But the message a Kerry election will send to the people of the world will be striking, and may save the day for every American, from activists to tourists, traveling overseas. The label "American" must include "good willed" and "peace loving." Bush talks about the march of freedom. Freedom does not march (except in the non-violent, Gandhian, sense, which is not what Bush means). What is freedom without peace? And without peace, and good will, then we will have to march, arms at the ready, to go anywhere. Don't accept this doublespeak about freedom. It is control, our control, that marches. And most everyone living outside of our borders is aware of that. When we march with our military we make war, not peace.

The message of electing John Kerry is a message of peace to the world, regardless of how well he eventually does as president. It is the change of course in and of itself that will be compelling to other peoples. Consider Spain. Spain changed course, even after, especially after, its own terrorist tragedy, even and especially in the face of the wrath of Bush. While we know little about the workings of Spanish government, and whether the new government is different from the previous one, the message of change was strong.

Imagine how compelling our message will be, now, especially now, in this climate of fear, that we repudiate Bush and his policies, and change course. It would be Spain times a thousand. And, I believe, the most important message we will ever send to the rest of the world. As your unofficial ambassador, with hundreds of thousands of miles logged, and thousands of interactions with real people overseas, I know this to be true.

Thanks for listening. Please participate in the electoral process, please communicate with your friends and loved ones, and anyone else you can reach. Volunteer, watch the polls, turn out the vote. This is a unique moment in history. I hope and pray that we rise to the challenge.

PS: There are many reasons to support a Kerry presidency. Here are two of the best articles I have read recently:

First, I have yet to read a more complete and thorough rational than this one offered by The Nation magazine. Share this with an undecided voter.

Second, here is an endorsement of Kerry by Scott McConnell, an editor of The American Conservative. This one is for a Republican, and, I suppose, for the undecided as well.

Daniel Trenner has been dancing for almost 30 years, and spent 20 of them on the road. He has mainly worked as a dance teacher, teaching American Jazz, Tap, Improvisation, and bodywork to his students overseas; and bringing back Tango and Salsa to the USA where he continues to support their revivals here. He has also created a dance tour business, leading more than a thousand people on overseas dance adventures during more than ten years of operation. For more information visit Daniel's Web site: www.danieltrenner.com.

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