Mayfield: Olympic, national spirit waning |

Mayfield: Olympic, national spirit waning

Rich Mayfield
Vail CO, Colorado

I’ve returned for my annual spring visit to Washington D.C. where both the cherry blossoms and the national spirit have dropped to the ground.

Here in the city that serves as symbol of our inherent national doctrine of hope, April plays its cruel tricks. Bad news on the surge, worse news on the economy, the sinking housing market and crisis striking crediting institutions, has left over 81 percent of us, according to last week’s New York Times poll, convinced “things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track.”

None of this, it seems, has had much effect on our president. It appears he will continue his soft-shoe shuffling for the rest of his lame-duck tenure, blithely unconcerned with the dramatic decline in confidence his term has caused among his co-citizens. More than 4,000 American troops and tens of thousands of Iraqis have now been sacrificed to a cause that the majority of Americans find confusing at best and appalling the rest of the time.

Only China seems to be faring worse these days, especially now as the Olympic flame is dodging protesters at every stop along its way to Beijing. From this distance one wonders what the International Olympic Committee could possibly have been thinking when they chose a repressive, paranoid, hyper-authoritative nation to host the 2008 summer games. It seems on a par with a certain and current U.S. president who was equally and decisively as ill-prepared for the consequences of being a decider.

As mentioned in this column a few weeks back, it is difficult to discern what we can do to effectively express our outrage over Beijing’s belligerence toward Tibet and elsewhere. Many are frustrated at the prospect of an Olympics that is more sham than sporting event. But recent actions on the part of a number of brave folk point in a direction that may serve as an outlet to the growing annoyance over the IOC’s apparent ignorance of Chinese atrocities both past and sickeningly present.

Disruptions in Athens, London, Paris and now San Francisco have unleashed a powerful and thankfully non-violent weapon upon the Chinese government: public opinion. Perhaps the disgrace of being rightfully portrayed as purveyors of injustice will provide a needed impetus to the bullies in Beijing. Many are saying it is a risk worth taking. Similarly, the promise of boycotts, of everything from opening ceremonies to Olympic sponsors, may return a sense of control to those who feel it has been wrested from them by the imprudent actions of the IOC. Such actions will be criticized by many and condemned by more but may be the very spark that reignites the true Olympic flame.

The current American administration seems similarly in need of public shaming. Disastrous policies enforced by ludicrously self-certain public servants have led to a dramatic diminishment of American prestige and power around the world.

All of which makes the upcoming election the most important opportunity for real change this nation has faced in our lifetimes. As admirable a man as the Republican nominee may certainly be, I can only hope he and those who continue to promote the self-evidently disastrous policies of the current administration will be soundly defeated in November. America and the world have had more than enough of this absurdly arrogant administration.

Just as the very public demonstrations against China’s oppressive policies have shown the world’s unwillingness to support demagoguery and duplicity and given hope to millions, so may America’s next election proclaim our own disaffection. It appears at least 81 percent of Americans could use the encouragement.

Rich Mayfield is the author of “Reconstructing Christianity: Notes from the New Reformation.” E-mail comments about this column to

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