It’s election day in the US. You vote, you get a sticker that proclaims “I voted.” I voted; I have my sticker; I wear it proudly.
I voted for John Kerry and recommend all Americans to vote for him. Or don’t vote for him but vote against his opponent, George W. Bush. The objective is the same: to change leadership in Washington because things aren’t working the way they should.
I struggled with voting for Kerry. He was not be my first choice for president from among the many primary candidates. I liked Dennis Kucinich in the beginning and then switched allegiances to retired General Wesley Clark.
I came to terms with my Kerry vote after reading an entry in William Gibson’s blog where he discusses why he is a centrist. He says “The idea that Kerry and Bush are merely two sides of the same bad coin is both ludicrous and all too potentially tragic.” That got me. President Bush has shown us that he is a bad coin unto himself. He has a vision and idea for us that is really an America on steroids, asserting itself as all that is good in the world, and leaving no room for any argument. You’re with us or you’re against us.
Bush is moving us to the right — far, far right. Kerry will bring us back towards a center. Maybe still right of that center (and maybe he is a closet Republican) but his programs and policies will be better (and could hardly be worse) than Bush’s.
The US had an opportunity after the 9-11 attack. There was a moment when we could have helped to lead the world towards peace.
Our leader, George W. Bush, should have commenced a period of mourning for the dead, not a war of revenge. At the same time, efforts to pursue Osama Bin Ladin and destabilize the Taliban should have begun quietly. No theatrics. If all works well, OBL disappears. No one knows how or why. Of course another Bin Laden may appear which means that we also have to court (peacefully) moderate Islam and work with Israel to provide a homeland for the Palestinians.
Instead, Bush used 9-11 as a mandate to push our country to the right. He used it to portray himself as a great military leader. He used it to invade Iraq even though there was no hard evidence of weapons of mass destruction. And he’s using the destruction of the Twin Towers to get re-elected.
My hope is that there are (many) closet Kerry voters who, in their real lives, proclaim loudly that they are for Bush and Cheney but will, upon entering the voting booth, cast their vote for John Kerry and John Edwards. They will never tell anyone not even their spouses. They will produce a landslide for Kerry and a mandate for him to move our country back towards center. Although we probably won’t live happily ever after (Bush’s mess in Iraq kind of ensures that), we will have a much better chance at some sort of peace and happiness than we ever will with President Bush. (Early election results are dashing this hope against the hard rocks of reality.)
Whatever else, this election has helped me in defining what my participation in democracy is about. I voted for Nader in 2000 and will not make a mistake like that again unless instant runoff voting is instituted for presidential elections. I will vote realistically for the candidate who can best guide our country and can realistically be voted into power.
This election has also initiated cogitations on how best to educate the electorate. Both campaigns used many slogans and little content. The debates, for substance, were a waste of time. (Not for affect; Bush lost ground due to his inability to stand still and not look pissed off.) This election demonstrated how easy it is to lie to the citizens. Especially when giant media groups are willing to pass the lies along. Somehow facts need to be disseminated and the candidates need to be forced to respond to facts. I will return to this topic in the future.
Vote everyone. Vote for Kerry, vote against Bush, or (sigh) vote for Bush, but vote today.