Thus far I have tried to remain fairly nonpartisan in my political commentary, but the time has come to take a stand. I have been a Democrat all my voting life, although I’ve been gradually coming to realize that the party I thought represented compassion and liberty acts in reality as if it cared no more—and in many ways less—about such things than the Republicans.
George W. Bush has sufficiently disappointed and embarrassed me that the Democrats probably could have saved my vote by putting forth a moderate candidate who would present himself as a positive alternative. Instead, they chose John Kerry.
Without detailing the intellectual and visceral internal debate behind my voting choices, I include some brief comments on the issues both candidates seem to think paramount, based on their advertising rhetoric:
Iraq and the War on Terror
While decrying specific actions and policies, I withhold judgment on the general nature of Bush’s approach to both wars. Nothing intelligent can be said until we have the advantage of looking back from an as yet unknown future. Even Europe’s biggest newspaper, Germany’s Bild, recognized that when it gave its endorsement to President Bush. (Quotation from TurkishPress.com)
Noting widespread opposition to Bush in Europe, Bild said that history had proved another conservative Republican US president, Ronald Reagan, to have been on the right side of history.
"We thank him for the end of the Cold War and reunification. It is very possible, that we will also be thankful to George W. Bush one day," it said.
It is also possible that electing Kerry might bring us more support from other countries, not because of anything he might or might not do, but because a new president would offer a face-saving way for opponents to turn around. On the other hand, I think that removing Bush from office sends a very bad message to our enemies in Iraq and to terrorists everywhere: that Americans are weak, undisciplined, and best of all, impatient, easily discouraged by difficult, drawn-out work, easily fooled into complacency. What our enemies lack in technological firepower, they more than make up for in patience, and must find our fast-food attitudes toward warfare contemptible. Bush has had four years to make and learn from mistakes; what we do not need now is a new set of people and a new set of mistakes.
I speak as one for whom the exportation of American jobs is personal reality, not political rhetoric: President Bush did not cause the problem, and a President Kerry cannot solve it. It is the reality of the global economy, the down side of the same system that brings us low-priced toasters and telephone service. Presidents are happy to take credit for good economic times, and their opponents glad to blame them when the economy turns sour, but in reality the forces are largely out of their control. Sound economic policy is like a healthy lifestyle: for lasting, positive change we need the equivalent of good eating and exercise habits. A presidential candidate’s promise of better economic times is as useless—and sometimes as harmful—as a crash diet.
The trouble with both candidates is that they think they can fix America’s health care problems by governmental action. That’s even more foolish than expecting to solve our educational problems with No Child Left Behind or any other program. As with education, the health care problem is deeply rooted in the system itself; in many ways, the system IS the problem. The more a candidate pretends that he has the power to fix either one, the more I fear that his meddling will do lasting damage.
Tomorrow I will cast my ballot for Bush/Cheney. I wish I could be voting for someone instead of against someone else. I wish my own Democratic Party would come up with a candidate whose positions don’t violate my basic principles. I wish we could have an election in which issues were honestly discussed, and candidates would speak respectfully of their opponents’ virtues even while explaining how they would do a better job. (Stranger things have happened—the Boston Red Sox won the World Series!) In the meantime, I will try to vote intelligently, to practice patience, and to remember that, no matter what, God is still in control (and is never up for re-election).