Commission of the sheer magnitude and number of blunders as this administration has requires either off-the-charts incompetence or a criminal and deliberate subversion of the government of the United States, an obscene and supreme violation of the will of its people. Nonetheless, polls still show President Bush and Senator Kerry running relatively even in the impending election. I find that way more than a little bit disturbing.
Of course, there are always going to be the true believers--those who consider the ends to justify any means. These are people who consciously and eagerly accept the idea of the United States as lone imperial power, doing what it wants, when it wants, acting without regard for the rule of law, the will of its people, or those of the wider world. These are the folks typified by the Project for the New American Century, which has for years unabashedly served as cheerleaders for the United States as a unilateral superpower. Their own writings encourage us to engage in wars of choice, to send messages to other countries and shake off the sting of past defeats. They advocate a world in which we operate with divine impunity and situational virtue. I only talk with such people long enough to strip the veneer of morality from their agendas, exposing the contradictions of that bankrupt ideology like a nipple at halftime. Beyond that, what's the use? You wanna play God, I guess I'll see you in heaven.
But these hardcore, right wing, unholy warriors only account for a small, if vocal, percentage of those making plans for November. What of the rest of us? Perhaps the country has been so thoroughly Fox News-ified that half of our potential electorate has been transformed into extras from the Night Of The Living Brain Dead, unable to reason, hypnotized after prolonged exposure to the incessant drone of "War On Terror, War On Terror...", mesmerized by the pretty flag colors. Must. Buy. Ribbons. Support. Troops. By. Starting. Wars.
We're at high risk for this kind of mental zombification, what with our collective philosophical diet so dangerously lacking in essential critical analysis. It's only fitting, I suppose, that what passes for healthy national discourse displays all the nutritional balance of a Hardee's low-carb thickburger. Yeah, objectively, it's pretty much a big handful of meat with no bun, but marketing and mass hysteria have made it something we're willing to swallow. Re-election of this president would be the equivalent of a low-fat bacon and mayonnaise milkshake in terms of political palatability. And while I cringe at the thought, I fully expect the commercials to be awesome.
Alternatively, a statistically significant percentage of us seem determined to join the Naderites again in embracing the perfect cynicism, by equating the tepid Kerry with the vapid and venal Bush. Oh, I can see the allure in that line of thought. For one, it's just so hip. Sorta like trashing your favorite band once they emerge from the underground and make a little money. But Stakes Is High, and this kind of backpacker politics is likely to backfire in '04 as it did before.
"I didn't vote for him" simply doesn't hold water as an excuse if you had the chance to vote against him and did not. Trust. While I still fume at the DLC (Democratic Leadership Council) and Al Gore's uninspiring campaign, I would wager that had ol' "lesser evil" Al been elected, we would not have lost hundreds of American soldiers (multiply that by a factor of about 10 for dead Iraqis, if you're counting) in Iraq at a price tag of more than $87 Billion, nor be staring at a half a trillion dollar budget deficit projected for the next five years.
We do, however, get a chance to try this again in six months, with, I hope, a much clearer understanding of what's at stake if we don't get it right. In the interest of the common good, allow me to cast aside my own disaffection for a minute and recap some of the major points we should be considering as we enter the election season:
Our kids will be stuck paying off the record deficits created by the combination of the President's big tax giveaway and voluntary war. While this administration's foreign policy is an exemplar of lunacy, no part of the public trust has gone un-pillaged by Bush's band of pirates. Yeah, I know that the lesser-of-two-evils sucks as a political stratagem. Kerry is certainly not my dream candidate, having voted in the Senate for the horrific Patriot Act and to authorize Bush's War. Regarding the war, Kerry told Rolling Stone magazine that he wouldn't have cast that vote had he known that Bush would "fuck it up" so badly. Hmm. That excuse could be extended to those who voted for Bush or didn't vote against him in 2000. The question to them, as well as to Kerry, is, what will you do differently this time around?