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The Election, 2004

October 2004

A pre-election summary of our odd and unfortunate choice for President.
We're three weeks away from a presidential election in the U.S.  The candidates are two men with strange needs (see the essay Politicians);  they're typical politicians, but in the end we need those.

The issues in the campaign are of two types:  1) Those that the candidates have raised for us, which many of the public therefore believe are important, such as negative character traits of the opponent, the candidates' reported war experiences from the '60s and '70s, and the lies traditionally told during elections about not raising taxes or lowering social benefits;  and 2) those that are not covered by the candidates and therefore seem unimportant, such as energy policy (replacing oil during the next couple of decades), worldwide environmental degradation, population increase, rising crime rates, and reducing world militarism. The logic of the campaign, and of the candidates' debates, reminds one of Gulliver's Travels.

In this surreal campaign for the White House, the two men who have risen to the top of the dung heap of politics stand square-jawed, toe to toe, slinging dung about them, much of which seems to land on themselves. And as in most U.S. presidential elections, the names of the men or women most likely to be competent and inspiring leaders of the nation are not to be found on the ballot; in fact we don't know who they are, and the selection process is not designed to discover them. We do know, though, that they can't be either of these two characters.

Mr.Bush has been an international embarrassment to the U.S. for nearly four years. While we may understand that he felt frustrated at many foreign leaders' failure to grasp that the September 2001 attack on New York City was a declaration of war on the West by islamist terror groups, Mr.Bush personally threw away all international good will toward the U.S. with his ill-conceived invasion of Iraq. As onerous as the Saddam dictatorship was, it was not America's business to clean up. At this point the only feasible way for U.S. voters to undo this damage to our international reputation is to retire Mr.Bush.

Mr.Kerry is not many voters' first choice for the presidency, but he's there and he's the alternative. When faced with two unpalatable choices from the major parties, the best thing a voter can do is often to choose a third candidate; that way you may perhaps contribute to a lessening of arrogance by the major parties.  (Let's dispose of the persistent but silly notion that by voting for a candidate who "can't win", such as a third party candidate in the US, you are throwing away your vote. That's nonsense. You're likely to have a greater effect by supporting a minor candidate than by voting for one of the "majors". The fact is that your vote for major candidates have never had any effect whatever, unless you've voted in a race won or tied by one vote.)   In this case though, the need to move on to a new President is evident. Let's be done with it, let's hire Mr.Kerry and try to make the best of an unpleasant situation.

It's unfortunate that Mr.Kerry has not shown notable leadership qualities during his many years in the Senate. But at this point he's the only meaningful choice over the bumbling Mr.Bush, so we can only hope for his victory and wish him well in the job.–

© 2004 H. Paul Lillebo

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