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Presidential Problems

You know, I thought I got all of the election talk our of my head after the last editorial, but I keep seeing things now that remind me of the mess we might be in because of November ‘04.
Oh, this is the part where I’m supposed to mention in detail what I’m talking about, or mention specific details to make my case.
Okay, here goes.
I mentioned in a performance art show recently that the thing that scared me most about the Bush campaign was that he had a television advertisement that ended saying that this country relies on Freedom (what this country was founded on, good sign), Family (the stuff I suppose that is supposed to lead to healthy procreation, the furthering of our species), Faith (Yes, President Bush, you have to throw a religious connotation in there somewhere), and Sacrifice (You want us to do what? That doesn’t sound like the capitalist in you, you know, the stuff we we’re supposed to be founded on...).
I mention this to you, while reminding you in the last editorial that when the President found out that he won reelection, he told a cabinet member or two that it was now time to start working on his plan (Whatever that may be... I’m starting to get frightened thinking about it...), but it reminded me of a quote I read in the Ayn Rand Column from the Los Angeles Times, in a column called Our Alleged Competitor, and I quote:

And whenever anyone asks a nation for sacrifice, it is not progress that he will achieve.

Okay, sorry, this might be the part where I’m supposed to keep putting these pieces together here...
Let me see what I can do.
I look around me, and I see two political parties fighting for a goal, and their platforms sound similar. I know you think they’re not, and on the surface they don’t seem to be. But say, for instance, you don’t want troops in Iraq. Kerry might have seemed like a better choice. In debates, however, he said that although he didn’t like the fact that we were there, he knew that we had to be there.
Let me think about this. He has said on record that he supported the idea of using force as a threat to Saddam Hussein. Then he said on record that even though they now know that he didn’t have nuclear missiles or WMDs, he still would have supported us going over there to get Hussein out of power. Then he even said in a Presidential debate that he doesn’t like the idea that our troops were there (that he supported bringing to Iraq in the first place), but he couldn’t just pull the troops, and couldn’t give a timeline to anyone about when troops would be able to leave.
Hmmm. Sounds like Bush’s plan.
Sounds like two sides to the same coin - they may be opposite sides, heads and tails, but they are the same damn coin.
They’re the same damn coin and we’re not given a real choice of anything different here in America.
In Post-Mortem, 1962, another Los Angeles Times column from Ayn Rand, she even went so far as to say

There was only one political program offered to the voters: the status quo — and only two kinds of leadership: those who wish to leap or those who wish to crawl into the same abyss.

Yeah, she wrote that in a column in 1962, but has the sentiment changed at all, forty-two years later? (I know 42 is supposed to be the meaning of life according to the Hitchhiker’s Guide, but we haven’t solved our political problems in that many years, and it looks like our situation may only be getting worse.)
Everything that was presented to the people by Bush and Kerry in their scripted debates were generalities that either side could take to mean whatever they chose, so both parties could think they did a wonderful job. And after every debate, and after every media moment each candidate had to spout their views or rip on their opponent, all of the media talking heads in the liberal media like MSNBC (I know it stands for Microsoft NBC, but I prefer to think of it as Multiple Sclerosis NBC...), or CNN, or Headline News, or even the slightly less liberal Fox News, they leaned toward a victory of Kerry (ah yes, liberal media, hindsight in this election has shown us how unbiased you really are...). But they’d have reporters at both parties always stating that their candidate won, spouting the usual rhetoric necessary to make people believe they are telling the truth.
Of course both parties would claim they won. Could we draw the same conclusion? Probably not, because nether party really talked about differing goals or programs. If Kerry was against having troops in Iraq, he didn’t mention morally why, and he didn’t give Americans anything to really sink their teeth into - I mean, he didn’t give us a core set of beliefs and values that we could support because it was different from President Bush’s core set of beliefs.
He didn’t do it.
If we knew the moral differences between our political candidates, we might have had an easier time being able to make our political choices. People say they liked Bush - but why? Because we don’t feel safe anymore, and we need his guidance (I think that dictators like to keep their power by playing on fear to make then feel needed by their minions, and the past three years have been a Republican plea to remind people that the Republican cabinet will make the people safe).
Other people say they liked Kerry - but why?
Honestly, tell me why.
And don’t use the “because he’s not Bush” answer either. I’m looking for real moral values and differences here. (It’s hard to come up with differences when your two choices were both Yale graduates, which are actually very distantly related. Yeah, these are your two choices...)
Okay, Kerry said he had a plan, but we never got any details about it. And you know, that makes me think about when I was little, and me and my friend Sheri would play. We didn’t play house, but we played office - we had desks, and I had a control panel of switches and stuff that my sister put together into a console that could go on our desk, so it could look like we were doing important work. We’d talk on the fake phone, and we’d flip the little toggle switches on the fake console panel we had, so we could be getting work done. So we could be doing something. So we could be getting ahead.
But looking back, we were only playing. We didn’t have a plan. We acted like we knew what we were doing, but we didn’t know what those little switches and buttons on our fake console panel did, we didn’t even question where those switches and buttons led to, and we pushed those buttons anyway in bliss, getting things done.
What things? No answer.
Kerry is a senator that wanted to jump in and start flipping the toggle switches to alter the fabric of the American life. And the thing is, I couldn’t tell you if he would do a better job of pushing the right buttons to make America work well.
I couldn’t tell you because I had no idea of what he’d do.
And I don’t know if he knew, either.

MTV and pop stars and rap stars and actors were telling you to vote. Some of them we even saying to vote for the Kerry/Edwards ticket. I mean Hell, if Bruce Springstein is for the Democratic ticket, all of today’s youth should be a Democrat, because the guy that produced the #1 rock album Born in the USA 25 years ago has to know what is best for the country.
MTV might have been telling the youth to vote. But although the world likes to think the youth doesn’t think, I think the youth (along with the adults) want a set of values they can hold on to and make sense of.
And although they had a problem with Bush (because, you know, Bush is sending their peers to go to a war people don’t think we should be in, why are we liberating people on the other side of the world when the are people in our own country that need to be rescued from poverty, lack of jobs or education, or rescued from the sexism or racism that holds them back from their true potential?), because they don’t like seeing President Bush making all political choices based on his idolatry of his Christian savior, they want a real alternative. Kerry said he’s the one for you, but he didn’t explain why or how.
He left you connecting the political pieces.
And more importantly, he left you picking up the moral pieces.
That was the problem.
Not because there’s a moral problem to opposing Bush’s plan, but because no moral ground was laid out for the people to understand. Bush had a ton of talk radio personalities (and yes, a few of the television personalities too) agreeing with people daily, live, for hours about how Bush is the right choice. He morally makes more sense. How we need him.
And people heard this political moral line, and they took it. Hook, line and sinker.
Whether or not we agreed with the moral choice people made, some people made a moral choice. I made my moral choice on Election Day at the polling booth, and my choice was based on the fact that I couldn’t stand to vote for either candidate. I voted for someone else, and I voted on my conscience. I voted knowing my choice wouldn’t win, but I voted knowing I could sleep comfortably with the fact that I made the right choice at the polls that November day.
If only everyone knew of the morals at stake in this Presidential election, maybe the candidates would have told us what we needed to hear to make an informed decision. Maybe then this election would have turned out differently.

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