I just read Skippy's most recent post on Cake, Pres. Bush, and civility, among other things. It got me to thinking about some things that have been on my mind recently about the respective presidential campaigns of George W. Bush and John Kerry. Basically, I am just very disappointed in the whole process. Both campaigns have been slinging about rhetoric that really doesn't help inform voters as much as make you afraid of the opposition. In my opinion, the Bush campaign has been the most serious offender, but the Kerry campaign has been guilty of it too. Civility, as Skippy points out, is indeed gone from the process of election politics, to detriment of our political system.
While I would love to make the argument that the trend in uncivilzed discourse among the candidates and supporters is merely a reflection of the modern American character, I won't. Instead I want to share something of my own experience.
My wife often accuses me of being unwilling to listen to arguments made by the Bush campaign and its supporters, and she often observes that I get impatient, arrogant, and take on an insulting tone of voice. While I don't necessarily agree with her, I can see her point. See, my basic problem is that I have no patience for stupidity, ignorance, or empty rhetorical political speech. I challenge you to turn on a Bush campaign speech or event and find anything but empty rhetoric designed to make you afraid of John Kerry. I simply am tired of it. Tell me something real. Tell me something true - and by true I don't mean some statistic taken out of context or twisted to fit the argument. Back up your statements. Make me think. Give me pause and persuade me. I want my presidential nominees to tell me what they are going to do, not make be afraid to vote for the other guy.
In a little informal poll I have taken among Bush supporters, the most common responce to my question "Why are you voting for Bush?" is "Because Kerry's an asshole," or "Kerry won't fight terrorism." How sad. In fact I have yet to have one person say something like, "Because I really like what George Bush has done for our country and I think he needs to keep up the good work. Here's why I like him..." If the goal of the Bush campaign is to win by making you afraid of Kerry, they have done a bang-up job. No thinking involved, just fear.
The problem is Joe America doesn't want to think - not much anyway, and it is much more effective for a candidate to sell and market himself, and to make you afraid of the opposition, than to give honest and straight-forward answers to questions of policy and vision. The reason I become impatient with people who want to have a political discussion with me about George W. Bush is that they often begin by spouting off the same bullshit and rhetoric. If I want that I can turn on the TV. Instead give me some facts. Give me some real plans and historical references for why you think we should take a particular action. Of course the sad fact is that most people can't do that. So they flip you off or yell obscenities instead.
Since I am on a bit of a roll, and since you may be reading this and saying "Okay asshole, why are you voting for Kerry then?" I'll tell you my most basic reasons. You will notice that these are actually mostly based on my opinion of Pres. Bush's job so far, and are not necessarily a vote of confidence in John Kerry.
- No WMD's in Iraq, but a lot of dead American soldiers. Meanwhile Osama is hell and gone.
- The war in Iraq is not part of the war on terror. The Bush campaign's continued emphasis on this fabirication distresses me.
- The Bush administration's general emphasis on fear of terrorism to sell the Patriot Act, the war in Iraq, and the destruction of precious American wilderness in some hapless quest for oil.
- I find the connections between the Bush family and the Saudi Royal family to be spooky and suspicious.
- I find Dick Cheney to be spooky and suspicious, especially his connections to Haliburton.
- John Ashcroft is spooky and suspicious.
- The Bush administration's economic policy is ludicrous. Tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and large corporations isn't helping the majority of Americans one lick. Think unemployment. Think massive national debt.
- Even if one accepts President Bush's economic ideas as reasonable, you can't cut taxes and then invade a large country halfway around the world, dismantle its government, and create a democracy while maintaining order. That kind of thing is expensive, and you can't do it on the nation's Discover card, even with the cash back bonus, although I bet those kick backs are rolling in for someone (see points 4 and 5).
- My mom can barely pay for her basic medications because her Medicare benefits are down and her premiums are up, even with supplemental insurance. I bet she isn't the only one. In fact, I am generally upset with the entire state of our health care industry, which is basically being run by profit driven insurance companies and drug companies. Guess who supports the interests of big health insurance and drug companies?
- No Child Left Behind? Come down to the neighborhood where I teach, and I can show you a few you've missed, Pres. Bush.
What will John Kerry do better? I have no idea, but he has at indicated a direction that I prefer in most of these issues. I'll place my bet with him. Now if you can enlighten me as to why I should vote for Pres. Bush, I am all ears. Just please don't give me the finger.