The International Writers Magazine:
Of The Meek: The Cowardly American Electorate
years ago Americans had a chance to really show that they meant
it when they wanted real change in politics. The outgoing
President was Constitutionally barred from seeking reelection, and
the 4 main contenders from the two major parties offered striking
choices to the electorate- not just between themselves, but within
their own party affiliation.
had a choice between a sitting Vice-President, Albert Gore, who was
a moderate to right leaning, anti-union, pro-censorship, big business
stealth Republican who was raised in a wealthy, highly successful political
family- seeming groomed for the Presidency and an Ivy League educated,
classic Liberal Senator, Bill Bradley, who came to politics late, after
a successful career in sports, and who made his political mark as standing
more for principle than party or monetary backing.
Republicans similarly had a marked choice in their primary elections.
They could choose from the son of an ex-President, Texas Governor George
W. Bush, who was a right leaning, anti-union, pro-censorship, big business
faux Compassionate Conservative who was raised in a wealthy,
highly successful political family- seeming groomed for the Presidency
and a War Hero, Classic Conservative Senator, John McCain, who made
his political mark as standing more for principle than party or monetary
To anyone who would read the complaints of the American voter over the
last 40 years that there are no real choices in politics this would
have seemed to have been the year the voter was finally served. The
two favorites were sallow-faced hypocrites whose money-grubbing knew
no bounds, and whose visions for America were nonexistent. The underdogs
were pugnacious and principled. Voters have long claimed to have wanted
clear choices. But, when they get it they punt, and play it safe. When
Ralph Nader said that there was not a dime's worth of difference between
the two men he was right. Is it any wonder that the 2000 general election
was so close? Im sure many voters thought they were voting for
the other guy.
To Democrats who believe things would be Nirvana if President Gore were
seeking re-election I say this was a man who folded his convictions
on something as innocuous as CD lyric stickers - do you really think
hed make a big stand on gay marriage? Do you really think the
Father of the Internet would have prevented 9/11? Or not
gotten us involved in a needless war? Perhaps not in Iraq- which seems
now to have been purely payback for Saddams attempted hit on Bush,
Sr. and a de facto LBO of the nation by Halliburton- but he would have
probably botched things against the Taliban, or done something dumb
in Pakistan. As for the economy - perhaps it would have been a bit better,
but remember - the seeds for this downturn were sown by the Clinton-Gore
years blind eye to the deleterious effects of mergermania.
Its the excesses of the Clinton-Gore years that started this downward
spiral - W. has 'only' mismanaged it to a near-catastrophe. This is
exactly why I opted for Ralph Nader. The last election showed the folly
of the voting for the lesser of two evils mentality. Its
this mentality that led to a no good choice election. One
may argue over the motivations, consequences, and import of Ralph Nader
in 2000 - but no one can seriously argue that he was vis-à-vis
Bush and Gore far more principled, far more competent, and far more
in tune with the average American.
Now, imagine what a McCain-Bradley contest would have been. There would
be no blurred lines, there would be a classic bootstrapping Conservative
vs. a classic egalitarian Liberal. There would not be this gray mush
in the middle that means nothing. In that election Idve
voted for Bradley- as well as if he had run against Bush. In a McCain-Gore
race Idve gone for McCain, as long as a third choice did
not exist. With the Scion Twins I went for Nader.
Flash-forward four years later. Ws crooks are just a little better
and better placed than Gores- the Supreme Court. With W we have
a President that most likely knew there would be some big terror attack
before 9/11, but smugly sat on his ass. We have a President that took
out the Taliban (yea) but left a festering mess in Afghanistan (boo)
- apparently Bushs memory was toasted during the days of bong-
why else would he not have sought a Douglas MacArthur type to administrate
that country ala Japan post-World War 2? Oh, right, because he got us
involved in what now is apparent to have been a needless war in Iraq.
Not an iota of the massive WMD apparatus has been found. Saddam is gone
(yea), but Osama is still King Of The Moslem World (boo), and free.
Iraq is even in worse shape than Afghanistan because it at least WAS
a fairly modern country. Now it is the epicenter for extremist violence
in that already violent region, and who knows how many needless deaths
on all sides, and in the future, will come because of this folly? And
the fact is it does not matter whether W lied or relied on the incompetent
and myopic CIA. Either way his administration is fraying.
Add in the fact that Herbert Hoover was the last President to have negative
job growth in his reign. It amazes me how we can have this staggering
job loss, loss of earning power per family, yet because a few bigwigs
have been able to squeeze a bit more blood from their corporate stones
eggheads tell us this economy is in a recovery. Tell that
to all the displaced and unemployed. Republicans who counter that inflation
and unemployment are relatively low conveniently overlook the fact that
people whose unemployment runs out and those who work several part time
gigs are not factored in to those unemployment statistics, which would
about triple the actual rate of joblessness from the 5-6% of recent
vintage. W can thank the Reagan administration for that little jiggering
of the stats, for without it Ws fiscal mismanagement would be
manifestly the worst since the Great Depression. Democrats should seem
to have an easy road.
Not so for the party that, excepting Slick Willy, has raised national
incompetence to an art form. The four top Democratic contenders were
a pro-working class General whose competence in war was beyond reproach
(Wesley Clark), a far-sighted socially Liberal and fiscally Conservative
Governor (Howard Dean), a great stumping outsider one term Senator who
could match Clinton and who really is a Democrat (John Edwards), and
a bland, corporate-backed, careerist politician, stump-challenged Senator,
and husband of an heiress (John Kerry). Of the four, it would seem a
no-brainer that the weakest possible candidate would be Kerry. So, of
course, hes the one Democrats crowned to challenge Bush.
His weaknesses are manifest - his Vietnam War hero image is moot, because
as many people who will revile him as a turncoat will see him as principled.
More troubling is his support for Bushs war in Iraq. While its
easy to say he was misled by the White House, they can say the same
of the CIA. Kerry is a classic Limousine Liberal- probably
the most famed since former New York City mayor John Lindsay. He is
one of the most PAC-beholden politicians in the nation- although a rank
amateur compared to W. So, while there are more differences than last
time around there are still a large number of voters who can legitimately
cop out with a lesser of two evils vote.
Yet, this is manifestly what the public wants- the right to eternally
bitch. Bitch, bitch, bitch- because bitching feels good, entails no
responsibility, and allows for the cultivation of easy simplistic bogeymen
rather than difficult complex solutions. I call this willful marginalization.
This tactic is often employed by Academic Politically Correct Elitists
and spoken word artists in contemporary poetry. It basically
means that instead of working hard to produce worthy art its easier
to screed, then claim discrimination when the callow nature of the art
is attacked. Careers have been crafted around this very tactic, yet
its not only poetasters who adore being willfully marginalized.
Labor unions, christian fundamentalists, tree huggers, corporate lawyers,
feminists, the oil industry- all groups that wield significant power-
complain that they are underdogs, yet often it is their
own myopia that leads to their failures, or that their opponents cheated.
Never can anyone accept gracefully that they lost fair and square.
Similarly the American electorate whines away that they dont have
real choices or a voice in elections, yet they consistently make this
so by their gutless choices. So, who to vote for? The least successful
and divisive president in memory, a bland apparatchik, or Ralph Nader-
who will likely bow out before November? In a true democracy a None
of the above option would exist and a plurality in that category
would force renomination processes. As it is I am nonplussed- but at
least thats not a bitch!
© Dan Schneider, March 8th 2004
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