Proud to be an American, blah blah blah
Went to bed last night, once again not knowing who the President would be, and waking up it felt a little bit like Christmas morning. You know, something was going to be under the tree, you just didn't know what. The big difference being, of course, that instead of brightly wrapped presents you were going to end up with either coal or ashes in your stocking. No presents to be had, not this chilly October morn.
After each election people talk about how proud they are about the electoral process. And in this election, isn't it wonderful how many more people voted than in recent elections? Yeah, guess that's nice. Thing is, they picked the wrong guy. It's hard to get too giddy and congratulatory about Democracy in Action when the voters re-elect a guy whose previous term leaves so very, very much to be desired.
That is, after all, one of democracy's greatest strengths. The incumbent did a lousy job? He didn't live up to expectations? Then instead of waiting for him to die, or for a coup or some other messy but probably fun insurrection, you just cast your vote four years later and move someone else into the job. That didn't happen this time, and I'm disappointed and disillusioned. I may not have been a card-carrying Kerry fan, but after four years of the Bush Administration he was clearly the preferable choice.
I would be somewhat mollified if I thought Bush would look at how close this election was, how he nearly lost despite his incumbancy, despite the fact that were at war (one or two wars, depending on your interpretation) and maybe learn from this and appreciate how many Americans oppose his policies. Of course nothing of the sort is going to happen--even the most die-hard Bush booster will concede the President is not an introspective man (he may not even know what the word means), nor is he likely to learn from his previous mistakes since, as he stated so memorably in one of the debates, he doesn't feel he's made any.
I'm curious to see what a second Bush Administration will be like. Wait, curious isn't the word. Terrified? Maybe too strong. Apprehensive? Ah, the mot juste. Without the challenge of re-election to check him, how far to the right will Bush move? He has majorities in the Senate and House, he should be able to pass tax cuts for the rich and friendly corporations to his heart's content.
More appalling than re-electing an incompetent President is the gruesome fact that only about 60% of eligible Americans voted. And the media is treating this number like it's a high point in our electoral history. Folks, sixty percent is A DISGRACE. We had war declared on us, with over 3,000 people murdered. Then we initiated another war, 1,000 soldiers dead. The economy lost jobs for the first time since the Depression. A budget surplus turned into a $7 trillion deficit. The Justice Department was granted sweeping powers to invade your privacy. And yet 40% of the populace COULDN'T BE BOTHERED TO VOTE? All the networks made such a big deal about these courageous college kids waiting in line for 10 hours just to cast their ballots, and wasn't that wonderful? Sure, I guess. What isn't so wonderful is that, at least this is what I heard on NPR this morning, among voters age 18-24, only ONE IN TEN voted. I saw another stat that put the number at 17%.
That, dear readers, is news that should be right below the BUSH WINS headlines. If people between the ages of 18-24, who are the ones fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and beyond, who face a future without Social Security, who will have to pay off the massive deficit we've run up the last few years, who are probably suffering more than any other group from the lack of job creation, if these people aren't willing to get off their collected asses and make their political presence known, then what future does our nation have?
When the Great American Experiment in particpatory democracy comes to an end, it won't be an outside force that snuffs it out. It won't be the Trilateral Commission, or the United Nations swooping down in black helicopters. It'll be self-inflicted. Someday we'll elect to have no more elections, we'll vote to disenfranchise ourselves. If you don't vote anyway, what's the big deal about surrendering your electoral rights?
Soon Kerry will give his concession speech, and Bush his statement of victory, and both will speak eloquently about the majesty of the American democracy, about how we are all one nation, united in our fight for freedom and liberty, and against our intractable and evil enemies. It will all be true, and it will all be bullshit. Because both parties were perfectly willing to lie, cheat, steal, libel, slander, bully, intimidate, threaten, and all but wipe their ass with the Constitution in order to get elected. And as the 2004 campaign was worse than the one in 2000, come 2008, when John Edwards and Jeb Bush run, it'll be even worse. Can't wait.