Proud to be an American, blah blah blah

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2004, 2:34 pm

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.

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8 Responses to “Proud to be an American, blah blah blah”

  1. JohnnyHarp Says:

    Great post.

    The question I’m left asking is “What am I missing?”

    More than half the people voted for Bush, and I don’t think their stupid or ignorant. So what don’t they see that I see, why aren’t the points you made taken to heart.

    Im very confused, I need to understand my proverbial neighbor’s better I guess.

    Also nice to see I’m not the only poker blogger who couldn’t pass up politics today.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    amen brother.

    for those bush supporters, i just can understand how you can reconcile this:

    i wasn’t a huge kerry fan but frankly, now that the bush administration has all of the houses, the supreme court, most governorships and probably den mothers at this point, i just have to worry about what shape this country is going to be in in 4 years. will i recognize the us after 4 more years of this garbage?

    what am i missing? was it the politics of fearmongering? the dick-waving war supporters who just want bush to “kick ass”. and how did the media and karl rove (the “liberal media”) turn a new england blue-blooded, coke-snorting cheerleader from Yale into a swaggering texas sherriff? that one i’ll never figure out…

    i could go on but honestly i’m sick of thinking about it. it makes me disappointed. not surprised, just disappointed.


  3. Scott Chaffin Says:

    Well, boys, I know this is gonna be tough for you, but — take a good look at what you’re asking the rest of America to swallow. Quite clearly, they don’t like it.

    Alternatively, you can go to sleep tonight knowing you’re so goddamn much smarter than everybody else, and we can’t possibly appreciate your brilliance.

    Let me put it in poker terms — “fucking river; this online shit is rigged.”

  4. Anonymous Says:

    What is all this waiting-in-line for 10 hours stuff? I think it’s commendable that 60% of people vote in those circumstances… sounds like something from a chaotic newly-free African colony.

    In the UK I have never, ever had to wait even 5 minutes to cast a vote… The technology in use? Bits of paper and pencils, and LOTS of volunteers to count votes (each bundle of votes is re-validated independently by multiple counters… it just works.)

    Sort yourselves out, or we’ll have to reconsider your independence 🙂

  5. Anonymous Says:

    As far as voter turnout goes, there’s a few things to remember. There are many states that are more or less predecided and your vote is meaningless. Living in Massachusetts, waiting in line to vote for Kerry is simply a waste of time because Kerry is a guarantee to win.

    Honestly, the reason Bush did better this election than last is the gay marriage issue. In the latino communities, voter turnout was huge, but rather than pushing the election in Kerry’s favor, it helped Bush because of his stance with respect to gay marriage.

  6. ToddCommish Says:

    It must make Democrats feel better to blame minor issues like gay marriage and abortion for their resounding defeat. It sure beats self-examination…

    Oh, and don’t be surprised if Bush moves LEFT now. He knew he had to pander to the religious right to solidify his base (Ashcroft, etc.), and he knew he could count on the radical left to alienate the moderates.

    And as long as Democrats continue to insult and belittle the thoughtful moderates, rather than modify their more radical stances (and quieting their more radical mouthpieces), they will keep losing ground.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    I’m not a Democrat and I still don’t understand why on Earth Bush is as popular as he is. I lived under his governorship in Texas for four years, he’s been the president for the last four, and I haven’t seen anything remarkable about him in all that time. Unless, that is, you count appointing radical conservatives to judgeships and executive posts. That’s the thing that gets me – even though moderate Republicans, the old small-government types, are willing to bash Dems for their radicalism, very few of them ever come out to rip Bush for the Ashcrofts and Pickerings and other crazies that he wants to hold high positions within our government.

    Anything good I’ve seen Bush do has been overridden by something else. Tax cuts + deficit spending. Promoting free trade + imposing steel tarriffs for political gain. Investing in alternate fuel research + handing out contracts to his cronies without any competition. Talk of privatizing Social Security + handing out the biggest entitlement ever in the form of a prescription drug benefit. I’m counting on him doing the same thing for the next four years, because he hasn’t shown me that he’s capable of doing anything else.

    As for the Democrats…well, they’re more pathetic than they’ve ever been. Kerry’s response to Bush was basically, “I’ll do exactly what he’s doing only I won’t screw it all up.” It’s no wonder people didn’t elect him president. And to think, he was “the electable one” from the primary season! If they ever want to have a shot again they need to shitcan everyone at the top of the DNC, seriously overhaul their platform to reconnect with Middle America, and stop implying that the Republicans are the pure source of evil on this planet every chance they get. Let the Republicans be the bad guys all they want, and stand on the higher ground. Until they manage to do that, the other side will keep on screaming and people will love them for it.

    These next four years are gonna SUCK – but that’s how it was gonna be no matter which jackass won.

    – Jason

  8. April Says:

    Allow me to be the obnixious Government major here…I know 60% sounds crappy. BUT. You have to look at how we calculate that number. You take the number of people who voted and divide them by the number of eligible voters, which tends to include a lot of felons and people in mental institutions, which does skew the number a few percentage points, as over the years, that figure has gone up. (I mean…I don’t think Martha Stewart even got to vote this year, did she?) Also includes a lot of people who could get off their butts and register to vote but just don’t. The bottom line is there are a lot of people who just don’t think their vote matters…and here was the election that was supposed to prove them wrong. I think a lot of people are going to end up feeling very discouraged.

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