To Those Who Remain Undecided
Letter written to an undecided voter I met in a bar. I realize this will not go far enough for some, but it is an attempt to remain somewhat rational.
To Those Who Remain Undecided,
I am writing this letter in an effort to lay plain a carefully reasoned decision to cast a vote for John Kerry and John Edwards for president and vice president of the United States in 2004. I must admit that this came as a challenge because I, like many others, have largely made my decision based upon my instincts and the rational argument followed. It is not lost on me that many simply instinctively find themselves drawn to support George Bush's candidacy, making this task all the more difficult as it is uncommon for reason to triumph over passion. In fact it appears to me as though many find their reason in contradiction to their instinct. Therefore it is my intention to undertake not only a simple, rational, persuasive case for handing George W. Bush and Dick Cheney defeat at the ballot box in 2004, but likewise to marry this with an understanding of what precisely about the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign's argument has been so persuasive for much of the American public.
I will begin by addressing the Bush campaigns strongest arguments for their re-election.
Clearly the number one argument brought in the case for Bush-Cheney 2004 is American security. It is often indicated by the campaign that they are for the security of the American people, and their opponents are not. In fact Dick Cheney has stated publicly that should they not be victorious in November, then America will be hit again by terrorists. This is patently unsupportable. Democrats have no less vigorous intentions to actively defend the American people than the Republicans do. The question more appropriately surrounds exactly what foreign and domestic policy objectives will be pursued to this end. Both parties must be held to the same standard on this issue. It absolutely without question must be demanded of them that they pursue foreign and domestic policy that further strengthens and makes less vulnerable the American people and their communities, while improving the US image abroad so as to attract and encourage less aggression and anger from other nations and other people.
At this point I must reveal my personal beliefs that endless war on unknown adversaries will never result in security for the American people. I will also charge that the real benefits of such conflict and conquest are seen in the private sector among a select few elite business people. It is on the contrary the average citizen who will suffer the consequences of American military intervention in foreign lands for generations to come. Never will benefits be seen by citizens of any nation from the killing of innocents in foreign lands, no matter how unintended.
It is critical that real security and strategic concerns for this country determine our foreign policy, NOT the profit of the private sector elite, and NOT the perceived strategic benefit of erstwhile allies of the US. Regardless of who retains or acquires power in the executive branch in November, the American people have every right to demand that their president only execute policies that enhance our security, improve our standing in the world, and reflect the values of the American people. It is clear to me that the president's record is one that indicates his willingness to risk American prestige and American's blood and spirit in the name of profit and position for the very few at the top of an elite class structure.
There is no guarantee that Kerry-Edwards 2004 will reverse this clear objective of the current American foreign policy. However, a message loud and clear must be sent in this election that American's will not tolerate the hijacking of their military, intended to protect and defend the American people from threats foreign and domestic, for the purpose of securing access to natural resources in the name of private sector profit.
The cost of the ongoing violent adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq will be shouldered by our children, not only financially but with their blood and tears. Compassion, Integrity and Honesty must be the primary values of American foreign and domestic policy, for we shall surely reap just what we sow.
Most troubling of all is the Republican's constant misrepresentation of the facts on the ground in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Please look through the corporate media's misrepresentation and in some cases their blatant refusal to even report on the ongoing conflicts. US casualties in Iraq are this month higher than in any previous month. While the Republicans claim to have liberated millions enabling them to participate in civil democracy, eminent authorities have concluded that Iraq is lost, and civil war is imminent. In Afghanistan the forces that were the intended target of US military firepower have reorganized and are again instituting their brand of totalitarian authority in much of the country. Both of these endeavors, which have been so costly for so many, now appear to be out of control, and more violent and unpredictable than they were at the outset. Please examine these subjects for yourself, the facts speak for themselves.
On the subject of domestic taxes, I will keep it simple Kerry has clearly stated that he has no intention to raise taxes on the middle class. The presidents answer to this on the campaign trail has simply been to rhetorically state "you know what (tax the rich)... means; they dodge and you pay". That is his retort. I feel like this alone is enough to reveal the tactics of Bush-Cheney 2004. I ask myself, what exactly does he mean? I conclude he only means to capitalize on his audience's natural instinct to resent and suspect the wealthy, in an effort to dismiss the proposal. From his statement it must be concluded that an increase in the level of taxation on the rich is a de facto impossibility. This is profoundly illogical, and makes no effort to address the issue in a constructive way. The tactic appears to be an effort to further dis-empower people, leading them to conclude that they are helpless and must simply lie down and allow the wealthy and powerful to have their way. After all, nothing we can do will stop that and in the end you will pick up the tab no matter what the US tax code actually says.
We are also lead to believe by the Republican's that privatization is the solution to all of our ills. Retirement, social programs, environmental protection, any policy objective you might imagine is best left to the private sector in the eyes of the Republican Party. This leads me to a very complex point in this discussion. As a conservative thinking person I am instinctively drawn to this ideal. In fact, I am vehemently opposed to government intervention, especially Federal government intervention in the lives of citizens. However, in no way does this brand of privatization resemble a genuine transfer of power from government to the people, on the contrary, this transfer of power from an elected elite to an un-elected elite has another name; fascism. It should not be for a moment concluded that these private sector powers in any way represent the values nor the interests of the American people. On the contrary, they represent their interests at the expense of their employees and the consumer. Their access to cheap resources, including labor, and the short term (that is why they call it currency) capital gains of their investors are their primary policy objectives.
The government was created with the intention that it represents the interest of the people.
Remember... "of, for and by... .", remember elections? Though it is absolutely true that we the people have lost control of the American government, do not allow the argument to be made that we have simply lost the struggle for self determination and should therefore hand over the reigns of government to the un-elected elite. It must be the goal of the American people as a whole, not exclusively conservatives nor liberals, to regain control of their government and reign in its excesses. Remember too, it is this very private sector elite, who wish to have power securely planted in their hands, that operate the major media that feeds the American people the carefully crafted programming, news and entertainment that shape public opinion.
Energy policy is another stark example of why I oppose Bush-Cheney 2004. As an example of government secrecy, lack of transparency, private sector infiltration, and just plain wrong-headedness, this subject is an ideal case. The quote from Dick Cheney still rings in my head... that "... conservation may be a personal virtue... " but it is nothing to "... base an energy policy on." There is so much information to contradict this statement that I am at a loss as to how to address it. In my opinion, conservation is the only foundation for an energy policy that is reliant upon non-renewable resources. I am almost convinced that this is a logical certainty. Additionally on this subject I, along with many other conservative thinking people, continue to be baffled by Cheney's behavior in regard to the now famous energy task force. I will simply make a philosophical observation at this point. Without transparency, democracy dies. The hybridization of government and private sector policy objectives in this case is yet another example of fascism emerging in this country. Defined simply as the melding of government and elite private sector interests, along with rabid nationalism and xenophobia, fascism is lurking amidst the Republican Party's philosophy.
I had been under the impression that the Republican ideology encouraged personal responsibility and self-determination. I see nothing of either of these ideals in so much of the Republican Party's stated policies. We live in a country, once thought the freest on Earth, now more are imprisoned here than in apartheid era South Africa or soviet era Russia. Now we see an end to government transparency, and the beginning of mass arrests, secret detentions and warrant-less searches. In the name of homeland security we are all suspects, and all under surveillance. The party of personal responsibility will hear nothing about America's responsibility for her image abroad, we are simply told they hate us for what makes us great. It is forgotten that we have killed millions, made homeless millions more, destroyed entire cultures and undermined democratic governments in the name of our national interest.
No responsibility is accepted publicly by the US government for what happened on September the eleventh two thousand and one, but according to the Republicans, a child born into the deepest poverty, fed the poorest diet, provided with the minimum healthcare, left to breath cockroach droppings and eat lead paint while her mother is forced to ride a bus to work in a mall for minimum wage should pull themselves up by their imaginary bootstraps and take some responsibility for themselves. And this child bereft of self-esteem, left uninformed about the means by which she can protect herself from sexually transmitted disease and prevent a crisis pregnancy is faced in her young life with one of many difficult choices. She is told by the Republicans to simply abstain... 'Just say no'. I believe we have heard this before, in another incarnation, and there too; utter failure.
Today in the war on terrorism we pay warlords in northern Afghanistan for the damage we have done to their poppy fields, thus further necessitating our war on drugs. Both of these wars of make believe have met with little success, and left our people divided and no more enlightened than when they began. More money for prison, less money for schools that is the choice we make with the Republican status quo.
It has clearly become a reelection strategy of Bush-Cheney 2004 to divide the nation on a few key issues, and extort votes from people's consciences. They behave as though John Kerry spends his time encouraging women to have elective abortions, and introducing them to zealous practitioners. They imply that the decay of the family is caused by those who have only the desire to build families through marriage, while every day the major corporations they are so thoroughly associated with reap the profits from the very decay they publicly decry. The hypocrisy has never been more apparent in the workings of a nation than in the America of the Republicans. The most profound being the hypocrisy surrounding their Pro-Life stance, that excuses the tens of thousands of incidental deaths resulting from the utilization of their war machines. It must be noted that when these pious individuals are not serving the nation selflessly, they often work at the top of the defense industry.
At this point I come to an issue that has largely been forgotten by the major media in this country, the issue of the so-called environment. I must make a point here critical to my understanding of the world. We do not live in an environment, we are part of an ecology. With that said I will in the future refer to concern for ecology, and not to our concern for the environment.
The first Bush-Cheney administration has shown a reckless disregard for concerns that have been determined not by a desire for accumulations of wealth (growth), but by empirical analysis of scientifically collected data. Whenever these two determinations of 'good' stand in opposition to one another it is always the former that succeeds the latter. Repeatedly we have seen power to make policy decisions taken out of the hands of scientists and placed squarely in the hands of capitalists.
This brings me to a critical observation. It has occurred to me that 'liberal' minded people are thoroughly convinced that truth must be acquired by empirical analysis of scientifically collected data. Likewise, 'conservative' minded people are certain that science is secondary at best a distant second, to a priori capital 'T' Truth. This observation is just the very first in a long line of related observations. But what makes it important to this discussion is the extreme nature of George W. Bush's policies. This administration has repeatedly ignored empirical analysis in favor of forgone self-evident ideological certainties that it holds, to the great peril of our people and our nation's future.
I propose a new path to progress that I believe is central to the initiation of an American enlightenment period, and a reinvigoration of our failing American democracy. Rationalism and the birth of an eudemoniac age, that promises to nurture the instinct we all share for the idealism of goodness and rightness and truth. This while simultaneously encouraging our calculating empirical mind to follow our curiosity from this foundation of values and reach further into the world in an effort to arrive at a greater understanding of what it means to exist.
Finally, in a reckless disregard for the traditions and ideals we all as American's hold dear, the Bush administration has ham handedly mauled the sacred documents that founded this nation. From transparency to opacity, from pragmatism to ideology, from adaptation to intransigence, from engagement to conflict the first Bush-Cheney administration has taken America far down the road to tyranny. Blurring the line between church and state, undermining the efforts of career diplomats at the State Department, allowing John Ashcroft to turn the Justice Department into an organ of domestic oppression, and allowing the Pentagon to produce its own intelligence when the career intelligence officers had a less palatable story to tell is just the beginning of a long list of misuse and mismanagement of our United States Government.
There is no guarantee that a Kerry-Edwards victory in 2004 will reverse all or even some of these abominable actions, but it will be a step away from the precipice. As it stands they are the alternative to a further strengthening of the executive branch with a second term president who will for the first time have a true mandate to govern if he wins the election. It must also be realized that moderates like Colin Powell have already announced their plans for departure from the second Bush-Cheney administration, and radical elements such as Karl Rove and John Ashcroft will be galvanized and empowered by the appearance that the American people condone their behavior. It is clear to me that we need to weaken the executive branch, not strengthen it, and that cannot be done by re-electing an incumbent president who has taken such liberties with his questionably acquired office. There is no need to be concerned that dethroning George W. Bush will either in fact or in appearance weaken this country at home or abroad. The US military is designed and operates so that its civilian leadership can and must be replaced on a regular basis, and no option presented in this election threatens that constancy. Further, it will not appear abroad that we are weak people, if we choose to replace our leader in a time of conflict and war, on the contrary, it will further impress upon the world that America is not ruled by a man, or by his minions, but by its people.
Please consider this.
Edward P. McGinley
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