It is a sad day for any notion of political participation when people believe the only real influence they exercise in the political sphere is to vote for their rulers. Like always, the 2004 Presidential Election doesn't offer any hope of altering the suicidal path being followed by the great power structures today. This convinces me that one must be politically active outside of the confines of electoralism.
Sure, there are minor differences between presidential candidates John Kerry and George Bush. To elect Kerry might save a few lives at best due to friendlier healthcare policies, a slightly more progressive tax structure, and more federal support for the development of alternative fuels (mostly by oil companies.)
But the fundamental US policies we should be most appalled at will stay the same. No matter who is in office, institutional pressures and global predicaments will force the US to have an increasingly aggressive foreign policy- murdering millions with the use of mass state terrorism (war.) An institutional pressure, for example, comes from the fact that the military-industrial complex is really the only means by which the federal government can prop up the otherwise inadequate high-tech industry (which the rest of the economy relies on) with massive public subsidies.
A more important fact, though, is that world oil production will peak soon- probably within the next decade, according to most independent petroleum geologists. Given only two options to deal with this imminent threat to the capitalist economy, the US government will naturally fight for every last drop of oil before bowing to a new, radically different energy regime. This is a policy entailing the continuation of mass murder abroad, establishing subservient client states/oil suppliers such as Iraq, followed by a delayed yet swift economic collapse anyway due to shrinking oil supplies. It is also a policy that we more or less cannot vote against, because it is a fundamental, practical, institutional policy.
This is why we all must think beyond the ballot box. I believe the job of any and all concerned humans in this world is to get the word out and gain support for a popular movement to reject these suicidal state policies. Participatory institutions to counter tyrannical state and corporate monsters need to be built from the bottom up starting at the community level. Such lofty goals can only be accomplished with popular support, which is why we must reach out to our communities to create awareness. Radical change is needed before we witness the near destruction of civilization at the hands of unaccountable institutions like the US government, and only everyday people have the potential to make that change.