Monday, August 23, 2004
The Depressing Turn of Events
We are now only a couple of months away from determining the fate of the nation for the next four years.
One of the problems of a presidential election is that you get caught up in the game theory aspect of it all. After a certain point, it becomes football. You identify with a candidate the same way you identify with a football team. When the team wins a game, you're high for a week, and if the team loses, you're down for a week. If the team wins the Super Bowl, you have bragging rights for a year, and if it doesn't -- and 31 teams out of 32 don't -- it's a week of depression, then several months of wish projection that next year is going to be the year where you win it all.
The difference is that in a presidential campaign, it's like a football game played every minute. You can be up in the morning, down in the evening, a sort of compound interest football game. Most of the time, however, it doesn't make a damn bit of difference who wins, which is why I eventually became a Green sympathizer. Trust me, if it weren't the Greens, it would have been some other party that came along and seemed to give a damn for people.
When I say "it doesn't make a damn bit of difference who wins", it's usually because the Founding Fathers built a system so resiliant -- the brilliant concept of checks and balances -- that no one person or group of people could do too much damage to it. Even during the Civil War, it seems not that the system failed, but that Southern leaders decided they couldn't get out of the system what they wanted to get out of it, and therefore left the system to try to start one of their own. Harry Truman said that the reason the Civil War happened was a series of crappy presidents (Taylor, Fillmore, Buchanan) who were more interested in hoping the problem went away than trying to make an effort to solve it.
Whenever the system seemed to get too unbalanced, the country suffered. The last time I can remember this happening is the late 19th century and a string of Presidents who were deliberately kept weak by the legislative branch. According to the history you read in most books, the executive branch didn't get its power back until Theodore Roosevelt came along.
However, as the years have gone by, we've seen an increase in the power of the executive branch. They even have a name for it -- the "imperial presidency". In the imperial presidency, executives just claim power and dare the legislative branch to do something about it. Presidents now start wars on their own. And they are surrounded by a phalanx of appointees all chosen for the ability to fall on their swords if things get too rough for a president. Which means that presidents can often evade the legal liability of an illegal action by getting someone else to say "I did that!"'
Our choice of president therefore becomes very important, because we've now reached the stage where a really bad president can wreak havoc.
Here's the key to the Depressing Turn of Events. Truth be told, I really don't Kerry much. No, change that, I don't like him at all. I see him as a president cast right out of DNC central casting who will govern from the center-right when he gets elected.
The problem is that Bush is, well, monstrous.
Some would say that this puts me in the category of being a "Bush hater". Well, let's call a shovel a shovel. I am a Bush hater. I don't respect his policies, and I don't respect him. I don't know if you can toss the word "evil" around too lightly, and I think you have to be damn sure when you call someone evil, because you're responsible for the consequences of your accusation. I'm not exactly sure that Bush is pure evil. But I'm ALMOST sure that he is. Probably, more sure than just about anyone else.
Why is this a problem? Because the thought crosses your mind, "what if Bush wins the next election?" Does it really mean jackboots for all and that your gay children face burning at the stake? How bad will a Bush victory be?
You have to come to one of two conclusions:
a) it won't be that bad at all, because there will be some safeguards, or that Bush isn't really that bad a president compared to others, or
b) he will be very bad indeed, to the point that by the time Bush gets done in 2008, the country won't exactly be fascist, but the shirts running the country will be a hell of a lot browner than they've ever been before, if you know what I mean.
The problem is if you read political blogs from the left -- most of which are Democratic blogs -- we have the scenario that Kerry will be the hero that saves us all, like Luke Skywalker blowing up the Death Star. And Bush is not just Darth Vader, but the Evil Emperor as well, who will do his best to make sure that the future is a boot stamping on the face of mankind, forever.
This is a fucking frightening scenario. Of course, some of it will be hyperbole. The Democrats don't want to lose this election like they lost the one in 2000. My fear is not that the Democrats are wrong. My fear is that they're right. That it ISN'T hyperbole. That the Reichstag is on fire, and President Bush will present a bill to solve the problem in 2005, banning liberals forever.
So what the hell do you do? Make plans to leave the country? Buy a gun? Plan to just sort of turn your eyes away? Because if you believe all the stuff that I read every day, you should be scared shitless. And that's not a situation I like to be in. And I need an answer that's a damned sight better than, "well, let's vote for Kerry and pray that Bush doesn't win".
posted by Green Voicemail 8/23/2004 09:39:00 PM