Thursday, November 18, 2004

Having my say will probably result in the loss of every single one of my left-leaning friends, but you know....that's okay. I'd rather be honest and alone than deceitful and surrounded by people who haven't a clue of what's going on in my head.

Yes, I voted for Kerry, and if I'm angry at anyone right now, I'm angry at myself. I cast my ballot for a candidate I didn't respect. I didn't believe in him before I voted, and the fact that I voted for him anyway means I'm a huge part of what's wrong with the world.

To everyone else who voted for Kerry: quit trying to make me vilify my friends and family who voted for Bush. On a day-to-day basis, every person with whom I interact, with the exception of Catherine and my boss, undoubtedly voted for Bush. And you know what? They're not stupid. They're not evil. They're not even remotely bad. Our value systems are sometimes vastly different, sometimes almost identical, and while I'd like to think I'm the one who knows what's best, I can't be sure that's true. Really, my political affiliation/position at the moment can best be summed up with "I DON'T KNOW." I don't know what's right or what's wrong, and I think other people should be honest and admit they don't know either.

Par exemple: the weekend after the election, a man who voted for Bush explained his thought process to me. He listed about a dozen reasons why he didn't want to vote for Bush (he didn't vote for Bush last time), and said he had a hard time with his final decision. But what mattered most to him, his number one concern, was that we stay in Iraq, and not leave too soon. He voted for the candidate he thought would "stay the course." My initial reaction was, of course, "We need to get the hell out of Iraq!" But do we? I don't know. I feel certain that we shouldn't have invaded in the first place, but now what? If we leave now, will it get better or worse? Do Iraqis want us to leave, and even if they do, will that lead to the best result--whatever that is--ten years from now? I have no idea what any Iraqi wants. Like everyone else, I get my news 3rd, 4th or 5th hand from various sources. I've never been to Iraq, I know no Iraqis, and even if I really knew what they wanted, I don't know if I would be able to tell if that was the right thing to do. So...this guy thinks we should stay. I don't know if he's right or wrong, but he did vote for the right guy if that's his number one priority. There's no flaw in his logic--Kerry wants to leave Iraq, Bush wants to stay. Yeah, I wish his number one priority was my health insurance, but that's just me, and who am I to say what's most important in the world?

Anyway, my message to the left who keep sending me e-mail telling me what to think is this: stop looking at the &*$#@! electoral map and judging people you've never met. Don't you realize that red and blue have been imposed on those people, you're looking at a multiplicity of views through the eyes of a two party system? You can't tell anything about anybody by a single vote between two candidates. Look at the electoral votes from past elections, and imagine what they'd be like if the voters had to choose between only two candidates. Millions of people can't be represented by only two parties, and I wish we could all get together and do something about that.

I agree, there seems to be a huge lack of critical thinking in the United States, but I have to say, it applies as much to the left as it does to the right--and to everyone in between and on the fringes. "Critical thinking" is really an interesting concept, isn't it? For years--decades--the academy has been trying to get people to examine and undermine binary oppositions. Rational/irrational, male/female, good/bad, nature/culture...identify and subvert, if you please. Listen to the academy since the election, however, and there is only good and bad, right and wrong, red and blue. The left is screaming that the people who voted for Bush aren't rational, their thought processes are deficient. Irrational thought is only good if you're the one acting on emotions and instinct apparently. What happened to inhabiting the gray areas?

I don't know...Democrats seem absolutely shocked by their defeat, and I just suddenly realized how much hope they place in government. It's almost as if they were hoping for some sort of social Reaganomics: trickle down liberalism. But I don't think any president will make much of a positive difference. Listen--the juggernaut of Coca-Cola culture left our shores a long time ago. No one president is ever going to change that. Kerry wasn't going to get rid of Walmart, was he? He wasn't suddenly going to fight American capitalism, was he? It wasn't like Osama bin Laden stopped plotting because Clinton was in office. There's something much more wrong with our culture than simply a corrupt administration, really there is. Bush might (will) make things worse, but Kerry wasn't a savior. I'm afraid we as individuals have been cast in that role. We can't make politicians do it for us.

Yes, I think the we'd be better off if Kerry had been elected, if for no other reason than we might be able to find a few more allies in the world (not that I think any other country would be stupid enough to join us on our suicide missions in Iraq). But substantively, I'm not sure how much would have changed, especially w/a Republican congress. We can hope that a Supreme Court justice would die while he was in office, but four years really isn't much of a window of opportunity when it comes to death on the bench.

And even if Kerry had won, wouldn't we still be a divided nation? Not as severely divided as the electoral maps would have us believe--not even close--but divided none the less. We've been divided since the moment we declared independence from Britain and promptly went out and started shooting our neighbors in the name of freedom. We were divided before we became a union, and the moment the union was formalized in 1789 (Washington: 69 electoral votes; Adams: 34 electoral votes; scattering: 35 electoral votes; 8 votes not cast--don't you think Adams' supporters were angry?), we started the grand devolution to Civil War. Reconstruction was a disaster. Follow through to the class and labor wars of the early 20th c. Maybe we were a bit more unified during WWII, but there were so many Roosevelt haters, it's hard to say. Culture war? Try the Rosenberg scandal, try the Red Scare. Vietnam was just the icing on the cake. We are not a country characterized by life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we are a country based on revolution, disagreement and strife. So please stop lamenting the loss of our founding fathers' values, because quite frankly? They sucked.

So, all this is to say, I now belong to the "I don't know" party, and I'm going to stay there for a good long while. I don't know more than my neighbor, I really don't, and I'm not going to vilify him or her for seeing the world differently than I do. It seems counterproductive and counterintuitive, and I'm not going to do it, no matter how much I hate individual politicians.

Just say "I don't know."

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