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FF Sparks (Casual)

[Politics] Bleh.

Note: While normally I am open to folks posting different views in my journal, I really am not in the mood today. Posting 'yay Bush, Kerry is a l0s3r!!1!' type stuff will not go over well. I respect that you have the right to vote for who you want, and to be happy over it. I hope you will also respect the fact that gloating over it today is a good way to get punched in the face. ;)

Anyway, my post is LJ-cut, so you don't need to read it if you don't want to. But for my own peace of mind, I need to say it. Consider the LJ-cut my "free speech zone," so that just like Bush himself with protesters, you can pretend I'm not there or not saying things, because the words are out of sight behind orange cordoning tape and held back by the policemen of the LJ-cut. :P

Is this election the end of the world? No. But is it worse than any we've yet seen? Yes. And here's why.

Not just because Bush won. Yeah, I don't like Bush. I think that under him our rights and freedoms are being eroded steadily, I think he's bad for the country, and I think things like the Halliburton stuff show a frightening degree of corruption in our country. I can, actually, believe (though I'm disinclined to) that he went into Iraq honestly believing it was part of the war on terror and not about oil, but I want him impeached for lying to the 9/11 commission, changing his story, and trying to blockade it. If it's right and justified to haul Clinton up before an impeachment court because he got a blow-job, I think Bush has more than earned himself the same right.

But I don't really like most politicians, and as much as I wanted Kerry to win, I don't necessarily know for certain he'd have been any better. (I just believe 'better to take a chance' than 'better to stick with the evil you know' in this case.) This time, for whatever reason, a majority of the nation voted for Bush... so he is by rights our commander-in-chief.

Then why does this election disturb me so much?

Despite an unprecedented effort to 'get out the vote,' many news outlets are reporting that there was actually no real rise in voters. Evidently, still only 17% of the youth vote went out and voted, and the minorities didn't vote in any greater numbers either. For me, I spent time and energy doing canvassing a couple weekends for the Dean campaign, I donated money to them, and even after Dean withdrew I remained involved in Democracy for America trying to help get out the vote. If we didn't increase the voting public, what was the point?

I also know a lot of people who held off voting despite my pressuring them to, because they felt they 'couldn't make the decision' and now they're going to bitch about the results. Some already are. SHUT THE HELL UP. If you choose not to vote, you also choose to give up any right to complain about the results of the decision, since you removed yourself from the process.

This gives one party nearly unrestricted control of the government. I don't want either party, not even mine, having complete control. We now have an executive branch where the chief of state admits that he takes his orders from God and feels he has a divine mandate and cannot be wrong. We have a legislative branch where that party has gained additional power, to the point that they quite nearly have the ability to block filibusters. This means the legislature can all but rubber-stamp Bush administration appointments, which is certainly convenient, since it's coming time for new Supreme Court appointments! The prospect of complete government control by one party terrifies me, since any time we've approached it with either party, the government starts to get really strange and out of control.

This is the most divisive election I've seen in my life. And at the end of it, Bush supporters said that he would continue to govern to the religious right. This doesn't necessarily mean that Kerry would have been any more of a uniter, though I believe he would be, but Bush is unapologetic and unabashed about the fact that he is the president of the fundamentalist Christian right and has no intentions to change this. I could stomach this a lot better if I didn't think the divide in the American public was going to widen and increase over the next four years. There are people going around gloating about Bush's victory, and I have already heard people saying that a vote against Bush was a vote against God, and that heathens have been slapped down.

There's always been some division, hyperbole and extremism -- many Republicans viewing Democrats almost entirely as tree-hugging granola-eating liberals waiting for the mothership to arrive, and the far-left Democrats viewing Republicans as inbred fundmentalist redneck hicks who'd block gay marriage but see nothing wrong with marrying their sister or first cousin. But those were extremes, and most people in the parties -- at least, I like to think -- just agreed that the other party had differing political views, despite occasional rhetoric spouted by the fringes in each election. Now, however, the divide is far more hateful and deep of late. And yes, we still have the freedom to discuss that... as long as such discussions aren't allowed anywhere near the president or his men. "Free speech zones," things like that... the more divided the country gets, the more they try to isolate the leader from any of it. And that worries me too.

My view on America has changed. I've been going through the past four years telling myself that though America was deeply divided but it was a temporary thing. That, at heart, we're still one great nation even if we couldn't agree on things. But this election is convincing me otherwise, not because of the votes but because of the things we heard the parties and voters saying. I don't think America's a nice whole anymore. I think, no matter what Bush does in the next four years, we're seeing the face of government changed.

It seems to me we're seeing a world where religion governs politics, and that seems like a change. In decades past, Kennedy had to run specifically trying to convince voters that although he was Catholic, he wouldn't be too closely tied to the church. This election, we have a man who claims to speak to God and have God speak back, who openly says he governs by divine mandate, and who wins doing it. Who, in fact, many voters approve of specifically because he says he's God's candidate. If you did, that's fine, you can vote whichever way you choose for whatever reason you chose... but it is a change; America of today is a nation where divine mandate is claimed as a factor in politics and held up as a justification for actions. And while others may be comfortable with that -- evidently a majority of Americans are -- I am not; even if Bush is only for four years, I feel that this is going to leave a mark on the government for a long time to come.

We're also seeing the 'might makes right' mentality. Granted, we've always seen some of that in politics, and it's possible to swing too far the other way, but we're in an extreme right now. While some international leaders do support Bush, the vast majority of the international community seems horrified at what's going on in our nation. Our current government /is/ cutting ties and burning bridges, and that will have a lasting mark, too; in an increasingly small world, I don't feel America can stand alone indefinitely. I think this is going to come back and bite us, and badly, at some point in the future.

And as I said above, the country is deeply divided. The current government has not only shown no signs of wanting to smooth things over, but has instead made sneering comments on election night which imply they plan to further widen the divide. A divided country is an unhappy one; you see tensions, stress and generally hateful behavior on the rise, on both sides. I don't see the next four years being healing, and at this moment I DO think they would have been to some extent under John Kerry of necessity; without trying to heal the schism in our nation, he wouldn't have had the support to actually get anything /done/.

The majority's spoken about their America... and it's not mine. There are certainly similarities; we both take pride in our nation, and in our history. But the majority want a nation where the division of church and state is no longer necessary; not being mainstream Christian (I'm Quaker, which is a type of Christianity, but the west coast flavor is pretty liberal), I disagree, especially as it was religion and government becoming too closely entwined which led most people to come to the states centuries ago. We have Republican officials who've outright stated that they think unmarried women, or single mothers should not be allowed to work in education because it sets a bad example and promotes un-Christian family values!

The majority of our nation feels that homeland security is more important than personal freedom; I disagree, because I feel once you remove freedoms 'temporarily' it's a slippery slope, and some freedoms never come back. "Some rights have to be lost for the safety of all" is, as I understand it, more or less the reason many a dictator has originally used for removing rights which never come back. Many a regime which eventually gets decried for human rights abuses -- holding dissidents without recourse, torturing for confessions, etc. -- start with the removal of rights for 'the greater good.' As such, the idea of 'free speech' zones -- the concept that you're allowed to say whatever you want as long as you do it far away and out of sight -- frightens me deeply because of what it implies for future changes, as do things like the Patriot Act's far-reaching implications for personal privacy. And once rights are taken away, history shows that it is far harder to get them back.

The majority of our nation feels that we have the power and right to remove regimes in other nations which we do not agree with; while I agree we can't back out of Iraq now, I disagree on the sentiment. They say we had a right because Iraq affects our fossil fuel supply; alright, so that means a nation who affects your welfare, you have a right to a say in the governance of. They say that Hussein was not respecting personal freedoms, okay, I can buy that. But let's say some other nation looked at America, felt Bush was a walking violation of what it stood for (and no, I'm NOT comparing Bush to Hussein, but work with me here), noted that America's economy had an impact on theirs, and so invaded the US to try and remove Bush and put in a more favorable provisional government. Under this logic, if they have the ability to do so and it impacts their nation, they have the /right/ to do so. I disagree with that vehemently. (Afghanistan, I won't argue on, as they really /were/ part of 9/11; if you strike a blow at a nation, they are absolutely entitled to fight back, and we did.)

Yes, the president is transient, and there's only four years of Bush. But the majority has spoken about what they want America to be, a fundamental shift which will take decades to undo if it ever is undone (because I fully expect the Democratic party to start playing the faith card much more actively as well now, in hopes of courting a huge voting bloc they didn't realize was there). It isn't, in short, a president which we elected... it was a pivotal moment in the definition of what our country is. I think we made the wrong decision, dangerously so, but evidently a majority of the nation disagreed with me.

And so after this election, I don't know that I have the energy or desire to fight for a government which it seems the rest of the nation no longer wants. Maybe I'll find the energy again. Right now, I don't have it.


I think my answer for the next four years is going to be, "Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos." But seriously... I think there's a reason there's four years between elections, so we can muster the strength to rise up and try to switch administrations through the election process.

I did two PSAs for radio, targetted specifically at youth voters, only to find out less than one in ten voters were youth. Ugh. Speaking as a former youth: double Ugh.

-- ZC
I think both sides have been pretty shameful, myself. I can't stand either of the main political parties, and both candidates had strengths and weaknesses.

I do admit I was hoping we'd end up with the executive branch and legislative branch of different parties -- in either way.

And I agree, no gloating. But the thing is, I really don't think that many of those who voted for Kerry would be restraining themselves either, had their side won. I do, however, hope that the venom spewed has made both sides think about things and be willing to try and work together for the betterment of everything, because that's far more important than who is president. At least to me.
I like to think Kerry supporters would not be as in-your-face taunting as some Bush supporters have been, nor would they gloat that this proves their party and candidate are blessed by God and given the divine right to rule (again, as some Bush supporters have been doing). However, this may admittedly be idealistic and wishful thinking on my part. :)

However, I also think this election was unique inasmuch as that Kerry supporters really, genuinely, honestly believed far more than usual that the outcome of the election will determine the future of the nation. It's not just four years, it was far more. In 2000, I was disappointed when Gore lost, but it didn't feel like a pivotal moment which would change everything. This year, it does, and so I think Kerry folks are taking it a lot harder than Gore folks did in 2000.

I know I sure as hell am.
I've been trying to avoid reading the gloating on the one side and the sky is falling mentality on the others. Divine right to rule, my ass. :) I'm afraid that it might have been just as bad had Kerry won, given the amount of hatred I still see... especially directed at the people who voted for Bush! I think we can't think good of radicals on either side :)

However, for a very nice, and definitely non-gloating comment on it from a person who voted for Bush, I just found this one a few minutes ago.

That was certainly not a nice and non-gloating comment. It was condescending as hell.
I was linked to this post by a friend; thankyou for your thought. Thanks for reassuring me that there are people who are very deeply concerned by what's happened.
Are you sure about that 17% statistic? I thought it was that 17% of the voter turnout was young people. Which was the same as the last election. The analyst I saw (and, well, yes, it _was_ CNN, and therefore highly suspect) said that what happened was that voter turnout was high in all demographics. So, lots of young people _did_ turn out. But then, so did lots of old, white rich people.

Anyway, you all tried. I weep for the future, but it isn't the fault of anyone I know.
I've seen various summaries.

I've seen:

  • People voted mostly like they did last time. Supposedly Kerry retained 90% of Gore voters from 2000, and Bush retained 90% of his voters from 2000.
  • There were millions of new voters. Supposedly 60% of these voters went Kerry.
  • There was no additional voter turnout at polls. The overall numbers turned in on election night supposedly total about the same as in 2000 in terms of numbers of votes per area.

So, obviously, not all of these can be true. So I don't know for certain what the voter turnout was in comparison to 2000. But I know there are media outlets making the claim that there were no new voters at the polling places on election night.
I can see ONE bright point in all this. This is four more years to impeach Bush for incredibly unpresidential action, or for him to (fond but vain hope) be tried for war crimes. The thought of this is all that's keeping me from breaking into tears at work.
Don't be silly. To get impeached, you have to do something really horrible. Like get a couple extramarital blowjobs. (Yeah, I know Clinton was impeached because he lied about said blowjobs in court, which was really stupid of him, but I don't believe for a moment that that's what the impeachment was really about.)

I keep trying to remind myself that the people who write solemn articles saying that Bush thinks he's on a mission from God are the equivalent of the people who wrote solemn articles analyzing Clinton's personality and declaring him a sociopath, but it's getting harder.

And on the other side, I keep getting pissed off at those liberals who declare, "I hate this country! I'm moving to Canada!" Yeah, way to convince the flag-wearing conservatives that we care about this country as much as they do, guys. One of my biggest peeves about political attitudes in this country is the conviction some conservatives have that liberal = anti-American.

Uh, wow, that was longer than I meant it to be.
Actually, for an impeachment, what you need is a Congress in the hands of the other guys.

No hope of that until 2006, if then.
Yeah, I know I'm totally unrealistic about expecting people to hold a Republican president to the same standards that they held a Democrat president to, but a girl can dream.

And to those people who are convinced that protest is anti-American, I can only quote The American President at them and explain that it's my RESPONSIBILITY to question my president.

I did consider moving, but every liberal who moves is one more shift to the right that we just can't afford. I'm going to stay and fight.
*shrug* For myself, I am considering Canada. Not directly because of this, though.

I've been talking for some time with friends about getting a chunk of land and looking into raising horses; I'm tired of renting houses in the city, and while I love Seattle, I do kind of want to try something different (and something I can put time and money into over the years, instead of tossing money down the black hole of rent). Horse farm properties are way cheaper up in BC (around Langley and Chilliwack) than in Washington, so that's where we've been looking.

That said, I'd be lying if I were to claim that a bitterness and exhaustion after this election was not spurring me to consider finding a farm more quickly than I had planned. :P
Well, that's different. Those are Valid Reasons For Going To Canada. My issue is with the liberals who run around declaring that they hate this country. DO NOT FEED THE FUNDIES. And for that matter, the non-fundies who genuinely believe that liberals are just like terrorists. There are more and more of those these days.
Logic went something like this. Small horse farm property costs:

Chilliwack, BC -- roughly US$450k
Langely, BC -- roughly US$500-530k
Bellingham, WA -- roughly US$1M

Yeah, lemme think about where I wanna look into getting a horse farm. Hey, doing it in BC, I might actually have money left... FOR HORSES, TOO! ;)
Bah. That should've been Langley. Caffeine-deprivation and sleepless CNN-watching nights lead to typos. ;P
The property in both Langley and Chilliwack is beautiful... while I don't care to raise horses or anything I have thought of getting out of the city and getting a small lot of land to live on and if I need to commute to the city... its just so much nicer. Being as I already live in Vancouver BC, its not like I would be *jumping ship* though my piece of advice, you might want to start thinking about your plan happening kind of soon, one land costs are going up in BC especially since the whole 2010 Winter Olympics will be there, and while I haven't checked in the last day or so, the US dollar has not been faring too well. If things continue we might have a 1:1 dollar exchange... do it while your money is worth more... if you can that is.

As one of those liberals who 1) lives in another country already and 2) doesn't plan on going back to the States permanently until Bush is out of office, I'd like to point out that there isn't much that a person can do to oust a sitting president when his party controls both the judicial and legislative branches of the government at the same time.

Rally all you want, make up your signs, have your petitions. Democrats busted their balls to win this election and they still lost, because they can't change the minds of zealots or erase the apathy of the people who simply reject a participatory government in favor of Playstation.

So I'm staying away until Bush is gone. Maybe longer, if things get bad there. There's a fine American tradition of buggering off for foreign shores when the regime at home gets too tyrannical. That's sort of how our country got started in the first place, after all.
"There's a fine American tradition of buggering off for foreign shores when the regime at home gets too tyrannical. That's sort of how our country got started in the first place, after all."

Loss of cultural identity is indeed opressive, if one is a Puritan living in the Netherlands.
I... largely... agree with your view on the matter. I think anyone who flees because of politics has largely missed the point of being invovled with politics in the first place. Those who disagree will leave. And good riddance. You gotta take the good with the bad.

Unfortunately, this looks pretty bad, for my part at least. I expect I'll be even busier about fighting tooth and nail the Christian Lysenkoism that seems inevitable after this election. This gets awfully tiresome after a while, but I'm prepared. Shit, I should just give up make that my only goddamn hobby.

I guess a favor John Scalzi's view on the matter. I'd rather fight and bloody some noses. Intellectually speaking. I guess.
The beauty of living overseas is that I can still take part in democratic government. I just don't have to watch Bush's ugly mug on the television every night. _AND_ my taxes don't go to support him. In fact, I'm not going to pay any income tax on the money I'm earning overseas at all. Grand, isn't it?

I can write letters, I can vote, I can send faxes to my congressmen. To be blunt, most expatriates are more politically active and aware than most people who stay at home. I think if you checked you'd find that voting rates for expatriates are pretty high.

There's no reason I can't fight while at the same time not living in a country full of people who make me violently ill whenever they start talking about their politics. I like living overseas. It's interesting. I get to see a different side of the issues than Americans do. It's broadening my mind.

When the next election rolls around, I'll be happy to come back and fight. But the bout is over. The lights are out, the ring is empty. This fight is finished. Call me in 4 years for the next one and I'll be happy to step up. In the meantime I'm not going to live in a country filled with Bushies. Period.
Apart from the tax issue (and the practical value of overseas living), there doesn't, then, seem to be much practical difference between living overseas and staying "home."

In any case, I don't think these comments should be considered for people who maintain US citizenship. I know one person I've argued with didn't mean to retain US citizenship, disgusted as he was with the entire outcome.

If you can maintain citizenship, or dual citizenship, great. (Of course, if you want to go completely native, that's also great, actually. A different great, obviously.)

For some of us, leaving the US isn't an option. For one, I do like it here. That 60 million USAians voted for Bush doesn't bother me all that much; I accept them as human and, well, in this case, wrong. (I may have wanted to constantly hit Tim Eyman with a frying pan when I lived in Washington, but deep down (way down), I'm sure he's human or something.)

Most of my fights happen at the state to the school board level; someone who lives locally is going to be--quite bluntly--more effective and influential than someone who lives and works in South Africa. You can't put up signs, man phones, or stand and picket--and I think arguing with people in person (civilly, obviously) is more likely to have an impact on an individual level than passively casting votes and faxes and e-mail from afar.

I recognize that it's also likewise true that I'm going to be less effective influencing (say) Georgian state politics--I just don't live there. The best I can hope for in those cases is being loud and magnifying Georgia's embarassment. I can't pick and choose where I live in order to maximize my political influence (kind of a reverse gerrymandering); but I think I'd rather live where I do rather than a more liberal (i.e. scientifically conservative) community actually--I like to think I've a better shot at being a positive influence here than elsewhere. Sometimes, the best place to create a stink is in the middle of the cheese factory.

(Although I would immediately accept an offer to live in Japan again. Airfare would have to be paid in advance, however, and I'd need a substantial amount of Pocky money. I miss Japan for utterly non-political reasons.)
(I may have wanted to constantly hit Tim Eyman with a frying pan when I lived in Washington, but deep down (way down), I'm sure he's human or something.)

You have more faith than I.
Isn't Long Pig human? I'm just asking.
On election night, after the results were in, I was deeply saddened by the whole event. I could not properly describe why at the time, but your post is a better description of why than I could ever provide. America has a really hard time ahead of it now that we have created a half-intertwined theocracy of our government. Saddly, I was one month away from being able to vote, but I can not wait until the next elections (not the presidential, the legislative) to do my part to get things back on track.

I hope you don't mind if I give this link to a couple of my friends. I think it is really good and would like to pass it on, but if you mind I won't give it to them. I do greatly appreciate your post. Truly.