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.