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20 October 2004 @ 12:11 pm
This is an open letter written by a friend of mine. I've stripped out the email addresses and last names. I encourage you to post this, forward it, whatever. Sanity has to prevail. I'm not placing it behind a cut, because I want to be sure everyone sees it. Thanks.


This election is one that I am deeply concerned about, more so than any in my lifetime. For the first time in my 43 years I am profoundly concerned about the fate of the nation and the world if one candidate wins this election. That is why I am asking my family, friends and acquaintances to vote for John Kerry on November 2.

I believe that John Kerry is underestimated both as a candidate and as a potential President, and that he will make a good President. I don't agree with him on every issue, but I trust his judgment and knowledge. And I believe that this knowledge and judgment will serve the nation well. These facts will lead me to vote for him on November 2nd. I also believe that four more years of George W. Bush is not just something that would be unfortunate or something that this country can ill afford. I believe that if Bush wins, it is likely to prove tragic for the country and for the world. And that is why I am sending this e-mail today.

For a long time I considered myself a Howard Baker Republican, until the party moved away from me on its willingness to intrude into personal issues. Settling comfortably into the middle and registering as an independent with libertarian overtones, I've long considered myself a fiscal conservative and have voted for candidates of both parties. My first Presidential vote was in 1980 for a renegade Republican, John Anderson. More recently, I voted for John Warner (R-VA) in his Senate campaign because he had the personal integrity to stand against Oliver North in the 1994 Senatorial campaign. I voted for Al Gore in 2000, but I was not appalled when Bush won. Leaving the Supreme Court's reprehensible decision aside, I was hopeful that
Bush would accept Gore's gracious choice not to fight until the bitter end, heed the fact that he not only hadn't won a majority but not even a plurality, and would be the uniter that he had repeatedly claimed to be.

These hopes were dashed when the President turned out to be a person with a handful of policies or doctrines that often seemed to be policies in search of justifications. What I mean is that Bush would adopt a tenet of faith (tax cuts). Any rationale that presented itself ("times are good" "times are bad" etc) the answer was always what Bush wanted to have happen - Bush's desired outcomes became universal panaceas. While I'm not against some of these policies, and [my wife] and I make enough money to benefit even from tax cuts that target the top 1% of earners, the universal nature of the answer do not suggest a deep consideration of the public's interest or intellectual honesty. Instead it suggests a grasping for a means to achieve a goal whatever the actual merits of the policy. Deregulation being left in the hands of the industries to the detriment of the public and the environment didn't surprise me; although I was concerned about it I didn't regard it as an imminent threat to the country. The President's willingness to change the Constitution to further the agenda of his base, and to take a surplus and run it into
a staggering deficit in an astonishingly short period of time, all gave me reasons to question his judgment and to vote against him. As a person with libertarian tendencies, I can't help but notice that under Bush the era of big government is back, and it's peeking into your house and spending your children's future while exhibiting disturbing signs not of capitalism, but crony capitalism. But even these issues, serious as they are, did not lead me to actively fear for the nation's future. It is in the Administration's foreign policy that this fear truly takes root.

My disappointment in the President ebbed when, in the days after 9/11, he spoke eloquently for the wounds that the country felt and the resolve that the country needed. The world stood with us, and a real opportunity to unite the nation and the world against terrorism presented itself. That opportunity is now lost, and the world is a more dangerous place for it. The move into Afghanistan was almost universally hailed; Bush doesn't talk about it, but the much maligned French provide one of the larger combat groups in Afghanistan. But moving into Iraq was deeply disturbing. Not that it happened - removing Saddam Hussein is a good thing. I supported the effort to remove Hussein at the time, but as I told my (Republican) brother before the war I had no faith in the Administration's ability to manage the runup to the war, the postwar cleanup or the reconstruction. These concerns were of course bourne out. More disturbing is that the headlong rush to war revealed Bush's previous pattern of taking a tenet of faith (war in Iraq) and seizing any argument to support it regardless of the strength of that argument, and without consideration of his or the nation's credibility.

Even after all of these considerations, if the President was willing to even consider that he had made mistakes and to learn from them, or even to demonstrate flexibility of thought, I would be much more sanguine about the country's future. I wouldn't vote for him, but I wouldn't fear his election. As the justifications for war in Iraq have fallen away one by one (and Bush offered several), the one that he is left with is the support of democracy. This is a good one, and one that I support as the best means of fighting terrorism. But Bush is late to the table on this, and his actions in supporting authoritarian regimes in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan give any reformers in the middle east one place to go - to the Islamic extremists. In short, Bush's actions belie his rhetoric, and indicate that he is grasping at a straw not because he believes in it, but because it gets him what he wants - support in the war and re-election. Osama bin Ladin and his ilk want a holy war with the west. My nightmare fear is that the President and his crew will give it to them. And in that horrific conflict, his "universal alienation" foreign policy will leave us with few allies to stand with us and few resources to fight even as his polices along the way have slowly but surely been breaking our military.

And nothing in Bush indicates that he will change. The opposite is true - he has demonstrated that he doesn't respond well to challenge; his performance in the debates underscores something that is already apparent: when challenged, his gut response is to deny, change the subject, or just outright lie. It's not just that facts are not an issue for him; his ability to ignore them and deny them is astonishing even for a politician. I'm not talking about fudged statistics or distorting opponent's positions, although Bush and Cheney do both with aplomb. It is in uttering obvious lies with utter conviction ("you said global test" "I never suggested that" "I never met you" "I don't own a lumber company" "I never said that") that reveals either a denial of reality or a true contempt for the voter, the opponent, the process and the media. Concerns expressed even by members of his own party are brushed aside, ignored, or the dissenter is turned on with a vicious smear machine. And his proxies respond to dissent or expression of concern as coddling terrorists and treasonous. Treason, of course, justifies extreme measures to combat it. My fear for our freedoms at home matches my fear for our nation in the war against terrorism.

I pray fervently every day that I am wrong about the consequences of a Bush victory. But even after prayer the concerns remain. Thank you for reading these thoughts, and thank you for voting responsibly.
Zachxugaajh on October 20th, 2004 09:18 am (UTC)
But take a moment to sit and consider the following...

Doesn't look like such a good choice now does he?
Elle: Sinkingtheletterelle on October 20th, 2004 10:03 am (UTC)

Is that a joke? Or a troll?

And The Clocks Were Striking Thirteen: Bitch Please_redpanda_ on October 20th, 2004 11:50 am (UTC)
I call troll. And yes, if this vote was about being athletic ability, I'd vote for the one who ISN'T an asshole jock, thank you very much.
Elletheletterelle on October 20th, 2004 12:00 pm (UTC)
Huh. How did a troll find me? I don't have a wide readership. How odd.

And I know, right? WTF do I care whether the president can catch a football?

President John Kerry. I just keep saying it over and over in my mind, and I feel happy.