Election Year Blues

I am amazed by what some people are saying about the presidential candidates.

I don’t make a habit of using my Web site as a forum for voicing my political views — especially political views on the presidential level — especially during an election year.

But the other day I got a phone call from my sister-in-law, Missy. Missy had heard on the radio that the democratic candidate, John Kerry, was coming to the Grand Canyon on a campaign stop. (I really did have to wonder about that. The vast majority of people at the GC are not registered to vote in the U.S., probably because they don’t live in the U.S. I suspect he just wanted to see the GC and figured he’d make the trip a write-off by doing it on his campaign tour.) I’m not quite sure why Missy brought this to my attention. Perhaps she thought I was at the GC. (She did call me on my cell phone.) But it got us talking about the candidates.

My brother and his wife live in New Jersey. Like many people who live in New Jersey, they’re in tune with reality (as opposed to the current fairy tale about truth, justice, and the American way spun by the republican party and its chief talking head, George Jr.). Like me, they believe that the current president sold the country a bill of goods when he claimed a war in Iraq was necessary to prevent Saddam Hussein from wiping us out with his weapons of mass destruction (WMD). I’m not sure why he really started that war, but I do recall his repeated claims at a press conference that we were going to “change the world.” Perhaps he wanted to go down in history books as the president who changed the world? Or maybe his motives were more basic: a desire to help out his Texas buddies and their friends with lucrative contracts for the rebuilding of Iraq.

Anyway, Missy told me she was really caught up in the election stuff this year. I told her I was looking forward to the debates. I said that Kerry would wipe the floor with George Jr. Although I believe George is an excellent speaker and can read a speech so well that even I can start believing and (heaven help me) agreeing with him, I don’t think he’ll be able to answer the questions in a debate without resorting to pre-rehearsed speeches. I’m just curious to see how much he can memorize in advance, how well he can match those canned responses with live questions, and how much the panel of questioners let him get away with.

Missy also brought up something that I’d noticed and had me concerned. It was the fact that the pro-Bush people were extremely pro-Bush to the extent that they wouldn’t even discuss Bush’s shortcomings or Kerry’s strengths. It was like these people were brainwashed. Very scary. Needless to say, it’s keeping me pretty quiet where I know I’m around Bush supporters.

It reminds me of something that happened when I was a freshman in college. Mind you, I was 17 years old at the time and this has stuck with me since it happened. It was in economics class. The professor had a discussion going and a guy named Mike from Pennsylvania stated “America is the greatest country in the world.” That’s a fine statement, but when the professor asked him why, he couldn’t explain why. He just kept repeating his original statement, as if it were an explanation. Another guy in the class whose name was also Mike, was all over that. Soon a mini war had erupted with PA Mike repeating his statement over and over while the other Mike (let’s call him Commie Mike) kept giving all kinds of examples of why America might not be the greatest country in the world. Poor PA Mike was terribly upset — kind of like a staunch republican having to listen to evidence that Bush may have known all along that Iraq didn’t have WMD. And Commie Mike was getting frustrated, trying to debate an issue with a person who just couldn’t argue his side. The professor just sat back in his chair with a smile on his face. We were getting a lesson — at least I was — and he wasn’t doing a thing.

Anyway, I don’t think much of Bush. I don’t think much of Kerry, either, but he’s got to be better than another four years of Bush. I don’t think we should be in Iraq. I don’t think we should have alienated ourselves from the rest of the western world. I think the U.S. should be a team player; not the bully with the best toys who starts trouble with less fortunate kids. I also think we should work on freeing ourselves from dependence on foreign oil — or any oil. Heck, the world will run out sooner or later. And I think the government should be more concerned with U.S. jobs going overseas and affordable health care than whether Iraq has good roads and sewer systems.

But heck, that’s just me. What do I know?

What do you think?