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A Different Choice

August 7, 2004
by Aden Nak

Quiet Confessional

I have a confession to make, and it's not an easy thing for me to do. You see, I've always taken something of an interest in politics. But up until recently, it was a very cynical interest at best. I viewed the Democrats and the Republicans as two variants on the same theme. However, I also viewed the Democrats as being a more benign variant, a party that at least had respectable ideals and goals, even if it sometimes failed to come through on its promises.

But even with that distinction clear in my mind, I saw only a passing, superficial difference between Democrats and Republicans. It was always a choice between the lesser of two evils. I would voice my political opinion, and I would vote when an election was going to be close, but my heart was never really in it. I always knew, deep down, that the system would continue to chew me up and spit me back out again no matter who was in power. Elections, from my point of view, were about choosing between the Status Quo (D) and the Status Quo (R).

All of that has changed.

The Democrats, I believe, are still mostly Status Quo (D) material. There's nothing wrong with that that isn't actually a greater issue of the semi-functionality of government and the misapplication of democracy therein; in other words, the reason that so many people from my generation feel such apathy towards politics in the first place. However, the Republican offering this Presidential election is anything but the Status Quo (R). He is something much, much worse.

The Bush Administration is a perfect example of why different is not always better. It defies any coherent political label other than Neo-Conservative which is, at best a muddled term that means many different things to many different people. Whatever label you apply to it, the Bush Administration employs an insidious, strong-arm brand of thuggery that would make Nixon shake his head and sigh in dismay.

Arrogance of Office

One of the most frightening things about the Bush Administration is its complete lack of accountability. It is a breach of trust between the "leaders" of the nation and those people who have elected them to lead. Those people, allow me to refine and clarify that, who have granted them the honor of serving their country. If elected officials are not beholden to those that elect them, at least on some level, there can be no democracy. Let's see what George W. Bush has to say about what he owes We the People.

"I'm the commander - see, I don't need to explain - I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the President. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation." - George W. Bush, Bush at War

Now, my initial reaction, when I hear things like this coming from one of the most politically powerful men on the planet, is to feel somewhat uneasy. Did my President just say that he doesn't owe me an explanation for his own policies? Not only that, did he just suggest that this aloof, disconnected relationship with the citizens of America is one of the inherent benefits of being the President?

"To inform the minds of the people, and to follow their will, is the chief duty of those placed at their head." - Thomas Jefferson, ME: 6:342, Papers 12:360

Quite a difference of opinion there. It's especially noteworthy considering all that this President has to answer for, or at least explain. This has been an Administration of firsts, and none of them cause for much celebration. The most bothersome, though is the supposed "Bush Doctrine" of pre-emptive strikes. This is the first Administration to enter into a War of Aggression against a sovereign nation that has never attacked the United States. Regardless of your personal opinion of the War in Iraq, that is an undisputed fact.

Not even Bush himself disputes that fact, actually. His argument was that Saddam Hussein would attack the United States, so we had to attack him first. That placed the burden of proof squarely on Bush's shoulders, and yet he failed to provide any evidence, after the fact, that he was correct in this basic assumption about Hussein. So is this just another example of Bush's attitude towards the public? Is this him acting without feeling the need to justify those actions?

Not entirely. The Bush Administration is guilty of a greater arrogance than believing itself to be "above" the citizens of this country. They are guilty of believing that they are never guilty of wrongdoing. In fact, that they are never really wrong. At a recent press conference, George W. Bush was asked what his biggest mistake was since 9/11, and what he has learned from it. The question gave him a free pass on 9/11 itself, which was quite generous. However, Bush stuttered, sputtered and ultimately refused to answer the question because he could not think of a single mistake he'd made during his Presidency.

"You know, I just - I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with an answer, but it hasn't yet." - George W. Bush, April 13, 2004

He then jumped into some standard stump material about Saddam Hussein being a threat for one reason or another. It was a mixed bag of generalized conjectures about how the world is better off without him, although as always it lacked any justifying reasons for why the world was better off without him. However, in a somewhat uncharacteristic move, Bush actually brought the stump speech back around to the original question at the end.

"I hope I - I don't want to sound like I've made no mistakes. I'm confident I have. I just haven't - you just put me under the spot here, and maybe I'm not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one." - George W. Bush, April 13, 2004

That's the Bush dynamic. He's confident that he's made mistakes, but he honestly can't think of a single one. Observe his language, because it's important. The question asked what his biggest mistake was since 9/11. Bush closes his response by saying he couldn't think of a single mistake, period. How many of us are unable to think of a single thing we've done wrong in the past 2 years? I'd guess very few.

The question seems to be whether Bush really can't think of a single thing he did wrong, or whether he is simply unwilling admit to any of the mistakes he knows damn well that he made. Neither speaks very highly of the man, and neither is a quality that I would want in a leader. It reeks of arrogance, for this man to suggest that after 2 years of the most divisive, radical foreign and domestic policies that the United States has ever borne, not a single decision was made in error. A good contrast for Bush's policy of "I'm Never Wrong" is Franklin D. Roosevelt's own musings on success and failure in the Presidency.

"It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something." - Franklin D. Roosevelt

President Bush certainly does seem to have the "try something" part covered, but frank admissions have never been part of the Bush agenda.

Political Pathology

All of this arrogance could have been overlooked had George W. Bush's Presidency not coincided with the single most devastating attack on American soil by a foreign entity. If this had been the 80's or the 90's, Bush probably could have glided through his first and perhaps even his second term without much attention. His self-aggrandizing outlook could have been discarded as little more than political hubris at its least attractive.

But as President Bush is so fond of reminding us, everything changed after 9/11. There are a new set of rules in place, and we as a nation can no longer ignore the cancers of our government or our society. We cannot accept a petty tyrant who wields the U.S. Armed forces as his own personal mercenaries. We cannot be drowned out by the continuing mental assault of blatant lies and willful ignorance of the truth. This is not an administration that has simply made mistakes. This is an administration that has gone out of its way, has distorted intelligence and strong-armed the national media in order to garner enough public approval to make those mistakes. In short, this was an administration that knew it was in the wrong, and planned accordingly.

It's not just a matter of "politics as usual". That excuse doesn't hold up. Politicians lie. Of course they do. My dwindling faith in the electoral process and in the electorate itself forces me to accept this uncomfortable fact. But what the Bush Administration has done goes far beyond the normal scope of political lies and disingenuous information. They have crafted lies with a specific military agenda in mind. They are not "politics as usual". They are not the Status Quo (R).

We are dealing with a very different sort of beast this election year, and a very different sort of choice. Voting for the lesser of two evils has been the ugly fact of American politics for quite some time now, but to call John Kerry (or any number of other politicians, both Democrat or Republican) simply a "lesser evil" than the Bush Administration drastically understates the tremendously negative impact that George W. Bush's policies and actions have had on the United States as well as on the entire world.

Call To Arms

To anyone who has been apathetic, disconnected, or removed from politics; to anyone that refuses to engage the machinery of government because they believe that no real change can come from voting as long as the same two political groups hold the reins of power. . . I can sympathize. In any other election, I would agree with you completely. But this year it's not a matter of the same two groups sparring with each other. On November 2, 2004, this nation is going to choose between the Status Quo we have grown accustomed to and the deceitful madness of Imperial Wars and Social Bankruptcy.

This election is too important to sit out in disgust. Four years of George W. Bush have transformed this nation into an uglier place. We are becoming a land of cruelty and disassociated malice. We are allowing ourselves to be terrorized by the very people and institutions that were once put in place to protect us. We have become a dangerous pariah in the eyes of the world. These four years have changed the scope of our Freedom and the very understanding of our Liberties. A second term of George W. Bush could make those changes irreversible.

"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier... just so long as I'm the dictator." - George W. Bush

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." - Edmund Burke

 
Aden Nak is an easily agitatable computer technician and a woefully underemployed freelance writer. More of his personal vitriol can be found at www.adennak.com.

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