A Different Choice
August 7, 2004
by Aden Nak
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
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
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
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
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 ½ years? I'd guess
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 ½ 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
President Bush certainly does seem to have the "try something"
part covered, but frank admissions have never been part of the Bush
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.