Sunday, August 13, 2006

Confessions of a former Nader voter, part 2

Continued from here.

Long after the 2000 election fiasco, I was talking about this with a good friend of mine (who had supported Nader in Florida, no less...) and she explained that we made this miscalculation because we were too young when Reagan was first elected. We were just little kids at the time, so we weren't politically aware enough to have learned anything from it.

But while that whole mess of sorting out the results in Florida was still going on, I didn't know what to think. So I followed the story on the news to try to figure it out.

Of course Nader was in the national spotlight because if not for him, Gore would easily have won. (Also, without the electoral college and other amusing quirks of the US presidential election system, Gore would have won.)

I don't remember what Nader said. It was probably something about building a viable progressive third party -- not necessarily objectionable on principle, but inappropriate in the face of the surrounding disaster.

All I remember is that he didn't say the one thing I wanted to hear him say:

"This is a travesty. Is this really the United States of America? Here we see election 'irregularities' to rival any banana republic, and the election has totally failed to express the will of the people. This election demonstrates that urgent need for a constitutional amendment for election reform now."

If he had said that, I would almost have felt vindicated, like "Okay, this is very bad, but the country has learned a valuable lesson from it, so we're closer to finally solving the problem." Instead I felt like "Boy, was I ever stupid!!!"

Between the election and the moment when Bush Jr. took office, my husband and I packed our bags and moved to France. It wasn't because of the election -- we'd been planning the move for more than a year -- but it probably looked bad. Like I was saying to my countrymen "Oops!! Sorry about that, guys. Umm... bye!"

Over the next few years, as news from the US rolled in off the Internet, I became increasingly convinced that the country had learned absolutely nothing from the election and that nothing good would ever come of my having shunned the Democrats as being equivalent to the Republicans.

After all my years of complaining about Clinton -- that he wasn't quite good enough -- once I got to see how very much worse it is possible for a president to be, I changed my tune and was begging to have Clinton back. After this perspective realignment, I started wistfully thinking "Clinton, now there was a truly great president. What skill at diplomacy!!! And talk about fiscal responsibility!!! To think, in those days we were concerned with how best to use the surplus!!! Ah, those bonny bygone days..."

Now I imagine this blog entry is going to earn me some hate mail telling me that I'm a traitor for thinking that "W" is incompetent (and a criminal), and probably some people will want to tell me that all the godless liberals should follow my lead and move to Europe.

Let me just tell you in advance that I am quite aware of this perspective, so I'll ask you kindly not to trouble yourself by sending me a personal message to this effect or even a personal love message telling me about how you'll be praying for my (damned) soul. There are plenty of god-free and/or liberal people out there who enjoy debating and would appreciate your message more than I would.

By the time the 2004 election rolled around, I had completely repented of my earlier Naderism and was ready to go on the campaign trail for Kerry. Through the Internet, I encouraged people back home to support Kerry, and I made sure that all three of the US citizens working in my office here in France were registered to vote via absentee ballot.

I know lots of people said stuff like "Kerry is just politics as usual," but given the choice between that and the worst president in the history of the United States, I think I'd like to have "politics as usual" back, please.

Plus I read a bunch of stuff about him in the Internet and in The New Yorker, and he seemed fine to me. For instance, he was brave enough to actually enlist when he favored war and he learned some serious lessons from what happened "over there," plus he was hilarious in that "Jib-Jab" song...

The election result was a huge disappointment. It was terrible for me to see that after four years of real experience seeing what "W" was made of, my countrymen actively chose to elect him for four more years.

Before that point, if people weren't happy about the fact that Bush basically told everyone that as the "world's policeman" he's allowed to invade any country he pleases, and if the rest of the world has anything to say about it, they can just kiss his ass, at least I could say to them "It's just Bush -- not the American people. He wasn't even really elected!!!"

Not anymore.

After the election, I wore black for three days in mourning for my beautiful yet foolish homeland. My colleagues were pretty kind and understanding. I remember friendly calls of "Courage, Carole !" ;-)

Will W's administration cause more Americans to wake up and maybe reassess their politics a little? I hope so.

We'll see...

24 comments:

The Sinister Porpoise said...

Clinton was not good at diplomacy. Not that the current guy is much better. Clinton was a mediocre president and will be judged as such historically. He also made some key mistakes like not accepting the offer to have Osama Bin Laden turned over to the U.S.

Bush could have been regarded as a great president, but I think he's botched things too badly now.

C.L. Hanson said...

Clinton could have been better and could have been worse.

As for the idea that there's any way in heaven or Earth "W" could ever have been a great president, well I'm afraid we're just going to have to agree to disagree on that one... ;-)

The Sinister Porpoise said...

He had the opportunity. Then again, I'm registered as a Republican and didn't think much of Clinton, but with a historical perspective, we've had worse presidents, we've had better.

Theodore Roosevelt probably was a better president than his cousin, but circumstances led FDR to greatness.

Rebecca said...

I just hope people reassess their politics before it's too late and the Constitution is just this thing we once had. I remember that, as a Mormon, I was often told that the day would come when America's freedom hung by a thread. Hmmm...

C.L. Hanson said...

Hey Rebecca!!!

Good point -- I hadn't even thought about that prophecy...

See? The Mormons are just supporting Bush because they want to help encourage the "end times" to come sooner....

Joseph's Left One said...

No hate mail from me. I'm still sifting through the debris of my political views. The one thing I'm certain of is that incompetence is not affiliated with a single party. What we've seen over the last few years has been breathtaking.

C.L. Hanson said...

Hey JLO!!!

Yeah, I don't mean to imply that one party has a monopoly on incompetence. Yet I think the current administration displays it to a truly exceptional degree.

I'm not insisting my friends agree with me on this point, but if you're curious as to my reasons, the article I linked to in this post outlines the situation pretty well.

Joseph's Left One said...

Actually, I was agreeing with you. I personally think the last two administrations were grossly incompetent. The biggest problem with the current administration is that the legislative branch does not serve as a check to its power, so it's free to be as incompetent as it wants to be. I'm convinced that the fiscal discipline of the 90s was a result of a divided government. I wish we had that now.

Cynthia E. Bagley said...

I don't like to argue about this administration because my vote was not counted (I did vote for this administration but because I had absentee ballot and it went through the military mail system... all of those votes were shredded and not counted.)

I admit that I was and still am a Reaganite... Why? Because I remember what happened when Pres. Carter was Prez... and the year before Reagan became president we were going through a spiralling depression. At the time, there were predictions that we would soon see a CRASH, worse than the first one. As soon as Reagan took the reins, then the economy settled... it was almost miraculous. It was a very scary time.

But, I do like political debate. I believe that without it... we will turn into another penny-ante dictatorship.

C.L. Hanson said...

Hey JLO!!!

That's a very good albeit nuanced point. On the one hand, a divided government has difficulty making progress, but on the other hand has difficulty writing a blank check for a ton of pork...

Hey Cynthia!!!

You're right that the economy is really the bottom line!!!

That's one of the main reasons why I've been willing to take a second look at the Clinton administration and why W's administration has been such a shockingly abysmal failure. Despite his slogans, W's administration has betrayed the Republican tradition by being neither conservative nor "small government"...

Cynthia E. Bagley said...

Yea... I have had a problem with W's spending habits. He is NOT a Reaganite...

And I see that you knew immediately what I was saying when I used the term. LOL

Cynthia E. Bagley said...

Also... I agree that a divided government has a problem writing a "blank check." Both my hubby and I have been disenfranchised from the new political process. Republicans and Democrats are looking more and more the same.

I have been for small government and fiscal responsibility for a long time. (all my life)

C.L. Hanson said...

I agree, and I think most people are for small government overall, but -- regardless of party -- individual congressmen can't help but want to negotiate to increase govenrment spending in in their home district.

It's one of the subtle political givens that are tricky for voters to deal with since obviously you can't vote to get rid of the congressman representing some other place who has lots of clout and seniority, and who's looking out for his district first...

Cynthia E. Bagley said...

Yes, and they don't see the dangers when it is for their home district.

Also, we have a welfare class that believes they have a "right" to welfare. I have a sister who is one of those... And of course, welfare states... I could go on and on. (trying to climb down off the soapbox) :-)

Johnny said...

For me the fact that Nader ran again in 2004 was too much. I kept thinking haven't you done enough??!!

For me 2004 was just as devastating. Re-electing Bush was like writing a blank check for the type of military action we have seen during the last 3 years. Case in point, when Bush/Cheney wanted to implement their aggressive tax cuts, the first treasury secretary Paul O'Neil warned them that this would cause major deficits. Cheney's reply was that Reagan did it and the people still re-elected him.

btw, i read the link you posted interesting stuff.

C.L. Hanson said...

Hey Johnny!!!

I wasn't really surprised he ran again in 2004. I think he lost a lot of supporters, though, after what happened in 2000...

Joseph's Left One said...

As a recovering conservative, I have to agree that Bush has in no way been true to the conservative philosophy of the last 40 years.

That said, I'm beginning to think that Western European social democracy is not a bad way to go. We often hear of the failures of the welfare state there, but they seem to function reasonably well, and I'm sure their convenience stores aren't filled with cans soliciting money for some child's cancer treatment.

C.L. Hanson said...

I can only speak from my own personal experience here, but my impression of the European system has been pretty positive... :D

Cynthia E. Bagley said...

I don't know... Germany was doing really well until they reabsorbed East Germany (I was there during that period)...

The West Germans were very unhappy about the welfare state because they had paid so much into it, but the Russians and East Germans ... who came into the country after the wall fell pretty much bankrupted their welfare...

We lived in a small village in Germany and we heard all of the gripes.

Cynthia E. Bagley said...

Also... they preferred immigrants from American than from the East block countries because we had that puritan work ethic. LOL

Watt Mahoun said...

Hi C.L.,

Thanks for the link from Purim.

I'm totally with you on the need for election and campaign reform. A few things need to happen in this country before things will stop getting worse:
1. Political office must be opened to ideas and skill first instead of money and connections
2. The minority party(s) must be empowered and encouraged to operate as a true opposition government
3. The press/media must be de-monopolized
4. Joe Schmo needs to get seriously pissed-off

This stuff ain't happening very quickly so I doubt we'll see much change by 2008 let alone this November.

My feeling is that the cultural revolution of the 60's and 70's will have to come back like a morning-after. I think it's coming...but slowly.

C.L. Hanson said...

Hey Watt!!!

I agree -- I think these changes are coming, but slowly.

MattMan said...

If I actually believed there was such a thing, I'd label W as an anti-christ.

Many, fairly IMO, compare Bush to Hitler, but I disagree. At least Hitler had a couple brain cells to rub together in addition to being one the biggest self-absorbed assholes to ever roam the planet.

For those who actually like W (are there any of you out there? [listening to cricket noises]), sorry, but I just can't believe that my fellow countrymen voted him back in for a second term of seeing how horrible he was.

This is the first era I can ever remember feeling truly ashamed of my country because of the inhumane baboons running it at the moment.

I agree with JLO that incompetence knows no party boundaries, but ohmygawdess, this guy is just hands-down the worst president ever.

And repeating my comment from your part 1 post, I still say one of the biggest problems is that the republican party has been hijacked by the religious right -- I can not see any way you could still consider it "conservative" what's going on, and the whole big brother theocracy style unchecked power. Like I said, worst president ever, in terms of a free country and what it stands for.

C.L. Hanson said...

Hey Mattman!!!

I think it's difficult to overstate what a truly horrible president GWB is.

One of my colleagues yesterday said that Bush publically stated that if he had information that Bin Laden was in Pakistan, he'd send troops into Pakistan. My colleague (who is from India) asked, "Um, does he know that Pakistan is another country?"

It boggles the mind that he can flush accepted international law down the toilet (things like not using torture, not invading soverign nations at will), plus trash 200 years of Constitutional precedent regarding separation of church and state among other civil liberties. And people still call him a conservative????