by Greg Method
"Hey hey, I've been in Paris for the last two weeks! Did I miss anything?"
Sigh, if only that was true. But no, I was up all night watching, fretting, pulling out my hair, and feeling my heart break when the outcome was inevitable. Fear and corruption won, while reason and hope went on vacation for another four years.
Whether it's shock or denial or what, I don't know, but all I keep wondering is what is wrong with this country? How did things get so far out of whack to the point where religion outweighs science and common sense, simplicity outweighs intelligence, fear outweighs peace, and failure outweighs hope?
But it's more than this year's choices, really. I think what irks me more is that by voting for Bush, people have both pardoned and vindicated him for the mess in 2000, perhaps the most corrupt, underhanded election in history. What the American people have done is allow treachery to continue, approve of shady actions, and say "Yes, you may screw with one of our nation's most sacred individual rights." We should be ashamed of ourselves for that alone.
Oh well. Whatever happened, the one thing that cannot be denied is that Kerry couldn't get the votes to work in his favor. It's a shame, because if he had won then I had a nice special treat lined up for this month's column, but apparently it was not meant to be.
And yet, two weeks later people are still discussing and debating exactly what happened with this year's election. Each side has a variety of opinions, each one more and more humorous than the last.
Many Democrats want to suggest that we don't know what we stand for, so therefore our party is suffering. Um, hello?? Over 48 percent of this country voted for the supposed "#1 liberal in the United States Senate!" John Kerry received the second most number of votes in election history! I'm not saying the Democratic Party is perfect, but it is obvious that we know enough about what we stand for to vote against the other guy in record numbers!
And believe it or not, even the Republicans are doing more finger-pointing than they are celebrating, which I would find to be quite bizarre if it was any other political party. The right wants to blame Hollywood for siding with the left, thus somehow alienating voters in an unexplained way. It should be noted that this accusation is coming from the only party that actually had a hammy actor elected president, and wants to amend the Constitution in order to elect another one!
But no, you can't blame Hollywood or Jesus for what happened. There is one clear reason why Bush won the election.
We are a nation of idiots.
And I don't mean that in a "you're stupid if you voted for Bush" way, although that argument still stands. We don't respect our bodies, our minds, or our country. We watch Survivor and Fear Factor, we shop at Wal-Mart and Marc's, we eat at McDonald's, we made Titanic the highest grossing movie of all time, we listen to Hillary Duff and N*SYNC, we go to NASCAR races, we drive Hummers and SUVs because our big fat asses won't fit on bicycle seats, we consider Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh to be "news sources," we count the WWE as a "sport," we read Wizard and Beckett price guides instead of the paper, and we vote for Arnold Schwarzenegger and George W. Bush.
A society that turns itself into the lowest common denominator is doomed to choose its leaders from that same muddy pool.
And that's not some kind of high-brow, snobbish, Mensa-based ideology, either. Seriously, look at who our choices were this year. One side had a guy who was not only a war hero but also an anti-war hero, a guy who promised to defend the civil rights of people regardless of their gender or sexual preference, a guy who actually had the balls to promise to tax the white corporate shits who have been profiting from outsourcing these last four years, a guy who pledged to work with the rest of the world to fight terrorism as opposed to defying it, and a guy whose vision consisted of looking forward in the hope that our country can do better and that our best days are still ahead of us.
Now, let's look at the other candidate. Here is a guy who fills environmental posts with former lobbyists from the biggest anti-environment industries, a guy whose unhealthy obsession with a storybook has threatened the civil rights of homosexuals and women, a guy who wants to treat Mexican immigrants like an even lower class of people than we already do, a guy who turned the largest surplus in our nation's history into the largest deficit ever, a guy who has not created a single net job in four years, a guy who forced seniors into corporate-driven prescription drug plans, a guy who let the biggest terrorist attack on our nation's soil happen because he was on vacation and didn't want to be bothered with them there pesky security reports, a guy who responded by attacking the wrong country, and a guy who feels we're doing just fine as-is and we should stay the course.
When there are such clear choices as these two, with one choice obviously being so much better for America than the other, and yet 50.9 percent of the country chooses the wrong guy, then yes, we are a nation of idiots. Is there any other conclusion one can arrive at??
The good news is that our country's "idiot factor" is only a mere 2.8 percent more. Bush only got 2.8 percent more of the popular vote, not only the slimmest margin in history but you'd have to go back to 1916 to even find a margin anywhere near that figure (Wilson won the popular vote by 3.2 percent). Heck, screw the popular vote for a second. If not for 136,483 people in my home state of Ohio, about the same amount as the voting population of any of the state's medium-sized counties, then Bush wouldn't have won Ohio and I wouldn't be here calling everyone an idiot. So, when you get down to the nitty gritty, our country's deciding "idiot factor" is only 136,483 more people. Do you realize how easy it would be to change us from an "idiot nation" back to a "non-idiot nation" again??
Many of us were obviously hoping that the change would have happened this year, but alas it was not to be. Our idiot nation has lowered our expectations, so we chose a leader that represents those expectations. We don't need little things like results or competence or peace or prosperity to be a happy nation...we have Spike TV!
Really, just think about it for a second. Kerry clearly won all three presidential debates because he knew what he was talking about, while Bush stammered and used pregnant pauses like they were going out of style. When looking back on four years that could be described as anything but perfect, Bush was hardpressed to admit a single mistake he made while in office. I can name several, in fact I have in past columns. Many other people watching the debates, provided they actually follow news not brought to you by the network that produced The Littlest Groom, could also probably name several as well. So we not only have a "president" who cannot clearly answer questions about his job, but who also cannot level with the American people about his own shortcomings when asked. With every action and statement Bush continues to prove to be both the worst and stupidest president we've ever had. So what do we do? We give him another four years. Like I said, idiots.
So when you talk to someone from another country, provided your gated community lets you call outside your own area code, do not introduce yourself as an American. It would simply be a deluded euphemism. Just say, "I am part of a nation of idiots." Now, ideally you should end that statement with "but I am trying to change that," but I don't want to tell you what to say.
Could Kerry have done things differently? Of course. Any candidate could have done things differently. Perhaps Kerry's biggest mistake was that he tried to put himself above the black gooey shit that is a presidential election, so he didn't fight back hard enough. The Bushes are perhaps the biggest cocksucking bastards in politics today, and you better believe that they are going to reach into rectums and pull out every dirty corn-covered turd they can if it meant swaying the opinion of an idiot.
Look at the Vietnam issue. Bush had his daddy worm him into the Air National Guard to avoid going overseas to fight, and then he went AWOL the same month substance abuse testing was to take place. Meanwhile, Kerry went to Vietnam, fought the enemy first-hand, saved the lives of members of his crew, risked his own life and got wounded in the process, and then came home to speak out against the atrocities caused by an unjust war (sound familiar?). Yet, Bush has Bob Perry, a political associate of his buddy Karl Rove; Harlan Crow, a trustee of the first Bush's presidential library foundation; and his campaign's chief outside counsel Benjamin Ginsberg fund and work for a group whose sole purpose is to produce TV ads to "debunk" Kerry's proven war record. Only a Bush would be so low as to use a person's honorable war record as a weapon against him.
I don't think Kerry underestimated Bush by any means, but still Kerry made the mistake of letting Bush control the debate and the issues. This could have changed if Kerry did just one thing from the get-go.
Call Bush a liar.
I first became interested in John Kerry's campaign last summer, when he said the following: "I am prepared to filibuster, if necessary, any Supreme Court nominee who would turn back the clock on a woman's right to choose, on civil rights and individual liberties, and on the laws protecting workers and the environment...When I'm president there will be no John Ashcroft trampling on the Bill of Rights--but before I become president we must stop George W. Bush from using the Supreme Court to carry out the president's political agenda, rather than to provide justice to ordinary Americans."
A little bit later in the year I came upon a news report in which he was denouncing the war in Iraq as a horrible mistake. It was such a great moment to see, a politician who was willing to admit that this country has screwed up. I thought to myself, "Wow, someone who isn't afraid to call Bush out on the war. If this guy can make it past the primaries, he'll clean Bush's clock!"
Now, if Kerry had been flat-out calling Bush a liar since last summer, he would have been controlling the debate. And I don't mean wishy-washy beating around the bush, no pun intended. Make it short, sweet, and clear:
"This war is a lie, and Bush is a liar, period!"
He simply didn't go that far, and he should have. Bush would have been on the defensive for well over a year, something he is clearly never good at. Bush would have to spend so much time at each rally explaining his reasons for going to war that he wouldn't be able to move on to anything else. And you know Bush doesn't listen to his staff. If they told him "Stop dwelling on Kerry's charge! Talk about your plans for the future!" he wouldn't listen. He couldn't. For someone like Bush, it's all a matter of pride. "Y'all can't call me a liars an' git away with it, dag burnit!" A strong and clear liar charge plus Bush's own stubbornness would have crippled his entire campaign.
And that's just for starters. Simply because Bush is such a lousy "president," Kerry would have had enough ammo for similar charges. Imagine if you will Kerry simply stating this on the campaign trail:
"Bush ruined our economy, and he can't prove otherwise!"
There is plenty of evidence to support this, so he wouldn't be lying himself. What exactly could Bush say to defend this charge? He never quotes any numbers, facts, or figures in regard to the economy. Bush would blame Clinton and hope that would be enough, but of course it wouldn't. Such a charge would be how Kerry would get the conservatives away from Bush.
And of course, there's the big issue of national security. Bush ran for election on a terrorist attack, just in case you were wondering just how unscrupulous he is. Bush's big promise? That he'll keep us all safe, as if we were giving him a mulligan for that whole September 11 mess. But now, imagine if Kerry was out there and said this:
"How can Bush protect us when September 11 happened on his watch?"
That may seem like a bit of a low blow, but really, do you think if the shoe was on the other foot that the Republicans would have let a President Gore off the hook for the largest terrorist attack in our country's history??
And finally, Kerry could have controlled the debate of the election by ending each speech with one very simple question:
"Where's bin Laden?"
Those four statements would have not only put Bush on the defensive from the start of the election, but in all probability also would have blown him away. Bush had a record to defend, and Kerry should have done everything in his power to make him do just that.
But unfortunately, Kerry made the mistake of assuming that 50.9 percent of this country is educated. Kerry did make every one of these charges, but they were just not in the black-and-white way that I stated above. He didn't realize that we are a nation of idiots, and idiots can't understand a political platform unless it's bludgeoned them over the heads in simple words.
Idiots don't understand that when Kerry says he believes in a country that isn't dependent on the Saudi royal family, he's saying that Bush is corrupt and he let bin Laden get away because of his personal and financial ties to Saudi Arabia. Idiots don't understand that when Kerry says he would send us to war only if it was absolutely necessary, he's saying that he would protect us but never lie to us. Idiots don't understand metaphors like "we'll show him a thing or two about what it's really like to be on an aircraft carrier" or "we need to pass a global test in order to lead the world in the fight against terrorism." Hell, Bush didn't even understand them!
Kerry made the mistake of forgetting that we are a nation of idiots, so the idiots gravitated to one of their own.
But don't worry, fellow idiot, because this isn't the end. It can't be the end. When 48.1 percent of the country didn't side with an idiot, then that can only be a good thing.
I know I talk about myself a little too much on this site, but this is relevant this time. Last year I was outlining an idea for a screenplay about a presidential election, inspired in part by the 2000 election.
In the script, a dim, elitist, incompetent incumbent is running against the movie's protagonist, a young, ballsy New England senator who has a reputation of being quiet and reserved in the Senate but who, once he's out on the campaign trail, isn't afraid of leveling with people because he hasn't been corrupted by Washington yet...sort of a Barack Obama type. He would admit his own shortcomings at a rally: "The only reason I'm even here is because the party doesn't think anyone else is likable enough to beat this guy." He wouldn't pay attention to his tight campaign schedule because he wanted to listen to an elderly couple voice their concerns. During one of the debates he would listen to the president stutter and babble about intangible things like values and honor, and then he would stand up and just shrug, "The man's an idiot!" This would be capped by what would probably be the movie's key moment, in which the president is making a broad and baseless attack in the debate that our hero hasn't accomplished anything for his state during his time in the Senate, "And do we really want America to end up like Connecticut?" The senator stands up, casually approaches the smirking president, and then decks him. "You owe the state of Connecticut an apology."
The senator proves to be a fighter, both literally and figuratively. He starts rallying the support of people who have had enough of the treachery and deceit in politics, a sort of "fight the power" movement. He's being optimistically looked at as the guy who will singlehandedly pull the country out of the hole it has fallen into. He's considered to be the frontrunner, and every poll taken right before the election shows that he will win easily.
But, as Election Night goes on, the race continues to run neck and neck. With the rest of the electoral map almost deadlocked, it is apparent that there is something rotten in the deciding state of (where else?) Florida. One news network is calling it for the senator, while another is calling it for the president. The president is seen live on the news chatting jovially with Florida's governor, who just happens to be his brother. You can see where this is all going, right?
By the next morning, it becomes clearer and clearer that the senator will not be able to feasibly win Florida, as more and more counties start "miraculously" showing up with many more votes for the president. The senator is more baffled than upset, trying to make sense of all that has happened. His teary staff sees the writing on the wall, but some of his advisers are trying to remain optimistic. Finally, his campaign manager, who is also his best friend and mentor, sits down next to him, giving one of those "you can't win them all" type of talks.
"It's over," the senator says at almost a whisper. "I've failed."
"No you didn't," the campaign manager responds. "You've done something great here. You've opened up people's eyes. You've made them aware of problems in this country that they might not have known otherwise. You've done nothing but tell the truth, and whether you win or lose, you've made half the country listen to you and want to hear more. And above all, you put the most powerful, most privileged, most sheltered man in the world on the defensive, and anyone who can do that cannot be considered a failure in any way, shape, or form."
"I guess you're right, but...what do I do know?"
"You've found your voice, so go out there and use it. You've got a term to finish up."
We then cut to the White House front gate, where swarms of protesters stand outside holding up signs screaming "LIAR!", "CHEAT!", "CROOK!", and other less-than-favorable phrases. Across town, the young senator is making his way into the Capitol with a slight spring in his step, as passersby on the street cheer and applaud. Regardless of the building he's entering, he still has every intention of continuing the fight.
I just wish real life didn't turn out so closely to what I had written.
Yeah, yeah, it may be a hokey kind of ending, but it's what I believe in. If you can open up a person's eyes to the problems around them, then there's no telling what can happen.
And that's the position we're in now. We cannot stop fighting, and fortunately we have voices in Washington in the form of Senator Kerry, Senator Clinton, and our own respective elected representatives who will keep fighting for us. We're all in this together.
And because we are, I will say this: ...without Bush is not going anywhere. Because of my schedule on future projects I may have to scale the columns back to quarterly rather than monthly, but rest assured, as long as Bush is in office this section of the site will stay up. Why shouldn't it? Those who forget the past are only doomed to repeat it, and I'll be damned if yet another Bush penetrates his way into the White House...because, you know, that's what they're all hoping for now.
Meanwhile, we have to remember what a second term is all about, creating a legacy. Bush will spend the next four years trying to shape how he wants history to remember him. And that's why we need to keep fighting. We need to put up a roadblock at every step of the way. He wants to appoint someone? Protest it. He wants to pass something? Protest it. He wants to go on vacation? Protest it. Wouldn't it be great if the stock history-book description for Bush's term in office is "caused more demonstrations and protests than any other president in U.S. history?"
So, let's get going. We have to use our voices. We have to protest. We have to write to our senators and representatives. We've got to keep fighting, for the sake of our country.
We've got a nation of idiots to wake up.
Quote of the Month
"But it's hardly surprising that the measure of success in Fallujah is elusive: There's no uniformed enemy force, no headquarters, no central command complex for the troops to occupy and win. At the end, there will be no surrender. Instead, the outcome of the battle must be judged by a less clear-cut standard: not by the seizure and occupation of ground, but by the impact it has on the political and diplomatic process in Iraq. Its chances for success in that area are highly uncertain."
Link of the Month
Since we have nowhere to go but up, join the group that will help point us in the right direction!