When all we want is unity"--Creed, "One"
I've seen a lot of unhappy posts, like this one, about the results of the election.
Some of them have said that they don't understand how anyone could vote for Bush.
I will try to explain why I did.
I grew up in a liberal household; not radically left-wing, but solidly Democrat. I was too young to vote for Mondale, but I voted for Dukakis, and I was probably the only person in America who was surprised when he lost. I voted for Clinton in 1992, and would've voted for him in 1996, had I voted at all that year.
But somewhere between 1996, I suffered a sea-change in political opinion, from liberal to libertarian. In the last presidential election, and for the intervening years, I've voted Libertarian when a Libertarian candidate was available, and abstained when one wasn't. I've voted my libertarian beliefs on issues since then, voting down a light-rail proposal -- even though it ran from my own house to my job -- as well as the latest Arts & Sports Tax.
But November 2 marked my first, and so far only, vote for a Republican candidate.
Even to me, George W. Bush seems like an odd choice to break a streak on.
Why I didn't vote for Mr. Badnarik
1. Missouri was no longer considered a swing state by the day of the election, I think. But it was still fairly close. It was conceivable that voting for one or the other of the two main candidates could make a difference in who carried the state.
2. Badnarik had some whacked-out policies, even for a Libertarian. For example, he wanted to abolish the Federal Reserve. Since the chairman of the Fed is an appointed position, this is something the president actually has a large impact on. Granted, Badnarik wasn't going to wn. But if the Libertarians are going to present themselves as this extreme, then they're never going to stand a chance.
Why I voted for President Bush
It's not that I think President Bush has done a good job in Iraq. In fact, having looked at various different sides, I really don't know what sort of job he's done. It may've been great, it may've been utterly appalling, it all seems to hinge on who you believe, and I don't know who to believe any more.
But all sides agree that, however Iraq is going right now, it is not currently stable. It is not a democracy, its infrastructure is still a mess, it's still overrun by guerillas. America has already made this mess (or at least, butted its nose into this mess, depending on how messed-up you think it was before we got there).
We are there. I want us to do our best -- our absolute best -- to fix the country. To transform it into a free, peaceful, democratic nation. Or as free and peaceful as a democracy gets; a look at my LJ friends list right now isn't terribly peaceful. Can we do this? I don't know. But we've committed billions of dollars and thousands of lives (on all sides) already to trying, and frankly, I don't think we've been at it long enough to judge. It's a dream; a pretty, seductive dream, and perhaps one we should never have aspired to. But we did, and with that said, I want it to have the best possible chance.
I think pretty much everyone can agree that having a free, peaceful, democratic Iraq would be a Good Thing(tm). But there's another reason why I want us to try. Because even failing will be instructive. In four years, few people will argue that the neoconservatives didn't have a fair chance to make their plan work. If Iraq is just as bad then as it is now, those who were against the war can claim they were right. And they'll have a much better case than Vietnam was, because so many argue (with justification) that Vietnam was disastrous because we wouldn't commit enough to it.
In Iraq, we're committing as much as we are ever likely to, short of World War Three. If it's not enough, then maybe, with luck, we'll know not to do it again.
I know that both President Bush and Senator Kerry said that they were committed to Iraq, so for many, wanting success in Iraq didn't mean voting for President Bush.
However, I believe that President Bush is, and would be, considerably more forceful and supportive of the war in Iraq than Senator Kerry would be. It's not just that Senator Kerry has a long history of opposing military actions, or that he's repeatedly condemned the decision to start the war.
It's that Senator Kerry has relatively little political stake in making Iraq work. President Bush's legacy, and all of his political credibility, is bound up in Iraq. He has something to prove, and it's important to him for a variety of reasons. For good or bad, President Bush has also made it clear that he is committed to this; he won't back down, and he won't change his mind, no matter what the polls or popular opinion says.
But a President Kerry, by contrast, could have walked away from Iraq at any time, and few would have blamed him. He didn't have to fix Iraq to be credible. It would've been a nice feather in his cap, certainly. But he wouldn't need it to get re-elected. All he'd need to get re-elected is to make Iraq a non-issue -- either fix it in three years, or get out so that he wouldn't have it hanging over his head in 2008.
There are other reasons why I voted for President Bush. It's true that I'm concerned about his record on civil liberties. But Senator Kerry voted for the Patriot Act, too. When Senator Kerry had the opportunity to talk about civil liberties in the fight against terrorism, he chose to talk about how he'd "hunt down" terrorists instead. When he had the opportunity to support gay marriage, the best he could do was say he didn't favor a constitutional amendment banning it. (Incidentally, if I believed that a constitutional act defining marriage could pass, I would have voted against President Bush. I am counting on this being like his opposition to abortion -- something President Bush uses to rally supporters, but which he is either unable or unwilling to make any significant changes on.)
"We may rise and fall, but in the end,
we meet our fate together."
In the end, the choice I made for President is a curiously minor part of my life. This is the kind of thing more important to me.
I don't know what's going on in Iraq today, and I don't know if Social Security is going to collapse in five years, or if America is sliding down the slope to despotism, or if it's all going to be, somehow, OK, like it always has so far.
But I know that tomorrow, I will love my boyfriend, and I will do my job, and my coworkers will be glad to have me there to do it. I'll run my RPGs and work on my novels, and try to enjoy my life and help the people around me out, now and again, in the hope that they can enjoy theirs.
I am one small person, and my vision isn't good. I understand best the things that happen close to me. So I try to focus on them, and hope that everyone else is doing the same.
May we all succeed.