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Young Geoffrey

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The US Election - More Unwanted Thoughts From a Foreigner [Oct. 31st, 2004|11:44 am]
Young Geoffrey
Well hell, if the tepid brain-trust on The Globe and Mail's editorial board can tell the Yanks who they should vote for, so can I. Besides, the US has troops in about 140 countries, the world's largest economy and is pushing its weight around. It behooves the rest of us to take notice, for what happens there effects the rest of us.

I am not one of those Canadians who is bitter that Americans (as a rule) know so little about my country. From an American point of view - that is, from the center - all other countries are outside the magic circle of power and importance. This is the way that empires, to their ultimate detriment, have always seen the world.

Nevertheless, and despite being a citizen of one of the imperium's most coddled colonies, I am compelled to issue my two cents' (Canadian) worth.

Ten Months That Appalled the World

For the past 10 months, anyone with the slightest interest in US national politics has been bombarded with the message that this election is not only one of the most "partisan" (read: dishonest and bombastic, with barely-veiled charges of "treason" replacing genuine debate and the assumption that good and reasonable people may honestly disagree) but one of the most important in living memory, if not in history.

Like so many other "ideas" being tossed around in the clash between the Republic and Democratic candidates, both ideas are false. I suspect the election that preceded the US Civil War was at least as nasty as this one; and an important election is one in which the views of the candidates differ enough that the post-election course of the country will be significantly different should candidate A defeat candidate B.

Lets leave aside the fact that a President's power is in large part dependent on being able to pursuade a majority in both houses of Congress, and that both ("serious") candidates are beholden to the interests of the American monied class to a degree possibly unprecedented in a democratic society, and deal simply with Bush and Kerry's positions on the issues.

Long-time readers may remember my post of October 17th, when I suggested that, were I an American, I would cast my ballot for Ralph Nader - neither "mainstream" candidate offered sufficient difference for me to bite my tongue and vote for the lesser of two evils. Gentle reader fromaway fromaway</lj> shook my thesis by suggesting that, as a woman, Bush's fundamentalist beliefs on such things as Roe vs. Wade made the choice far from the trivial one I had suggested.

I've wrestled with that idea since then, but have now come down on my position as an outsider, influenced in some degree by Ken Wiwa's suggestion in the Globe that 4 more years of Bush leading his country to self-destruction would be better for the world than would the probably more competent leadership of John Kerry, who would nevertheless take the US down the same foreign policy path.

Tweedledum and Tweedledee

  1. Bush will continue killing Iraqis as part of the "war on terror", even though Iraq's former dictator had nothing to do with 9/11 and never had any "weapons of mass destruction"; Kerry promises to do the same, only better;

  2. Bush will push ahead with the "missile defence", thereby making the United States less secure but enriching the military-industrial-complex; Kerry promises to do the same, but not quite as quickly;

  3. Bush claims the right to send the marines anywhere in the world, any time; Kerry claims the same right, but promises he'll be able to gather a bigger coalition to join him in breaking international law.

From a foreigner's point of view, neither candidate seems motivated by a morality that recognizes citizens of countries other than the US as people. 100,000 Iraqis have paid the ultimate price for 9/11 and both candidates promise that more will follow. That Kerry seems to understand that other states matter to the US seems a small difference indeed.

From a foreigner's point of view, it seems clear that voting for one or the other is a vote to affirm the validity of your corrupt and failing system. Since it doesn't much matter whether you end up having as dictator either Tweedledum or Tweedledee, you might as well salve your conscience by voting for Ralph Nader (or writing him in in those states where, in your beacon of democratic hope, he has been denied the right to be on the ballot), then settle in for the fall-out as your country bankrupts itself on behalf of those few of "your" companies that will make billions from the slaughter of brown people all over the world.

[User Picture]From: offermeescape
2004-11-01 12:23 am (UTC)
Very well said. I agree with you and I did a little research and was surprised to find that the United States has no less than 10 political parties. Wierd how only two of them ultimately get the votes. Nader is the closest behind the Dems and Republicans.. and after that, everyone else is 0.0000001% of the popular vote. I think I'd respect the US democracy more if there was.. at the very least.. a third party that could strut its stuff on the political catwalk of this election. Anyway. Kerry and Bush aren't much different.. Kerry recently admitted in an interview that he's only liberal in certain areas.. he doesn't support gay marriage, he will defend the Second Amendment right until his death, and he's a social conservative in many other respects. The terms "twiddledee" and "twiddledum" unfortunately reflect the entire farce of this election.

The only positive thing I can say so far is that there seems to be a lot more dialogue happening within Americans themselves.. questioning what is happening with their country. Then again, I watch the CBC too much. :/
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2004-11-01 03:09 pm (UTC)
I don't pretend to understand the legal niceties behind the Democrats' (irony noted) efforts to keep Nader off the ballot, but it doesn't seem like rocket science that anyone who wants to run for office should be "allowed" to do so. What does it take here in Canada - 1,000 signatures and $1,000? Something along those lines.

The US very much resembles Plato's description of an oligarchy and has been slipping along that path for some time now - lately though, the rate at which it is morphing into a blatant tyranny has been increasing.

I hope you're right about the dialogue, but I fear it is (mostly) too narrowly partisan to make much of a difference. Until the US decides to give up on empire, it will continue its century-long tradition of mass murder around the globe.
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[User Picture]From: fromaway
2004-11-01 01:37 pm (UTC)
I think you may very well be right.

I will still be rooting for Kerry because Bush's domestic policy frightens me so much. But I won't be all that comforted if he wins. I'm nervous, and I'll continue to be nervous.

I find the fact that it's close quite appalling — the fact that so many people in the U.S. are so right-wing, the fact that so many people in the U.S. think that John Kerry is left-wing. It's insane.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2004-11-01 04:00 pm (UTC)
I think Kerry would likely slow down the march of the extremist right in the US, but not much. Were I an American woman, my personal fears might well trump my principled objection to the whole system, but as a Canadian male, I can't help but think that 100,000 dead Iraqis count for at least as much as American women suffering from back-alley abortions.

The political range down there really is appalling - and kind of shocking, if you don't think too much about the lousy public education, and the incredibly biased mass media down there. It's as if Canada's political range had the Reform Party Conservatives on the Left and god only knows what on the Right.
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[User Picture]From: fromaway
2004-11-01 09:10 pm (UTC)
as a Canadian male, I can't help but think that 100,000 dead Iraqis count for at least as much as American women suffering from back-alley abortions.

It's hard to argue with that. On the other hand, when you bring the global gag rule into it, and the default on the UNFPA funding, and various other things associated with the anti-abortion stance of this administration, the body count starts to go up in the other column.

It's just one hell of a lousy choice.
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From: patriarch420
2004-11-01 02:49 pm (UTC)
Did you hear about the new voting machines? (I heard this second hand from Jane- so it may or may not be true)

The new devices don't do re-counts and don't document any of the votes. It's apparently funded or associated with the **republicans**.


Front page Globe& Mail this morning was a helluva good fucking piece of data. It was really well done...

On a completely seperate note, did I leave my Slaughter House Five there last night ? And I had a lovely evening with you, and everyone else, and you're a wonderful host, and i love you.

Hope you got some sleep...


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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2004-11-01 03:59 pm (UTC)

That was a rhetorical question, wasn't it?

Yes, the company that provides those antiquated voting machines has quite a few ties to the Republicans. The technical answer is that every state sets its own rules and - I think - in many states (like Florida) the rules are made at the local level.

On that separate note, I haven't seen the Vonnegut here so you most likely left it someplace else, I'm sad to say.

Nevertheless, I had a good time last night, too. Your friends are indeed a good bunch (as they should be, given your marvellous qualities).

I did sleep well - I hope you managed to as well (and kudos to Irene for stopping you at the counter!)

I'll try to remember to bring my camera into the office tomorrow.

See you soon, sweet one.
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From: patriarch420
2004-11-01 05:04 pm (UTC)

Those Soundrels and Their Skullduggery !

Stupid fucking cunts grr... Yes it was rhetorical. And I'm sorry to hear that I've lost Vonnegut. Everyone likes you very much, which i think showed..as they can be a very hostile bunch if they so feel the need... Ermm... yes. I'll be crossing my fingers tomorrow for the election...did vern get cable yet? Oh- and don't forget your camera...put it in your bag now... I wanna see the picture of you in those boots *giggles* *kiss lix* -laura-
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From: patriarch420
2004-11-01 05:06 pm (UTC)

Re: Those SCoundrels and Their Skullduggery !

*scoundrels *LeSigh*.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2004-11-03 05:11 pm (UTC)

Re: Those Soundrels and Their Skullduggery !

Coming soon, darlin'.
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From: patriarch420
2004-11-03 06:25 pm (UTC)

*mumbles and grumbles*

talk to you tomorrow dearest..



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