Home Of The Meek: The Cowardly American Electorate
Copyright © by Dan Schneider, 4/10/04

  4 years ago Americans had a chance to really show that they meant it when they wanted ‘real change’ in politics. The outgoing President was Constitutionally barred from seeking reelection, and the 4 main contenders from the 2 major parties offered striking choices to the electorate- not just between themselves, but within their own party affiliation. Democrats had a choice between a sitting Vice-President, Albert Gore, who was a moderate to right leaning, anti-union, pro-censorship, big business stealth Republican who was raised in a wealthy, highly successful political family- seeming groomed for the Presidency and an Ivy League educated, classic Liberal Senator, Bill Bradley, who came to politics late, after a successful career in sports, and who made his political mark as standing more for principle than party or monetary backing.
  Republicans similarly had a marked choice in their primary elections. They could choose from the son of an ex-President, Texas Governor George W. Bush, who was a right leaning, anti-union, pro-censorship, big business faux ‘Compassionate Conservative’ who was raised in a wealthy, highly successful political family- seeming groomed for the Presidency and a War Hero, Classic Conservative Senator, John McCain, who made his political mark as standing more for principle than party or monetary backing.
  To anyone who would read the plaints of the American voter over the last 40 years that there are no real choices in politics this would have seemed to have been the year the voter was finally served. The 2 favorites were sallow-faced hypocrites whose money-grubbing knew no bounds, and whose visions for America were nonexistent. The underdogs were pugnacious and principled. Voters have long claimed to have wanted clear choices. But, when they get it they punt, and play it safe. When Ralph Nader said that there was not a shit’s worth of difference between the 2 men he was right. Is it any wonder that the 2000 general election was so close? I’m sure many voters thought they were voting for the other guy.
  To Democrats who believe things would be Nirvana if President Gore were seeking reelection I say this was a man who folded his ‘convictions’ on something as innocuous as CD lyric stickers- do you really think he’d make a big stand on gay marriage? Do you really think the ‘Father of the Internet’ would have prevented 9/11? Or not gotten us involved in a needless war? Perhaps not in Iraq- which seems now to have been purely payback for Saddam’s attempted hit on Bush, Sr. and a de facto LBO of the nation by Halliburton- but he would have probably botched things against the Taliban, or done something dumb in Pakistan. As for the economy- perhaps it would have been a bit better, but remember- the seeds for this downturn were sown by the Clinton-Gore years’ blind eye to the deleterious effects of mergermania. It’s the excesses of the Clinton-Gore years that started this downward spiral- W. has only mismanaged it to a near-catastrophe. This is exactly why I opted for Ralph Nader. The last election showed the folly of the ‘voting for the lesser of 2 evils’ mentality. It’s this mentality that led to a ‘no good choice’ election. One may argue over the motivations, consequences, and import of Ralph Nader in 2000- but no one can seriously argue that he was vis-à-vis Bush and Gore far more principled, far more competent, and far more in tune with the average American.
  Now, imagine what a McCain-Bradley contest would have been. There would be no blurred lines, there would be a Classic Bootstrapping Conservative vs. a Classic Egalitarian Liberal. There would not be this gray mush in the middle that means nothing. In that election I’d’ve voted for Bradley- as well as if he had run against Bush. In a McCain-Gore race I’d’ve gone for McCain, as long as a 3rd choice did not exist. With the Scion Twins I went for Nader.
  Flash-forward 4 years later. W.’s crooks are just a little better and better placed than Gore’s- the Supreme Court. With W. we have a President that most likely knew there would be some big terror attack before 9/11, but smugly sat on his ass. We have a President that took out the Taliban (yea) but left a festering mess in Afghanistan (boo)- apparently Bush’s memory was toasted during the days of bong- why else would he not have sought a Douglas MacArthur type to administrate that country ala Japan post-World War 2? Oh, right, because he got us involved in what now is apparent to have been a needless war in Iraq. Not an iota of the massive WMD apparatus has been found. Saddam is gone (yea), but Osama is still King Of The Moslem World (boo), and free. Iraq is even in worse shape than Afghanistan because it at least WAS a fairly modern country. Now it is the epicenter for extremist violence in that already violent region, and who knows how many needless deaths on all sides, and in the future, will come because of this folly? And the fact is it does not matter whether W. lied or relied on the incompetent and myopic CIA. Either way his administration is fraying.
  Add in the fact that Herbert Hoover was the last President to have negative job growth in his reign. It amazes me how we can have this staggering job loss, loss of earning power per family, yet because a few bigwigs have been able to squeeze a bit more blood from their corporate stones eggheads tell us this economy is in a ‘recovery’. Tell that to all the displaced and unemployed. Republicans who counter that inflation and unemployment are relatively low conveniently overlook the fact that people whose unemployment runs out and those who work several part time gigs are not factored in to those unemployment statistics, which would about triple the actual rate of joblessness from the 5-6% of recent vintage. W. can thank the Reagan administration for that little jiggering of the stats, for without it W.’s fiscal mismanagement would be manifestly the worst since the Great Depression. Democrats should seem to have an easy road.
  Not so for the party that, excepting Slick Willy, has raised national incompetence to an art form. The 4 top Democratic contenders were a pro-working class General whose competence in war was beyond reproach (Wesley Clark), a far-sighted socially Liberal and fiscally Conservative Governor (Howard Dean), a great stumping outsider one term Senator who could match Clinton and who really is a Democrat (John Edwards), and a bland, corporate-backed, careerist politician, stump-challenged Senator, and husband of an heiress (John Kerry). Of the 4, it would seem a no-brainer that the weakest possible candidate would be Kerry. So, of course, he’s the one Democrats crowned to challenge Bush.
  His weaknesses are manifest- his Vietnam War hero image is moot, because as many people who will revile him as a turncoat will see him as principled. More troubling is his support for Bush’s war in Iraq. While it’s easy to say he was misled by the White House, they can say the same of the CIA. Kerry is a classic ‘Limousine Liberal’- probably the most famed since former New York City mayor John Lindsay. He is one of the most PAC-beholden politicians in the nation- although a rank amateur compared to W. So, while there are more differences than last time around there are still a large number of voters who can legitimately cop out with a lesser of 2 evils vote.
  Yet, this is manifestly what the public wants- the right to eternally bitch. Bitch, bitch, bitch- because bitching feels good, entails no responsibility, and allows for the cultivation of easy simplistic bogeymen rather than difficult complex solutions. I call this ‘willful marginalization’. This tactic is often employed by Academic Politically Correct Elitists and ‘spoken word artists’ in contemporary poetry. It basically means that instead of working hard to produce worthy art it’s easier to screed, then claim discrimination when the callow nature of the ‘art’ is attacked. Careers have been crafted around this very tactic, yet it’s not only poetasters who adore being willfully marginalized. Labor unions, Christian Fundamentalists, tree huggers, corporate lawyers, Feminists, the oil industry- all groups that wield significant power- complain that they are ‘underdogs’, yet often it is their own myopia that leads to their failures, or that their opponents cheated. Never can anyone accept gracefully that they lost fair and square.
  Similarly the American electorate whines away that they don’t have real choices or a voice in elections, yet they consistently make this so by their gutless choices. So, who to vote for? The least successful and divisive president in memory, a bland apparatchik, or Ralph Nader- who will likely bow out before November? In a true democracy a ‘None of the above’ option would exist and a plurality in that category would force renomination processes. As it is I am nonplussed- but at least that’s not a bitch!

[An expurgated version of this article originally appeared on the 3/04 Hackwriters website.]

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