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Notes on the 2004 Presidential Election Part 1

By Jeff Hughes

Marilyn O’Grady, a surgeon running for New York State Senate, is quoted in the completely unbiased New York Post as saying: “Here’s my vote: Boycott the Boss. If you don’t buy his politics, don’t buy his music!” Yes. Good call.

I don’t pretend to understand the political game. I don’t pretend to know everything. I do happen to know some things, and one of those things is that when running for state senate you should not start by taking a big steamy dump on the Constitution.

For those of you who don’t know, Bruce “the Bossâ€? Springsteen is from a little town called Asbury Park in New Jersey. He’s extremely patriotic – hence “Born in the USA” – but to be patriotic today does not mean to love America. ‘Patriotic,’ as it is currently defined by the political landscape of this nation, means to close your eyes, shut your mouth and clap every time the current administration makes a decision. Bruce Springsteen has decided to be an advocate. Not for assassination. Not for overthrowing the administration with a violent Les Miserables-esque coup. As he eloquently wrote in the New York Times a few weeks ago [August 5: “Chords for Change”], he believes the country has veered down the wrong path; a path of social injustice. Social liberals like Bruce and I happen to believe that old people should have affordable health care and “homosexualâ€? and “evilâ€? are not synonyms.

The war in Iraq is unjust. Necessary as it might be or might have been in the near future, it is unjust. When the established reasons for going to war are proven untrue or remain unfounded, one must understand that a mistake was made in the ’cause’ department. I am not using the word ‘just’ with any moral implications, but instead talking strictly semantics. Look it up. It fits. I am not in the camp that believes the Bush Administration deliberately lied to the people in an attempt to gain support for this war. I don’t have a great deal of evidence for this, just a gut feeling.

But it is grounds for dismissal. And now the unfortunate side of the political coin: John Kerry. I don’t like John Kerry. I don’t really trust John Kerry. I don’t believe John Kerry is anything more than another politician who’s been eating his Cocoa Puffs from a large silver spoon since birth and now sponge bathes in ketchup with his absolute lunatic of a wife, Theresa. His second-in-command is a wonderfully attractive yet seeping into redundancy North Carolina playboy, who used the people of his state to springboard to bigger things. I have had a North Carolina resident tell me she “hates� John Edwards. Can anybody name one thing either of these guys done to better our country? But let’s not ask for that and just GIVE HOPE A CHANCE. (Is there a more benign tagline in the history of politics?)

So Mr. Thunder Road and a couple pals are out on the road singing their songs. And it is a very symbolic gesture of the current state of the Democrats. This is not a tour to elect John Kerry. This is a tour to unseat George W. Bush. The democrats have become a reactionary, with a confrontational mascot named Michael Moore. Do Democrats actually believing asking Congress to send their kids to war on film achieves anything? Another thing I know: it doesn’t.

The war in Iraq is unjust. But you don’t put all the ingredients in a bowl, preheat the oven and DON’T bake the cookies. The more appropriate analogy in this case would be putting all the ingredients in a bowl and then watching the chocolate chips and cookie dough take rifles and over-the-shoulder missiles and come after the chef. This is a war that has to be finished and someone needs to figure out how that’ll work. What’s Kerry’s plan? Bush’s?

You know they reenact the Lincoln/Douglas debates every year. Every single year. Two men were running for office and their debate – their ideas – were so brilliant that we dramatize them for the next 150 years. We don’t have that anymore. Would Michael Moore vs. Rush Limbaugh do anything but infuriate everyone? No. Be a hell of a sumo wrestling match, though.

The Democrats and Republicans should be ashamed of themselves for presenting the American people with such a lame pair of guys. The incumbent a complete idiot and challenger sporting the personality of a stop sign in Duluth. Voting for the lesser of two evils should be reserved for the starting DH on the post-Edgar American League All-Star team next year, not the presidency of what it still the greatest country in history.

And so I blame the Democrats for not engaging us intellectually. The Republicans made their decision four years ago, when they decided a war hero-author-intellectual wasn’t a strong enough candidate (Dubya mistakenly though McCain was referencing Ruxpin, not Roosevelt). Is there hope for the future? Maybe. It could be Barack Obama, a Harvard intellectual who speaks as if he knows he’s part of history and has a family background that plays like Roots meets The Wizard of Oz. His speech was something of a revelation.

So I’m voting in November. And I’m voting for John Kerry. And my logic is this: when a team doesn’t hit, you firing the batting coach. Not because you think someone else can make them hit but because you want to send the message that the .230 team average will not be acceptable. I believe in sending a message to the top and to the world that how we’re acting now is not what America is. No election in my lifetime (short, though it may be) has been about so much. For me, it’s about taking back the country I love so dearly. Putting the Supreme Court back in charge of protecting civil rights and not denying those who leave themselves open for attack by simply being who and what they are.

All I ask is that for my vote and the vote of everyone like me, we get a president we can turn to and say: he’s smart enough to figure this out. I can’t say that now.

August 18, 2004