Monday, November 01, 2004

Election Day

I went to the local Democratic headquarters this evening to do some phone bank work. I did not do much, but hope to do more tomorrow. This is the kind of election where for many of us simply voting is not enough. Strong feelings exist on both sides.

The Kerry/Democrat side believes that President Bush has been a disaster as president and extremely short-sighted in policies such as the war in Iraq, the economy, environment and civil liberties, that these policies are extremely harmful to us and to our children and grandchildren.

The Republican/Bush side believes that Kerry is a traitor and that it would be a mortal sin to vote for him. I am exagerrating a little bit, but not by much. In fact, we have this highly organized and effective campaign by a group of Vietnam veterans and their non-veteran supporters to tear down Kerry on everything he did during the Vietnam war and in the antiwar movement. The latest charge is that he took his orders from Hanoi in advancing a peace proposal, that he is the Manchurian Candidate.

Then there are the few conservative Catholic bishops who have declared that it would be a mortal sin to vote for Kerry or anyone who does not accept the position of the Vatican on abortion. (And maybe gay marriage too.)

I canot recall in my lifetime ever witnessing a presidential candidate, or any candidate being attacked in this manner.
Whoever wins the election tomorrow will find it difficult to govern this nation while conducing a war in Iraq and trying to bring the deficit under control. If Kerry is elected, he will likely face a Republican congress; certainly the House will stay Republican, and probably the Senate too. That means, like Clinton, his biggest challenge will be to overcome the partisan hostility. He will be unlikely to achieve his more ambitious goals, such as health insurance, but he can turn our country away from the radical direction in which it is headed.

If Bush is elected, we can expect his policies to become stronger and more forceful, but in the wrong direction -- polluting our land, giving to the rich, perhaps more foreign wars, and greater threats to our civil liberties.

That is one of the main reasons to vote for Kerry -- not so much for what he will do but what he won't do. He will have to move more slowly than Bush; in a sense Kerry will prove himself to be more conservative than Bush if he is elected -- conservative in the genuine sense, not as the term has been abused by the Republican right.


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