So the time has come to take a stand. To make a decision. To step forward and own my decision about this election. And here it is:
Our choices suck. Can't we get a do-over?
No? Well then, if I must make a decision based on what we have on the ballot (...picture Cleavon Little going "You must! You Must!") here it is, and here are my reasons why.
I've voting for George Bush for President.
Yeah, some surprise, you say.
Actually, my decision was a kind of a surprise to me when I realized that I'd made it. Bush, and the contemporary Republican Party trigger a kind of visceral reaction in me; the evangelical connection, the sweetheart corporate deals, the reliance - like Ronald Reagan - on pork to buy peace in the political class combined with fiscally irresponsible tax cuts (it's not that tax cuts are themselves bad, it's just that tax cuts combines with insane federal spending isn't a good thing). The list goes on.But as I sat down and read everything I could get my hands on about and by Bush and Kerry in the last few days, I tripped over something that made up my mind for me. It was from Kerry's interview in "Rolling Stone," and in it he says, as a part of a longer answer regarding Iraq and Vietnam:
"...that's what I'm trying to offer America right now -- a realistic way to get our troops home, with honor, by achieving our goals but by sharing the burden and risk."I've criticized the specifics of some of his foreign policy comments (re the Kerry speech at UCLA in February), but actually, I'm pretty flexible about specifics. This is a dynamic, iterative process, and whoever is in change is going to learn and change what they do. But there is one thing that I'm not going to be too flexible about, and that is commitment.
Much of my decision making and thinking comes from what are - to me, at least - illuminating parallels between the decision before me and things I know and have seen in my own life. This is no exception.
Last month I had lunch with a dear friend from grad school; he's a monstrously successful real estate developer and a staunch and senior Kerry supporter here in California. We argued about the election, and the war. He understands the war, but isn't convinced that Bush is smart enough to pull it off.
"I don't think that matters as much as you do," I told him. "I'm probably smarter than you are - in terms of IQ tests and grades in school. You're a multimillionaire, and I'm not - even though I've been in businesses parallel to you for as long as you. Why do you think that is?"
"Because I'm more determined than you are," he replied.
"Exactly," I responded.
Success in any enterprise is only partly determined by skill and intelligence. Luck plays a large part. But the largest role, I believe, is played by commitment and determination to reach a goal. My friend wanted to be successful more than I did. He was.
Kerry's goals, as he consistently expresses them, are defensive in nature. His quote above isn't about winning, but about bringing the troops home. I genuinely believe that was put first because that's his priority, when you get down to it.
And it isn't mine. We are at war, and we need to win this war, or it will be the start of a series of bloody conflicts that will end, I believe, in a holocaust.
We will survive the conflicts, and we will survive the holocaust. But we will be changed by them, and not for the better. I believe that we will be ruined by them, economically, morally, and spiritually.
When I weigh the damage that Bush is likely to do - to gays, to the environment, to the nation's balance sheet - against the odds and outcome of this worst case, the risks fall on the side of choosing Kerry.
Beyond this, there are four broad topics I want to write about as I explain why I think Bush should be re-elected:
3. The Future of the Democratic Party
4. Finding A New Way
This is long enough. I'll break them up, and I'll put one of them up each day, starting tomorrow, and we'll wrap up next week.
UPDATE: Kevin Drum and his readers reply. And from AL: Can I gently suggest to Kevin's readers that you read the other two related posts before commenting? You may not agree with me any more, but at least you'll know a bit more about what you're disagreeing with.