Ian Bicking: the old part of his blog

On Kerry

I saw a documentary a couple days ago on Kerry and Bush, following them in parallel through their experiences as men. I don't remember the name of the documentary. It didn't affect how I think of Bush. Interpreting Bush is just to debate what particular madness they are inflicted with, at some point it becomes uninteresting. I know they are revolting and cruel, quantifying the exact degree to which they oppose and offend all the values I cherish is only of academic interest.

I'm not a Kerry supporter. I don't like the man, to me it seems like he offers no leadership. But after seeing the documentary and his life with some continuity, he seemed a little more human. I believe he believes he is doing the right thing. He doesn't go outside of the lines, he doesn't challenge the status quo, he lacks imagination, but I don't think it's a lack of compassion.

And I realized I dislike Kerry because he isn't who I want him to be. But that's unfair -- he is who he is. He was selected for who he was. I can decry the lack of democratic in his party or in our nation, I can point out the flaws in the system, but this is tiring. Kerry is who he is. The leader I wish he was -- that is not a person who will climb to power, certainly not through electoral politics.

More than just one man, I realized I wish this nation was something it is not. I wish this were a thoughtful nation. I wish this were a selfless nation. I wish this were a just nation. Some people become most inflamed when they see hypocrisy, but I'm never that bothered by it. It is a most minor sin. That we delude ourselves and falsely see these virtues in this nation is not so much offensive to me as pathetic. Disappointing, but there's an optimism to my disappointment -- it disappoints me because I can imagine better.

There was a call for bloggers to voice their opinion, without regard for being "on topic". So here it is: I might vote for Kerry. But I will do so knowing my vote doesn't mean anything. I will vote knowing I cannot and never will be able to select the right direction for our nation in a voting booth. Now that I feel settled on that, it's a relief. If my choices are a bit more constrained, maybe at least they'll be more directed.

Created 18 Oct '04
Modified 14 Dec '04


I feel the same, but in the South African context, it's slightly different.

The majority of the social law is where it should be or is heading that way in parliament working-group-led reform. And a number of strategic Constitutional Court challenges are going the right way (specifically w.r.t. equal protection of same-sex couples, same-sex marriage, adoption, and so forth).

So, on the social side, I'm happy with the ANC government (which I voted for, after all).

However, when it comes to certain economic areas, such as parastatal or other monopolies, implementation issues (including fighting out the much-publicised but generally inevitable government corruption), they're behind. But they're heading roughly the right way, slowly.

But, I just can't think of any group of politicians from any of the other parties who would be able to do it consistently faster, and who wouldn't try (for example) get back the death penalty for an extra few percentage point of votes.

So, I choose the best of the available options, so that those worse don't start a slide backwards. From what I've seen of US politics, the slide backwards seems to lie in another term for Bush.
# Neil Blakey-Milner

I know where you are coming from, Kerry has neither the charisma of Clinton, nor the facile certitude of his opponent. But in some ways I've come to feel much better about voting for him than I thought I would this spring. He strikes me as someone who takes a measured, grownup attitude towards his decisionmaking and more and more I think we do need a grownup to step in and clean up the mess we've managed to make of this country.

That said a president has both more and less power than the popular imagination attributes to him. The symbolic power wielded by the president does not exist in a vacuum and the world sometimes amplifies his smallest gesture, but as often mutes his greatest efforts. And the real temporal power of the office is hemmed in with restrictions practical, moral and legal that can be overcome but cannot be ignored; as the present holder of the office is beginning to learn.

# larry

I agree with larry, I wasn't much of a Kerry supporter 6 months ago, but he's grown on me.

There's a good commentary on the "anyone but Bush" theory by Naomi Klein: http://www.nologo.org/newsite/detaild.php?ID=397

Her whole thesis is, progressive politics suffers because the majority of the discourse is aimed at pointing out how silly Bush is. With Kerry, you'll at least be able to have some sort of substantive debate.

As for the whole, "my vote doesn't count, I'm throwing my hands up in the air, doesn't that feel better?" No. Don't do that. Wimp. Suck it up and stick to it. No one likes a quitter.

# Chris

It's not quitting. It's just an admission of reality. Electoral politics are certainly not the only available direction for progressive action. At my most optimistic, I might hope that electoral politics will be positive in reaction to changes in the larger culture. I just don't expect the change to come from those politics.
# Ian Bicking

Just about quitter. You can do a white vote, no ? I mean vote for nobody but vote. This is good way to show everybody you disagree the current politics of both candidates. I think this isn't a bad approach too, even if finding the right candidate is always better.

# Jkx

I've been getting into politics recently, not so much because I want to as because I have to. The world is being FedExed straight to hell, and part of the reason why is because more people just don't care enough to change it. In a world where 60% voter turn-out is considered good, if the people who didn't think their vote mattered were to make a coordinated effort, they could elect their own choice. However, it should not be underestimated how much the current "ruling class" wants to keep things as they are. Because the current system is working well for them, even if it isn't working for the rest of us.

So, this year I registered with a party and started becoming much more active. If you are unafilliated you lose out in an important part of the process. I selected Republican for a couple of reasons. In general I agree with the idea of a smaller government. Oddly, while Republicans talk about a smaller government the current administration is doing exactly the opposite. Which leads me to another reason I selected Republican -- they need my help in selecting canidates than the Democrats do. The GW Bush administration has done as far as I can tell, a handful of good things and a whole pile of bad and very bad things.

The thing I find so disappointing is that so many people are still supporting him. I think some are supporting him because they think they need to to support our troops, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. However, I'd say that supporting our troops requires us to be very critical of what the current administration is doing. Another comment I've heard in favor is that Sadam really needed to be toppled. I don't really have an opinion on that, I don't know enough about it. However, it's surely the case that if it's true that Sadam needs to be ousted, the way you do it in a democracy is to prove it to the people and get their support. You don't use propoganda, mistruths and lies to get support because "you know better".

That is what I find most disappointing. The current administration has used secrecy on an unprecedented level to control, mistruths and lies to gain support, all the while talking about brining democracy to another nation. Secrecy is incompatible with democracy. Taking action that you can't legitimately get support from the population for is not at all democracy.

It is indeed disappointing that our system is set up in such a way that only two parties can really participate at the highest levels. While you can definitely make a huge difference in the smaller runs and get a better canidate elected who is going to be a better fit, it just isn't going to happen for the president. You basically have two choices, Bush or Kerry. I personally think that the current libertarian canidate is more like what the country needs right now, but my vote for him is basically a vote for Bush, so I went ahead and voted Kerry. I live in Colorado, very much a swing state, so that really is the case.

However we do have a new item on the balot this year, which is making it no longer "winner takes all". If that provision goes through, Colorado will split their electoral votes based on it's popular vote. Meaning that if we could get 20% for a third party canidate, they could actually get an electoral college vote. Unfortunately, now is a very bad time for this to be going through, if you believe that Bush is not the right leader for this country. You just can't win sometimes it seems.

Currently, I've been volunteering a lot of time with the Kerry campaign, but that's been kind of disappointing. I think once the election is over I'm going to try working on breaking the two-party system. I think that is the most important thing I can do towards really fixing the country.

Those are my thoughts.

# Sean Reifschneider