Let’s talk politics.
Yes, I know. Mom always said there were two topics of conversation to avoid: 1) religion; 2) politics. But I am a rebellious child, and so I am flagrantly violating Mom’ s rule. Some of you won’ t like what I have to say. That’ s fine. So far, this is still a democracy, and I still have the right to say annoying things. Sometimes I feel – especially in the middle of a presidential campaign – that all politics is just a matter of smoke and mirrors. I find that I have a lot of company in that belief. Lots of people decline to vote at all, saying, basically, “What’ s the difference? They’ re all the same!”. To them I say, “Yes, you’ re probably right, but to paraphrase George Orwell, “Some politicians are more (the same) than others”. Let’s review.
Do all politicians lie? Well, as the joke has it, like lawyers, only when their lips are moving. But seriously, folks. Is there a difference between lying and exaggerating? Is there a difference between lying and being mistaken? Is there a difference between manipulating the voters and honestly trying to answer their needs? The question of lying is at the heart of this discussion. It would be easy to tar all politicians with the same brush, but is that fair? And more importantly, is it accurate? And even more importantly, does that mean that all of us should just sit on our hands on November 4th?
Eight years ago when “Dubya” ascended to the throne, I was none too happy, but I so wanted to believe in our system of government that I tried to give him the benefit of a doubt. I tried hard to believe him when he said he was a “uniter and not a divider”. I tried hard to believe him when he said war was only the option of last resort. I tried hard to believe that, deep in his heart, he wanted only the best for all of the people he supposedly represented. But eight years is a long, long time. I have had to admit to myself, finally, that this country was duped. Lots and lots of intelligent people believed Bush’s campaign rhetoric. They thought they were getting a “compassionate conservative”. What could be better, after all? Instead, (IMHO), we got a dangerous, manipulative, war-mongering administration, stone deaf to the real issues of the majority of voters in this country. This “fiscally responsible” administration has left us deeper in debt as a nation than we have ever been before. We are engaged in two wars in the Middle East, with lots of saber-rattling and “tough talk” coming out of Washington. We no longer walk soflty and carry a big stick. It seems we just carry a big stick. The Supreme Court has been skewed far to the right politically, as you might expect from any administration whose core constituents are made up primarily of the the most zealous of evangelicals and “neo-cons”. There are other issues, I’m sure. This is just the list that immediately pops into my (admittedly left-leaning) mind.
And what of the preceding eight years with Bill Clinton at the helm? Well, we know for sure that there was a budget surplus at the end of those eight years. We know that apart from some very targeted air strikes in Bosnia, it was a peaceful eight years. We know that people in general were economically better off than they are now, the middle class in particular. And, yes. Bill Clinton cheated on his wife. His enemies in Washington did a little sleuthing and made him testify to Congress concerning the affair. And in an effort to maintain the dignity of the office and, I would assume, not to humiliate himself or his family, he lied about it clumsily. Stooping to an unbelievable low, the Republicans dug up a blue dress and caught Bill Clinton in a lie. For that lie, they gleefully impeached him. “High crimes and misdemeanors”? Really? Having a tawdry little affair with a willing young woman and then lying about it? How many presidents have been held accountable for such behavior, let alone impeached? Oh, that’ s right: None!
But here is the point. Whatever else you may believe about the last two administrations, and no matter what side you may take in terms of liberal versus conservative, they were certainly different.
So, now we have yet another chance to discern the difference between out-and-out lying and overstating the truth. We have a chance to guess who has our best interest at heart and who is in the back pocket of powerful lobbyists. In spite of all of the confusing claims and counter-claims, we must try to figure out who is the “good guy” and who is the “bad guy”, or at least, who is competent and who is simply ambitious. We must at least try to make a difference. Otherwise, what hope do we
If you’ re still not registered to vote, NOW is the time. Maybe you don’ t agree with my views. Fine. Vote and prove me wrong! Just vote!