Amalthea (amaltheae) wrote,

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Politics and confusion

On a mush that I participate on, we got into a politics conversation with someone who was raised by one of the executives of a gun manufacturer. As far as I can personally determine, this upbringing has completely clouded his otherwise usually fairly sane judgment. In several political conversations he has made it clear that gun law is about the only thing that he seems to value strongly enough to make a decision about a candidate.

I may be understanding him wrong, but I am unable to come up with any other issue which is important enough to him to pick a president based on it, including protecting the other rights of his immediate family. In conversation last night, he was saying that he preferred the evil he knew to a new evil for four years until maybe someone would put up a good candidate for some party. This statement, from someone who is often otherwise intelligent and sane just completely baffles me.

Among the many reasons it baffles me is that the most common justification for this is that we need weapons to protect us from our own government if it gets out of control. Have you seen the national guard lately? Have you watched a riot squad lately? Have you paid any attention to the smart weapons the government has been developing to force compliance by means of things like sound torture? And that’s not including the bombers, the bombs and all the other standard issue military munitions. If our government decides compliance is required, we’re pretty much fucked no matter how many hand guns or rifles we have stock piled in our basements. We have reached a point of armament of government that the only thing that we might win that war based on, is intelligence if it ever does come down to that point. We are already completely beyond our control on the subject, and so there isn’t a hell of a lot that the government could realistically do that would make us more able to defend ourselves effectively against the government.

The other argument generally offered is that they protect us from one another. Great, but that is because humans are adaptable, not because that particular tool is fundamentally necessary to the task. The government doesn’t issue each of us smart bombs. They don’t issue chemical weapons, biological weapons, etc, and yet somehow most of us manage to survive. Any tool can be a weapon if you use it for one. Just not having access to every possible tool to the job that would be helpful is not sufficient reasoning. We can all understand why we shouldn’t issue everyone a suitcase nuke to protect their grandmother’s silver.

The issue with guns isn’t that they are required or not required, it is that they are the thing that bridges between the obviously impossible to prevent and the utterly ridiculous to allow. Guns are a little of both and could lean either way. But in the end, there will still be bats and 2x4s and bows and knives and tazers and a million other ways to kill someone if you really need to defend that silver, no matter what happens to the guns either way. There is no way that they can completely disarm a human being without amputating their limbs, strapping them to a board and putting sound proof bubbles over them. And even then, their eyes would reflect an emotional weapon to be used against you of guilt and shame at what you have done. There are weapons that are less or more effective, yes. But we do not have a fundamental right to the very most effective weapons because Granny cannot be trusted not to fall on her suitcase nuke and obliterate the whole neighborhood. What we have a right to is to defend ourselves from tyranny to the best of our ability. People like Martin Luther King showed us that sometimes the only real weapon against tyranny is a meaningful death. And that is still true today. And so I can find no legitimate reason that if we are inherently weapon equipped by being creative, intelligent, and emotional beings, that gun law is any sort of reasoned choice for the only relevant issue to a candidate instead of some sort of ass backward knee jerk reaction to a fear of being gunless. I am even from Colorado where we all have something of a cowboy attitude. I even have guns in the house and would be considered by many of the people I have ever known to be a gun nut, because hey, if the tool is available, learn to use it and do so if necessary. But I just cannot find any basis for this being a deciding political view. They take away my gun, I go learn jujitsu and kill you with a rice cake. Whatever it takes.

So, back to the larger topic of things that completely dumbfound me about this reasoning; I must say that I utterly fails to on any level understand the reasoning of staying with the bad you know rather than taking a risk on something different. This is the ideology of rape and torture victims. This is like saying "yes, he beats me and throws me down stairs, but he loves me and provides for my children and that might not ever exist again, and the next place might be worse, so I will stay here until he kills me." This is like saying, in my world, "Cancer and Chemo suck. I know cancer, therefore I will go with that because Chemo is a poison I haven't encountered before." Is there any actual reason that doesn’t amount to “fear of change” that this makes real sense? Can anyone give me examples of the thousands of things Bush has been successful about that I am missing, which would justify something other than fear of the new? I have news for you, people, change is mandatory. You do not have the power to stop change, only to learn to handle it gracefully and consider it an opportunity to grow.

Part of this may be that I am under no belief that any political party will ever turn up someone I am actually utterly thrilled about as a candidate, ever. I think such a belief is utopian in nature and thus absurd to wait for. And I believe it is important to severely limit the damage any single person can cause. Four years is more than enough for that, if damage is obvious and wide spread and far out-weighs the successes if any success exists at all.

And really, as far as picking candidates goes, I actually like Kerry at this point. He has voted, according to the majority of the records I have found, very similarly to what I would have done in the same circumstances when bill riders are taken into account. He thinks this country needs to be lead with intelligence and an eye toward the fact that we've already had our 200 years of easy success and we need to be focused on building positive relationships in the world, because we're not always going to be on top of the heap.

He believes in changing his mind if the evidence changes enough and defending his decisions to do so, rather than riding every decision straight into hell, or simply trying to cover up that he changes his mind all the time like his opponent. He's more competent as a military leader than Bush could ever be having done his best to get out of the military entirely, unlike Kerry who chose to go when he didn’t have to. Among other things, from everything I have found, he has every sign of actually listening to the recommendations of his top military personnel instead of firing them for disagreeing with him about his imperialist desires, as Bush has done.

His family, unlike Bush's, has no major ties to the oil industry to completely cloud his judgment, so far as I have been able to find. He hasn't taken other people's money for one endeavor after another and then bankrupted all of them like Bush did before his presidency. Kerry has a long record of being patient and kind and focusing on communication. He didn't come from huge money. He had a family history of name recognition and statesmen, but he still had to work his way through college. He has stood up for what he believed even when that was very unpopular and possibly jeopardizing to future quests for power, unlike Bush who only developed that strength of will about any subject after he was elected, as far as I can tell. Kerry is moderate about nearly every issues I can find history of his decisions related to. He doesn't say "bring it on" to a culture of people trying to blow up our soldiers, because he is less Texas and vastly more sensitive to the families of the victims than that.

He is married to a woman who is every bit his match in strength and personality, if not possibly his hero on those subjects, which speaks well for his character in my book, unlike Bush who is married to a woman who was specifically chosen by his mother to make a good and proper quiet, obedient presidential wife (My ex boss knew the Bush family personally and many of their friends, which is where this statement comes from). Even though I am not religious in any strict Christian sense of the word, Kerry is, and I think that does represent a significant demographic of this country that is very important to a lot of people. But he doesn't let his faith replace his brain in his every day life. He makes hard choices based on all the evidence, not just his fundamental religious beliefs. Bush can’t say even remotely the same. Even Bush’s pastor has been publicly interviewed to say that he feels like Bush is too extreme about his religious basis for actions and is using that religion for the wrong reasons. His own minister thinks the man is out of control. Kerry isn't a moral absolutist about his religion. He isn't looking to codify his religious justifications for the denigration of people he disagrees with as part of the constitution. He knows what it is to lose his faith and struggle to regain it.

He believes in taking us back to the land of no more deficit if at all humanely possible after the plunge into failure that Bush accomplished in so short a time on the subject. Kerry’s pragmatic and understands that what works to get the job done is a separate problem, a lot of the time, than what would be “right” in some state of utopia that we are not capable of immediately if at all. Bush is living in his own isolationist utopia and average people are paying the price for that in suffering and financial hardship.

There is significant history of success of the economy and the middle classes under every democratic president we’ve had since the parties were fundamentally redefined to the basis for what they have shifted to today. The opposite is true of the republicans. We can point to oodles of failures in Bush’s presidency. The deficit spending, the undercutting of funding for nearly every program he promised in his original campaign, the failure to listen to military advisors which resulted in hostage situations and tortured Americans. He promised to unite, and yet he divides. He promised to control oil prices and yet he does nothing. He promised to leave no child behind and yet he ignores his own programs when they need funding to exist. He destroys national treasures, appoints primarily people with either extremist religious ties or oil industry ties. He puts executives known for outsourcing jobs from America in charge of keeping jobs at home. There has been so little that could in any clear way be considered a success. We captured Saddam, yes, but why? Can we even call that a clear victory for anyone since instead of he and his sons torturing people, we sent our military over there and they’re doing it instead to the tune of billions of US dollars, and he had nothing whatsoever to do with the attacks on this country?

The more I study the two men, the more that I would actually consider myself privileged to know Kerry personally. The more I study both men, the more that Bush is every high school bully who believed in his own right to power above anything else.

Just sitting here off the top of my head, I cannot come up with a single thing in all Bush’s four years in office that was all of actually for the greater good of the people, actually successfully funded and actually successfully executed. Clinton, Daddy Bush, Reagan, Ford, Carter and even Nixon were all more effective in that regard. It might be possible to pour over every decision he has made and find at least one example, but there is so much overwhelming evidence to the contrary that it blows my mind that people think he’s doing a good job. At what? Nixon was involved in less dirty politics. What is he doing that is making your life better? Yeah, he might be fun to share a beer with and a good old boy story telling session, but is that really our only criteria for successful leadership? Do none of his results matter? Or is it just that the average reader has so little comprehension that they cannot differentiate the lies from the truth around them every day? Even if you agree with his religious zealotry, he hasn’t even effectively succeeded at that. Just more talk and failed action.

Kerry is his polar opposite in so many ways. I mean, what really more could I realistically expect to find in a candidate than we have been offered in Kerry as a contrast? The legislature exists to moderate the office of president, so on the subject or two about which we disagree, it's not all that likely that he would succeed at anything extreme, and even less likely he could succeed at something that extreme that would be irreversible by the Supreme Court who is populated with a huge number of good old boy republicans at this point who will be carefully protecting their right to bear arms and such. I am even comfortable with his running mate running the country if someone plants a bullet in Kerry's ass, which is vastly more than I can say about Cheney.

As far as my world goes, Kerry is the first candidate for president that I have found who I was _happy_ to be able to vote for on their first attempt, instead of picking the lesser of a set of evils. I do consider my life to be personally on the line with this one because of some of Bush’s policies, so I would have voted for Dean or a hamster if that had been my alternate choice, but instead I consider myself DAMN lucky to see a candidate for office that I really actually am pretty impressed with. I just do not comprehend how anyone can truly consider Bush successful at almost anything, even those things that I very strongly disagree with, which might be possible to claim were for the greater good. I just don’t get the way people defend Bush as though we must protect him from the knowledge that he has been a nearly complete failure in his life because he’s such a likable guy. What on earth, people.

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