Let’s face it America, no matter who you vote for this year, you’re voting for the wrong candidate. I’ll be the first to say both options on this year’s ballot aren’t good. As a result, any attempt to pick one or the other is going to leave you trying to discern which candidate is the lesser of the two evils. This column is going to give you a breakdown of my personal analysis of both candidates, their strengths and their weaknesses. This isn’t an attempt to garnish your vote; this is simply a reflection on the choices laid before us.
Out of respect, I’ll begin with the incumbent, President George W. Bush. It cannot be understated that over the last four years the Bush administration has set American foreign policy down a path the next president, whoever he may be, is going to have to follow. America and its interests are now so entrenched in the Middle East that regardless of whom is elected president, the region will undoubtedly remain a hotspot. President Bush has taken our nation into Iraq and at this point disengagement is not an option. It cannot be denied that bringing in a new commander in chief would shake up the situation in Iraq and bring about a lot of problems in the transition as thousands of soldiers’ lives are tossed around during a change in administration.
Yet on the note of the military, Bush by nature is less qualified to send soldiers off to war than Senator Kerry. Simply put, Kerry fought in Vietnam, Bush did not. George Bush ran from the call of duty and went to the Texas Air National Guard. While Kerry is criticized for his actions after arriving back from Vietnam, people seem to forget that he was there while George Bush was not. George Bush does not know what it is like to be shot at, what it is like to have his friends die. He cannot consider those things before sending off kids to die; John Kerry can.
Republicans have been attacking Kerry for being weak on terrorism and Middle Eastern policy, these attacks culminating in the overuse of the term “flip-flop.” No one can deny Kerry originally voted for sending troops to Iraq. Yet people forget that he did so based on false intelligence: intelligence fed to him, his fellow senators and the American people as a whole by the Bush administration. To assault Kerry and vote against him based on the fact that President Bush lied seems to be an exercise in circular reasoning.
Moving from issues of foreign policy to the domestic arena is the status of civil liberties in America. During Bush’s tenure in office, there have been repeated infringements onto the constitutional rights of Americans. The first of these attacks on the constitution was with the USA PATRIOT acts, which were passed in the immediate aftermath of September 11. Over the last three years, we have only seen these issues become more and more prominent as Attorney General John Ashcroft has destroyed the concept of civil liberties in America. Given four more years to continue his attack, one should shudder at the possibilities of what else he may do.
To further this point is the interesting coincidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin has endorsed Bush this year in a rare case of a foreign head of state intervening in another nation’s domestic affairs. Putin destroyed the concept of democracy in Russia, recently having stripped states of their right to elect governors, and instead appointing them himself. Putin’s endorsement of a president who has himself limited civil liberties should carry with it some weight in the minds of the American voters; especially those concerned with the status of constitutional rights in America.
For the record, I am a registered Republican. Had I been able to vote in 2000, George Bush would have gotten one more vote. But over the last four years I have watched him and his administration make a lot of mistakes in a lot of areas. As I consider what I have just written, I must admit the only reason that I voted for John Kerry this year is because I don’t trust George Bush – not because I like John Kerry. That says a lot about the way the American two-party system is detrimental to the American people; we can’t even vote for a candidate because we think he’s the right person for the job. We just vote for the guy who we hope isn’t going to be as bad.
-The writer, a sophomore majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.