Why I won't vote for Bush - An Essay from a Republican

I really enjoyed your OP, Blackclaw. Although I consider myself to be very liberal, if someone with your views was running for President, I’d very likely vote for him/her.

Vote libertarian. You don’t have to reluctantly support Bush, and the Libertarian candidate won’t win anyway.

I find it funny that you’re complaining about liberal positions as being based on idology, when the current “conservative” adminstration is the most ideologically driven in my memory. From stem cell research to “faith based initiatives” and prayer circles in the White House, from the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage to the (unprecedented) application of a political litmus test to appointment of scientists to the national boards of review, Bush and his team have allowed their ideology to govern every decision they make, in many cases not even bothering to pay lip service to the type of pragmatic realism that you (and I) see as an important characteristic in a modern president. The “compassionate conservative” that I voted for turned out to be neither!

There’s much in your theme to applaud, but I wont bore you with effusive praise, I know how tiresome that can be. I’ll limit myself, to right on, right on, fuckin’ A straight, amen, and pretty much, relative to their respective points.

Couple minor points, fundamental differences, that sort of thing:

I maintained at the time, and continue to maintain, that the war in Afghanistan was unwise and misguided. (A point that met with the same universal approval as discovering a turd in the punchbowl). In Afghanistan, as opposed to Iraq, there is good and reasonable argument for such military action, and, as such, is deserving of an accepting and carefully respectful counter-argument. I hope to present such, if you are willing to risk tedium-induced episodes.

We went off track way, way back. Way before the Afghan war was even in gleam in the Grim Reaper’s eye. The tide of emotion that swept us after 9/11 cried out for vengeance, we wanted somebody to strike back at, immediatly, at once. This kind of emotional tsunami, history teaches, is fraught with dangerous consequence.

The Leader did not lead, he surfed that wave of emotion. Giving him what benefit of the doubt I can, I believe he was the instrument of men who sought to actively exploit that wave of emotion to thier own ends. Whether or not these men are patriots, and sincerely convinced that thier actions were needful, is for another debate and another judge.

Such as these actively scorned any solution that was not primarily military. One understands. When you have a hammer, problems look like nails, and we have the baddest military ever, bar none. There is exactly one nation in the world that no one dares directly attack. So the temptation is obvious. It was also destructive.

Even the slogan “War on Terror” belies this fundamental fault: there is no such state as Terroria, they have no uniforms, no borders, no armored divisions. A military attack against terror makes about as much sense as launching an artillery barrage against an incoming fog.

The war on terror can be successfully conducted only with a primary emphasis on law enforcement techniques, skullduggery and treachery. It will be a war of snitches, liars, and subverted sources. Done right, it will expend more green cards and other bribes than soldiers. It involves having willing ears in the tenements of Hamburg, the markets of Turkey, and the Islamic schools of Pakistan.

And it neccessitates the good will and cooperation of the world. It will not be coerced by threat or sanction, at least, not sufficiently.

Briefly, we had that. People who didn’t even like us very much were holding candlelight vigils in sympathy. The opportunity of the century! A chance to build an international “community”, an ad hoc committee of soveriegn nations, if you will. Unlike the UN, we might trust it enough to lend it some teeth.

And GeeDubya pissed it all away playing tough guy.

Yes, the training camps are no more. But I submit there is a definite advantage in knowing where your enemy is located, that he can be observed, and perhaps even infiltrated. Is there some sort of terrorist training that can be acomplished only in the exact middle of the Godforsaken Desert? That cannot be accomplished in a one-bedroom apartment in Karachi? Other than the crucial ability to jump through old tires, NFL style? I think not.

The greater portion of Afghanistan is unchanged, so far as can be told. We have installed what seems a perfectly decent fellow as mayor of Kabul, and the bulk of the power remains where it was. To achieve this installation, we rained baskets of hundred dollars bills on his most likely potential enemies. Nation-builders, we are not. Our gains in Afghanistan were modest, if the ambitions of the neo-con architects of this folly were equally modest, we would be far better off.

We made the wrong assumption, and all our mistakes have flowed from it like an open sewer. The image of heavily laden jet lifting off an aircraft carrier on a stern mission of vengeance is very satisfying, but in terms of attacking covert enemies, it is a more lethal form of masturbation.

The Leader did not lead us away from such foolishness, but directly in it. It continues to this day. We are flailing at a swarm of hornets with a sledge hammer. The problem of terror does not have a military solution. It requires the skills we seem to lack most abundantly. It would also require The Leader to change course, a capacity he appears to regard with suspicion.

As well as the other abundant reasons for not electing GeeDubya, there is that: we can signal a change in course, and effect it.

And what better propaganda could we have? An America, the people lead, the leaders follow. Hows that work where you live, Achmed?

All that said, I am glad to have a Tighty…a Repubican who can engage in such dialogue as this. Be assured: you are not alone. Just seems that way.

[QUOTE=Evil One]
But Saddam would have had to be dealt with at some point soon in the future. He had a lot of money and the will to be a huge strategic pain in the ass. And it was obvious that those who were profiting from associating with him were not interested in disturbing the status quo.


I don’t believe the position that Saddam would have to be dealt with at some point in the future is supportable.

Along these lines, here is a link to a report by Union of Concerned Scientists detailing the ways in which the Bush Administration has let ideology trump science, thus jeopardizing a long history of allowing the science necessary to inform policy to proceed free from too much intervention from politics.

Good on you, Blackclaw. It takes guts to revise your views.

I’m not sure if you’ve answered this one yet - will you now be voting for Kerry? Or are you going to vote Libertarian? Not vote at all?

And elucidator, you’re damned well right on the War on Terror.

I’m not sure I understand your argument. If it is only that the war in Afghanistan, and its aftermath, were mishandled, it is hard to disagree. We threw away an opportunity to catch the ringleader, and to do true nation building, with the full support of the world.

But if you are saying the attack itself was unjustified, I’m missing it. Attacking wasps with a sledgehammer is indeed foolish, but attacking the wasp’s nest with one is not. Police work is indeed required, but if you track the crooks to a walled compound, you might need more than two cops with billy clubs to extract the bad guys.

As I remember it, the world was behind us before, during, and after the Afghan war. We lost that by attacking a country without anything to do with Terror.

Did we attack Afghanistan out of vengeance? Nuking the Taliban hq would be vengeance. We did get met with flowers in Kabul, remember. This was not a pre-emptive strike, and not an illegal one.

This doesn’t excuse all the crap that has been done in the name of the WoT, but I think any American President would have attacked Afghanistan - though most would have finished the job.

Don’t want a nit-pick hijack, but your questions deserve answers.

I don’t actually challenge whether or not the invasion of Afghanistan was justified as much as whether it was wise. I am entirely aware that this is not a cut-and-dried issue, and don’t have any illusion of arguing to an unreserved agreement. Simply that I think there is good reason to doubt this was ever a good idea, however well or badly it was executed.

The best evidence I can offer is the result: what is it that is so much better? If the destruction of the training camps were somehow certain to cripple the skulking terrorist “network”, how could one object? Have we any reason to believe that this is the case? Because terrorists can’t run through tires and train on playground equipment? What essential strategic need was met? That they could not get somewhere else?

We put a priority on removing the Taliban because they would not give us ObL. Was there any reason to believe they could have delivered ObL had they chose to? OK, good, the Taliban is gone and the secular thugs remain. A modest victory. Worth the cost? YMMV.

It remains an open question, so far as I’m concerned. I am very skeptical of military actions that have such indefinite results.

It’s being dealt with by earlier posts, but as a courtesy, this for example:

I think this is the relevant quote:

Bush is the commander-in-chief of the US Armed Forces, right? He’s got to micro-manage if extremely valuable, competent people are getting fired, whether or not he can manage to blame Clinton.

I think some of you should lay off **Evil One ** just a bit. He has expressed his dissatisfaction with Bush and some of his policies, his only “mistake” is being honest enough to admit that he still will vote for him.

This doesn’t surprise me. The “lesser of two evils” is a real factor in how people vote. Basically, an American voter is forced to make a choice between two parties. Let’s face it, voting for Nader or Browne (or whoever the Libertarians nominate) or any other small party is, in reality, a wasted vote.

So if you have problems with one side (Bush) but can’t stomach the other side (Kerry) coming into power because their overall value-system is abhorrent to you then you should decide, as **Evil One ** has, to hold your nose and vote for Bush.

Obviously there is a BIG problem with our election system. Large segments of American society have nobody to speak up for their values (at least no one who could possibly be elected).

We all–Dems, Repubs, Libertarians, Greens, Left and Right alike–need to work together to change the way we elect national leaders. I don’t know how exactly, but to start we could look at instant-runoff voting, proportional representation and eliminating the Electoral College.

Only when our horrible “lesser of two evils” voting system has been retired will Evil One and many others like him from all areas of the political spectrum, be able to vote in good conscience for the TRUE candidate of their choice.

I think you’re dreaming if you think that any change in voting mannerisms is going to magically give fringe groups more power. Whether you winnow down the winners early or late, the reality is that majorities lead, and majorities work by holding together around a center.

This is absolutely untrue. Damned if I can remember who recently cited the paper, or what the context was, but the upshot is that changing the selection criteria (i.e. voting method) changes the majority of datasets. I saved the paper to my hard drive, but I’ll be damned if I know where it was posted at. Very simple datasets can demonstrate the flaw.

The minorities won’t magically give them more power. They already have it–all we need is a means to express it.

When you vote Republicans because you agree more with their ideology (system of sociopolitcal proposals for governing the US) that is choosing “the one closest to what you want in office” and you are being “pragmatic.” Maybe its possible for someone to vote Democratic because that ideology (system of sociopolitical proposals for governing the US) is close to their wants. That doesn’t make them ideological lemmings any more than your actions make you one.

And, as others have noted, the military that was so successful in Afghanistan and Iraq with the military end of things was a Clinton legacy.

The planning for Iraq was based on faulty information that wasn’t exposed because hard questions were not asked. The CIA disclaimers about intelligence were ignored. The US was rushed into a needless war on that flimsy basis. The assumption seems to have been that the post Saddam era would be easy with most Iraqis so grateful that they would be willing helpers in rebuilding the country. Again, hard questions were not asked about the reasonableness of the assumptions. GW, from all I have read, isn’t strong on deep analysis of problems and depends on his “gut feelings.” Alienating many of our longtime friends and allies and insisting that war was the only answer coupled with the lack of planning for the aftermath of the active military phase is a sign of incompetence to me. Add to that the failure to follow through in Afghanistan and the smell of a blunderer gets even stronger. And the Congress, or at least most of it with the notable exception of Sen. Byrd (D. NC), was complicit with respect to the Iraq adventure. Hard questions weren’t asked there either.

All in all, not our finest hours.

Err… the minorit[y parties] won’t magically get more power. :smack:

One idea that comes to mind is to stop regurgitating the notion that votes for third party candidates are wasted.

It is highly unlikely that this country will experience the kind of paradigm shift necessary to go from a 2.000001 party system to a 10 party system at the snap of our fingers. A more plausible scenario will involve a gradual migration of voters as they explore their other options. Not waste their votes, but explore and support their other options.

I continue to be a firm believer that the most important and valid perspective to have of us Nader voters from 2000, is to think of us not as “the dumbasses that got us stuck in the Shrubbery”, but rather as dissatisfied voters who took some of the preliminary steps that will eventually lead us away from the bane that is bipartisan politics. I feel the same about those who voted for Perot, even though I voted for Clinton.

The folks who actually voted for Shrub on the other hand…well, I’m not trying to call them names, but I will say that the Nader backlash from the Left was misdirected at best.

Bush is bad…really really bad…and I knew that when I voted for Nader, but Bush is merely a symptom of our antiquated and corrupt bipartisan dogma.

The Electoral College has always been a questionable concept for me. However, coming from a very remote and rural corner of the country, I am concerned with sufficient campaigning in and representation of rural areas. So we’ll have to address that need before we retire the Electoral College completely.

Oh…and quoting you (including your nick) seems to result in perpetual italics…

I guess that could be due to the boards being coded that way. :smack: You’d think I would’ve picked that up by now…

Its not necessarily the bi-party system that is flawed. That is just as practically workable as a parliamentary system, with a whole slew of parties trying to congeal some sort of ruling concensus. And end up making perfectly ridiculous deals with puny parties in order to scrape another two votes out of 400, making 202.

Ours has broken down because one wing of one party has become too dominant, for want of a better term, the reactionary right. The purpose of the legitimate right is to serve as a check and balance, they block our foolish efforts to solve problems by throwing money at them. They do this by not letting us have any.

But this right is beyond a sensible conservatism, Barry Goldwater would have scraped GeeDubya off his boots before he went into the house. Their social conservative agenda is jackbooted Ozzie and Harriet, a decisive determination to return to a Golden Age that never was. And they are dependent on the support of people who not only take their own religion too seriously, but yours as well.

A major defeat could save the Republican Party, and preserve our political sanity. If it results in the overthrow of the Atwater Attitude, and chucking out creatures like Tom DeLay (R-Undead), it will be all to the good. A repudiation of disreputable alliances will mean a temporary reduction in direct political power, no question about it.

But we’re just like you, we’ll screw up. Goes around, comes around.

Some of you by now have tumbled to the fact that I am somewhat left of center, being on the conservative wing of the extreme left, and those are my political goals. But I believe more in governance from the center, that consensus is the essence of democracy. Radical change is too encouraging of chaos, it offers too much in the way of opportunity for the worst of us to gain power over the rest of us. Trust the center, persuade the center, move the center.

But this is impossible without a civil and sane conservative wing to contend and negotiate with. And it is sorely missed. You guys need a good solid clobbering, it has a wonderfully sobering effect, I can attest to this without hesitation.

No way you get run out of town, the roots are too deep. And as Mr. Gardner would point out, a pruned bush produces healthier flowers.


I am really fortunate to stumble across this thread. I really admire it when someone — especially someone from across the aisle from myself — can articulate their displeasure without attacking people in the process.

I have some questions just out of curiosity:

  1. How long did it take you to compose that?
  2. Was it intended expressly for the SDMB, or is the board just one of it’s intended destinations?