Bush has just declared victory, and John Kerry has conceded defeat. Despite my distaste for the outcome, the current race has every appearance of being run fairly, and without any serious claims (so far) of voter fraud or underhanded disenfranchisement. Bush appears to have won not only the Electoral College, but the popular vote as well. The system has worked, even if I don't like the result.
But it isn't the outcome so much as the reasons behind it that triggers the host of emotions -- from sadness on through motivated anger -- that I've experinced in the past few days. It's not the President, but the mindest of the Electorate that has plunged to new lows. We can see this in the exit polls: the reasons why voters made the choices they made.
Of course, there are many legitimate reasons to vote for Bush. There are those who believe that the War in Iraq is going well, and was justified, and that Bush is the best man to lead our troops to stabilize Iraq. There are those who think that Bush is tougher on terrorism than Kerry would have been. And, there are those who think that Bush's tax cuts truly helped the middle class, and will help the economy recover. While I disagree with all of those positions, they are legitimate and defensible. If Bush had been elected because he and his campaign managed to convince people of such positions, I would be content -- not happy, but content.
But Bush was elected for two reasons: his stance on "Social Morality" issues -- namely, gay marriage, reproductive rights, and stem-cell research -- and the perception of Bush as a "godly" and "devout Christian" president. Because of this, I have lost faith in and hope for the Electorate.
It isn't that the positions that Bush supports are necessarily indefensible. There are those with well-articluated reasons to believe in eliminating the right to marriage for people based on sexual orientation, classing the elimination of foetal tissue as "murder", and severely restricting important medical research. Yes, I'm biased. But, when people can support their positions, I'm willing to respect them, even when I disagree. But that's not what happened here.
People were asked to vote for Bush by churches -- oh, sure, indirectly in many cases, but still in fairly obvious ways. And all of this based on the premise that, because of a handful of issues, Bush is the "moral choice". Now, I'm somewhat an expert on Christian morality: I was an ordained minister before leaving my church. The issues in question are very much moral "gray areas", open to interpretation, yet churches felt they were important enough to elect Bush over.
I'll tell you what the vast majority of Bible translations espouse as absolutely immoral, though: lying, greed, the wonton destruction of human life, and intolerance. Even if we presume that Bush has taken the moral highroad on gay marriage, abortion, and stem-cell research, he certainly has not done so on more important matters.
Anyone who followed FactCheck.org is well aware of the lies and deceptions propagated by the Bush campaign, with GW Bush's full knowledge and approval. There is ample evidence to suggest that Bush knowingly lied about the presence of WMD's in Iraq (there were none), and about Hussein's connection to the events of Sept. 11, 2001 (there was no connection). Is deliberately lying to the American people a "moral", "Christan" thing to do?
The War in Iraq is extremly profitable for GW Bush and for Dick Cheney's friends at Haliburton. Even if we ignore evidence that strongly suggests the whole fiasco is a war over oil resources, to award the VP's former company (and huge donators to your campaign) a lucrative, exclusive contract without a competitive bid process smacks of greed and dishonesty. In most of our country, those attributes are antithetical to the concept of "morality".
Destruction of Human Life
Reliable journals have estimated the civilian mortality related to the Iraq war to be between 10,000 and 100,000. It bears repeating: these are numbers for civilian mortality. Even if we go with the most conservative estimate of 10,000 civilians killed, that is far more than were killed in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. But the death toll continues to go up. Over 1,000 more US citizens have died in the Iraq conflict; and their deaths have resulted in reducing our security, increasing the risk of terrorism, and failing to bring the acknowledged perpetrator of the WTC attacks (Usama bin Laden) to justice. Our soldiers are sent into battle without proper equipment, and our National Guard -- who are charged with protecting US borders -- are being killed in a foreign war.
President Bush's anti-abortion platform is predicated on respect for human life, but the lack of consideration for human life demonstrated in Iraq makes this utter hypocrisy.
Bush has publicly expressed tremendous intolerance. His faith supposedly tells him to be tolerant, to "love thy neighbor". But, when he stood up to say that those who practice Wicca or other neo-pagan faiths aren't part of a "real religion", he lay bare his intolerance. When those who disagree werre relegated to "free speech zones", and garbage trucks were run for the sole purpose of drowning out the voice of peaceful dissenters -- all with Bush's knowledge and support, he removed all doubt about his view of democracy. Failure to tolerate opposing points of view is not democratic, not Christian, and most certainly not moral.
Yet, despite all of this, Bush has been elected to serve a second term on the basis of morality. I have mixture of pity for and anger towards the Electorate. All I can feel for our great Nation is a great and heavy sadness born from the realization that an administration so immoral can position itself as a great bastion of morality. I can only hope and pray that those who see the hypocrisy and immorality of the Bush administration work hard to use their power as citizens of this great nation to mobilize their representatives. Bush may be President, but the laws and direction of this country are still guided by the people.
So, I admonish everyone to educate themselves on the issues, make their will known to their representatives, and demonstrate to this immoral administration that the people have the ability, desire, and will to run this country. Let's rekindle the power of our "Government of the People, by the People, and for the People"!