?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Dean again

Howard Dean announced today that he would stop campaigning, which effectively marks the end of his run for the Democratic nomination. One small part of his remarks today really jumped out at me, though:

You have the power to take our country back so that the flag of the United States of America no longer is the exclusive property of John Ashcroft and Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh and Jerry Falwell; that it belongs to all of us again.


That's exactly how I feel these days. Four years ago, the U.S. flag was something I would have gladly called the symbol of my country, a country I was proud to be born and raised in. Now, the flag seems more like the symbol of the conservative, arrogant, narrow-minded anti-people government of the U.S.A., and it's no longer something I want to be associated with. They've corrupted the flag so that it stands for their particular right-wing Christian viewpoint instead of the greatness that it used to. I feel ashamed when I talk to people who live in other countries, because of the way Bush has treated the entire rest of the world.

And I just realised every time a car drives past with an American flag in its window, I think "there goes another poor fool, tricked into thinking this country is great by the president's pathetic, moralistic, guilt-driven rhetoric." And I hate it that I think that. When I see someone displaying a flag, I want to think "that person knows exactly how great this country really is." But I can't any more, because right now, this country isn't great.

Howard Dean's message was simple. He wanted the government to be about the people in this country. Not the corporations in this country, not the military of this country, not the strength of this country, the people themselves. He wanted laws passed that would guarantee equal rights to every citizen, regardless of any of their differences,be it race, gender, religion, sexuality, income, or anything else. He wanted to make sure that every single person here would have adequate health care. He did it in Vermont, and he could have done it in D.C., but people were too shocked by the fact that he yelled excitedly at a rally to give him a chance.

As much as I'd like to see Dean continue to get votes in the upcoming primaries, and perhaps even gather a few more delegates despite not actively campaigning, I know that won't happen. The public has a dreadful attention span, and by the time Super Tuesday rolls around, Dean will be all but forgotten by everyone except his active supporters. However, I think that his message has come across well. Kerry and Edwards have both adopted Dean's stance on several issues, quietly making parts of his message their own, and that right there is a small victory.

Here's to more victories in the future.

Comments

( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
inkster
Feb. 18th, 2004 05:28 pm (UTC)
I don't know too much about politics, particularly American politics, but I think it's a shame that people will let something stupid get in the way of seeing how good someone might be.

I was talking to Seabrooke the other day about how fickle people are. Someone could come into power and clean up all the problems, but then people might find out that he once made a little mistake somewhere and that's the end of him.
kizlj
Feb. 18th, 2004 05:47 pm (UTC)
I decided I'm still going to vote for him next week in the NY primary -- because I thought about it, and I just don't care between Edwards and Kerry who gets the nomination. I'll vote for either of them over Bush, but both have what I consider significant drawbacks. Most fundamentally: I don't get from either of them the sense I did from Dean, that here is that rare politician who will say unpopular truths, like, "Paying for the government we need means paying taxes."

I'm very dispirited that not enough people valued that message.
rfreebern
Feb. 18th, 2004 06:49 pm (UTC)
I'm planning on voting for Dean in the RI primary as well. He's still in the race, even if he's not actively participating, and I still want to support him.
myhighlander
Feb. 18th, 2004 08:50 pm (UTC)
I have to say I'll give my support for Edwards, since he used to be my rep when I lived in Carolina. The only problem is that things are fairly going well as was the case when Clinton was up for his second term. That's why he got 4 more years. GW will probably get the same deal, unless something drastic happens.
westernactor
Feb. 18th, 2004 09:36 pm (UTC)
Uh...
because of the way Bush has treated the entire rest of the world.

Yeah, like the people of Iraq, and how he thoughtlessly and single-mindedly removed the dictator who was preventing them from adopting the kind of government they wanted and allowing his sons to feed their romantic rivals to lions.

My problem with Howard Dean was solely that he thrived on the fear of others, a fear which, I'm sorry to say, I think he helped create. That statement of his, that he used time and time and time and time again at every function until it lost any meaning it might have had doesn't even make sense. John Ashcroft and Rush Limbaugh never, to my knowledge, called people unpatriotic merely because they don't agree with Bush's foreign policy. And not one of them ever said that they believed the flag was their exclusive property. Not one of them believes that. They believe in the flag because what it stands for means something to them, it stands for an obligation to the nation, its security, and the world that they feel Bush is upholding.

You disagree, and that's fine. The people in Iraq weren't so lucky. When Saddam Hussein was in power, if they disagreed, they and their families just disappeared one night and were never heard of again. Your being able to exercise your freedom to criticize the people who run the country is one of the things that makes the United States a great country. If you no longer believe in that, I'm very sorry, but it's not because someone took it away from you, it's because you allowed yourself to withdraw from it. But your freedom is not being impinged merely because those in power act differently than you would have them act; that's a dangerous road to go down. I disagreed with a lot of things that Clinton did, but you would never hear me suggest that he took away my freedom, because he didn't. He couldn't. Bush didn't and can't. No President will and no President can.

A President, like any elected official, has to do what he believes is right for the country because that's his job. And no one is ever going to please all the people. Clinton made a lot of people unhappy, and he also pleased a lot of people. The same with Bush. I loathe the thought that you're going to feel this way every time a Republican gets into office and starts doing things you don't like, because it will happen again. What would your reaction be to someone who's willing to give up on the United States merely because a Democrat is put into office and enacts the policies he or she feels are the right things to do? I hope you wouldn't like the idea, and I know you to be a person of enough intelligence and integrity that I think that would be the case.

Anyway, I think I've already said too much, but I hope you understand where I'm coming from here. Like so much else, it's a matter of perspective, and as much as I like and respect you, I find yours (and that of many other people) troubling:
And I just realised every time a car drives past with an American flag in its window, I think "there goes another poor fool, tricked into thinking this country is great by the president's pathetic, moralistic, guilt-driven rhetoric." And I hate it that I think that.
The solution is not to think it... The solution is to realize that merely because someone doesn't agree with you, they're not stupid, they're not a fool... They're merely someone who disagrees with you, and that's not necessarily good or bad, it just is. And if you don't find a way of dealing with them that is respectful to them and yourself, you're going to go crazy. And I, for one, really don't want that.
joenotcharles
Feb. 18th, 2004 10:56 pm (UTC)
Re: Uh...
I was going to say, "I was with you until you said Rush Limbaugh never called people unpatriotic." But I figured I should have a quote to back that up, so I went and searched around rushlimbaugh.com a bit, and you appear to be right. Every time he used the word "unpatriotic" was in charging that Democrats threw the term around too much.

Then I checked the first page or so of Google hits for "unpatriotic", "foreign", "policy" - and it was all left-wing blogs saying that the Republicans use the label on people who disagree with them.

Maybe it's just that left-wing weblogs tickle Google ranking criteria more, so they all end up at the top. Maybe all the actual attacks are in other forums (the title of an Ann Coulter book comes to mind). But yeah, it does seem like the stifling of dissent has been just a bit overblown.
popeyechicken
Feb. 19th, 2004 07:01 am (UTC)
Re: Uh...
"Yeah, like the people of Iraq, and how he thoughtlessly and single-mindedly removed the dictator who was preventing them from adopting the kind of government they wanted and allowing his sons to feed their romantic rivals to lions."

True social change must come from within. We invaded Haiti back in '94 to re-install a nominally democratic government. But it didn't do anything. Now the civilian government is a de facto dictatorship and there are problems again. Except this time it's the people rising up.

Eastern Europe wasn't liberated because the American crusaders marched on to Budapest or Prague (though it was slowed by Soviet tanks rolling into said places). She was liberated because of the courage and conviction of the Eastern European peoples in rising up against the tyranny. That's why Eastern Europe is much more stable than a place like Haiti.

Furthermore, you must realize that we've made choices both to do things and to not do things. We choose to liberate the Iraqis from their evil dictator. We choose NOT to liberate the Liberians from their evil dictator, even though it could've been done with a tiny fraction of the troops and money. Foreigners wonder why. Are the Liberians less worthy of freedom than the Iraqis?

You can't look at Iraq in isolation. It's one piece in a larger foreign policy puzzle.

I firmly believe that the policy choices made by President Bush and his team have made anti-Americanism worse. Making anti-Americanism worse makes Americans less secure. This doesn't make me arrogant or a latte-sipping elitist or an intellectual snob.

The president has an obligation to do what he thinks is right. BUT, if I think what he's doing is having disastrous implications (even if inadvertantly), I, as a citizen, have an equal duty to speak out. All citizens have obligations not just elected officials.

If rfreebern thinks the president's policies are so dangerous as effectively to make us less safe, he has an obligation to convince other people that the president doesn't deserve to keep his job.
popeyechicken
Feb. 19th, 2004 07:11 am (UTC)
Re: Uh...
"But your freedom is not being impinged merely because those in power act differently than you would have them act"

This is quite unfair of you.

Our freedoms aren't being impinged because the president disagrees with him (and me). Our freedoms are being impinged by SPECIFIC POLICY CHOICES made by the administration. It's not about beliefs, it's about ACTIONS.

The Patriot Act takes away some of our freedoms. This is an ACT, not a belief. A law, not a theory. And it does so for everyone, not just people who disagree with the president.

Now, supporters of the act say that taking away these freedoms are necessary. A small price to allegedly make us more secure. Opponents disagree.

But I haven't heard anyone say that it wasn't taking away freedoms. Even its supporters admit this, only they contend that such forfeiture is worthwhile.

So you're being slightly disingenuous toward rfreebern. Freedoms aren't taken away by beliefs. They are taken away by actions. I probably disagree with Pat Buchanan far more than I disagree with President Bush, but Buchanan has never taken any ACTIONS to take away one of our freedoms.
rfreebern
Feb. 19th, 2004 08:10 am (UTC)
Re: Uh...
Yeah, like the people of Iraq, and how he thoughtlessly and single-mindedly removed the dictator

It's ridiculous how so many Bush-supporters willingly disregard the arrogance and deceit the adminstration used to start this war, and rely on "the ends justify the means!" to defend it. If removing Saddam Hussein from power is so necessary that any action to accomplish it is justified, why didn't we just drop an atomic bomb on Baghdad? Sure, there'd have been casualties, but hey, at least Saddam is removed from power, right?

The happiness that some Iraqi citizens might be feeling due to the removal of Saddam is not evidence that Bush's foreign policy is a good one. The fact that hundreds of millions of people who used to respect and admire the U.S. now consider it arrogant and bullheaded is a strong idicator that something has gone wrong.

he thrived on the fear of others

You call it fear, I call it anger. Anger that the country they used to love has been twisted and mutated into this right-wing Christian power machine, more concerned with being big and strong and adhering to a certain narrow definition of what's right than being good and kind and fair. Anger that hundreds of Americans are dying to fight a war that was started for the wrong reasons, and has no good conclusion. Anger that the jobs they had four years ago have disappeared, and anger that while we suposedly live in one of the most advanced countries on the planet, millions of citizens have no access whatsoever to health insurance or any sort. I could go on. I guess this is a kind of fear, if you look at it the right way. They're afraid that if things continue, more people they love will lose their jobs, or their health, or their lives. And given the way things are currently going, those are very real fears.

never, to my knowledge, called people unpatriotic [...] not one of them ever said that they believed

Well, if we're going to base truth on quotations, then take another look at what Dean said. He did not say "Ashcroft, Cheney, Limbaugh call people unpatriotic" or "Ashcroft, Cheney, Limbaugh say that they believe the flag is their exclusive property." No, they don't call people unpatriotic, and no, they don't say they own the flag. But in the post, I explained that the feeling that the flag isn't a symbol I respect now is very real, and undoubtedly I'm not the only one who feels that way. Dean's statement resonates with people like me who are disgusted by the things this administration has done that make being an American something to be ashamed of, and make the flag seem like the symbol of Those Who Agree With Bush.

your freedom is not being impinged

Surely you jest. The USA PATRIOT Act impinge upon my freedoms: I'm no longer free to research, say, bomb-making and the structure of major landmarks, for instance, without being afraid that the FBI might track me down and hold me indefinitely without trial for "domestic terrorism." Banning late-term abortions impinges upon my freedoms: if my wife gets pregnant, and after 8 months is told by doctors that due to complications there is only a 10% chance she and the child will live through the childbirth, she can no longer elect to abort the fetus. If I work in a library and the FBI requests patron records from me, I'm not even free to tell the patrons it happened. It's fucking terrifying how much my freedoms are being impinged.

(more in the next comment...)
rfreebern
Feb. 19th, 2004 08:11 am (UTC)
Re: Uh...
A President, like any elected official, has to do what he believes is right for the country

No. A president, like any elected official, is supposed to do what his constituents believe is right. It's obviously a flawed system: the people can't possibly be told all the details of every situation, since there are often issues of national security at stake, so what they believe may not always be what is correct. But Bush, as you said, consistently did what he believed was right, without even seeming to consider what the people were saying. And, as much as you may extoll the virtues of the electoral system, more citizens voted for Gore than Bush, so if Bush wanted to close that divide he should have been damn careful to listen to the people of this country rather than his own beliefs. As it is, he's driven a wedge into the country, making the divide much wider than it was, and as the polls are beginning to finally demonstrate, people don't like that gap.

every time a Republican gets into office [...] merely because a Democrat is put into office

I don't care about a person's political label. I care about their actions. If a Republican got into office and put laws in place to defend people's civil liberties, to give more people better health insurance, to keep more jobs in the country, I'd be perfectly happy with those actions. If a Democrat was in office and passed the USA PATRIOT Act, I'd be just as angry about it as I am now. I don't care that Bush is a Republican. I care that he's an arrogant, deceitful, and manipulative man who is using this country for his own purposes.

if you don't find a way of dealing with them [...] you're going to go crazy.

Maybe, but if I just roll over and let every person I see who has been misguided by this administration keep believing what they believe, then I'll go even more crazy. I hold my beliefs because I think they are correct; if I feel another's beliefs are harmful to him, me, or anyone else, I'm going to be concerned about it. And I believe that following this President on the path he's on is harmful to everyone on the planet, so when I see people who wish to follow him, it seriously frightens me.
westernactor
Feb. 19th, 2004 09:48 am (UTC)
Re: Uh...
(And I just realized I responded to one of your points in this comment in my previous comment. Sorry for making things even more confusing. I hope you can follow all this!)

And, as much as you may extoll the virtues of the electoral system, more citizens voted for Gore than Bush, so if Bush wanted to close that divide he should have been damn careful to listen to the people of this country rather than his own beliefs.

But popular votes don't elect the President, the electoral college does. Similarly, land area does not elect the President, but I believe it's been established that, in terms of land area, a greater portion of the country voted for Bush than voted for Gore. But what does that mean? Nothing. And popular votes, alas, don't either. I would expect you to rake me over the coals for making the argument--had Gore won the electoral vote but lost the popular vote to Bush--that he should do what Bush would have wanted. That's a dangerous game to play, I think. (And, of course, if all the voting irregularities from all over the country had been counted and tallied as zealously as they were in Florida in the days/weeks following the election, it's quite possible the numbers would have been very different anyway.) I think we need to look at what happened, not what might have happened.

As it is, he's driven a wedge into the country, making the divide much wider than it was, and as the polls are beginning to finally demonstrate, people don't like that gap.

I don't see Bush as being responsible for that gap. That's a gap that's existed as long as Democrats have accused Republicans of wanting to starve children or the elderly with their policies and Republicans have accused Democrats of not caring about national security because of their policies regarding the military. Bush didn't create the gap and he didn't expand it any more than any politician who has painted a picture of the country that doesn't necessarily represent the way things are.

Maybe, but if I just roll over and let every person I see who has been misguided by this administration keep believing what they believe, then I'll go even more crazy.

Again, this is not functionally different from what you said before. "People who don't agree with me are stupid and deluded, not thinking for themselves." I think that's also a dangerous road to go down. Perhaps people have examined the situation with great care and delicacy and have merely come to a different conclusion than you have? I don't see why someone who doesn't agree with you has been "misguided." I think there are plenty of thoughtful, intelligent, and well-educated people out there who agree with Bush's actions. Whether you consider me one or not is not really material, but I know a number of them, and I don't like their intelligence and rationality being called into question for disagreeing with the opposition any more than you like conservatives painting those who don't agree with them as unpatriotic.

And I believe that following this President on the path he's on is harmful to everyone on the planet, so when I see people who wish to follow him, it seriously frightens me.

And there are many times that it frightens me that people think we should be content to sit back and do nothing as a response to the acts of horror and terror that have been done to this country, and many others. There are a lot of policies that you and other liberal Americans support that make no sense to me from an intellectual or emotional standpoint--affirmative action, abortion, taxes, and others--but I can't deny or discount the fact that people believe these things, and I can't just completely write them off because they do. I don't like to see anyone doing that, as that's something I feel is also wrong for the country and will make the gap you speak of even greater.

But, hey, at least we agree there is a gap--that's a place to start, at least. :)
rfreebern
Feb. 19th, 2004 12:16 pm (UTC)
Re: Uh...
But popular votes don't elect the President, the electoral college does.

I know. I already acknowledged that point.

But what does that mean? Nothing. And popular votes, alas, don't either.

Ah, but they do. Each popular vote means that exactly one individual human being in the country wanted one specific person to be President. So while Bush may have won the electoral vote, it is still a fact that a greater number of actual human beings wanted Gore to be President. I'm not looking at what might have happened. I'm saying that when an election is this close, the one who is elected should realize that it's important to try and reconcile the two groups. I don't think Bush did that. I think he pursued his Republican agenda as doggedly as possible, and as such has alienated many of those who didn't want him in power in the first place. If he had won by a landslide, it wouldn't be such a huge issue, but since it was so close, it became a very fine balancing act -- and in my opinion, Bush leapt off the high-wire after his first few steps.

Bush didn't create the gap and he didn't expand it any more than any politician

Somehow, "he didn't make the problem any worse than anyone else does" doesn't sound like much of a defense. He should have worked to narrow the gap. As much as I want to see more liberalism in the government, I do realise that moderation is necessary in a country this size. I don't think Bush worked towards that cooperation between parties at all, and I consider that a bad thing.

"People who don't agree with me are stupid and deluded, not thinking for themselves."

See, I tried to choose my words more carefully than that. I said "fool," "tricked," and "misguided" to indicate that I just consider those people to have been deceived, not that they're any less intelligent than I. John Kerry admits he was deceived by Bush in the Iraq matter, and so I don't trust his judgment on foreign affairs, but I think he's an intelligent man.

A professor I know said, "Everyone is entitled to their opinion. However, that doesn't mean their opinion isn't completely wrong." I understand that people may have thought carefully about the entire matter and chosen to trust Bush in this matter. However, I've thought carefully about it too, and come to a conclusion that I believe is correct. Therefore, as much as I respect that other people have reasons for their opinions, I can only conclude that if their opinions don't jive with mine, they must be at least somewhat incorrect. Since I know that Bush has been deceitful, I feel that these incorrect opinions aren't formed because of stupidity, but because of trusting a deceitful man.

This doesn't mean I'm not open to hearing arguments about their opinion. If someone can clearly show me why my opinions are predicated on fallacies, or why theirs support the facts better, I'll gladly take that into account and modify mine accordingly. So far, nothing has convinced me that what I believe is wrong.

should be content to sit back and do nothing as a response to the acts of horror and terror

Why are you taking things to the extreme like this? It's not a black and white issue. The options aren't "war on terror" vs. "do nothing." I don't know, nor have I heard of, a single person who thinks we should have done nothing in response to terrorism. Nor do I know a single person who says we should have completely ignored the situation in Iraq. It's that kind of "you're either with us or against us" stance, which seems to be taken by many Republicans, that makes all of this an issue. They've made it seem that if you display the flag, you're proud of what our government is doing. That's what Dean meant.

(For what it's worth, I'm against affirmative action -- I believe the problem could be solved much, much earlier in the educational process, with better effect in the long run. But now's not the time for that discussion, I guess.)
westernactor
Feb. 19th, 2004 04:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Uh...
So while Bush may have won the electoral vote, it is still a fact that a greater number of actual human beings wanted Gore to be President.

No, it's not. It is a fact that of the American citzens eligible to vote who made the decision on that one day to go and vote, and then had their votes correctly counted, a larger number of them voted for Gore rather than Bush. But given all the voting irregularities in Florida alone, there's no way to know how many people actually wanted Bush for President, let alone thought they were voting for Bush for President. However, that's irrelevant. As things stand now (and stood then), Gore got a larger number of popular votes than Bush, but Bush got more electoral votes, which means Bush is the President.

I'm not looking at what might have happened. I'm saying that when an election is this close, the one who is elected should realize that it's important to try and reconcile the two groups.

But, see, that's what he tried to do. By turning over the education bill to the Democratic Party. By passing a prescription drug bill like they wanted. And so on and so on. Bush has done everything possible to make Democrats like him and follow him, and it hasn't worked. All it's done is make the people who like him angry for doing things that aren't in their best interests. We can argue all day (and I think we have!) about whether Bush has done it successfully, but Bush has tried to unite the country, and we're no less divided now than when Clinton (and George H. W. Bush and Reagan and Carter and...) was in office.

If he had won by a landslide, it wouldn't be such a huge issue

I'm sorry, but I don't believe you believe that. I don't think you would be less outraged by Bush's actions had he won 49 states in the electoral college and 99% of the popular vote.

He should have worked to narrow the gap.

Again, he's tried. Very hard. But it hasn't happened. I don't want to get into a blame game about why it hasn't happened, because it's not relevant and it's all opinion anyway, but it hasn't. We agree on that, at least.
rfreebern
Feb. 19th, 2004 08:02 pm (UTC)
Re: Uh...
the American citzens eligible to vote who made the decision on that one day to go and vote

As long as we're discussing political matters, I think those American citizens who didn't choose to vote can freely be left out of any equations. If they didn't vote, their opinion doesn't matter in this arena.

You seem to be defending the fact that Bush won the election. That's not what I was worried about at all. I'm merely stating that a larger number of actual human beings cast their votes in Gore's favor. I understand how the electoral college works, and I freely acknowledge that Bush got more electoral votes and therefore the presidency. But it doesn't change the fact that more actual people in this country voted to put Gore in office than Bush.

It's pretty much immaterial, though.

I'm sorry, but I don't believe you believe that.

Well, if he had won by a landslide, then I think I'd be living in the wrong country. So it wouldn't be such a huge issue because I'd be elsewhere. :)

westernactor
Feb. 20th, 2004 04:45 am (UTC)
Re: Uh...
As long as we're discussing political matters, I think those American citizens who didn't choose to vote can freely be left out of any equations. If they didn't vote, their opinion doesn't matter in this arena.

I'm not disagreeing with you on this matter. But your original statement was (and I'm quoting): "it is still a fact that a greater number of actual human beings wanted Gore to be President." And that, in itself, is not a fact. I was simply defining the terms more exactly, that's all. But we essentially agree.

But it doesn't change the fact that more actual people in this country voted to put Gore in office than Bush.

No, it doesn't. What was the total number of people (under the specific circumstances) that voted for Gore above the number of votes Bush received? Approximately 500,000? Which is, unless my math is seriously screwed up, about one-tenth of one percent of the people in the United States. So, what Bush's responsibility is to them, above and beyond the number of people that actually voted for him, is also something that can always be argued.

I just don't like treading into this area. Using individual vote counts to say something should or shouldn't have happened policy-wise seems pretty dangerous to me. Because I'm pretty sure that Bush (and, by extension, Gore) received more votes in 2000 than Clinton did in 1992 and 1996... Does that mean, then, that his authority should not be greater than Clinton's was? No, of course not. But when you start playing the numbers game this closely, isn't that the type of conclusion that one can, eventually, reach all too easily?

No President ever represents the opinions or desires of all the American people... That's the nature of what a representative republic is, so it's something that--I think--has to be accepted, regardless of what the actual numbers say about what happened. Whether Bush or Gore got more votes is, as you say, completely immaterial. All that matters is that Bush is the President (or, all that matters is that Gore would have been the President), and I think that when someone gets in that office (or any office) he should be given a certain amount of latitude in his discretion about these things. Our disagreement in this discussion stems from the fact that you feel betrayed by him and I don't. Not a problem. But to say he betrays all the people who didn't vote for him when the numbers are so close... I just don't buy that argument. And it seems to come up a lot; I know a number of people who say, essentially, that because Bush didn't win in a landside, he should have done the types of things Gore would have done. But these people (Democrats/liberals all, it should be mentioned) would likely not have thought the same things had the positions been reversed.

But again, all this is basically immaterial.

Well, if he had won by a landslide, then I think I'd be living in the wrong country.

See, there you go again. You don't want to live in a country that would vote for someone like Bush... I just don't know how to process a statement like that mentally, I'm sorry. And I know you don't mean it the way it sounds, but I have to tell you, it doesn't sound good.
rfreebern
Feb. 20th, 2004 07:15 am (UTC)
Re: Uh...
I think what I'm trying to say is that any elected official, while obviously having to represent the majority that elected him, should, to be fair and compassionate, also take into consideration the opinions of the minority that didn't vote for him.

You claim Bush did try to do that. I don't think throwing a few token bills to the Democrats is nearly enough, especially when the election is so incredibly close in the first place. He's completely trampled over our positions on nearly everything else, and alienated nearly everyone on the left. It's a sure-fire way to shoot yourself in the foot come re-election time.

You don't want to live in a country that would vote for someone like Bush...

Well, like I said, I believe Bush's positions and goals are harmful to every single person on this planet. He's shown total disregard for the environment (Clear Skies, Healthy Forests, ANWAR drilling), for human life (war), for civil equality (anti-gay-marriage), for privacy (USA PATRIOT Act), for education (NCLB), and so much more. He loves playing with his soldiers, though! "I'm a war president!"

And I wouldn't want to live in a country where a large majority of people support that kind of behaviour.
westernactor
Feb. 20th, 2004 08:49 am (UTC)
Re: Uh...
Well, as we talked about on the MUD, I think the discussion is starting to wind down now, but with regards to a couple of things:

for human life (war)

This might start another firestorm, but while I don't believe Bush wanted to go to war, I believe that the war against Iraq was necessary for the preservation of human life, which does not strike me as one of Saddam Hussein's concerns.

for civil equality (anti-gay-marriage)

I think Bush's position--and the position of quite a few other people--is that there's more to being against gay marriage than being against civil equality. This is yet something else we're probably not going to agree on, but I think it goes a lot deeper merely than it's being portrayed. While I, personally, don't have a problem with it, I can see where both sides of the argument are coming from, and to blame Bush for this is really not accurate or fair, the way I see it.

And I wouldn't want to live in a country where a large majority of people support that kind of behaviour.

The problem is the way you're defining it, I think. You're looking at these issues only from your perspective and saying, in essence (the way I'm reading it), that you don't want to live in a company where people don't feel exactly the way you do about those things. But I've heard arguments about ANWAR that suggest Bush is only interested in drilling for oil in one very small segment of the entire area, and not opening the entire thing to free drilling. Under controlled circumstances in a controlled location in but one small part of that area, I don't see why that drilling should automatically be shot down, but the issue is being presented as Bush wanting to taint the environment of the entire place, who wouldn't disagree with that?

It all comes back to different groups of people using different languages to describe essentially the same thing, and though the groups are all speaking English, they aren't really able to communicate. No one side is presenting all of the facts publicly, and they're choosing not to acknowledge what's less than convenient for them. While it would be best if that didn't happen, I don't think there's any way to prevent it, which is a shame. But what can you do beyond sift through the available information and come to the best conclusion based on the available evidence? Not a lot.

I've mentioned this before, but I think one of the reasons I like politics is very similar to one of the reasons I like theatre: I love the idea that two people can look at exactly the same thing and see something completely different, and both be right and both be wrong.
westernactor
Feb. 19th, 2004 09:36 am (UTC)
More.
I don't have time to respond to everything, but I wanted to pick one salient point or two.

Dean's statement resonates with people like me who are disgusted by the things this administration has done that make being an American something to be ashamed of, and make the flag seem like the symbol of Those Who Agree With Bush.

And my point is that that is an idea being created solely in the minds of people who disagree with Bush and his policies, just as a similar idea would be in the mind of a conservative reacting to a liberal in power. There were a lot of things that Clinton did while he was in office that I felt were embarrassing to the country, and, personally, I think that Bush has acquitted himself much better in that regard. But I never felt that I was being made to feel unpatriotic because I didn't agree with them, and, I'm sorry, but I don't see how Rush Limbaugh, Bush, or anyone else is turning the flag into any more than what it is. And perhaps I was under the impression that you were one of the people (and there are a number of them on ifMUD) who think that the flag doesn't really represent anything anyway and shouldn't be considered or respected as doing so, so if I misjudged you, I'm sorry.

But Bush, as you said, consistently did what he believed was right, without even seeming to consider what the people were saying.

And it's statements like that make me believe (or at least think) that you aren't aware that a lot of people--many of whom were Bush's constituents, for the record--were in favor of what he did in Iraq. It wasn't Bush against the country and the world, depsite how it's so often painted--lots of Americans agreed with him, and lots of other countries (30-45, as I recall) agreed that his actions were correct. You didn't, and the majority of the Democratic Party didn't, and France and Germany didn't, but again, it all comes down to a matter of point of view being all. It can't be equivocally said there's one right or wrong answer here. But you really dislike the answer that was given, which is fine, but I think it's important to remember (and acknowledge) that there are people who agree with what Bush did as well.

And, blah, I need to go into the next comment. (Why are there character limits on comments, anyway? That seems pretty stupid to me.) Anyway, back in a minute.
rfreebern
Feb. 19th, 2004 11:27 am (UTC)
Re: More.
The flag is merely a symbol. People in this country display it to say "I am a citizen of the United States of America, and I want you to know that." Displaying it indicates pride in the country; no-one likes to display something they're ashamed of. Whether or not I consider the flag to be important, or respect it, its symbolism still stands, and so when that symbolism changes, so do my thoughts about the people who display it.

I believe that the current government's actions have changed the prevailing world sentiment towards the U.S. in such a way that displaying pride in the U.S. is equivalent to displaying pride in things one shouldn't be proud of: arrogance, narrow-mindedness, stolid, overly-conservative values, and civil inequality, among others.

Anti-American sentiment in the rest of the world is a very real thing, and just because some countries supported our war against Iraq doesn't mean it's not. Very few of those countries supported it enough to actually contribute resources or soldiers to it. Many were probably just trying to stay on our good side because they depend on our help to keep their economies alive. And when Bush decided that French and German companies couldn't bid on contracts in Iraq, that clearly demonstrated that if you disagree with the U.S., you get punished.

Looking up numbers, I guess I was wrong about the domestic support for the war. It seems that for the most part, more Americans have generally been in favor of the way the government handled/is handling Iraq. I apologize for getting that wrong.
westernactor
Feb. 19th, 2004 04:22 pm (UTC)
Re: More.
I know we've talked about this before, but I think it's relevant:

And when Bush decided that French and German companies couldn't bid on contracts in Iraq, that clearly demonstrated that if you disagree with the U.S., you get punished.

They weren't in favor of liberating Iraq, yet they're in favor of benefiting from it as soon as all the hard work is done? That doesn't particularly wash in my book. If I were to walk up to you and ask for your paycheck for last week, why would I be entitled to it? I didn't work for it, I didn't risk anything for it, heck, I'm not even in the same state. Why should I be entitled? So why should the companies that didn't contribute be granted that opportunity? They wanted nothing to do with Iraq's liberation, so we're giving them what they want. Had they supported the effort to free Iraq, even likely in word but not in deed, were they not given a fair chance to profit from it, then that I would have a problem with. But as it is... I really don't.

Anti-American sentiment in the rest of the world is a very real thing, and just because some countries supported our war against Iraq doesn't mean it's not.

Sure, but it existed prior to our dealing with Iraq, and it will exist long after it's forgotten. Anti-American sentiment has nothing to do with Iraq; the countries that hate us do so for other reasons, reasons that may or may not be good ones. But countries or groups that feel that way will get no sympathy from me when they ram planes into our buildings.
rfreebern
Feb. 19th, 2004 07:51 pm (UTC)
Re: More.
So why should the companies that didn't contribute be granted that opportunity?

Because nobody asked us to invade Iraq. It wasn't our job in the first place, and it wasn't our right to decide who gets to benefit from our unapproved actions. The contracts should have been doled out by an impartial third party (like the U.N., perhaps) who could best evaluate which companies would provide the best services for the best price to the Iraqi people. Iraq's money isn't a "paycheck" that the U.S. is somehow entitled to.

Re: anti-American sentiment, I was stating that in the context of my perceived corruption of the symbolism of the flag due to the government's unilateral action against Iraq. Hundreds of millions of people across the globe demonstrated against us going to war. I wouldn't have wanted to walk around in their towns with an American flag at that time. I understand that anti-American sentiment always exists. It's just been higher than usual lately due to the administration's bullheaded foreign policies.
westernactor
Feb. 20th, 2004 04:31 am (UTC)
Re: More.
The contracts should have been doled out by an impartial third party (like the U.N., perhaps)

But the problem is, the U.N. was not impartial in this matter. And, again, I simply don't see why anyone who wasn't willing to take risks in liberating the Iraqi people should be allowed to benefit from their liberation. I hope it's clear I don't just feel that way in this circumstance, but I feel this way about a lot of things. I don't like to benefit from (or be credited for) things I didn't do or didn't write, and I expected to receive just compensation or credit for things that I do participate in. And your comment also suggests that the U.S. companies getting the jobs aren't the best available, which is quite likely a distinct possibility. And I agree that the Iraqi people deserve the best price for these things, but I just don't think that countries who refused to support or acknowledge the liberation of Iraq deserve to benefit from it now. We may have to just stop arguing about that issue altogether, because you're not likely to change my mind about it. Unless you want to send me your most recent paycheck, in which case we can talk... :)
rfreebern
Feb. 20th, 2004 06:42 am (UTC)
Re: More.
The only people benefitting from Iraq's liberation should be Iraq! We were not asked to take these risks. We were not employed by anyone. You think it's perfectly okay to wage war against a country, destroy their military, and then take their money and do with it as we please? I think that's called plundering, and it has no place in civilized society.

If the U.S.'s aim in this war was to truly assist the people of Iraq, then the only considerations that should apply to post-war reconstruction should be those of the Iraqi people. Our own petty grievances with countries like Germany and France have no place in the negotiations whatosever.

You keep comparing this to someone taking away someone else's paycheck. The problem is, a paycheck is given for a job that was assigned to a specific person. If you volunteer to perform a task, however, you shouldn't expect a paycheck, and if the person you do the task for decides he wants to give a bunch of money to someone else, you have no say in the matter. It's not your money!
duchez
Feb. 19th, 2004 09:41 am (UTC)
Hm
I normally stay out of these discussions, but I couldn't let this whole conversation go by in silence. I didn't intend to let this get angry or long...it just happened.

And I just realised every time a car drives past with an American flag in its window, I think "there goes another poor fool, tricked into thinking this country is great by the president's pathetic, moralistic, guilt-driven rhetoric." And I hate it that I think that.

The solution is not to think it... The solution is to realize that merely because someone doesn't agree with you, they're not stupid, they're not a fool... They're merely someone who disagrees with you, and that's not necessarily good or bad, it just is.


Neither you seem to realize that the vast majority of the cab drivers (at least in New York City, which is where I am basing my thoughts on) are not displaying the American flag because they are "tricked" into thinking the country is great, or truly believe the country is great. They are displaying the flag because their foreign looks, their foreign sounding names make people look at them twice. They display the flag as a protection, a way to try to minimize their foreigness, because they are just simple people trying to make money. This extrapolates to a lot of private car owners, myself included. I am just making my life here, studying, working, living. I shouldn't have to feel that I need to display a flag in front of my home, in my car, just so the neighbors won't speculate. Yet, we do. So we wave the flag.

Later on in the comments, someone points out the difference between actions and beliefs, using the Patriot Act as an example. I have no complaints with anyone agreeing or disagreeing with the President, or his Cabinet. There seems to be a sentiment that the opposition is wholly upon the current president being a Republican. I recall controversy when Clinton dropped bombs on Iraq (98? 99?). Unless those of us with the foreign names and looks were the only ones complaining? If you are going to criticize the current administration, criticize the policies. In this case, the Patriot Act. The double standard of going to war against Iraq and not Liberia. The lying about Iraq's WMD, links with Al-Qaeda. If you are going to defend the current administration, please defend the policies. Please defend the realities, not the rhetoric. I am not sure, but it seems like only the people who oppose the administration focus on the larger picture, and the supporters on specific details. Is this the nature of opposition? I don't know.

Those of us who are Americans but also have ties with other parts of the world know the true meaning of being free to criticize. I wonder at the irony of it all. We oppose many of the policies that is supposed to make those countries better - Iraq? - and we oppose many of the policies that is supposed to make Americans feel safer - none of us feel safe living in fear of being carted off to jail. It makes me angry when I am told the administration's current policies are aimed towards making the world a better place. For whom, I want to ask, for whom?

I do want to point out that John Ashcroft, observing the ceremonies on 9/11 this year, said Americans had forgotten the horrors of the day, which is why they were opposing the administration's policies (I posted this at the time). Yes, Ashcroft never said "unpatriotic" - but what he said is still pretty galling.
westernactor
Feb. 19th, 2004 10:04 am (UTC)
Re: Hm
I have no complaints with anyone agreeing or disagreeing with the President, or his Cabinet.

Nor do I, for the record.

The lying about Iraq's WMD

There's a difference between lying and faulty intelligence. When Clinton bombed Iraq in 1998 or whatever, he was operating on similar intelligence, and it was an action that a lot of liberals and Democrats at the time supported. Then, when Bush wants to do something similar for similar reasons, the same people criticize it. Why? I don't understand that. If the intelligence was faulty or inaccurate, that's a terrible thing, but it's not something that was Bush's fault alone.

links with Al-Qaeda

As I have said time and time again on ifMUD, it is incorrect to state that there is no reason to believe there are (or were) connections between Iraq and Al-Qaeda. There most certainly was reason to believe that's the case, but what irks so many people--myself included--is that no one really knows for sure. And, most likely, no one ever will know for sure.

I am not sure, but it seems like only the people who oppose the administration focus on the larger picture, and the supporters on specific details. Is this the nature of opposition? I don't know.

That's not at all my impression... I think people are just seeing different bigger pictures, which is leading to the whole problem that spawned this discussion in the first place. This is one of those things, like so many others, that's open to a tremendous amount of interpretation, and again, it's not easy to say that just one person is right and one person is wrong. There is truth to be found on all sides if you know how to look for it, a fact which seems to me to be all too infrequently acknowledged. (Something from which I'm not exempting myself, I'd like to make that clear.) But blanket statements about anything having to do with our current situation have seemed to me to be inadequate.

That's one of the reasons I like to have discussions like these, beacuse it allows me the opportunity to get a better idea of how the side with which I don't agree perceives what I'm looking at. I think of it as very similar to theatre, in a way--I'm always amazed by how two (or five or ten or twenty) people can look at one show and have two (or five or ten or twenty) totally different reactions to it. For example, I went to a show on Sunday night that everyone--without exception--I had talked to hated. Actually hated, not just disliked. I thought it was one of the best plays I'd seen all season, and the chief theatre critic of The New York Times pretty much agrees with me.

The trick, though, is finding a way to get at the discourse (be it about theatre, our current political situation, or something else altogether) while still being respectful of the other people's opinions and the way those opinions are formed. Because it's all valid, and it's all important; none of us lives in a vaccuum. I'm extremely grateful for your posting a response in this thread, because you can react to this in a way that's very, very different from almost everyone I know, and, particularly in your first paragraph, gave me a lot of stuff to think about in ways that hadn't occurred to me before. I can't just write you off because your opinions as a whole don't agree with mine; that would be foolish of me. And I guess I think it's foolish of others to do the same to me or those who agree with my opinions on issues like this... Everyone has something to learn from everyone else, whether you disagree with them or not, I think, and the bigger a picture I get of what everyone thinks, the more that helps me. I hope it would help everyone else, too. But some people (not necessarily in this conversation, I should point out) just don't want to listen. That makes me sad. But what can you do?

Anyway, regarding your last paragraph (the Ashcroft thing), I did a brief Google/Google News search but wasn't able to find a story detailing specifically what you're ferring to. Do you have a specific link to it?
rfreebern
Feb. 19th, 2004 12:25 pm (UTC)
Re: Hm
FWIW, Duchess' entry with Ashcroft's quote is at her blog.

This opinion column duplicates the quote.

kizlj
Feb. 19th, 2004 10:01 am (UTC)
To also jump in on one part of the argument: Iraq as human rights issue. I have no doubt that there are some Iraqis whose lives are better now. There are also some, who had nothing to do with the country's politics but nonetheless lost their families and homes to American bombs, who would say the opposite. Is one group bigger than the other? I don't know. I think it'll be years before we can say if the country is better off. Yes, Saddam was an evil psycho. But how chaotic is what's replaced him? Our intentions are good. (I do believe that the administration -- well, Bush, at least -- is doing what he considers the just and moral thing.) But if the consequences are mess, we're still responsible for then.

And if Iraq is a human-rights issue, and that's why we went to war, then what are we going to do about Hati? And the Congo? And Zimbabwe? Why is the US, after years of saying "we are not the world's policeman," deciding that it wants to be?

Is it because in Iraq, in addition to the human-rights issue, the administration also percieves a threat to the US? Is that what it takes to get us to step into a human-roghts mess? Because if so, that's where I disgree. I think the administration at best willfully closed its eyes to evidence Iraq wasn't much of a threat to the US, and at worst intentionally lied about that. Did Saddam hate the US? Sure. So do a lot of leaders in that part of the world. Was he really in a position to act on those beliefs and inflict harm on the US? I think it's pretty doubtful. Our "allies" in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have done more active harm, in harboring and sponsoring terrorists, than Iraq has. But here, people can disgree with my assessment. It's when Iraq gets sold as a human-rights war that I get annoyed. Because we're actively ignoring other equally bad human-rights situations. And hypocrisy drives me nuts.
okb
Feb. 19th, 2004 11:06 am (UTC)
I want to say a couple of general things. First, regarding whether it's appropriate to see someone with a flag on their car window and think, "that guy is a fool": it is my belief that many of the people who are brandishing flags and other symbols of patriotism have been fooled. Whether they "are fools" is another matter, but I do think they have been duped.

The reason I think this is that I have had personal experiences with people who made statements indicating that they actually believed Saddam Hussein was definitely responsible for the 9/11 attack. As westernactor said, the truth of the matter is that we don't know -- but these people think they do know, and that is what's foolish.

One particular instance (this is a secondhand story, not one of my personal experiences, but I think it's the most illustrative example): several months ago my mom and I were visiting an old friend of hers who is a professor of anthropology. This friend was describing how she'd recently been to visit a bunch of her family in Michigan. She got involved in a political discussion about these issues, and one of her cousins or something said, "Well, we can't let Saddam Hussein stay in power after what he did to us on 9/11." This is the kind of thing I have an issue with. I believe that many supporters of Bush's war do not really know what they are supporting, or why. True, there may be some knee-jerk liberals who don't know what they're opposing either, but given that the administration in power has most of the control over the information that's being disseminated, I think it's clear that the picture that's been painted in the minds of the average-joe war supporter is a distorted one.

In short, I don't think it's an issue of people disagreeing with one another. I sincerely believe that many supporters of Bush's war do not have a solid opinion that can be said to be a "disagreement" -- they simply have a vague picture of some mean guy somewhere doing something bad, and they are blindly supporting the administration without a real awareness of the facts.

Moreover, if indeed we do not know whether Saddam Hussein had anything to do with 9/11 -- and as you say, we don't, although I think it's unlikely -- we should not wage a war with that uncertainty. That leaves good samaritanism as the sole remaining reason for the war, and as others have stated here, that's a sham reason, because there are a bunch of other places where things are bad for people and we're not doing anything about it.

Also, I think duchez's point is of vital importance. Many people, and even entire nations will say they support the US because they are afraid. If you saw that the USA was ready to hastily invade another country for questionable reasons, mightn't you be tempted to go along with them, fearing you'd be next on their victim list if you resisted? Ideally, of course, nations wouldn't roll over like this, but I think it's clear that they have and do and will continue to do so.

Finally, I agree with rfreebern that it is not the president's job to do what he thinks is right. Personally, I have issue with the entire idea of representative government, but, that aside, I think it's incorrect to say that an elected official has some kind of obligation to "follow his heart".
westernactor
Feb. 19th, 2004 04:42 pm (UTC)
A couple of things.
First, I have no interest (or patience) with people who say things like "Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center." As far as I'm concerned, that's a stupid, uneducated statement to make. I don't personally know anyone who believes that, and I don't know of any public figures or officials who believe that. It's just another instance of the sloppy, lazy attitude demonstrated by so many people in our society; they are choosing not to think for themselves. But I don't believe that someone who says--and can back up--"There were connections between Hussein and Al-Qaeda" or "There were no connections between Hussein and Al-Qaeda" fall into the same category. Because there has been a lot of evidence to support both arguments, and the existence of that uncertainty is, I think, what needs to be respected, irrespective of what one's own feelings about the issues are.

we should not wage a war with that uncertainty

Well, the war on Iraq wasn't waged with that uncertainty, so on that point we agree. It was waged based on a number of factors, about which I'm pretty certain we do not agree. :)

Personally, I have issue with the entire idea of representative government

Hmm... Okay. In all seriousness, and because I don't believe I've heard you express this point of view before, what type of government do you believe we should have? And/or, if it's a different question, what type of government do you believe is superior to the United States's representative republic?
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )

Latest Month

February 2011
S M T W T F S
  12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728     
Powered by LiveJournal.com