Here we are fast approaching another presidential election and once again democracy has not served us well. When most Americans go to vote on election day essentially our choice will be to flip a coin, Bush or Kerry. If you don't like the heads you flip, there is always the best two out of three, three out of five, sooner or later you face the reality that only one of these two guys has any chance of winning the election. We Americans love to spout empty anthems about freedom of choice, I don't believe it for one second.
My primary reason that I don't believe we have freedom to choose this election year is my main issue. I have opposed the Iraq War since the first days that the Bush Administration started influencing the media with the pro-war talking points. I watched in shock as Congress refused its Constitutional duty to decide to declare war on Iraq or not and then turned that job over to the president. I saw the president unilaterally go to war despite protesters across our country and throughout the world. Not once in our sorry democracy was I ever asked my opinion about destroying another country.
More than a year and a half later, nearly 1,000 American soldiers are dead, anywhere from 6,000 to 12,000 (depending on how you count) soldiers injured and at least 11,000 civilian Iraqis dead (who knows how many injured). Yet despite these statistics our election system has presented us with two candidates that want to increase these totals. We have really only two choices with any chance of winning and both want to continue the war. Where is the opposing viewpoint?
Polls have been showing that more than 50% of Americans now feel that going to war in Iraq was a mistake and that it doesn't make the US any safer. That's half the country that now agrees with what I believed BEFORE the war. It also implies that half the country knows we shouldn't be there now, that our troops are not to be used in this way.
So, I look at the two candidates from the major parties and neither one advocates pulling the troops out any time soon. The earliest either one has publicly mentioned is by the end of 2005 (Kerry). That's a few months more than a year from now. Over a year of adding to the statistics of dead and wounded. Both candidates were pro-war, Bush of course started it, Kerry recently said he wouldn't have changed his vote even knowing what he knows now. Bush has never apologized for misleading us about WMDs, Kerry knowing now that there were no WMDs still claims he would have voted for it. Where's a candidate that represents the more than 50% of us?
Unfortunately those people are all third party candidates and an independent, Ralph Nader. David Cobb and the Green Party opposed the war and want withdrawal as does the Libertarian Party and their candidate Michael Badnarik. Yet these three candidates are considered a joke in our election system. The media ignores them, most Americans don't even know them. More than 50% of the country would naturally want to hear their voices and opinions as to Iraq, yet the media silences them. The Republicans and Democrats as well silence them as they fight efforts by these parties to get ballot access.
The two major political parties don't want us to have freedom of choice, they just want us to have only two choices. And in this election year the choice is between two pro-war candidates, that's not a choice. The more than 50% of Americans that now feel that the Iraq War was a mistake are left with a choice of less than evil and less than evil, not even the lesser of two evils. The question is, how much less than evil?
The less than 50% of Americans will have two choices, both with a chance to win. All they have to decide is which candidate can continue to add more people to the body counts the best. Bush and Kerry have slighly different plans although I can't seem to discern either plan from the lack of discussion of their positions in the media. For the last few weeks all the media talks about is Viet Nam, that war is over remember? We are IN a war TODAY! The most I get out of Bush is "stay the course," a course I'm still not clear has been planned. Kerry vaguely wants the international community to help so we can eventually get out. Both "plans" seem rather unplanned.
How lucky of those Americans that still believe the Iraq War was a good idea, all they have to do is flip a coin to vote. The more than 50% of us are left with marginalized candidates with no chance of winning. I'm sadden by American democracy. I can't vote for Bush and won't, he started the war. I would vote against him by voting for Kerry, except that Kerry is not really offering an opposing viewpoint. I can sympathize with the "Anybody but Bush" crowd, but the Democrats didn't give me a pro-peace candidate. I just cannot bring myself to vote for another pro-war candidate. I cannot advocate for Kerry as he hasn't spoke to my crowd, the crowd that now is more than 50% of the country. He is not in my crowd. He has not spoken to stopping the addition of more death, injury and destruction in Iraq.
I was particularily appalled at the Democratic Convention. The many Democrats that didn't believe in the Iraq War had to remain silent. Silenced by the party rulers so as to appeal to a few voters that don't really know what to think about Iraq. More than 50% of Americans think the Iraq War is a mistake! The Democrats don't want to align themselves with those Americans? Or they want to keep them silent, don't upset the applecart? This is democracy? This is choice? Is this even freedom?
I have been left with one choice on election day. I will vote for a candidate that believed the Iraq War was a mistake and is not afraid to say so. In my state I should have a choice between Nader, Cobb, or Badnarik, many states won't even offer these choices, how sad. I know my choice will not win the election, unless by some miracle the media makes Americans aware of these candidates. I know I'll be voting for a "loser" but I know my loser opposed the war as I did. I will know that my choice isn't interested in increasing death halfway around the world.
Call my vote a protest vote if you will, I can live with that. I do protest the Iraq War, but I don't see a major party candidate that also protests the war. These two parties are not opposition parties, they are putting up candidates that think very similar as to Iraq and I protest that as well. I protest our democracy because candidates that would appeal to the more than 50% are shunted aside by the election system.
To those who use that tired false cliche "a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush" I protest you as well. You are wrong. A vote for Nader is a vote for Nader. A vote for Cobb is a vote for Cobb. A vote for Badnarik is a vote for Badnarik. And a vote for any of these three is a vote for an anti-war candidate. A vote for Kerry is a vote for Kerry and a vote for Bush is a vote for Bush. A vote for either of these two is a vote for extending the war in Iraq, a vote for more death, injury and destruction. I have to vote my values, I can't consciously vote for continuing a war. I plan to vote for a candidate who represents something FAR less than evil, peace.