My wife looked very serious this morning as I entered our lounge. She was watching the unfolding drama of the US election. We sat together for an hour and listened to projections, theories and commentary from experts until it became obvious that John Kerry has lost by what turned out to be quite a substantial margin.
George Bush has to be given credit for running the better campaign and for employing the right people to get enough voters mobilised to pull of this victory. Many of us pobably went to bed last night expecting a Kerry win but maybe that was hope rather than sensibility. If we truly understood the way American politics worked and the views of the majority we should have expected nothing except a Bush win.
None of us know what to expect from this President now that he has the belief that what he has done over the past four years has been endorsed by his nation. Maybe we will see a man who wants to cement his place in history and try to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict, maybe we will see a man who has realised that one country cannot act alone and sometimes needs the support of the rest of the world to really acheive security and prosperity for all or perhaps we will see a President who is concerned about the closeness of this election and who recognises that America is truly divided down the middle.
On the other hand we could see George Bush take this confidence boosting vistory inwards and really start to stamp his authority. Technically he is a moderate in his party who just happens to employ right wing politicians into very senior positions to do the work for him. There is a lot of talent in his administration but not enough compassion.
To give him his due he does stick to his policies and is very unwavering in his beliefs as to where he thinks America should be going. This is possibly the main reason he won alongside his ability to tap into the feelings of the majority of Americans. He has done this in a variety of ways- topics such as Gay Marriage and Abortion were strong ones for Bush as they appealed to the conservative vote. Kerry wavered somewhat on both issues- Gay Marriage is seen differently in Europe and the condemnation it has received in America is just terrible. The argument that marriage is a religious ceremony is valid but how many hetrosexual people get married who are not religious and this to me is worse? The idea that people who love each other cannot express it is plainly ignorant and bigoted as is the view that Abortion is wrong under any circumstance. I personally do not agree with Abortion and think that it is used too easily but there are circumstances in which it should be allowed. We know where the views come from and the fact that the Bible is used for political gain is quite horrid, the fact that Religion appears to be used to spread predudice and hate is even worse but they sure are vote winners.
Would John Kerry have been any better? As one voter put it "I'm voting for Kerry because he's the lesser of two evils." She is probably correct in a political system in which only the richest and most well connected can win. In America you cannot get anywhere in politics without the backing of major corporations and thus you are endebted to them for your term, no matter what position you are in. It's a political system which allows open warfare to occur and slander to be thrown in advertisments between the game shows and soap operas. A political system that is probably one of the least democratic in the world and Abraham Lincoln is no doubt spinning in his grave tonight. Because of this system many of the issues that concern the rest of the world would probably not have been solved by Kerry but there were promising signs:-
Kerry- we will fight a smarter war on terror.
Bush- vote for me or you will die! Obviously he never said that but he has used 9/11 since the day it happened and the fear of Al Qaeda has been tapped into to the point of deception. I have seen so many interviews with American people recently who say that the single most important issue for them is security for their country and their families. Here's some text from a show that will be shown on BBC tonight-
"There are dangerous and fanatical individuals and groups around the world who have been inspired by extreme Islamist ideas, and who will use the techniques of mass terror - the attacks on America and Madrid make this only too clear. But the nightmare vision of a uniquely powerful hidden organisation waiting to strike our societies is an illusion.
Wherever one looks for this Al Qaeda organisation, from the mountains of Afghanistan to the 'sleeper cells' in America, the British and Americans are chasing a phantom enemy.
But the reason that no-one questions the illusion is because this nightmare enemy gives so many groups new power and influence in a cynical age - and not just politicians. Those with the darkest imaginations become the most powerful."
I'm sure no one disagrees with the attack on Afganistan following 9/11 but Iraq has proved to be a white elephant, as most of the world (and the UN) expected. The agressive American foreign policy historically undertaken by Republican Presidants is what causes these attacks in the first place and until a shift in policy occurs they will continue to happen. You simply cannot go around destroying other countries and expect that to keep you safe- American airports are still unsafe. Some are well protected but others leave a lot to be desired and are still less stringent on security than the British ones were pre 9/11. Fighting the war on terrorism thousands of miles is one way but not sorting your homeland security is asking for trouble. It's the worst of both worlds- creating hatred from your enemies and not protecting yourselves when they want revenge.
Many of you will continue to argue that the rest of the world (and people like me) have no say in this matter anyway and you are correct- we have no choice regarding who you elect. We only see your economy affecting ours, we only see our soldiers dying next to yours in a war that stopped Bin Laden (apart from his party political broadcast a week ago) and the populations of our countries drifting further and further apart. There is no special relationship between the UK and the US (except for the leaders) and there never will be whilst a President like George Bush is in charge. Obviously American and British people have no real animosity against each other but our leaders are pulling us in opposite directions.
As I said before Kerry could have been worse than Bush if he got into power but I will go to sleep tonight genuinely pissed off that we have another 4 years of this man in charge. I have 4 cans of lager, a packet of cigarettes and even though I still have flu I'm going to enjoy them until I either throw up or fall asleep.
Anyway, it's time for me to step back. I won't be writing any more Outspoken articles as I really do need to concentrate on the PDA sites and writing about politics just gets depressing after a while. I will leave the last Outspoken words to John Kerry-
"Our fight goes on to put America back to work and to make our economy a great engine of job growth. Our fight goes on to make affordable health care a accessible right for all Americans, not a privilege.
Our fight goes on to protect the environment, to achieve equality, to push the frontiers of science and discovery, and to restore America's reputation in the world.
I believe that all of this will happen, and sooner than we may think because we're America and America always moves forward.
I've been honoured to represent the citizens of this commonwealth in the United States Senate now for 20 years, and I pledge to them that in the years ahead I'm going to fight on for the people and for the principles that I've learned and lived with here in Massachusetts.
I'm proud of what we stood for in this campaign and of what we accomplished.
When we began, no one thought it was possible to even make this a close race.
But we stood for real change, change that would make a real difference in the life of our nation and the lives of our families, and we defined that choice to America.
I'll never forget the wonderful people who came to our rallies, who stood in our rope lines, who put their hopes in our hands, who invested in each and every one of us.
I saw in them the truth that America is not only great, but it is good.
So with a grateful heart, I leave this campaign with a prayer that has even greater meaning to me now that I have come to know our vast country so much better, thanks to all of you, and what a privilege it has been to do so, and that prayer is very simple: God bless America. Thank you."