Thursday, November 04, 2004

four more years  

posted by Michael Piwonka 9:22 PM
I am just as surprised as approximately half of America and practically all of the rest of the world that George W. Bush was re-elected as President of the United States.

I never thought it would happen, given the largest deficit in history, worldwide disdain for America, fabricated reasons for initiating a war, abuse at Abu Ghraib, corruption surrounding Halliburton, a sluggish economy, etc.

So how did it happen? How could 59 million people justify voting for 4 more years of that?

Because all those things didn't happen. At least not for Bush's supporters.

The Incredible Human Psyche

Perception is reality. This rather unsurprising study highlights the differences between Bush and Kerry supporters. People will believe what they need to believe to make themselves happy.

Political views are a lot like religious views. Well, actually, they are religion.

I've always used the classic example of how creationists "disprove" evolution as an example of how people can selectively discard logic when necessary.

Creationists point to gaps in the fossil record as "proof" that evolution couldn't be legitimate. And each time that the scientific community finds another piece of the evolutionary puzzle, they create another gap. So as the number of gaps grow, there could be no way that evolution could be correct.

To demonstrate their logic, if you had only 1 fossil to look at, you would have 2 gaps in time (1 before the time period designated by the fossil and 1 after it). If you found another fossil, you would now have 2 fossils in the ever-growing record, but now 3 gaps (1 before, 1 in between, and 1 after). So as you keep adding more evidence to the record, you keep increasing the number of gaps (although the duration of gaps is decreasing).

This provides the creationists with their pseudo-science evidence: an ever-growing number of gaps in the fossil record. More scientific discoveries lead to less reliable theories of evolution!

I think the same system of validating our predetermined beliefs applies to our political religions:

So what if Saddam didn't actually have WMDs...he tried to make them. Okay, so maybe he didn't have the capability to make them...but he wanted to make them...Well, we can't actually presume to know what he wanted...but "the world is safer place without Saddam"...etc...

As we continue to rationalize our faith in the President, we forget the original issue. We forget that we went to war because the President convinced us that Saddam had WMDs.

Throw in a healthy dose of fear mongering by Bush, and that's how 59 million people don't have any internal conflict about voting for a guy who mislead them into war.

My World

And what is my political religion? As I've mentioned numerous times before, I dislike both our major parties, feeling that they both serve mainly to perpetuate themselves. Concern for America takes a distant second to their own self-preservation.

I used to consider myself a Republican, but now am an Independent. I used to think of the Republicans as being the party of fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, and individual freedom. Obviously Bush has established a liberal spending pattern for the Republicans, as well as hurt individual freedom with the Patriot Act.

My opinion of the Republicans actually started to change with the Ken Starr affair. So much money spent just for the hope that something could be dug up that would stick to Clinton.

Not that the Democrats have ever had any appeal for me. Government-controlled social programs only create dependence, in my opinion.

So where does that leave me? Being fiscally conversative and socially liberal, I have absolutely nothing in common with Bush, and very little in common with the Democratic party. Given the established structure of our two-party system, I don't see a lot of opportunity for anyone I could appreciate.

I feel like an outsider, peering through the window as the Democrats and Republicans dance their little dance. The window must be dirty, because they're starting to look like each other.

The Future

However, I always have an optimistic outlook on the future. What can we do now to salvage our situation? I hope that Bush can shed his right-wing religious ideology, and actually attempt to unify the country as he claimed he could do during his first term.

Since he doesn't have to worry about re-election, he could admit his failures in Iraq, thereby improving his status in the international community. And who knows, maybe some more countries would then give us some meaningful help there.

But if he really wants to impress me that he is trying to move the country forward, he needs to do something very quickly: he needs to fire Donald Rumsfeld. It would be mainly symbolic at this point since it won't magically reverse Bush's personal Vietnam, but it's better late than never.

That would at least give me something to feel encouraged about.


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