It's one of the stranger things about living in Canada: you care more about the politics in your neighbour's country than in your own. It seems to be a given that who is chosen for president in the upcoming U.S. election will have a much greater effect overall on us than who we choose in our own elections, which have a vaguely pathetic aspect to them. I'm very interested to hear what happens. There's a website for people who are not US citizens to vote in the upcoming elections, I discover -- I haven't checked it out yet, but I like the idea of being able to see just how strongly anti-Bush the rest of the world is -- it'll bring into sharp focus just how deluded most Americans are.
Anyhow, here's my opinion about the upcoming US elections. Bear in mind that I'm becoming a bit of a leftie and that I get more of my news from Znet than from Fox.
First off, let me make it absolutely clear that if I were a US citizen, I would vote for Kerry. I understand why some people get pissed off at lesser evilism and do ridiculous things like vote for Ralph Nader. I mean, I don't trust Kerry, either; he seems like "Bush lite" to me -- he represents the same class and corporate interests, has got a basically pro-war, pro-exploit-Iraq platform, and wouldn't dare, politically, to speak out against the War on Terror in any principled way: he'll say that Bush miscalculated, etc., but never that the whole war is wrong or immoral, because he needs to appease the same people Bush needs to appease and can't afford to be seen as "weak." He'll play the same game, perhaps with a bit more skill; but he's still corrupt, dangerous, a bad choice for a world leader. The fact is, though: there is no better choice one can realistically make. Nader will not get elected. The Green Party will not get elected. Casting ones vote for Nader or the Greens will do in this election what it did in the last: help Bush. One needs to finally embrace lesser evilism: the system is basically a two-party one, so Americans, however much they might not like either candidate, should vote for one of the two parties; Kerry is less evil than Bush -- so I'd vote for him, no questions asked.
Here's the thing, though: I don't think I'll mind if Bush wins. I think he's grotesque, evil, dangerous, indeed. Here are some reasons why it might be better if Bush wins, though, for whatever comfort they might offer, should it happen that the American electorate lets us down:
1. IF KERRY WINS, THE WRONG PEOPLE WILL GET THE BLAME WHEN THE SHIT HITS THE FAN. (I'm indebted to mate Alan P. for most clearly articulating this point of view in an e-mail correspondence). The disaster in Iraq has not yet completely revealed itself. We don't know what the worst possible consequences will be of it yet. There has been relatively little impact for the US thus far: some soldiers have died, some people have had their heads cut off in a horrible way, but the war has basically been "just more TV" for most Americans. There hasn't been a major terrorist strike on US soil since the war started, there hasn't been a draft instituted, there hasn't been any nuclear terrorism as of yet, and the terrorist actions that have happened, in Spain or Thailand or so forth, as responses to the war on terror, have been relately low key and not too apparent to most Americans. I am pretty sure that there WILL be another Sept. 11-type attack if the US government continues its current policies, whether it is a Bush government or a Kerry government -- because both will continue to do more or less the same thing in Iraq. I'm pretty sure there will be other big and bad consequences yet to be seen, including some of those mentioned above -- maybe even a draft. Unfortunately, when these bad things eventually happen, the government that's in charge at the time will be the one who will be blamed for it. I would rather Bush be in power, because then he'll get the blame. If there's a Kerry government, they'll be accused of mishandling the war on terror, and most Americans will be frightened and stupid enough to believe it, rather than putting the blame where it belongs. If the Democrats win, they'll be the ones to suffer the consequences when things go bad. Better Bush wins, so that he'll be in power to reap what he's sown, so that there is no confusion about who is to blame for it; it's better for long term change.
2. BUSH HAS BEEN A DISASTER FOR THE UNITED STATES, AND THAT'S A GOOD THING. This is something I was delighted to see John Pilger more or less agrees with me on, by the way. George W. Bush has united (or at least considerably stimulated) the US left, has destroyed any sort of positive international reputation for the United States, and has laid bare just how corrupt and fucked-up US foreign policy is. It was possible,under Clinton -- if you weren't paying close attention, since Clinton himself did some horrible things worldwide -- that the US was some sort of benign giant, who genuinely wanted what was best for the world. Just how self-serving and destructive their foreign policy has been for decades has been typically something perceived and written about only by a very small minority -- by the William Blums, Howard Zinns, Noam Chomskys, Michael Parentis out there -- who are regarded more or less as cranks by the mainstream. That has all changed under Bush, who has been so transparently an imperialist that he's done genuine damage to the US' reputation and brought to light quite a bit that was not being given mainstream publicity in the US. Bush has, paradoxically, validated radical politics and made it possible for "cranks" like Michael Moore to become world celebrities by articulating these minority views.
Kerry will not be as bad for the world or for the US as Bush, but maybe in terms of this election, bad is good. That is, maybe what's BAD FOR THE U.S. IS GOOD FOR THE WORLD; maybe if Bush wins and continues his project of miltary/capitalist adventurism abroad -- neverminding what he's done at home -- it will cause BIG enough disasters, stir up sufficient protest, galvanise the opposition to such a degree that there will be a more FUNDAMENTAL change in the United States in the future -- a change much, much bigger than the one we'll see if Kerry wins the election.
I'd like to see a bigger change than the one Kerry represents. However less evil he is than Bush -- and it is clear that he is -- he won't make any radical departures from Bush's platform. He can't, because he HAS TO REPRESENT THE SAME INTERESTS. Kerry can't afford to alienate the military industrial complex, the rich, or corporations like Lockheed Martin or Halliburton any more than Bush can afford to do these things; he is hardly committed to "ending US exploitation in the Third World." He'll be less obvious about things than Bush, will be more skillful, more diplomatic -- but that's not necessarily a good thing. In order for a fundamental change to happen in the way the world is run, it's probably for the best that Bush wins.
Of course, that means willing disaster on the world. I'm saying Bush is more likely to bring on the apocalypse, but -- as worried as I am by discovering the following sentiment in me -- maybe an apocalypse is what we need. The world -- America -- has grown too complacent; even Sept. 11 hasn't woken everyone up yet; the evil that makes Bush possible has become too entrenched in the US system for it to be driven out by a priviliged military nonentity like John Kerry. I don't want there to be further disasters like Sept. 11 -- don't get me wrong -- but I DO WANT CHANGE, and maybe if Bush wins, it will mean, in the future, there will be BIGGER AND BETTER CHANGES than the ones we'll see if Kerry wins.
That's how I'm preparing to console myself if we see a Bush victory in the US, which seems a very real possibility. Like I said, if I were an American, I'd vote for Kerry. VOTING AGAINST KERRY IS VOTING FOR THE APOCALYPSE. But the apocalypse might not be all bad, in the big picture. Even horrible, self evidently evil things -- from Sept. 11th to Bush's war in Iraq to the possibility of "another" Bush win -- can sometimes have good consequences. It's all a matter of perspective, innit?