From Aural Innovations #13 (October 2000)
Sorry folks. I won't be talking about music in this month's Notes From Space. Because on November 7, Americans will be voting for our next President. On October 3, 2000 I watched the first of three Presidential debates between Democratic candidate Al Gore and Republican candidate George W. Bush. America is a great country to live in. No question about it. There are lots of worse places I could be living. But America is NOT, as we would have the world believe, a blueprint for democracy. The experience of this election has been to plunge me further into ambivalence and disgust with our political system, particularly with the people who run it.
First, before I get into the debates themselves, is the issue of our democracy. The Democrats and Republicans have a virtual lock on party politics. There are, effectively, no other parties. The problem with this is that two independent candidates - Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan - have succeeded in getting themselves on the ballot. But because of Democrat/Republican CONTROL of the whole system neither of these independents were allowed to participate in the debates. Now nothing frightens me more than the thought of a right-wing lunatic like Pat Buchanan winning the Presidency of the United States of America. But he and Nader had every RIGHT to participate in the debates but were excluded. Bush and Gore agree on little... but both are in complete agreement that neither of these independent candidates should have a voice to back their legitimate candidacies.
In the first debate, the two candidates who were allowed to participate stood on an empty stage, each at their own podiums. Gore was confident, mechanical, frantic, spoke well, and rattled off a text book of what Bush called "fuzzy numbers". Bush was, in my opinion, lacking in confidence, and was obviously dodging certain sensitive subjects like abortion and Gay marriage. Gore, to his credit, was candid about his feelings on these subjects. Which raises some larger issues...
I don't care for either of these candidates. But the fundamental difference between the Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans DO, as Gore points out, represent the wealthy monied interests, while the Democrats [relative to the Republicans anyway] represent the Middle Class and purport to represent the disadvantaged. I'll never forget the newscast where George W's father, former President Bush, some years earlier was in a grocery asking about the scanner they used at the checkout. He didn't know what it was!!! How removed and alienated from the real world can one be to not know what a fucking price scanner is? Everyone uses them. Which means daddy George Bush doesn't do any shopping for himself at all. Is the son much more in touch? Doubtful...
One big issue, and one that will affect many voter's choices, is that in the next four years it is predicted that at least three, possibly four, Supreme Court Justices will retire, opening appointment choices for the next President. It is assumed that if Bush wins the Presidency that he will be appointing Justices that will seek to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion. This is a biggie... a serious hot potato. I remember recently arguing with my mother that it's wrong to vote for the leader of the most powerful country in the world based on a single issue. At that time I was pissed off and planning to vote for Nader. Well I'm still pissed off. In fact, I'm furious. But the fact remains, and I feel horrible about this, is that a vote for Nader is, absolutely, a vote for Bush. It is widely argued, probably accurately, that Ross Perot's role in the Bush/Clinton race cost the Republican's the Presidency. Nader is currently playing a similar role to the Democrat's disadvantage. So I'll be voting for Gore, in an effort to keep the Republicans out of office. And this... is a terrible commentary on our democracy. On the one hand, I truly believe things need to be shaken up. Really shaken up. On the other hand, I fear the consequences of wealthy conservatives and religious fanatics who would decide how people should live their lives running this country. I'm torn by ambivalence, bewilderment, and confusion. We need serious change. But at the same time... I don't know what to think.
We are being bombarded on television by scathing political ads. The election for the President of the USA is nothing less than a sporting event. Many of these ads have been paid for by interest groups not in control by the candidates themselves. None of them tout the positives of their candidate of choice. What they do is lambast the candidate they oppose with the hope of leaving the influenced voter with only the choice of the candidate they are sneakily supporting.
All of this has only succeeded in driving me, a citizen of this country, further underground. I have created my own community. And few of the members are of my physical community. I don't know my physical neighbors. I have nothing in common with them. I share interests with people scattered across the globe. I work hard to support people in other cities and countries. I communicate with you, and I've met many of you. I don't think this is a bad thing at all. To the contrary, I think it's quite positive. The world is changing and it's all because of the ease of communication. With the click of a Send button and a You've Got New Mail button I'd like to think I'm accomplishing something that benefits many. [If not, that's ok too because I'm having a blast doing it.] Granted, it's very low level. But doesn't it mean something if we focus our efforts to further the interests of own small communities, and do so in a way that isn't at the negative cost of others? We're not out in the streets throwing rocks and shooting each other over control of a hill because we see the benefit of standing on it together. Who gives a fuck who owns it or whose flag is flying over it. Next Tuesday I'll be out to vote. And I hope the rest of you in America do as well. Regardless of who you vote for and what your reasons are for your choice. Fuck the "system", and the bureaucracies, and the politicians. Make a difference in your own chosen community. And the world will inch just a wee bit closer to being a better place... without the help of our "leaders".