1. We may be stuck with a warmongering president, but at least he's a warmongering president who's intensely loathed by something close to 50% of the nation (I suppose not every person who voted for Kerry did it from intense loathing, but I think it's fair to say a substantial majority of the people voting for Kerry did). The fact that Bush got away with so much in the last four years has MUCH to do with how limply the Democrats fetched or rolled over and played dead in response to all his warmongering after 9/11. In a second term, it is very clear that the Democrats are going to be a hell of a lot angrier. (Unless, I suppose, Bush can manage to induce bin Laden to kill a bunch more people. That'd probably being Bush's best interest.) Although the Democrats do not have a majority in Congrees, there've been a significant few Republicans speaking out against Bush this past year and it's not at all inconceivable that enough Republicans in congress would vote against many of Bush's plans to make the Democrats' noncooperation a deciding factor.
Read this annoying LJ comment left for me by arctangent, a Republican for Kerry. "I'm voting for Kerry *because* it will sap the energy of the anti-war protest movement, and hopefully actually push more anti-war activists into the moderate camp. One of the reasons I don't like Bush is that Bush is *so* hardcore right-wing and *so* very very bad at courting his political opponents that he's energized the annoying far left a lot more than I or the DNC are comfortable with." If Bush wins, arctangent doesn't get what he wants.
2. Look, Iraq is a disaster and inevitably, that's just going to become clearer and clearer in the coming presidential term no matter who's president. If Kerry took over, Kerry would be blamed for the disastrousness and the Democrats would still have to choose Kerry as their candidate in 2008. They would lose. (Admittedly, the American population is awfully dense about noticing disastrousness in Iraq, but I think four years from now it's going to be even 25 times more glaringly obvious than it already is.) This way, in 2008, the Democrats can choose an actual antiwar candidate who people will really feel like voting for.
3. The U.S. government is hated all over the world. But how much more would the American population as a whole be hated by people whose friends and family members had been murdered by members of both major U.S. political parties? This way, it's still possible for people from other countries to live under the delusion that it's not the entire U.S. that wants to murder them, it's only a 51% majority of the U.S. If you were contemplating becoming a terrorist, the idea that 49% of the people you'd kill wouldn't actually be evil would be harder to rationalize as acceptable collateral damage than the 2% of third-party voters would have been.
4. There's a reason that conservative publications like American Conservative and The Economist endorsed John Kerry. The reason is that George W. Bush's total lack of any diplomatic sense has cost the American government its allies in other national governments, which seriously hampers the ability of the American empire to continue bullying any country it likes. Many people who stand to profit from American imperialism recognize that American imperialism would stand a better chance if it were led by someone like Kerry who doesn't alienate so many other nations' governments. (Most Bush voters are not CEOs or anyone else who stands to benefit from American imperialism, but rather rural Christian fundamentalists who do not care how many enemies Bush makes as long as he prays a lot and hates queers.) Personally, I don't want American imperialism to stand a better chance, and I hope you don't either.
5. There is a provision in the U.S. Constitution for impeaching a president. If anywhere close to 49% of the nation wrote letters to their congresspeople demanding that they impeach Bush, I think the Democrats would be in a position of having to actually try. Without control of congress, they're not likely to succeed, but they can still make Bush's life massively unpleasant. This is important. WRITE TO YOUR SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES TODAY ABOUT THIS. Better yet, write to them every single day nonstop for the next four years. Frankly, the Democrats should have been calling for Bush's impeachment all along, simultaneously with the election, and it would have improved the election if they had. Unfortunately, Al Gore is the only one who actually did. It makes me wish this hadn't been an election year at all, because if it hadn't have been, the rage against Bush might have manifested as a mass movement call for impeachment long before now.
6. Try for a moment to put aside any anger at Nader voters (one in ten registered Democrats voted for BUSH! those people made a MUCH bigger difference!) in order to read a compilation of survey responses from a survey that asked Nader voters in swing states to explain why they were planning to vote for Nader, and give yourself a chance to actually believe in their arguments. They're optimistic (in their own way) about a second Bush term, and if you can find any agreement with them, you might feel better yourself. For example:
"I think the best we can hope for is to make the Democrats lose because they have moved to the right. Although I think life will get slightly better in this country under Kerry, it will not get enough better to make it worth supporting him. I hope he loses."
"Kerry has campaigned as a Reagan era Republican. I understand the dangers of a Bush presidency, but Kerry hasn't really offered an alternative. NAFTA went through on Clinton's watch, Kosovo, Sudan, etc... And Kerry is backing away from the 'liberal' Clinton and regressing us to Reagan?? Bush would be worse in the short term, but as Rummy would say, 'Freedom is messy.' Bush would further distance our allies, will probably end up creating an alliance between Russia and China as a counterweight to US Hegemony, and through his rough 'hard Imperialism,' grind the empire to a halt. All the while governing a populace that is growing more and more critical of their government."
"Using our power as potential spoilers is a strategy that WORKS! We know it works, because the right wing uses it to great effect. The religious right, in particular, is not afraid to torpedo any conservative politician who doesn't toe the line on their pet issues (abortion, guns, prayer in schools, etc.) allowing this constituency to exercise power greatly out of proportion to their actual numbers. Do you think George W. Bush really gives a rat's ass about abortion or gay marriage, or anything except making money for his corporate buddies? No, but he feels the need to placate the religious right on these issues. Why? Because they've made it a non-negotiable condition of their support. Meanwhile, we give our support away for free, settling for empty promises and the shaft every time. As they say in AA, you keep doing what you always did, you'll keep getting what you always got."
"The costs of a Kerry presidency are no less. He will merely prolong the decline of the empire. Bush has accelerated it, the one positive thing that has resulted from his horrific policies."
"Are Kerry liberals aware of the cost of sanctioning the friendlier face of American Imperialism? Bush is hated now in the Middle East. Kerry's approach is not one whit different, but plenty of liberals have sown illusions that Kerry feels the pain of the ordinary Arab under occupation. These illusions will be shattered and along with them any goodwill that allegedly comes from ousting Bush. On an issue like healthcare, the costs of Kerry's ideas would guarantee the system stays in private hands, where insurance companies have jacked up premiums and profits while 45 million go without consistent health care. Is that a cost Kerry voters have thought about? I doubt it since Nader can't debate with Kerry and Bush and expose how similar their positions are."
"A Bush victory might not be ALL bad. There's a chance Bush could be impeached in a 2nd term, leading to reforms in executive power, voting procedures. Bush could be gun-shy on further wars where Kerry might feel the need to be a tough guy (remember Clinton bombed Iraq almost the moment he was inaugurated)."
"I'm more concerned with the cost of a Kerry victory. We've all seen the ABB crowd roll over and support Kerry even while saying they are against the war. Well, the day after the election of Kerry, most of the ABB folks are going to go into hibernation and despite their rhetoric, are not to going to challenge him about the war or much of anything else. We've seen this behavior before, when Clinton won the presidency and sold out the progressives with an imperialist war in Yugoslavia, so-called 'welfare reform' that destroyed what remained of the safety net for the poor and his support for NAFTA. In some respects the NAFTA sellout was the worse since it went against not only progressives, but even the more conservative Dem supporters -- labor unions. Clinton knew, just as Kerry will know, that unless the progressives are going to support a third Party, and by definition, ABB's wont do that, they simply have nowhere to go and are locked into supporting him and the Dem/DLC agenda. Period. Why should Kerry listen after the election when he didn't listen before the election."
"I think war against Iran is more likely under Kerry than Bush. Just listen to what Kerry, Edwards, and the Democratic platform are saying about Iran. This would be a perfect opportunity for John 'Reporting for Duty' Kerry to prove how macho he is, expand the American empire, please the Israeli government, and help out U.S.-based oil companies. In the second debate, Kerry was specifically asked how he would handle Iran if they don't stop working on their reputed nuclear program. In typical fashion, he gave a mealy-mouthed answer but ended up saying, 'If we have to get tough with Iran, believe me, we will get tough.'"
"We need to raise our sights and seek a higher ideal of what it means to be a citizen and what it means to lead. If my standing up for these values means that Bush will become President, then so be it. That only means that we in America are in need of a lesson in responsible citizenship. I think Bush will teach us that. He inspired me to stop trying to grow my business and to put my attention instead on being a citizen first. I have children and grandchildren who I love. We need to do what's important first."
"I find it very ironic that the current ABB crowd accuses ME of not fully appreciating the costs of another Bush presidency. Where were all these people over the last four years when I was out in the streets getting tear gassed? In January 2002, not 4 months after the 9/11 attacks, I was one of the organizers of a protest against a visit by the Commander in Thief to my hometown of Portland. An ABBer I work with attended the same event--except that he had a ticket to Bush's speech, sat in the audience, and politely applauded to show his support for Bush's 'war on terrorism.' He told me afterwards that there were a few points where he withheld his applause to make a point. Yeah, some point! Three years later, he now thinks voting for Kerry is a good way to make his point.
There is a fundamental incoherence in the ABB mindset, which is the proverbial elephant in the living room that nobody wants to talk about during this election. On the one hand, we're supposed to believe that George W. Bush is the Worst President Ever, qualitatively and quantitatively worse than anybody who has gone before, and single-handedly responsible for everything from global warming to the heartbreak of psoriasis. On the other hand, we're supposed to accept that it's OK for the Democrats to have supported 90% of the Bush agenda over the past four years. Now, which is it going to be, guys?! If Bush is as bad as the Democrats say, it should be absolutely unacceptable for ANY politician to have supported him or voted with him, EVER. Bush collaborators should be ostracized from public life like the plague carriers that they are. On the other hand, if most of his agenda is something the Democrats are comfortable supporting, then perhaps they should go ahead and admit that the sky won't fall if we have another four years of him.
The Kerry campaign tries to take advantage of this incoherence by playing both sides of the issue. When they aren't lying about his record, or engaging in ridiculous hair-splitting, Kerry's supporters frame his support for most of the Bush agenda as a GOOD thing. He's 'moderate.' He's 'electable.' He can appeal to those quasi-mythical 'swing voters.' At the same time, I'm supposed to believe that not voting for Kerry is tantamount to heresy, because Bush is poised to become the next Hitler. Well, which is it?!
A realistic appraisal of the consequences of another Bush term starts with an accurate understanding of the last four years. The last four years have been VERY frightening, no question about that. But these frightening developments have all been logical developments of late-stage imperial capitalism, and have all followed on very specific foundations laid during the Clinton years, with welfare reform, NAFTA, his 1996 'anti-terrorism act,' etc. (Not to mention Clinton's Iraq policy, which killed 6,000 innocent people per month for 8 straight years.) Bush is not a historical aberration, nor is he a mad emperor. He did not, and could not have, accomplished any of his nefarious deeds without a huge degree of Democratic collaboration. If we want to defeat Bush's AGENDA, it will not suffice to replace him with another carbon-based life form who supports that agenda. We need to hold the Democrats accountable.
Should the progressive vote for Nader indeed prove to be the decisive factor in this election (very unlikely to happen, but I can dream) the next four years might see some significant brakes being put on the Bush agenda. Democrats in Congress would see the writing on the wall, and realize that from now on, being a real opposition party will be a condition of keeping their jobs. Bush's next war resolution won't sail through nearly so easily. His next violation of our civil rights won't pass nearly-unanimously. His next grossly inflated military budget won't be rubber-stamped.
Compare this with the likely scenario if Kerry wins, with no more of a mandate from us than to be a 'better' version of Bush. The former scenario might actually be preferable."
"Coming from a Democrat state [WV] in which Republican governors have twice in the last 20 years seen their increases in AFDC/TANF rolled back by subsequent 'Democratic' governors, I cast a cynical eye on these offerings. Anyone living in southern or border states should be a little leery of the Democrats being cast as the progressive alternative. Don't forget that Jimmy Carter endorsed George Wallace over Hubert Humphrey in 1968, and George Wallace won less than 50 percent of the Georgia vote, making the 'tactical necessity' argument a little lame. BTW, this Democratic Grinch governor in WV also reduced the per needy child annual clothing allowance from $150 to $100, again rolling back the increase of the previous Republican administration."
"[T]hough I don't advocate voting for Bush I see a silver lining: Bush is the most inept handler of US imperialism in our history. Kerry actually wants to rescue US imperialism. Our horrific foreign policies and budget-busting military budgets will come to an end sooner under Bush's mismanagement."
"Because Kerry would be merely a smarter and more effective manager of the empire, I have no misgivings about causing him to lose the election. Again, though, I would not be voting for Kerry even absent Ralph's candidacy. Just as in 1996, I abstained from voting rather than vote a second time for Bill Clinton, in whom I was sorely disappointed."
"There's something else that too many progressives are not considering, and that's the longer term possibilities of another Bush win. Things may have to get worse before they get better. I don't like this prospect, but it may be truthful."
"I am a voter from Michigan and I will not vote for Kerry even if it means Bush gets elected again.
Remember the Clinton years? Jackbooted government thugs, Ruby Ridge, Waco all sure to convince loyal Republicans that the Big Bad Government was out of control and nothing this immoral and threatening had ever come our way before.
Now the Democrats are doing it to their own. The sky is falling, the spawn of Satan is in the White House and the world cannot survive another four years of this irrational destructive policy.
The preemptive strike policy has been around long before Bush and used by Clinton in Afghanistan and the Sudan. Bush is just more in-your-face about it. Clinton bombed Iraq for 8 years and pulled the inspectors out as they were close to lifting the sanctions. Kerry wants 40,000 more troops and maybe can get them home in 4 years."
"Kerry might be a more dangerous president. At least the liberal groups will fight Bush. They've made it clear in this election that no matter what Kerry does, they will line up behind him in the next election."
"Bush is not the real problem any more than Hitler was the real problem in Germany. The problem is the drift into fascism, which has continued unabated at least since Reagan. Militarism, war, and the increasing corporate control of everything is the problem, and Nader is the only person articulate on this subject."
My favorite excerpts:
"Actually I think we are better off with Bush as the winner. Let's face it, membership in progressive organizations like the ACLU and environmental and anti-war groups has mushroomed under Bush. Compared to the Clinton years when the war on Yugoslavia was met with support by progressives -- I remember some progressives talking about the need for 'humanitarian bombing' -- virtually everything Bush does is opposed by progressives. Even where Kerry and the Dems would (and did) do the same thing (eg, the war, the patriot act). This is important because you have to remember that Bush's action in Afghanistan and Iraq were supported by the Democratic Party in the house and senate, with very few exceptions. Ditto with the Patriot Act, etc. You have to remember that real leadership in the country does not consist of Democratic or Republican 'leaders', but rather by the people who go out in the middle of February and protest the war, people who go to the inauguration and throw eggs at the presidents car are the real leaders. And it is of foremost importance that these people keep doing what they're doing after the election is over. And, under Kerry, they won't. It will be hibernation time for at least a year, probably more. If Bush wins it obviously won't be a decisive victory, there will be a lot of squabbling about election reform and the need to make some changes, he will be facing calls for his impeachment, for war crimes trials, etc. People will be pissed and the pre election fight will continue -- unlike a Kerry victory. We need the rabble to keep rousing. They won't under Kerry."7. Perhaps the most important reason of all to go on living: GIVING UP WOULD MAKE BUSH HAPPY. You don't want Bush happy, do you? No, I didn't think so. So we need to keep making him unhappy. We need to follow him to every public appearance he tries to make, interrupting his speeches, marching in the streets daily, and writing to our senators and representatives daily to call over and over for Bush to be impeached. The media will have to cover it, and the Congresspeople will have to consider whether their next campaign seasons can afford for them to continue showing allegiance to Bush as the situation in Iraq continues getting worse and worse.
"All throughout history it has been people that have *forced* change upon society. Look at the abolitionists, women's suffrage, labor movement, civil rights movements, Vietnam anti-war movement, and more recently (until the democrats effectively shut it down) the gay marriage movement. The politicians in power are largely irrelevant in this context. However, when we allow ourselves to be manipulated by fear into voting for the lesser evil and abandon these movements we abandon progress. Voting and working within the system is important, but it will never be more important than organizing and putting pressure on the system from the outside."