THE ELECTION

No, this post isn’t going to be about our federal election. I have complete faith in my country to do the right thing. We’ll all vote on Monday and everything will work itself out.

The election I’m writing about is the US Presidential election. Since about 1988, I’ve watched every Presidential election in the US with great interest. Why? For one, the US media makes it into such a spectacle. It’s almost more entertainment than news. With the splashy graphics, breaking news, and dramatic music, how could one not get excited about people voting? Second, while it is only Americans who are voting for their leader, their choice of President affects the entire world. I don’t think anyone could argue that point.

Which brings me to the election of 2000. It was the election I had followed the closest. I had enjoyed the Clinton years. I thought he was a great President. I don’t think it was just coincidence that during the eight years he was in office, I had the highest opinion of US policy, both domestic and foreign. In short, when he was running the show, I thought the US of A wasn’t that bad of a neighbour.

In his first year of office he came to Vancouver, UBC specifically to meet with then President Boris Yeltsin. They were to meet at the UBC President’s residence. At the time, I lived a tear-gas volley away from the meeting place. I remember lining up with the throngs of people along a fence waiting for the two leaders to arrive. I was hoping for just a glimpse of both of them as their limos drove by, but I got more than that. Both limos stopped just before my spot along the fence. Yeltsin and Clinton stepped out and began shaking hands with the crowd. They never did get down to me, but I saw and heard the finesse with which Clinton handled the crowd. His legendary charisma was not without basis.

Eight years later, I was sad to see him go, but hoping his Vice-President would take his place. On election night, I hoped and prayed Gore would defeat the dim-witted man from Crawford who had enormous support from his father and his cronies. Of course, it was not to be. As the legal challenges were drawn out over the weeks, I became incredulous at how irregular everything seemed in Florida, yet no one, no group could step in and say, “This is wrong. You cannot do this.”

When Gore conceded, I felt deflated. It felt weird feeling bad for a man that wasn’t even a politician in my country, but I knew what was at stake. There would now be a Republican in the White House.

I remember Inauguration Day in 2001. It landed on a Saturday. It was a cloudy and rainy day in Vancouver. It matched my mood. I was working at EA at the time and I had to come in. All day, I promised I wouldn’t go on CNN.com or any other news site to read about what was going on in Washington. I lasted until the afternoon, when I just had to read about the event. The most bittersweet article I read detailed Clinton’s final speech to his staff and his departure from Washington.

That night at home, I watched the news reports showing the various balls that were held to celebrate Dubya’s “victory”. It was difficult to watch. Back then, I didn’t blog, hell I’m not even sure if there were blogs. I did, however, write a small column that changed once a week. I wished I had archived them, but I didn’t. If I recall correctly, I wrote how unjust it seemed for Bush to take the White House the way he did. I questioned his abilities to lead and I do remember this part clearly, I penned, “what wars will he lead the world into?”.

The point is not for me to say I told you so, but let us enumerate what Dubya’s done in four years, and this is only a partial list. He took the US surplus that was in the billions and turned it into a deficit that borders on a trillion dollars. He has ignored the environment at every turn in favour of making profits. After receiving overwhelming sympathy from the world community after 9/11, his foreign policy managed to turn that around and make the US the most hated country on the planet. Domestically, I am alarmed at the partisan behaviour that exists among US citizens. The entire country seems divided in half. And finally, last but not least, he invaded Iraq.

On Friday night, I went and saw Fahrenheit 9/11. It was every bit as thought-provoking as I hoped it would be. It left an impact. Love him or hate him, Michael Moore sure does know how to make a point. The film is the manifestation of his fiery passion to remove Bush from the White House.

The US is now less than six months away from the election. Despite all the missteps Bush has taken, despite all the harm he has done, I predict a race as close as the last election. This to me, boggles my mind. I expect the wealthly elite to vote for him, that is a given. What I don’t understand, is how the average American can give him their support. What exactly has he done for them? Why are they better off now than they were four years ago? Somewhere in the four years, people who had the ability to think for themselves, bought into the idea of blind fanaticism.

To say that I’m hoping John Kerry will win the election and become the 44th President of the United States is an understatement. I hope he does the right things, I hope he wakes up the sleeping masses and opens their eyes to what has been going on. I await this coming November with intrepidation.

It’s always good to leave with hope and this is what I’ll try to do with this lengthy post. As of today, Fahrenheit 9/11 was number one in box office receipts in the US. It made a little over $8.2 million playing on under 900 screens. The number two entry, White Chicks, made just under $7 million, while playing on over 2700 screens, three times that of F9/11. Lots of people in the US are wanting to see this movie. They want to hear what Michael Moore has to say. If he can stimulate people to think, then his job will be done.

I probably won’t write more about the election until the fall, but this was a good time to put down my thoughts. What do you think?

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