May 7, 2004
No Vote is a Vote for Bush
BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
Watch the first twenty minutes of the movie Saving Private Ryan. It is a painfully crafted recreation of American sacrifice for the common good that went on day after day during World War II. Those men endured that horror so that you could be free to vote.
For most of my life, politics was the last thing on my mind. I paid attention to the first Gulf War in 1991 because I was of draft age then, and would have gone if I was called because I believed (at 21) that any war fought by America was worth dying for.
By the time Clinton took over, I was back to my old self again.
The 90's were good for me, and for the country. Clinton paid all our debts, everybody I knew had a decent job, and my head was blissfully clear. The Monica Lewinsky scandal caught my eye, but the way it was handled by those who sought to ruin Clinton bothered me more than anything the President did wrong. As far as I was concerned, it was Mrs. Clinton's problem -- not mine.
When American taxpayer dollars were used to help pay the estimated $95,000,000 debt incurred by conservative bloodhounds during the investigation and subsequent impeachment effort, it became my problem. But what are you going to do, right? You can't fight the system, my dad used to say.
The shenanigans surrounding the Bush/Gore election in 2000 caused the hair on the back of my neck to stand up a bit -- but before I (or anyone) could raise an objection, decisions were made in Florida and Washington DC, and that was that. President Bush, not President Gore. A shame, but -- what can you do?
I do recall talking to a friend at that time, and without any evidence to back it up -- it was just a gut instinct, I don't know where it came from -- I expressed my belief that America would be involved in a war somewhere in the world, probably the Middle East, within the first year of Bush's presidency. Something about the man just felt that way.
My friend disagreed, and we made a $5 bet, which I unfortunately won. I hung on to that $5 bill for posterity -- until this year. I sent it to John Kerry's fundraising office. It seemed appropriate.
September 11th, 2001, was the day my mind changed about George Bush, a little bit. At the time, no one knew about any memos or warnings. Richard Clarke? George Tenet? Who were they? I had never even heard of Osama bin Laden before that day.
I gave Bush the benefit of the doubt. Even though I was furious about the attacks, I have to admit I was excited to see my country stand together in strength and unity. I had never seen anything like it, and my relatives who were old enough to remember 1945 told me it felt a lot like the America that won World War II.
It was a golden opportunity that went absolutely nowhere.
Rather than rally us around a common effort and common sacrifice, as Roosevelt had done in the 1930's and 1940's, Bush told us instead to go about our lives as if it had never happened.
Go shopping, we were told. Don't let it be a bump in your day. We'll get the guys who did this, don't you worry. We'll let you know how troubled you should be from day to day by using a color chart, which even a dummy like you can understand.
That's what we got. So much for strength and unity.
Even then, I was still of the opinion that politics and I were a bad match. Money, my career, my new propane grill with the little shelf that tucks away when you don't need it - these were the things I worried about. Soon, I would add one more thing to that list.
The year I was married, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a disease of the brain and nervous system. It drastically affected my ability to walk for long distances, and even the simplest physical tasks became difficult or impossible depending on how the disease acted up from day to day, or even from hour to hour.
I, of course, pay a lot of attention to any progress made in the search for a cure. Based on everything I've come across, I firmly believe that the cure to my disease is right around the corner -- along with the cures for diabetes, Crohn's, some cancers, and a host of other afflictions that plague our world today, from psoriasis to male pattern baldness.
Almost certainly, these cures will come from stem cells -- the precise science of which I won't burden you with here. If you want to know more, you can hit stemcellhelp.org.
George W. Bush, for his own political gain - and to cement his hold upon Christian fundamentalist voters -- restricted research into the medical application of stem cells, thereby causing the penicillin of the 21st Century to fall victim to a Byzantine pro-life agenda. Our nation's top biomedical minds were forced to begin working incognito, trolling for private sector funds -- or looking for lab space in foreign lands.
For the first time in my life, I stood to personally lose -- in a real way that I could actually put my finger on -- from the outcome of an election. Needless to say, I had found my reason to "get political." It led me to open my eyes and look deeply and carefully into George Bush -- as a man, as a President, and as an American -- and it began a process of discovery that boggled my mind and put a shiver down my spine. Pandora's Box wasn't big enough.
John Kerry, an early supporter of stem cell research (and a Senator from the U.S. state where many of the stem cell field's luminaries likely learned their formidable ropes), has accused Bush of choosing ideology over science.
A who's who of scientific innovation recently issued a scathing indictment of the Bush administration, claiming their research data is consistently skewed by the White House to endorse conservative initiatives, while developments that conflict with the political goals of the administration are disputed, under-funded or scuttled outright.
This May, Nancy Reagan delivered a speech in which she unequivocally broke from the official position of her husband Ronald's party and supported stem cell advancements that may spare other families the pain her own has endured -- watching the former President's mental capacity diminish with Alzheimer's disease. Michael J. Fox, suffering from Parkinson's disease, yet another stem cell sitting duck, stood with her.
I'll bet that you have a loved one suffering from one of the diseases that stem cells might one day cure, if the scientists are given the resources and the breathing room to do what they have to do.
On the statistically doubtful chance that you don't, then perhaps you know someone who is currently serving in Iraq or Afghanistan -- where the risks and dangers increase daily while the benefits (if any) will only line the pockets of those who have a stake in the oil business or the war business -- not I and not you.
We all have something to lose by four more years of Bush.
More than half of our fellow Americans may not even bother to interrupt their lives for the few minutes that it takes to vote this November. Some are confused about the voting process. Others are unsure of the issues, perhaps bewildered by the non-stop TV and radio chatter that seems to favor Bush -- or the grassroots anger that has made Kerry a contender.
Who's right? Who's wrong? What is the truth?
Many Americans think that by not voting, they are making a political statement: "I am so disgusted with all of this nonsense, I won't even bother. That'll show 'em."
The unfortunate truth is that these Americans are simply exercising the #1 most popular American right: plain old self-centered laziness. In plain English, not voting at all is tantamount to voting FOR BUSH. That is why the Bush campaign focuses almost entirely on his loyal base of fans. He's not interested in convincing the ones who don't vote, because he knows (or more accurately, his handlers know) that no vote is just as good.
If you stay home, there's very little risk of you voting for John Kerry. See the logic?
Not voting at all is also un-American. I'm sorry. I don't enjoy insulting anyone or rocking anyone's boat -- but the sad fact is that thousands suffered and died to forge our free democracy, and thousands more perished while protecting it from those who challenged it. It is crucial that all Americans acknowledge that.
Some might say that the freedom not to vote is also a benefit of the struggle for liberty. Fair enough. But not casting your vote is a right that King George, Hitler, Stalin and Kruschev would have been more than happy to grant you... if our boys had lost.
It takes less time to vote than it takes to watch those first twenty minutes of Saving Private Ryan. Look a veteran in the eye and tell him you can't be bothered. If you can't find a veteran, then a relative with a potentially curable disease will do. I know you have one.
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
Joe Tesora is the Senior Editor of BushFilter.com, a screenwriter and filmmaker, a registered Democrat, and a volunteer with both the John Kerry 2004 Presidential Campaign and the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts.
Articles in the BuzzFlash Contributor section are posted as-is. Given the timeliness of some Contributor articles, BuzzFlash cannot verify or guarantee the accuracy of every word. We strive to correct inaccuracies when they are brought to our attention.
otherwise noted, all original