“Caution: Quitting smoking too abruptly may lead to troubles of perception—this is how G. W. Bush came to be elected.” ~ Kad et Olivier, comedians
Sure, I may just be a Canadian observer, but today I feel at one with the people of America. I’m just as emotionally vested—on pins and needles, wondering in which way the popular vote will point us. Today of all days, I wish I was an American, so I could go cast my vote and make a difference. All I can do is sit here with that pit in my stomach and hope the majority will vote wisely. I can tell you I was nowhere near as concerned when it came to voting in my country, even though I went and dispassionately did my duty. But even though I generally have practically zero interest in politics, I seem to know more about American politics than I do about our own. I’ve been around long enough to know that the White House Big Boss makes a difference in all our lives, whatever nationality we happen to be…
Jimmy Carter was a prime example of that when I was living in Israel. He’s the first president I can clearly remember, since I was barely a toddler during Nixon’s term, and too busy with my stuffed animals when Gerald Ford was in office. By pursuing the Camp David Accords, President Carter managed to broker peace between Egypt and Israel—no mean feat—that made a big impact on my ten year old mind. Incidentally, this political situation create a work opportunity for my mother which allowed us to live in Tel-Aviv in greater comfort than I had ever known until then—a relative notion since we’d been piss-poor before that. No other American President since Thomas Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt had been deemed as a worthy recipient for the Nobel Peace Prize which he was awarded in 2002 “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development”. This came in recognition of his good works as President, but also for founding the Carter Center and his key role with Habitat for Humanity. He had plenty of critics and detractors, but I believe no other President in recent decades has worked as tirelessly in the pursuit of world peace as Carter has.
What I learned from Ronald Reagan and George Bush Senior is that a substantial majority of Americans prefer to have lying cheating condescending father figures as leaders. Father figures who lie to them in order to reassure and appease them and who enjoy playing war games on their time off. It’s always been my opinion that George H. W. Bush was just a continuation of the Reagan administration. Apparently the people had not had enough after eight years of Reaganomics. Why the people chose to elect a former B-movie actor—a man who had acquired just enough skills to convincingly gloss over truths and tell outright lies which then led to his position as a spokesman for GE, for which he wrote his own speeches, exalting industry and big business—who chose to switch over to the Republican party in his 50’s, who had advertised cigarettes and co-stared with a chimpanzee as the highlight of his acting career… all that boggles the mind. How had this man established himself as a credible figure? Did people even care about that? Many of us asked ourselves this question for the better part of the 80’s. It was a testament to just how powerful effective marketing can be. And also showed that the voting public wanted to believe in a fairy tale. Both Presidents made themselves popular with promises of substantial tax cuts—the purported goal during Reagan’s administration was that these policies would have a “trickle-down” effect—by helping make the rich richer maybe the poor would also benefit—was the thinking. The fact that Reagan could propose this kind of bullshit policy with a straight face was a testament to the fact that his acting talent was still being put to good use. Following his economic policies, Bush was faced with a deficit which had grown to $220 billion—three times it’s size since 1980—which led Bush to renege his “no tax” election promise. Both Presidents pursued peace, civic rights and environmental pet projects which helped gloss over the fact that they were first and foremost money and power-thirsty warmongers (the invasion of Grenada shortly after threatening to attack Beirut, the bombing of Libya, the Iran-Contra Affair, the Invasion of Panama, the Gulf War). To think there are still those who consider these men as heroic figures just makes my blood boil.
I’m just going to gloss over what I’ve learned from Bill Clinton and George W. I should at least separate them with two different paragraphs out of common decency since I consider the first to be a human being made of flesh and blood, and the second to be Rosemary’s baby, i.e. The Spawn of Satan. but the truth is I’ve gone on for much longer than I had anticipated with this post, even in my attempt to be brief. The truth about Bill Clinton is that while I know his tenure was very eventful, I was too busy with my own life to be paying much attention. In the early 90’s, I was just beginning my career as a Graphic Designer, followed by bigger responsibilities as an Art Director, along with an active and disastrous dating life which left me little time or energy to pay attention to what was happening with the rest of the world. Of course, no one can forget the Lewinski scandal, thought what that essentially taught me is that in America, sex is the greatest taboo of all. One couldn’t imagine a comparable fuss being made over sex anywhere in Europe and it was hard to believe how many resources were mobilized in the ensuing impeachment and media circus. Many comparisons were made with John F. Kennedy—also a notorious womanizer—but can you imagine Monica’s stained blue dress being shown on TV during Kennedy’s time? I know I have a strong bias, but I do feel more secure with a Democrat in the White House. To err is human and no matter how politicians fuck things up sometimes, I feel there is less likelihood of a major war being declared by America (even though both WWI and WWII were conducted while Democrats were in the White House), and I know there are more likely to be serious measures taken to benefit health, social well-being, the environment, foreign nations… etc. There is bound to be plenty of controversy and maybe a scandal or two. Or three, but who has ever had a perfect record? As for W. Bush, I just want to rant on and on whenever I think about him. A little bit the way a person might get started whenever an ex-boyfriend or husband who happened to be a freaking passive-aggressive moron is mentioned. What I learned from W was never discount the bleeding idiot with a funny looking face who has access to daddy’s guns and who thinks he’s all that because daddy says so but annoys everybody except for the guys in his clique of imbeciles, because those can be the biggest sociopaths of all.
My parting words for this post will be: if you’re reading this and it’s Tuesday November 4th, sometime in the evening when the polls are still open and you haven’t gone to vote yet maybe because you can’t make up your mind, I implore you to go vote for Obama. If anything, please do it for me and other like-minded folks. He’s looking strong right now, but you can never be too sure.
Obama printable posters: Hyperakt.com