We can really only vote by party. The media circus essentially obscures the veracity and personality of both candidates. To think for ourselves, we have to attempt to see through the show. What, or whom, do the candidates represent? Is our perception any more accurate than the media's?
Gore makes a mistake by saying he talked to the assistant director of an agency, when in fact he talked to the director. That's a lie? George W. Bush, meanwhile, makes sweeping and deeply inaccurate assertions, and no one pays attention. Why? Because we all know he's IQ-challenged? Maybe we're fooled by his party propaganda.
The Republican Party has not dealt with its legacy of deception, projection and lies.
In my lifetime, the Republican legacy starts with the assassination of JFK, which disillusioned generations of the young and intelligent. No way would the smart and upstanding young people of the 1960s and '70s become politicians. At that time, the ultimate corruption faced our political system.
Enter the new Republicans: A lot of older, die-hard, right-wing leaders switched their membership from the Democratic to the Republican Party. Yes, Jesse Helms used to be a Democrat! In order to shun the civil-rights movement, he and others helped form the Republican Party as it is today. This party of the segregationists has yet to deal with its legacy of prejudice and bigotry.
Then came Watergate, a Republican excursion into illegal domestic espionage, putting off the smart youth coming of age in the '70s, probably extending disillusionment into the early '80s until, just as we might have been recovering, 1986 showed us Iran-gate.
Talk about the final straw. Talk about lies. Setting up a secret government to bypass the laws of the land -- a tried and true Republican tactic. The president who committed this treason was let off, as were his cronies and fellow perpetrators. When the Walsh report finally came out, documenting all of this, the Reaganites simply lied and said it wasn't true. Americans in general appeared comfortable with such delusion, perhaps because when the findings were announced, the big news was the Tanya Harding scandal.
Americans have been unintentionally or intentionally supporting the Republican Party's projections for years. The party continually points the finger at its opponents or at groups of citizens for lack of character, lack of family values, being liars, being unfit for office and so on. Yet the Republican legacy is light years ahead of anyone else in deception and corruption.
We now see such smoke-screen behavior on the part of George W. Bush. He is harping, "Democrats are into big government" -- a distortion Americans have heard for so long they accept it as a given. The "big-spending, intrusive-government Democratic Party" lie, in reality, implies two assertions, each of which falls apart with a little reflection.
First, as to spending and money, nothing in this century has compared to the Reagan/George Bush Sr. years -- quadrupling the debt, making the rich very much richer, cutting infrastructure maintenance, cutting public-health protection, cutting services for the indigent, turning the mentally ill out to the streets, yet spending more and more on corporate welfare.
As for the intrusiveness of government, police-state tactics have been a favorite tool of Republicans. Reagan, for example, didn't distinguish between drugs and drug-related behavior in conducting his war on us. A pot plant in someone's cornfield was as criminal as heroin. The poor were targeted. The result? A relatively harmless, nonviolent form of drug use was replaced with cocaine, heroin and crack. Soon, one-fourth of the young, black, male population was in jail. None of the more sophisticated drug users were targeted. Movie stars, professionals and politicians using the more expensive powdered cocaine were mostly left alone. We're still suffering from the side-effects of Reagan's war on drugs -- weakening civil liberties, strengthening inappropriate police intrusions and racial discrimination.
Whenever any person or group doesn't fit the get-ahead-and-be-more-like-us Republican scheme, the same type of smoke screens arise. Something is always morally or fundamentally wrong with our youth, women, minorities, single moms, disenfranchised and poor, but never with the party itself. George W. Bush will keep insisting our problems are due to those Democrats. His direction and intentions appear disturbingly similar to those of the previous administrations of Reagan and Bush.
If anything, we can say the fault of the Democrats is the extent to which the party's behavior emulates the Republicans. It's the Republican opponents, with their media friends, who point this out: "Look! Those nasty Democrats are getting to be almost as good as us at fundraising!" Gore's fault is his emulation of his opponent's traits. But, in an election that demands not stepping on the wrong toes, can we blame him? Yes. He's failed to point out that spending to preserve the greater good -- such as for clean water and air -- is the valid function of government.
There's a deeper fault, however, one that neither party or candidate is addressing. The biggest collective lie, shared by almost everyone, is that we have a meaningful government. The entire game -- the smoke screens and fuzzy logic, the under-the-table negotiations to get anything done, corporate influence on our politicians -- wouldn't be possible with an above-board body of representatives empowered to actually do the things government should. No cash breaks to multi-billion-dollar entities, for example, unless the infrastructure to benefit all -- from housing for the homeless to the reduction of greenhouse gasses to the funding of public health -- is intact. Because both candidates are decisively manipulating the nation's fear and greed, we can only try to guess at which party has a tendency to feel for the wider issues.
Who will support world cooperation -- not just business cooperation, but cooperation on regulation to make businesses behave? Who will deal with population growth and global warming? Who will build global public health into a system that can deal with emerging diseases? Who will work to wipe out financial lawlessness, poverty, starvation, strife and bloodshed?
Who will realize that when it comes to domestic policies -- with wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, the gap between rich and poor continually widening, 40 million without health insurance, more nonviolent offenders in jail than any other country -- we are miserable failures?
Who will make our corporate and government power structures accountable?
My Republican friend tells me I'm naive. He says, "With this mass of stupid, ignorant, weak people who don't know up from down, we have to effectively use totalitarian methods when necessary, or we can't control anything."
Since so many more of us have jumped on the profit-taking bandwagon during the past few years, I'll end by pointing out some facts that should sink in where it counts.
Point one: Being in the black instead of the red in the last 50 years has occurred under Democratic administrations.
Point two: The stock market has consistently taken a very short rise after a Republican president is elected, followed by a downturn over the next four or five years. Democratic presidential winners have been followed by a short blip down in stock prices and then a four- or five-year rise.
Corporate money isn't supporting Bush for you, the individual investor. It's for corporate plans in an alliance between Republican elections and specific, very influential corporations. But the fact is a Democratic election will help the pocketbooks of the majority of small-time investors.
See through the smoke if you can.