Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Q&A Time

Rather than say what I'm thinking, since I'm not sure how to articulate those thoughts, let me start by asking some questions.

If geologists had concluded that Iraq had no oil reserves, or that their oil reserves were virtually gone, depleted, wiped out, or at least would be so expensive to retrieve as to make them economically unfeasible to tap, what would we be arguing about today?

Considering a list of known tyrants in the world over the past several years; e.g. Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Kim Il Jong, Saddam, etc; what was it about Saddam that made him the target of choice for the Cheney/Bush administration?

If Al Gore had become president in 2000, having won the popular vote of the millions cast, but denied the office by a five to four vote of nine people who were not elected but appointed, what would we be arguing about today?

If Dick Cheney had not appointed himself the Vice Presidential candidate for the 2000 election what would George W. Bush's presidency be most known for?

Acknowledging that the events of 9/11/01 justified and required us to react to, and focus our military strength against, the aggressor country, as we did after 12/7/41, and if we stayed that course and not invaded Iraq, what would be the status of Al Qaeda and the Taliban today?

These questions can be viewed as rhetorical, and clearly biased, but nevertheless, responses to them can be useful in focusing on what is going on, how complicit we are in that, and what questions to ask of those who claim they want to be our next president.

Why would anyone of those 18 to 20 declared or undeclared candidates want to be president now? And the corollary question is, what will you be looking for that will convince you to support one of them, or another person who has yet to come on the scene; experience, political identification (GOP, Dem, Ind), gender, race, age, appearance, charisma, least objectionable, party platform, specific agendas important to you, immigration reform, Iraq, health care, educational issues(no child--, integration), I just like him or her, don't ask me why, I don't like any of them, or what other options are there as spoilers(Bloomberg, Nader?) because I can't support either of the two major party's candidates?

The first few questions are essay questions. We all hate those because they make us have t think. The last one is multiple choice. That might be the easiest to answer, except that I provided a rather lengthy list. I'll make it a little easier. In your response to the last question mention as many as you like.

I'm posing these questions to adults, and as adults we don't have to account for our beliefs and actions to others. You will not be graded on your answers by anyone but yourself. I'm one of those pain in the ass people who want you to take a stand, any stand, and think about how and why you take that stand. Here's why.

In this country, supposedly the model of democracy in the world, voter turnout is frighteningly low. People are elected to crucially important offices by less than half of those who are eligible to vote. Stories abound, as they did again today, that political shenanigans are at play to keep or discourage certain ethnic or economic groups from voting or redistricting ploys to keep certain incumbents in office.

What worries me most though is what feels like a prevailing malaise, lack of interest, loss of hope, feeling of powerlessness to make a difference; leading to apathy and the what's the difference feeling. There are many legitimate reasons why someone doesn't vote; sickness, unforeseen events, problems and impediments with getting to the place to vote, etc.. Even discounting all of those as inevitable on any given day, the results of our elections are determined by the votes of half or less of those who could vote, and whose lives and livelihoods can be imposed on them by those elected, in part because they didn't think or feel that their vote had any meaning.

What is needed to energize the apathetic voter? Is it a crisis, and if so, what is the nature of that crisis? In the 18th century, in America and France, there were crises of such great proportions that they resulted in the extinguishing of thousands of lives. Very few apathetic folks in those days. In 1941, no apathy then.

What do you call what's happening today in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Israel, not to mention the horrors of Africa? What is the difference? Is is that these thousands of lives extinguished today are mostly those with whom we have little or nothing in common; they are other than us?

How about the American lives lost? Well that's easy for apathetic people to rationalize. They're volunteer soldiers, not conscripts, not drafted against their will. They took a chance so they could get a little extra income from being in the guard or reserves; their meetings were kind of fun, the guys night out once a month, and an annual summer camp. Or they are Regular Army, wanting to travel, get money for education, break out of the sorry life they were leading as civilians. They enlisted.

They Came

First, they came for the Jews and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew

Then they came for the communists and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist

Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me - and by then there was no one left to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemoller, German anti-Nazi activist

I think I hear drums, and they're coming closer.

Lighthouse Keeper

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