Election 2004: Attitudes Drive Politics

I am not a member of any political party, and I never will be. I vote based on the attitudes, priorities and policies of the candidates. The attitudes candidates have toward themselves as people, other human beings and groups, the nation they represent, and the world as a whole set the direction of priorities and policies.

The past three years have produced a rapid series of severe conditions for the U.S. and the world. The rights of individual citizens are being increasingly violated. Democracy and Freedom are being weakened by the attitude that “you are either for us or against us”. The American society and the world are becoming more divided. U.S. prestige and influence are being greatly damaged around the world. Violence is being justified as a legitimate way of dealing with differences.

In large part, these dangerous occurrences are the result of the attitudes and resultant policies of George W. Bush, his inner circle, and the American citizens who allow Mr. Bush to manipulate a fear of terrorism. Mr. Bush has said repeatedly that he feels “called” by a “higher Father” to “change the world”. That attitude is of monumental importance. It overshadows any single issue, any single policy. So let’s explore what that attitude means for the present and the future, and the impact the policies flowing from that attitude produce.

One, the attitude assumes a God-given right and power to do as Mr. Bush pleases. If he believes God has “called” him, then the “logical” extension of that belief is that anyone who objects to his policies must somehow be blind to the will of God. It further assumes that God carries the flag of one nation (America), and champions the efforts of Mr. Bush and the U.S. to wage a holy crusade to rid the world of “evil”, evil as defined by Mr. Bush. Critics of Bush policies are then further labeled as “unpatriotic”. Freedom and Democracy suffer as the meaning and application of those noble values become the sole right of the leader and nation claiming to be “called”.
It should be understood by all of us that the people and groups Mr. Bush labels as “evil” claim they are also “called” by their God to destroy the “evil” U.S. No matter who holds that attitude, it inevitably leads to dangerous consequences. If the U.S. feels “entitled” to invade other nations, that sets a frightening precedent. We can expect the leaders of other nations to justify the invasion of their perceived “enemies” by using the same misguided belief.

Do American voters, living in a complex and diverse world, really want to reelect a leader who has such a simplistic, misguided and anti-diversity view of life? If voters do, then we, our children, and our grandchildren may well have to suffer the wrath of the world for decades to come. Specific issues debated in the 2004 election pale in comparison to the effects the “called to change the world” attitude will have on the present and future.

Another effect of Mr. Bush’s claim that he has been “called to change the world” hits Americans at home. When an American president has such a “good” and “evil” view of life, and perceives himself as being the rightful instrument of the “good”, then he easily sees those who oppose him as necessarily being “not good” because people are either “good” or not, and he exemplifies “good” as the “called” one. Such an attitude increases divisions within the American society, and leads to policies that benefit only those Americans who support Mr. Bush.

A final and enormously important reality is that an American president has great influence in setting attitudes within the populace as a whole. The punitive treatment of those who disagree with him and his views, the secretive way the Bush administration is run, the misinformation given to the public, the attitude that a president can do whatever he pleases....all can influence citizens to justify violence against others, build relationships on deceit, and do as they please because they see their president sanctioning the attitudes underlying such actions.
The 2004 election is an election of attitudes, not just specific issues.

NOTE: During the coming months, some of the topics mentioned in this essay will be discussed in greater depth as separate articles in the Commentaries section of this website.

(Copyright 2004: Domestic and international law prohibits the public use of this article without the written permission of the author. Any reprint must bear the author’s name and notice of legal restrictions.}