Friday, November 5, 2004

Red vs. blue; definitely white

Impromptu musings; Election Day aftermath by Kristina Arvanitis of Wicked Words.

I realize now, once and for all, that I no longer know America.

The voters have decided that they care more about two consenting adults’ sex lives and their personal choice to make a commitment to one another than the fact that their children face a crushing burden of college debt and a gloomy job market upon graduation.

The voters have decided that the lives of more and more American soldiers, most with few opportunities in life, are expendable in our pursuit of invisible weapons and our quest to punish – not Osama bin Laden – but dictators that did not have a connection to September 11th.

In the eyes of the electorate, restricting a woman’s right to make choices about her body and her pregnancy trumps the need for a clean environment, a viable Social Security system, and scientific research that could mean the cures for cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, and spinal cord injuries.

An undefined sense of “security” promised by a warmongering president trumps the American citizenry’s right to privacy. Americans will apparently readily relinquish rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution and by the soldiers who fought and died valiantly in justified wars to preserve the American way of life. A majority of the electorate will gladly submit to sneak and peek searches of their homes, despite the fact that the incumbent president ignores credible security threats from nations like North Korea, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, ignores the urgent need of nations like Sudan and Haiti, and ignores the pleas of former allies to stop policing the world.

Can it simply be attributed to voter ignorance, or is the fear and bigotry of others still to blame for the disappointing result of this election? Or is it the utter cluelessness of the Democrats who fail to grasp that there are millions of liberal young people just waiting to be heard? The failure of John Kerry to connect with others is definitely a huge reason why so many that doubted Bush's leadership refused to lend him their support.

As an inhabitant of the blue states, I don’t know this American where a vague notion what is “moral” trumps all other things. Perhaps, as the Republipundits say, I have lost touch with the rest of America, the bright reds of the South, the Midwest and the mountain states; the second of the “two Americas” that John Edwards used to highlight on the trail. While Edwards attempted to delineate the differences between the poor and middle class and the rich; the difference really appears to be a lack of education, a dearth of informed decision-making and an almost-eager readiness to be manipulated by the media, political advertisements, and a blind loyalty of a wartime president.

Exit polls (although their accuracy has been called into question today, obviously) suggest that most voters in the states with ballot questions about gay marriage cited "morality" and "values" as their number one determinant of their vote for president. The issue of gay marriage – as minor as that may be – may have just decided the most important election in decades. I suppose I don’t know this America that hates gays and lesbians so much that they are willing to jeopardize their children’s futures in order to dictate what love can be legally recognized. These so-called religious voters preach the values of Jesus and the Bible while casting their ballots; never mind that Jesus never took a position on homosexuality, His whole philosophy, in fact, was about helping those in need without regard to race, religion or national origin. His exhortation to render those things unto Caesar’s which are Caesar’s and those to God which are God’s may just have been an early call to separate church and state. I wonder how many of those who voted solely on the issues of gays, God and guns have actually read the Bible.

On a more personal note, here I am, poised to graduate (again) during a Bush presidency. What will that mean for my and my generation's job prospects and future prosperity? When looking at colleges in 1998, I came upon job fairs and employment recruitments for the eager university seniors who had the fortune to graduate in the time of Bill Clinton. At least 250 employers lined up at my then future alma mater of Brown University. In 2002, that number had dwindled to less than 25, with the likes of car rental companies and the U.S. Army looking to recruit the once optimistic young Ivy League graduates. After six months of searching, I was able to land a job that I liked, but one that was not my initial target, and certainly not enough to pay both rent and college loans. Some college friends are still out of work. Others are unhappy and underpaid at companies that they never anticipated working for. The voices of America's youth are muffled. When will we make ourselves heard?

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