America s Choice The Politics of Hope Versus The Politics of Fear
By Anthony Wade
What has happened to that shining city on a hill we called America ?
One week to go. One week before we all go to the polls and vote for one ideology or the other. We have heard the candidates for months now. We have heard the incessant spin and seen the poor media coverage. We have witnessed the debates and now there is only one choice left. Do we vote for hope, or do we vote for fear.
The ideology of hope is what John Kerry represents. On the war on terror, Kerry presents a more hopeful message. He believes that we should have as our goal to wake up in an America where we dont have to see what the terror level is before we see what the weather is going to be like. He believes in the hope that says we do not have to live with the constant threat of fear and death hanging over our heads. It is the opposite of what Mr. Bush represents. Bush was even quoted that he did not even think this war was winnable. After realizing his political mistake, he tried a lame cover-up saying it was not a conventional war, but we all know what he believes. He believes in the ideology of fear. Without the specter of terror, Bush has no weapons to wield against us. He is stripped bare has to face us with his record.
In order to win the war on terror, Kerry correctly recognizes that we need to at least try and focus on the actual perpetrators of 9-11, not just any nation, such as Iraq . Our president looked us in the eye and said that bin Laden was wanted dead or alive and he was going to smoke em out. Six months later, when he wanted to finally attack Iraq , a plan he had on day one of his administration, bin Laden was an afterthought. The facts surrounding allowing bin Laden to escape at Tora Bora are just that, facts. Instead our president decided to invade Iraq . He again came to us and looked us in the eye and swore that Iraq was an imminent danger to us all. We were regaled with tales of 3,000 liters of anthrax, 50,000 munitions with mustard gas, and mobile Iraqi weapons labs. The politics of fear were taking root. Deciding to push the envelope, Bush and his cohorts decided to invoke images of mushroom clouds to try to scare us into support. We began to hear about how Saddam was working with al Qaeda and it was certainly implied, many times over, that Saddam had some hand in 9-11. These tales all became fairy tales this year however. The republican led 9-11 commission, despite being stacked and compromised, still had to conclude that there was never a working relationship between Iraq (Saddam) and al Qaeda (bin Laden). This fact was, of course, relatively well known in the intelligence community and most of the world. Bin Laden, a strict fundamentalist, despised the secular Iraq that Saddam led. In fact, it is certainly obvious that by invading Iraq and deposing Saddam, Bush actually did bin Laden and al Qaeda a huge favor.
Bush continues to point to the intelligence that both he and Kerry looked at to decide to go to war but he omits two important points. One, is that John Kerry granted the president the war powers only if he tried to bring in the world to the cause and if the danger was imminent. This is a crucial point and I urge all to read the speech that Kerry gave on the floor of the Senate when he granted this. The link to the transcript can be found here:
The second point is that what Kerry and the Senate were not told is that the intelligence they were looking at was cooked by the Office of Special Plans, led by top war-hawk, neocon, Douglas Feith. Realizing that Bush needed a justification for the war he wanted, Bush placed this secret cell within the Pentagon with the express purpose of developing the "intelligence" Bush needed to convince us all that Iraq was a necessary war. This of course is backwards logic as usually you find intelligence and then analyze it, as opposed to deciding what outcome you want and then creating intelligence to support it.
The second important factor that has emerged is the Deufler Report exposed the fact that the entire reason to go to war was wrong. This report confirmed that not only did Iraq not have WMD; they had not had them in over ten years. TEN YEARS. There never were any weapons, no nuclear ambitions, and no imminent threat.
One would think that confronted with the truth, Bush would at least acknowledge it. Of course, he could not, because then he would have nothing left to run on. The politics of fear must never give an inch, never yield. There is no hope in it, just fear.
On the Iraq War, Kerry also provides hope. He properly wants to bring the rest of the world back to the table with us. This will allow the target to move off of our kids backs. Already Germany has said they would seriously reconsider deploying troops to Iraq under a Kerry administration. More nations will follow. Bush does not have a coalition, despite his posturing. We have 130,000 troops and the next largest country has 8,300. That is not a coalition, that is a joke. We have lost close to ten countries since it started and now Poland has indicated they are next to leave in 2005. Of the 30 countries, 85% of them have 300 or less troops. No honest individual can call this an international effort. It is a sham.
Kerry also offers hope to the troops. He recognizes the backdoor draft Bush has where troops are required to stay in Iraq after their commitment to our country is complete is morally wrong. Ending this makes sense. Bushs stance is one of unwavering fear. He likes to talk about how he is resolute, but pig-headedness is not an admirable trait in a commander-in-chief. He looks us in the eye and says that Iraq is going well, despite the newest revelations that nearly 380 tons of explosives are missing from a site near Baghdad that was part of Saddam Hussein's dismantled atom bomb program which was never secured by the U.S. military while we were guarding the oil fields. He says everything is going according to plan, despite the new revelation that 50 Iraqi soldiers were recently slaughtered. Having nothing to run on, Bush talks fear. He tells us that we cannot afford a policy of Kerry, which would somehow be perceived as weak. There is nothing weak about fighting a smarter war. There is nothing weak about bringing in a true coalition to help. This is simply a sound policy of hope.
The politics of hope and fear are not constrained to foreign policy. On jobs, John Kerry has a hopeful vision. He sees an America where we reward companies who create jobs here, instead of giving tax breaks for outsourcing. Kerry correctly realizes that asking the richest 2% in this country to sacrifice in a time of war is a fair prospect. Bush counters with fear. He insists that essentially we should never raise taxes. He insists that the tax cuts spur the economy. Havent we learned this lesson already from Reagan? The Reaganomics of the 1980s produced the recession of the early 90s. Paying down the debt in the 1990s resulted in the highest level of economic expansion we have ever seen. Then Bush came in and said that his first wave of tax cuts would create 900,000 new jobs. Instead, he has lost over 800,000 in his four years. You really need to ask yourself if you are truly better off than you were four years ago. The tax rate during the 1990s, which saw our greatest level of expansion, is simply the tax rates Kerry wants to go back to for the top 2%. Do you know who wants to avoid that? The super-rich of course. This is not class-warfare, it is reality. If you honestly think that the rich are hurting, and need that extra Jaguar, then vote for Bush. The rich are not rich though because they hand back money to the poor. As Bush likes to remind us, they will only avoid the taxes anyway.
Bush insists that we need to be scared of the liberal, Kerry. We should be afraid of any tax increase. He then distorts his record and hopes that somehow, the truth escapes us all on Election Day. The technical and advanced jobs that have disappeared under Bush are being replaced by McJobs. Bush touts that he has created 1.9 million new jobs in 13 months but what he omits is that he needed to create 1,950,000 during that time just to keep up with the new job seekers. Additionally, the unemployment rate is deceptive, as it no longer counts anyone not receiving benefits. The actual rate is over 8%. Poverty has increased every year under Bush. Yet what do we hear from the administration? Dick Cheney says that the economy does not take into consideration all the money people make selling their life possessions on EBay and Bush says we have turned a corner. I am not sure what corner Bush has turned, but he has neglected to take the rest of us with him.
You want real fear? Lets talk about the fact that by running a 500 billion dollar deficit, we run the risk of permanently damaging our currency. With the Euro looking more attractive and more than 50% of our treasury notes being held by foreign countries, we have the real risk of a run against our dollar. Then you will find out that our true might lies not in our military, but in our economy. Bush is fond of saying that he put money in all our pockets. The economy is far more holistic than just taxes and tax cuts. Yes, you may have received $1,000 benefit if you were a middle class family. But what you must realize is that less revenues in the federal government leads to increases in prices for state services and taxes. You also pay more for milk, gas, childcare, healthcare and any number of other necessities such as college tuition. When you add up the differences, those increases outweigh the benefits of that tax cut, unless you are really rich.
On healthcare, John Kerry speaks about hope. Hope for the millions of uninsured children in this country, a topic avoided by Bush. Kerry offers hope for the 50 million people without health insurance. He offers the same plan that members of Congress get, if you elect to take it. Bush once again, offers fear. We need to be afraid of the scourge of trial lawyers. This is the same scourge Bush relied on to fight his stolen election in 2000. Even though the Congressional Budget Office has concluded that lawsuits only represent less than 1% of healthcare costs, Bush still demonizes lawyers daily. What he wants to do is simple. He wants to take away your legal right to seek damages if you are unjustly wronged, period. Why would he want to do that? Because the HMO lobby has contributed millions of dollars to his campaigns. It really is that simple. He has sided with the corporations over your individual rights and then dresses it up with his favorite card, fear.
Not content with just this one level of fear, Bush also tries to scare you into thinking that Kerrys plan results in a government takeover of healthcare. This of course is a lie which has been debunked by factcheck.org, Dick Cheneys favorite website for truth. Bush tries to scare you into thinking that the government would make medical decisions, a bald-faced lie. He has to do this mind you, because his plan is to provide $3,000 for working families to purchase their own healthcare, even though a typical plan now costs $8,000. Where are you supposed to get the other $5,000? I dont know but be very afraid of the other guy who is talking about making sure everyone has healthcare. Be afraid of the guy who does not want one child to be uncovered in this country. The politics of fear at its most despicable.
There are plenty of other areas we could look at to discuss hope versus fear. This election however will be largely decided on the war on terror, the war in Iraq , jobs, and healthcare. In every one of these instances we see a clear delineation between the two candidates. We see John Kerry speaking about our potential, about our future, about our hope. We see George Bush speaking about fear, about fear, and about fear. On jobs, Kerry wants to stop outsourcing and repeal the tax breaks for the richest 2% in this country. Bush wants to continue the tax breaks, reward outsourcing and hope that you are afraid of the words liberal or tax increase. On healthcare, Kerry wants us to be hopeful that all children can receive coverage and that we can have the same medical choices as members of congress. Bush wants to take away your right to seek legal redress should you be injured and wants you to be afraid of lawyers and government healthcare. On Iraq , Kerry brings us a message of hope to end the backdoor draft and remove the target from our kids backs. Bush wants you to be afraid of anything but steady resolve in the face of unwavering proof that our current course is flawed. On the war on terror, Kerry brings a strong message of hope that we can once again live normal lives, where fear and terror are not the soup du jour, every day. Bush wants us to live in a constant state of fear, where every country might possibly have a thought of one day, considering to maybe pursuing the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction related programs, theoretically. He wants you worried about Iraq , Afghanistan , Iran , Syria , Libya , North Korea , axis of evil, terror, fear, terror, fear. Anything to keep your eyes off of his record. Anything to keep your eyes off of this country, your country.
Ronald Reagan once called America a shining city on a hill. The shine has faded and the luster has worn off. We are living in a near-panic every day. Allowing terror to dull that shine is a tragedy in this country. It is a tragedy perpetrated by our current president. John Kerry talks about the future. He talks about jobs, real jobs. He talks about regaining our respect in the world, which used to matter to us and was a large reason for the sparkle in that shine that was America . He talks about how every child should have healthcare coverage. He talks about sacrifice in a time of war, something we should expect from our most affluent. He talks about a vision of hope that can lead to that city shining once again. All George Bush talks about is fear. In a stump speech last week Bush spent the following amount of time addressing domestic issues:
Many important domestic issues are at stake. I have a positive, hopeful agenda for job creation, broader health coverage and better public education. Yet all the progress we hope to make depends on the security of our nation.
That was it. The rest of his speech was fear fear fear. It was all about Iraq and terror. He needs you scared when you go into vote next week. His hope is that you embrace the politics of fear and reject hope as some weak-minded concept. He no longer cares about that shining city on a hill. His only hope, is that you vote with fear while our largest fear should be, living in an America with no hope.
Anthony Wade is co-administrator of a website devoted to educating the populace to the ongoing lies of President George W. Bush and seeking his removal from office. He is a 37-year-old independent writer from New York with political commentary articles seen on multiple websites. A Christian progressive and professional Rehabilitation Counselor working with the poor and disabled, Mr. Wade believes that you can have faith and hold elected officials accountable for lies and excess.
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