November 10th, 2003

Election season.

You know, I guess there really is some kind of specific energy or something surrounding next year’s presidential election, because even I can’t stop thinking about it now. I’m consumed with news of last week’s typically insipid Rock The Vote Democratic debate, with reports of Howard Dean’s decision to reject public campaign funds and the spending limits that go with them, even with the news of John Kerry’s decision to fire his campaign manager.

Never mind that I find Rock The Vote idiotic. I mean, really, what is Rock The Vote, but an effort to get privileged kids who can’t be bothered to follow world, national or even local news and politics to go cast a ballot supporting one of a field of candidates they don’t actually know a damned thing about. If you’re not part of a group that has been deliberately disenfranchised and you have to be coaxed into pretending to give a shit, you don’t deserve a vote and I don’t want you at the polls. Pretending you get better results from higher voter turnout is absurd; high voter turnout only ever results in Governor Schwarzenegger (is this how you spell his name? I don’t know; Christ, I like those Terminator movies — I even had fun watching Kindergarten Cop back in the day — but for fuck’s sake, California, grow up already).

Never mind that I think it’s bloody great that Howard Dean is gonna pour money into his campaign like a drunken Republican — and ridiculous that other Democrats feel a need to whine about it when we all know they’d do exactly the same if they could.

Never mind that it doesn’t matter one damned bit who’s running it, Kerry’s campaign is dead in the water — specifically because he’s happily become just another Democrat. (I used to think highly of Kerry. I used to be proud of both of Massachusetts’ senators. Now, not so much. Why? Mostly because of Kerry’s decision to support the war in Iraq, for his inability to stand up to W the way he stood up to W’s daddy. Because I believe he’s lost his vision, his spine and whatever connection he ever had to the political left. He wants to be president more than he believes he should be president; and that doesn’t make for good presidents. People can see right through that. If Al Gore had believed he was the right man for the job, he’d have made better campaign decisions and blown W out of the water (rather than just edging him by enough votes that the right wing Supreme Court could appoint their guy to office).

The thing I really can’t stop thinking about is the fact that, once again, the Democrats don’t seem to have it in them to nominate a candidate I could possibly support. Dean’s as close as they get, I think. And there’s a lot to recommend him. He says what he thinks. He doesn’t give a good goddamn about what the so-called experts say he should and shouldn’t do. He’s running a big campaign on little contributions. He’s governor of the only state in the union that currently has a semi-sensible approach to gay marriage (you’re not quite all the way there, though, Vermont, so don’t act all smug and shit). Still, I’m not sure I trust him. And even if I did, it’s become abundantly clear that the Democrats are gonna find a way to take him down. He’s just too real for the party. And maybe a bit too outside the grasp of their corporate masters.

So what the hell do I do? Well, I’m starting here. Here are a few elements of my litmus test for a presidential candidate, a list of the positions I want a candidates to take before they can get my support.

Choice. I will not vote for any candidate who doesn’t espouse an absolute belief in a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. That’s it. I don’t want to hear about late-term abortions (what the anti-choice movement calls partial-birth). I don’t want to hear about anyone’s fucking sense of personal morality. I don’t want to hear about compromise with the religious zealots and assorted morons in the anti-choice movement. I want to hear candidates say they’ll do whatever the fuck it takes to defend Roe v. Wade and to repeal this ban on late-term procedures. That’s it. No choice, no vote.

Gay marriage. The fact that this is even an issue is offensive to me. There’s no intelligent, honest and truly moral argument for denying same-sex couples the same rights and privileges accorded to the rest of us. It’s as simple as that. If you belong to a religion that holds that homosexuality is wrong (except when it comes to priests buggering altar boys, of course), good for you. No one is insisting that any denomination perform marriage ceremonies for anyone they don’t like. Fuck, man, if your church is opposed to interracial marriage, that’s fine by me. I mean, stay the hell away from me, please, but do/believe whatever idiotic thing you want. Just cut the crap with foisting your ignorance on the rest of us. I want a president who says that. Think I’ll get one? No. No, of course not. Not ever.

People over corporations. It’s very bloody well past time we stopped making laws for the benefit of companies. I want a president who will speak the truth: Corporations have no rights. People have rights. Workers have rights. Every single goddamned thing a corporation does can (and quite possibly should) be subject to regulation. If corporations can’t stop themselves from paying their CEOs millions upon millions while they eliminate the jobs of hard-working people, the government should do it for them. If corporations can’t bring themselves to behave like they owe the planet and its people more than they owe their own fucking bottom lines, the government should do it for them. And they can’t. So we should. I want a president who can lay out a plan for ending the reign of these criminal corporations. I also want a president who will launch initiative to tax the shit out of corporations and their overpaid officials. Am I ever gonna get that. Not on your life. I know who owns the government in this country, and it sure as hell ain’t the people.

End the drug war. You want my vote? Admit what every last intelligent person in America knows: The drug war is a failure. And more than that it’s an expensive failure. It’s done nothing other than put thousands of Americans behind bars unnecessarily, turned city streets into war zones, destroy third-world countries and waste billions of American taxpayer dollars. It needs to end and it needs to end today. Legalize it all. Or don’t, and simply stop enforcing prohibition. Put some money into helping addicts. Put more into improving schools. And put the rest into infrastructure projects that will not just put people to work but actually create something useful. Anyone who claims there is any value in the drug war is either an idiot or a liar. Either way, they don’t belong in office.

What else? I don’t know. Plenty. That’s just what’s on my mind today. Maybe I’ll post some more in the future. Or maybe not. Because, honestly, what candidate is ever even gonna measure up to these expectations? None. So what do I do? Do I compromise next November and take what the Dems have to offer? Mmmm, probably not. Do I advocate for revolution? Nah. It’s not gonna happen anyhow. So probably I just keep on feeling contempt for everyone involved in the political process, voting for guys like Ralph Nader, whose hearts are in the right place even if they’re not with me all the way and pretending things might get better someday. Even though I know down deep they never, ever will

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