In the last couple of weeks, I've gone from someone who was definitely voting against George Bush but had no real enthusiasm for the alternatives, to an active, whole-hearted supporter of John Kerry's bid for the Oval Office, and it's a strange feeling.
I think I can characterize my political experience as consisting of a growing distrust for any polititian, along with an eroding sense of pride in this obviously misguided country, which has never been at a lower ebb than it has been after the four years that George Bush has been in office. I guess that could be why my sudden feeling of relatively unalloyed enthusiasm for a political candidate feels almost as fraught and chancey as falling in love, with all it's attendant possibility for crushing disillusionment. People, I am an idealist, and I want to believe!
Without a doubt, the number one catalyst for my conversion from tepid Democrat, whose last spark of interest in a political candidate was in John McCain, to fervently praying to Sweet Baby Jesus that John Kerry wins this election is the effect of recently released documentary about Kerry's military service and protest of the Vietnam War, Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry. I'd say that the number one thing that convinced me in the film is the footage of his publicly speaking out against the Vietnam war with restraint and intelligence, along with the sense of duty, committment and public service that he expressed from a young age, and to which he appears to have remained true. That the film is most definitely PRO-Kerry is undeniable, but there's really no way to refute the simple fact that he spoke eloquently and beautifully then, and seeing it gave me a surprising new sense of what he's saying now, as well as a context and sense of his real consistency as a human being.
At the same time, I have to admit that I feel a little as if I'm standing on the edge of the high dive, wondering if the water's actually fine or not. All I seem to be doing lately is consuming enormous volumes of political news and information.
Here's some of the good stuff:
- All About John Kerry. Wikipedia's entry on John Kerry is very informative, and contains excellent links to things like Kerry's full military records and Congressional voting record, along with this letter that he wrote to his parents from Vietnam when his best friend was killed.
- A Candidate in the Making. The Boston Globe has an excellent series of articles about Kerry's public life, with lots of interesting supporting details. Well worth reading.
- John Kerry's Undeclared War. The New York Times offers this excellent piece on the thinking that underlies John Kerry's foreign policy, and how it differs on a fundamental level from the Neo-conservatives leading our current war effort.
- The #1 Reason to Vote for John Kerry. For me, it's his eloquent statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971 in protest of the Vietnam War. Seriously: when I saw film of this and read it, I was SOLD. You can actually Listen to it here.
- Novelists Weigh In. Unsurprisingly, they mostly prefer Kerry. Why? Brains, Watson.
- All About George W. Bush. Apparently the "love him or hate him president." They forgot to mention that he was a cheerleader. Plus, there's this resume, fully linked to supporting documentation. Pretty impressive for a Commander in Chief who can't recall a single mistake.
- It's about ABORTION. Duh! Were you wondering what in the hell Gee Dubya was getting at when he randomly referenced the Dred Scott decision in his answer about what kind of Supreme Court justice he would seek to appoint? Well, wonder no more. here, too.
- Crazy Ann Coulter. With friends like this, who needs enemies?
- Bush vs. Science. More than 4,000 scientists, including 48 Nobel Laureates signed statement "condemning the administration for misusing, suppressing and distorting scientific advice." It's old news, I know, but worth a reminder, and it's the first time I've read the actual statement.
- Canadian News on Iraq. A good and thorough other perspective.
- Ecomomists Agree: Low Marks For Bush. The Economist surveys economics professors on the Bush track record. It isn't pretty. Kerry's numbers are better, but not across the board. It's a pretty interesting article.
- The US Army in Iraq: On Hold Until After the Election. Yeah. They are waiting to make any further headway on pacifying Iraq's most dangerous regions until after the election, regardless of the fact that waiting may very well compromise the proposed January elections in Iraq.
- The Sorry State of Journalism Nowadays. As if this unbelievable bullshit weren't enough, we have this assessment of the problems facing journalists covering the election from the New York Times. Apropos Bush's attack campaign: "So much of what they are indicting is taken out of context," said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, and the author of a book on negative campaigning. "It's a matter of taking sentences out of context or parts of sentences out of context. And it's hard for journalists to write the context back in because it takes time." Oh, dear.
- False Ads A-Ok. Good news! Candidates have a legal right to lie to us.
That's a fat load of reading. All I can say is that I have never been so obsessed with the political process in my life. I have no idea how I'm going to survive November 2nd in a relative news black-out in Prague.