For a few weeks now I have been trying to get to the heart of why this election seems so very important. Granted, this is the first election that I have voted in and it is the only campaign I have ever been a part of. However, something much larger is at stake here. The reign of George W. Bush signifies the end of French Enlightenment empiricism as we know it. Bush has returned to the Augustinian notion of revelation over reason. Thus, we are now the subjects of the first American faith-based presidency. America, unlike Europe, has never experienced a crisis of religion. American history does not include the Pope's usurpation of power or crusades based on theology. However, our forefathers had Europe's bloody past in mind when they clearly separated the powers of church and state in the Constitution. But suddenly, in 2004, the dire consequences of mingling church and state no longer seem as serious and the Bush administration has even used religion to its advantage.
It is entirely possible that George Bush is a nice person. Even so, before ascending to the presidency, Bush was never a success. He was always the "black sheep" of the family, bouncing from job to job and incessantly using his family's connections to maintain his lifestyle. It is said that in 1985, on his 39th birthday, Bush was at the family's estate in Kennebunkport and his parents led him to the Lord. Bush was drinking, enraging his wife, and his life was in shambles. Then, he met up with family friend Billy Graham. Afterwards, Bush stopped drinking, studied the Bible and emerged as a man of faith. Faith became a way for Bush to get his life together. This administration has used faith to stir up the evangelical Christian base of America, and the influence of this group has an impact on everything from abortion to our foreign policy.
If Karl Rove wants you to believe a vote for Bush is a vote for divine faith and rule, then I would argue a vote for John Kerry is a vote for the worship of reason. Kerry's religion as president would be reason, facts, and data. If the ethos of Bush revolves around a "higher being," Kerry's ethos is centered around understanding the situation in as many ways as possible.
September 11 was an attack on this country not from a nation state, and this makes it all the more daunting. If we are serious about fighting this warand we must be seriousthen we cannot use the same conventional tools of warfare. The highjackers of 9/11 avoided mosques, they shaved their beards, and they looked as "American" as possible. Thus, in order to fight terrorism, the Bush administration started surveillance on mosques and used racial profilinga strategy fueled by the stereotypes which the terrorists were clever enough to evade.
Instead of inspiring Americans or pushing us toward the future, over the past four years Bush has held us back. He should have implored the wealthiest businesspeople in our country to sponsor three children through college. He should have imposed a gas tax and said " we will look for new ways to stop our oil dependency right now." He should have channeled the good will of the entire world toward America; instead, he squandered it within a few months. Instead of uniting our country across party lines, he pushed for tax cuts we could not afford and the Patriot Act, which usurps the very civil liberties we are supposedly fighting abroad to protect.
And today in 2004 our country is less safe than it should be, less free than it has been, and headed down a dangerous path. If I can credit Kerry for only one thing, it has been his ability to stand up against the Bush machine. Election fraud, clandestine documents, cronyism, elitism, and favoritism are only a few of this administration's vices. A more polluted environment, a country with a huge deficit, under-financed education, huge bureaucracy, a reckless war abroad, and a homeland less-safe are only a few of the outcomes of this presidency. By the time you are reading this, I hope your vote has already been cast and that a better fate has been secured for our country.