I have some things I feel I must say concerning the election. Many have asked me what I think, and for the most part, I’ve held my tongue, although barely.

I would never want my concern about the current administration to give the impression of a lack of support for the people I know and work with every day. They give their time, energy, their family life and sometimes their health and blood doing their jobs. I respect them immensely for that, and suffer with them through it, although they are the ones who pay the real price.

In the case of this year’s election, though, I need to say what I need to say.

We need a major change in the direction that we’ve taken since September 11, 2001.

After that dreadful day, many of us felt that Mr. Bush stood up to the duty of being the statesman, the solid figure that beamed out at us each evening after that terrible event. It seemed to many as if it had galvanized him in some way, as if his immaturity — and I use the word not in a derogatory way, but in the sense of his having been in the job only for a short while as a president — had been suddenly transformed.

As it turned out, he, with our collusion — misguided and driven by rage, fear, grief, and shock – has taken us down a road none of us would have wished to travel before September 11, 2001. The Afghanistan campaign was supported by many as a necessary evil, and tolerated by those who were skeptical. As it turned out, it was merely a warm-up for the mess we’re in now. And we still don’t know what’s in store for us – or for the world.

My concern is that the path we have taken is one of setting one side of the world against the other because of sloppy intelligence, lies to cover it up, greed for hydrocarbons, lack of preparation for the coming changes that must, and one day will come in how we do business every day with each other and with the rest of the world. Call it what you will: Muslim against Christian; East against West; “rich” against “poor;” developed against developing; crusaders against mujahadeen.

Other recent developments also give cause for alarm.

* Just after announcing that he wanted to halve the national debt in
his next term, Bush’s administration asked for a raising of the
national debt ceiling, so they can request another $75 billion for
the campaign in Iraq.

* The “war” continues unabated, with more and more attacks from both
sides and more and more soldiers and citizens being killed and maimed.

* Our former allies are arrayed against Mr. Bush’s adventurism, and
are shocked that we continue on the road we’re on. We have lost
the respect of thinking people throughout the world, and they fear
– rightly so – for their security and safety, and fear also the
loss of our former powerhouse of ethics, fairness, consideration
and true democracy. Our “go-it-alone” adventures abroad are
costing us heavily in our relationships with other governments –
and with their citizens. Whether we realize it now or not, we will
be forced at some point to deal with others as equals and as
partners. We can’t continue to make unilateral moves and then ask
for assistance after we’ve screwed everything up.

* Bush’s administration has been forced to admit, at least some of
them, that the weapons of mass destruction ruse was just that, a
ruse, which led us into this chaos. Other administration officials
vacillate between farce, indecision and outright lies in their
comments.

* Women’s issues have been pushed into the background by this
administration, with ever increasing disdain for the things that
matter most to women: control over their own bodies, safety for
their children living in this world, childcare.

* Education is being equated with preparedness for serving in the
corporate world – which increasingly means working at low-rung
jobs while the executives continue their parties at workers’ and
investors’ expense. And the emphasis on testing in schools has
turned into just another industry, diverting attention, resources
and intellectual capital into a dog and pony show.

* The arts are valued in schools only peripherally, with violent,
competitive sport taking front seat on the funding bus. The arts
are lucky to have even a passing thought. What passes for
entertainment these days is lowest common denominator trash –
cruel, low corrosive to our culture.

* Our religious beliefs and convictions are being subverted and
sidetracked for political purposes, some of them plainly at odds
with the love, peace and tolerance that true religious belief
stands for. Ironic, isn’t it, that we criticize other nations of
doing the same thing. We fear and loathe the intolerant
theocracies of the world while we continue blindly down the same
road, allowing our religions to be channeled into mischief, at
best, and outright evil in some cases.

* Our energy policy is based on one thing alone – oil. Our great
challenge is to turn from polluting, nonrenewable sources of
energy to those which can be used safely and economically, without
entangling us in shifty alliances with those who can use their
resources, which we now so desperately need, to trap us into
untenable positions. We have the knowledge and ability to develop
new sources of energy, change our way of waste, and become
independent of oil and these shady alliances. This administration
can’t discern what’s in store for the world on this issue. They
blindly wander about looking for more oil, when every expert on it
warns us nearly daily that we /will/ run out.

* The economy is a shambles. Admittedly, one would have expected
some setbacks from 9/11. That was three years ago. The Republican
ideal of “less government” (again) is a reality, due to
deregulation of near every industry. And each day we have another
scandalous revelation of greed, embezzlement and theft by
corporate entities. Just read the news. There are no rules for
these folks now and they are fleecing us – and our children. How
is your retirement investment performing these days? If you’re
lucky enough to have them, have any of your stocks, mutuals or
other investment assets been affected at all by unregulated
corporations running away with the money or making decisions based
on pure greed without a care as to the outcome? Are you so
discouraged by it that you don’t even look at how they’re
performing anymore? How much of your money have you gotten back
from the offenders who are daily sentenced for their misdeeds?

* And perhaps most disgraceful of all, Bush continues to endanger
and use our soldiers in his efforts to either save face or lay
blame for his failures. Just this week his campaign acknowledged
it had doctored a photograph used in a television commercial to
remove the president and the podium where he was standing. A group
of soldiers in the crowd was electronically copied to fill in the
space where the president and the podium had been.

If you are skeptical about your vote counting in this hubbub, please be reminded of how important your vote is. The plain fact is that the intent of the majority of the electorate in the 2000 election was subverted. In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court halted ballot recounts and Bush was ushered into the White House without being elected. Only a few votes in the balance of hanging chads and political chicanery in Florida took us to the state we’re in.

Please vote. Do the right thing. We must eventually turn the corner into the 21^st century. We cannot continue on the road of international adventurism, alienation of our natural allies, setting ourselves against those who see things differently than we do. We must learn from others, learn to live in peace, learn to negotiate, learn to stand strong, valuing our own abilities, knowledge and will – and others. And we must learn to give as well as take in our dealings with the world.

The American ideal is at stake. Freedom is what it’s all about: Freedom from oppressive government; from religious intolerance; from dependence on other nations’ resources; freedom to choose; freedom to live in peace.

Only we can set the example for our children, and as we as Americans have so often trumpeted, for the rest of the world.