First appeared in print in The Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC
Emotions, the Draft, UnBush, Black Voters, and Local Candidates
Why is it that we never see footage of the World Trade Center collapsing? All kinds of other videos are run over and over again, but not that one.
It's an agreement among all the networks. They don't want to run that footage because it would "inflame emotions."
However, some networks have no problem with other footage meant to inflame emotions. For instance, HBO is running a program called "Last Letters Home." The idea is for us to get to know the servicemen who have died in Iraq -- so that we can feel their loss far more poignantly than when they are only numbers in a headline.
And Ted Koppel's little stunt on ABC, where he read the names of those who had died in the war so far. He pretended that it was in honor of the soldiers -- but of course we know what emotions he intended to inflame.
We Americans can't be allowed to see footage that would inflame our emotions in support of the war.
But anything that might inflame emotions against the war is the networks' civic duty to run.
So as you consider your attitude toward the war, keep in mind that you are being forbidden to see any reminders of why we're fighting this war in the first place.
They'll show us the cost of fighting the war.
But they won't show us the cost of not fighting it.
Of course, the stupid answer to what I just said is, "Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Therefore footage of 9/11 has nothing to do with this war."
But this war is not about punishing Al-Qaeda -- that's what the anti-war people claim.
This war -- including the large campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq and the dozens of smaller campaigns that we don't hear about -- is about preventing international terrorist attacks against anyone, anywhere.
Since the war is not yet over, of course our enemies are still mounting terror attacks wherever they can.
Again, the stupid response to this is, "See? The war is provoking more terrorism, not preventing it!"
But we endured repeated attacks against soldiers and civilians until 9/11 finally made us say when. Is there anyone who seriously proposes that if we had not launched our war on terrorism, the 9/11 attacks would have been the last terrorist attacks anywhere in the world?
Terrorism was happening anyway. But now, instead of freely going where they want to kill whomever they want, the terrorists are now desperate to show the Muslim world that they're still effective. In fact, however, they are severely limited in what they can do outside the Muslim world.
That's why they're reduced to murdering Iraqi soldiers now -- fellow Muslims whose only "sin" was to volunteer to defend their country against Syrian and Iranian murderers and homegrown revolutionaries.
Dead Iraqi soldiers. That's going to play so well in the streets of Iraq.
But they're not trying to win Iraqi hearts and minds anymore. Now they're trying to terrify Iraqis into not supporting the interim government. That's a very different project, and it is a clear sign that the terrorists know that the Iraqi people have turned against them.
Instead of "defenders" of Iraq against "American aggressors," they are now revealed as the would-be oppressors of Iraq, showing the Iraqi people how brutally they intend to rule over them if they get the chance.
The interim Prime Minister of Iraq was recently asked if he expected the U.S. to continue to support democracy in Iraq if John Kerry is elected.
His reply was that he expected it to make no difference at all.
But think about it, folks. What could he say. After all, Kerry might win. Did he want to be on record as having said something that might be construed by Kerry's administration has having been anti-Kerry? Duh.
Besides, if he did say that he thought Kerry would be a disaster for Iraq, then the Kerry people could charge him with being a puppet of the Bush administration.
It was an empty question and a politically necessary answer for the good of his own people and his own government.
But no one has any illusions, least of all the government of Iraq. If Kerry wins, the insurgents and foreign terrorists in Iraq will be vastly encouraged.
In fact, Kerry's campaign has been one long promise of hope to the embattled terrorist movement within Islam. They firmly believe that if they can just keep up the pressure, the American Left will deliver them a victory just as forty years ago the American Left delivered the North Vietnamese a victory that they could not win on the battlefield.
Kerry loves to say that Bush is going to reinstate the draft. But it's a transparent lie.
It's Kerry who is promising 40,000 new soldiers, not Bush.
Neither the administration nor the military is asking for more troops.
In fact, if Kerry is elected you can count on it: The rate of enlistment will drop off, perhaps quite steeply.
Can you think why?
I remember, just before the draft lottery that chose my number back in the Vietnam era, a professor asked me whether I would serve in Vietnam. I said, "Not if I can help it."
"Why not?" he said.
"Because we've already decided to lose. Why should I risk my life for that?" Nixon had been elected partly on the basis of a promise to get out of Vietnam. Having made that promise, he was no longer capable of negotiating a peace with the North Vietnamese that differed in any significant way from our complete surrender.
After all, why should they give in on any point, when their opponents in the negotiation had already promised to leave Vietnam regardless of whether the North Vietnamese gave concessions or not?
Likewise, Kerry's election will be interpreted by everyone in the world as meaning that the American people no longer have the will to fight until our enemies are defeated.
That means that if you enlist in Kerry's army, you will be put in harm's way fighting a war that the new president does not believe in and has no intention of winning.
You would be sacrificing your time and perhaps your health or your very life for ... nothing.
Would you enlist?
It's not Bush who is thinking about the draft. It's Kerry who has the reinstatement of the draft on his mind, all the time. That's why he can't stop talking about it.
What a strange world Kerry lives in. He has a plan for everything, but can never tell us what it is -- probably because it's so complicated that we stupid people simply couldn't understand the subtleties of his unfathomable wisdom. We just have to take it on faith that his plan will be wonderful and makes us all happy and thin. (But not rich -- or not for long, anyway.)
And since Kerry has so many secret plans, he is convinced that Bush must have secret plans, too. Plans for a draft. Plans to wreck Social Security. Evil, terrible plans that will destroy the world. He has no evidence for this -- but then, we have no evidence for Kerry's plans, either, yet he believes in them.
Here's the gist of Kerry's secret plans: Whatever Bush did, Kerry would have done differently.
But what I don't get is: If Bush is out of office and Kerry is in, how will Kerry know what Bush would have done so that he can do the opposite?
Kerry has carefully created himself as the "UnBush." So in the absence of Bush, will Kerry continue to exist?
Preparations for the theft of the 2004 election are already under way in the key states. The basic groundwork is that the Democrats are accusing the Republicans of planning to intimidate minority voters. This is how Democrats intimidate Republican election officials.
Look at that scam where a federal judge tried to allow voters in Ohio to vote in any precinct in their county, regardless of where they lived.
Not only is that a recipe for fraud -- if you can vote anywhere, then you can vote everywhere -- but also it's a disaster for counting local elections.
The argument of the Left is that it places an undue burden on their voters to be turned away from a polling place "on a technicality." This, in their twisted worldview, constitutes "intimidation."
But please think what the Left is saying. They believe that their core voters are so stupid and so uncommitted that they either can't figure out where they're supposed to vote, or, having been informed that they made the wrong guess, they won't have the initiative to go to the correct polling place and cast their votes there.
Aren't Leftist voters just a little bit irritated at the assumption that they're too stupid or weak-willed to function as citizens -- while Republican voters are assumed to have mastered these skills without difficulty.
What an embarrassing confession for the Left to make: They think they can't win without getting special concessions for the stupid lazy vote.
But of course they don't believe that for a moment. They're merely laying the groundwork for selective recounts.
So I hope the Republicans are getting ready to demand recounts in every Republican-dominated voting precinct in the tossup states. Just to balance the recounts in the Democrat-dominated precincts.
And if there's a disputed outcome, let's all watch to see how long it is before Democrats are trying to block the absentee ballots of our soldiers fighting overseas from being counted. Because the two-to-one majorities for Bush that are expected from our military personnel might very well make the difference in this election.
They certainly did in the Civil War, where it is widely agreed that the votes of the soldiers played a large role in Abraham Lincoln's reelection.
Those of you who support the war and therefore support President Bush regardless of your party affiliation, remember this slogan: If it isn't close, they can't cheat.
And even if it isn't close in our state, we Bush voters have a duty to pile up huge margins of victory wherever we can. Let's make sure that nobody can call Bush a minority president this time.
To all of you who think it's clever to steal the political signs from somebody else's lawn:
The only message you send by that action is to declare to the world that you hate America. You hate American freedom and American democracy, and you would rather replace it with a system where only people who agree with you will be allowed to speak.
Whose side are you on? Not the American side.
If you see signs in favor of candidates you detest, the answer is to put up signs of your own and try to talk other people into doing the same. Americans seek dialogue -- not monologue. Especially not monologue achieved by forcing the other guy to shut up.
There are ample reasons why African-American voters have voted for Democratic candidates for president since the days of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
There is irony in this -- after all, it was the Democratic Party that ruled in the solid South, and Democrats who created and imposed Jim Crow laws throughout the region.
But the Republican Party, after the Tilden-Hayes compromise of 1876, tacitly agreed to keep their hands off and not stick their necks out to help blacks -- even when blacks were being lynched and mobbed.
And starting with the election of 1964, as the diehard white racist faction in the South turned away from the Democratic Party, the Republican Party embraced them. That's not easily forgotten or forgiven.
In fact, if anyone in Greensboro wonders why African-Americans pile up such huge margins for the Democratic Party, you need only listen to the nattering of Republican County Commissioner Billy Yow.
But in this election, some African-Americans, at least, are taking a second look. A small number are actually changing parties -- but since the previous number of black Republican voters was so small, a small increase can double the number.
There are many other black voters, however, who have no interest in changing parties, but are still considering a vote for President Bush.
And here's why:
First, the Muslim terrorists kill black Americans as happily as white ones. And black voters who consider the security of our nation as our highest priority have little choice but to find themselves considering a vote for Bush, since Kerry's record on defense and his open statements about this war guarantee that he would be unreliable in that area.
Second, while issues like affirmative action still have deep emotional resonance with black voters, there are other issues that matter, too. The increasing hostility of our courts toward Christianity and Christian values is deeply disturbing to many African-Americans -- after all, African-Americans are one of the last groups in America who are not criticized for being unashamedly religious.
Many of the people who hate Bush hate him because he talks about religion the way most African-Americans do -- taking it for granted that God is alive, he answers our prayers, and he frowns on sin. Some of these religious African-American voters recognize that it is Bush, not Kerry, who will try to hold the line on the total war against religion and traditional values that is being waged by the American Leftist establishment.
Third, a lot of black voters remember that in 2000, they were given dire warnings about the racist agenda of the Bush administration -- turning back the clock to the time of Jim Crow.
But Bush won, and the Republicans run Congress, and there aren't any colored restrooms or colored drinking fountains anywhere. On the contrary -- Bush appointed a black man and a black woman to two of the highest positions in American government. Whereas Democratic presidents only appointed blacks to window-dressing positions.
Some of these voters, at least, are just the teensiest bit irritated at the way they were lied to. This time, when the Left starts screaming about how there's so much voter intimidation, there are some black voters who are saying, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."
The Republican Party is far from being the legitimate home of African-American voters -- in Guilford County, certainly, only one Republican County Commissioner tried to expunge the stain of Billy Yow from the rolls of Republican elected officials.
But ... the Republican Party repaid her for this and other "sins" by ousting Mary Rakestraw in the primaries. Given the continued support of the local Republican Party for Billy Yow, it's hard to imagine how a black voter in Guilford County could even imagine voting for a Republican for any local office.
But Bush ain't Billy Yow. And there are both statistics and private conversations I've had that indicate that a surprising number of black voters are seriously thinking about voting for a Republican presidential candidate for the first time in their lives.
And here's my prediction: If the African-American vote for Bush approaches fifteen percent in this election, Democrats are going to panic.
They might actually start doing something for black voters instead of taking the African-American voting bloc for granted.
I attended a political evening at Irving Park Elementary a week ago Wednesday, where county commission and school board candidates had a chance to answer questions.
It was the first time my wife and I had a chance to form opinions of some of these people firsthand.
In the County Commissioner race, we were extremely depressed. First we had Mike Barber, sitting slumped at a table and repeating empty platitudes without enthusiasm. Couldn't help but remember that in all his years of service, he has never shown a sign of having a principle. Except, of course, for the principle that if it makes Mike Barber look like a big shot, he's for it.
And as a friend recently reminded me, not only is Barber much of the reason why a big ugly stadium is going to guarantee the continuing death of what shreds of life our downtown still has, he is also running for the district 7 seat because Sheriff B.J. "Boss" Barnes promised to support him against Mary Rakestraw, to punish her for not being sufficiently obedient to the Barnes machine.
Then we had Mike Winstead. He looks pretty in photographs, but it was quickly made clear that not only did he not have any answers, he didn't even understand the questions. He kept reminding me of those Jeopardy contestants who can't figure out how to work the button so they can ring in.
The most embarrassing thing was that he couldn't keep track of what it's supposed to mean to be a Republican. Over and over again he promised to throw more money at the school board as a way to solve all the schools' problems. Must have been music to the school district administrators' ears.
Of the three candidates, the only one who was articulate and thoughtful was Jim Capo. The trouble is, Capo has already proven that he is committed to being completely ineffective and never getting elected, because not only is he running as a Libertarian, but also he is an officer in the John Birch Society.
If you're serious about getting enough votes to win public office, you don't do either of those things. Since he's obviously a smart guy, the only conclusion I can reach is that he doesn't actually want to win. He just wants to come to the debates and make the other candidates look stupid. I'm just sad that he found this so easy to accomplish.
Whom am I voting for? Probably Winstead, trusting that he will be inept and ineffective (not always a bad thing in a government official) and hoping that in the next election the Democratic Party will come up with a candidate who actually stands for something.
As for the school board races, while incumbents Kris Cooke (district 7) and Dot Kearns (at-large) had all kinds of facts and figures at hand, their fundamental attitude was quite disturbing. And I'm not just talking about the attitude of cold arrogance that both of them displayed.
First, they blamed all the problems in the schools on the parents and on President Bush. In their view, the school administration and above all the school board never made a single mistake -- Guilford County schools have problems only because we have second-rate parents and a Republican President of the United States.
Second -- and this is the deepest problem of all -- they have completely bought into the school district bureaucracy's view of everything.
Everything good in the schools, they apparently believe, flows from the district downward into the schools. And when Cooke's opponent Bill Davidson suggested that instead of cutting out teacher aides, they might cut some of the middle management from the district, Cooke gave a heated defense of middle management.
"We're the largest employer in Guilford County," she said. "Those thousands of people need managers!"
Well, Ms. Cooke, here's a clue: In the schools, where one hundred percent of the actual educators work, the management is called "the principal."
Whereas in the district bureaucracy, bloat is inevitable and obvious. When someone is hired to do a certain job, he immediately starts thinking up new programs, so that he can justify his continuing employment. Nobody ever says, "My job is done" or "My program turned out not to work."
And all these cool new programs cause more work -- and more distraction -- for the poor beleaguered teachers.
If you can work with a bureaucracy for all these years and think that every person in every job is actually essential to doing the work of the schools, you have obviously been in office way too long.
Not every idea Bill Davidson has will work -- but at least he won't be taking everything the administration tells him as gospel truth. And Jim Kirkpatrick also seems to have a healthy skepticism toward the way the schools are currently being handled.
Do I think Davidson and Kirkpatrick will actually be able to curb the meaningless expansion of foolish programs and correct the ineptitude and arrogance that brought us some of our more colorful educational foul-ups this year?
Probably not. But their election might worry Grier enough that he will start curbing the bureaucracy himself.
And even if all Davidson and Kirkpatrick do is occasionally ask a hard question or vote against some lame administration proposal, they will be performing a noble service for our county -- one that has not been performed very much by the two incumbents they're running against.
Copyright © 2004 by Orson Scott Card.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.