Mythical Animals and Moral Clarity

The elusive mythical Griffin.

Tells it like it is. Straight shooter. Shoots from the hip. Doesn't hold anything back.

All of these phrases describe the same person, the type of person who speaks his or her mind, the type of person who speaks the truth. The American public loves these people. We tend to follow these people. We see this brash nature as a sign of direction in a world adrift on a sea of possibilities. These people have their feet on the ground. It doesn’t matter where they come from on the political spectrum. Americans like solid ground and solid lines of distinction. We like leaders who take a stand. We are drawn to them.

Of course our first problem is how sure we are of the existence of the truth. More Americans believe in the truth than in the existence of a god. Neither can be scientifically proven to exist, yet we Americans are sure of them. We just know them to be true. We are believers. It is what makes us so endearing and so dangerous.

Even though we are sure of the existence of the truth, we have a very hard time identifying it. It is as if we are searching for an elusive mythical animal that we can only identify when we see it. Sometimes we are fooled. Sometimes we mistake being earnest for being honest. Sometimes “moral clarity” can be mistaken for the truth if we squint hard enough. This optical illusion can explain why this country has been so duped by the current administration.

First they fooled just enough people to make the 2000 election close. Then of course, they got a little creative. We will never know who should have won the 2000 election. What we do know is that the voting public was and still very much is split down the middle. The people who voted for Gore were sure of his message but not sure of the man. The people who voted for Bush were sure of the man but not sure of his message. You can blame Bill Clinton as much as you can blame Ralph Nader for the results of 2000. The defining issue of the 2000 election was “character”. The people that voted for Bush by-and-large did so because they saw “character”. I’m not sure what they saw, but they saw something and to them it at least seemed closer to the truth than the painfully calculated Gore. To them, Bush looked like a leader.

Then their “leader” took advantage of horrible consequence to lead his flock down a road to nowhere. After 9/11, Americans needed to feel safe behind some action-movie bluster. Let’s face it, most Americans aren’t aware of the complexities of geopolitics. Most of us saw this administration take bold action in Afghanistan and Iraq and felt safer. The administration seemed to be “doin’ somethin about it”, not just talking. We always fall for the cowboy shit. Most Americans never gave a second thought to the consequences of these actions. Most could not see that the situation would turn into the slow bloodletting it has become, sapping this country’s resources and young men. Why only a few weeks ago, when Bush was asked about Iraqi insurgents he told them to “bring it on”. This time more and more Americans saw the perversity of his words. This country is slowly awakening from a two-year-long fear-induced haze. Awakening just in time to decide if this is the path we still want to continue down. Recent poll numbers suggest that the Democratic nomination for president may be worth having after all.

In 2000 I crossed over and voted for John McCain in the Republican primary. I did so not because of his beliefs. I’m sure Mr. McCain and I would disagree on many issues. I did so because I liked him. I believed in him and still do to this day. Even though I campaigned for Clinton in 1992, I ended up voting for some crazed diminutive Texan. I got in the booth and just had to. The man got over 20% percent of the vote without stating one damn solid policy. His campaign could be summed up as, “Vote for me. I’ll figure it out when I get there!”

American voters, especially Independents, vote for candidates with balls whether they agree with them or not. This is why it is imperative that the Democratic party nominates a candidate who is a straight shooter, a candidate who doesn’t pull any punches. This kind of candidate will attract independent voters along with the party faithful. This candidate might be former Vermont governor Howard Dean. Then again it might not be. It's really too early to tell. Dean has the early momentum, but so did John McCain in 2000. The Democratic nominee might not be Howard Dean but they have to sound like him if they want to defeat Bush. Bush sounded just like McCain after McCain beat him in the 2000 New Hampshire primary. Some of the Dean true believers (suspected Nader voters) froth at such a proposal, but they must not forget the main goal: We must get back on course and join the rest of the world in the 21st century. To win, the Democratic candidate must take this administration head on. They must shoot from the hip. They must speak the truth. Sometimes balls is all you need.

© 2003, Geary Yonker

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