by Joseph Siart
A strong message has been brewing up inside me for awhile as I’ve watched world events. I need to share it with those I trust and have felt a great kinship with. I hope you’ll be kind enough to hear me out.
I believe only a change in US leadership will improve the political, economic and social damage done by the last four years. This has nothing to do with the main reasons promoted by Michael Moore or Kitty Kelley. We need to vote Bush out of office for two reasons:
– Irresponsible management of our money
– Imperiling our relations with the rest of the world
Managing finances are supposed to be a strong suit of the Republicans. However, Bush has turned his back on his party and his people in turning a projected 6 trillion dollar surplus into a 6 trillion dollar deficit. We need to borrow more than $1.5B per day from overseas lenders. We have increased our dependance on Chinese and other Asians buying our currency to prop up the dollar. Which still hasn’t been enough to prevent the dollar dropping 30% of its value versus the Euro the past two years. Not only have we erased our wiggle-room for future tough times, we are less and less in control of our own fiscal destiny.
The International Herald Tribune writes: “The Bush White House has always given us the worst aspects of the American right without any of the advantages. We get the radical goals but not the efficient management. The Department of Homeland Security is famous for its useless alerts and its inability to distribute antiterrorism aid according to actual threats. Without providing enough troops to properly secure Iraq, the administration has managed to so strain the resources of America’s armed forces that the nation is unprepared to respond to a crisis anywhere else in the world.” John McCain has said “We are in a time of war. Where is the sacrifice?” Certainly not in cutting taxes, reducing the government’s ability to pay for the battle. Indeed, this is the first wartime tax cut in the history of our country.
More than 150 professors from leading US business schools like Harvard, MIT and Stanford have written to Bush urging a dramatic reversal of his administration’s fiscal and tax policy. Their letter states ‘nearly every economic indicator has deteriorated since you took office.’ www.openlettertothepresident.org/ Granted, the president does not control all factors driving the growth of the economy. However, there are two ways the president can create incredible challenges for the market: tax policy and expenditures.
In tax policy, Bush has decreased federal income, at the same time increasing subsidies in areas which exacerbate our problems. Case in point: tax breaks for buying ever-larger gas-guzzling SUVs. This mentality assures our dependance on oil, our dependance on OPEC. We’re actually less able to satisfy our domestic gas needs now than we were during the ’70s oil crisis. And Bush has cut taxes in such a way that the very wealthy benefit the most. This has outraged even billionaires such as George Soros, who have collaborated on their own open letter, urging Bush to stop this unnecessary and unhelpful process.
In expenditures, Bush has launched many new pork-filled programs while increasing our defense budget by 50% in the last two years. Two points, first, the US already had by far the largest defense budget in the world, eclipsing by more than 10x the nearest ‘rival’. Second, we have spent a miniscule fraction of the defense budget on domestic counterterrorism. Bush likes to say that he’s the best candidate for reducing the size of the government and making Americans safer. His actions speak loudly to the contrary.
More than 100 former U.S. ambassadors have written to Bush encouraging him to take his foreign policy into a different direction. Why? Because by our government’s actions, we are more and more isolated from the rest of the world. This goes beyond Iraq, although that is the largest problem area. The European Commission and the World Trade Organization are putting levies on a wide range of US products because of our protectionist (and not free market) practices. When did this ever happen before? Every single industrial nation has signed on to the Kyoto protocol for reducing global warming. The Bush administration didn’t even bother sending a representative, confirming its disdain for the talks.
I’ve read polls of people outside the US being asked if they had a vote, who would they vote for? Nearly everywhere the results are 70-80% anybody but Bush. This is principally because Bush has bastardized the widely-agreed-upon war on terror with his own personal crusade in Iraq. I don’t pretend to know why, but the simple fact is that he is so alone, and in the process, has made all Americans more vulnerable. Why is it that ‘old Europe’ is with us in Afghanistan (and was with us in the first Gulf War), but they aren’t in Iraq? Why is it that Afghanistan is not as much out of control, and in threat of collapsing into civil war as Iraq? Iraq is different, and the public knows it. This is why the majority of people around the world opposed the war, including the peoples of Britain, Italy, Spain and Australia. Opposition to Iraq is not the fringe or counter culture, it’s the majority.
This will be my first election I will participate in from outside the States. I’ve had the benefit of watching events from the outside-in. The mainstream media in the US is so insular, you really have to go out of your way to widen your international perspective. Now having a wider view, as well as living abroad, it’s ever clear to me just how foreign relations have deteriorated dramatically under the Bush administration.
Many in the US likely believe that this is true as well, but unfortunately most would say that it doesn’t matter. The fact is, the US and the rest of the world are inter-dependent on each other. Our traditional allies know this, but Bush and his backers don’t seem to. I was up at 4 a.m. watching the 3rd presidential debate on CNN. I decided to flip around the channels to see if this far distant event, discussing domestic issues, would get any play on European TV. Nearly every single state-run, #1 channel was broadcasting it live, including the French, German, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Russian and Chinese stations. I was amazed at the level of interest, and tried to imagine how many Americans I know who could even name the leaders of even half of these countries, not to mention their political challengers and platforms.
Everywhere I go in Europe, including the UK, when I identify myself as an American, I’m asked “what’s up with your President?” I’m never asked ‘why are Americans like that?’ nor am I ever subjected to criticism of my way of life or dress or demeanor. No, any animosity or jibes I’ve felt have ALL been directed at the present administration.
If working in advertising and media for the past 10+ years has taught me anything, it’s that perception is reality. Companies spend billions every year to build on their brand preferences or simply maintain their market position. The Bush administration’s outwardly arrogant stance to the rest of the world has had the equivalent of thousands of Enrons on our reputation, and expectations from valuable political and trading partners, and billions of current and potential customers.
Right now, most consider that Americans had no clue what kind of person they were electing in 2000. Forgiving any debate about the way the election was won, four years ago, it could be said voters chose a party and a platform. But now, no one can say they are unaware of who Bush is and what he stands for. Everyone is aware of how he has acted, what the consequences have been, and how unwilling he has been to alter any course of action, no matter the results.
For the American people to RE-elect such a man would send a very clear message to the rest of the world: we don’t care about you. You don’t matter. It’s OUR way or the highway. The feeling that folks outside our borders have about Bush would very simply be applied to US, because we will have validated that his world view aligns with ours.
It’s a recipe for disaster. Purely from a point of view of finance and labor, consider that more than 50% of Procter&Gamble’s revenues come from outside the US. More than 65% for HP. More than 30% for Oracle and Microsoft. Similar for Ford or Nike or TimeWarner or any other US-headquartered multinational. I argue that a majority of US corporations and jobs are at least in part dependant on the rest of the world’s consumers.
Perhaps you’ve already reached many of the same conclusions. If so, I encourage you to share your view, especially with those family and friends residing in battleground states like Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Florida, Arizona, Washington etc. Folks in California and Texas have already chosen their respective candidates and packed away their electoral votes long ago. It’s the citizens of the as-yet undecided states who will determine our next president.
Should you be in the process of deliberation, I urge you to take these points into consideration for your vote.