In a normal US presidential election somebody like John Kerry would be the conservative candidate who would probably win over a somewhat more progressive candidate, with the nuances being very subtle. But these aren’t normal times, and future generations will probably shake their heads when they look at this election. They will see that John Kerry is the somewhat more progressive candidate who is running against the equivalent of political Neanderthalism.
John Kerry’s opponent is a candidate so far to the right that I can find no serious political equivalent in my fairly conservative home country Germany - unless I want to consider those right-wing fringe parties that sometimes pop up during elections but that usually are getting most of their attention from courts investigating whether they are endangering the constitution. I had people back in Germany ask me to explain to them the main power players in the Bush administration, and I had to tell them that I couldn’t. I never imagined I would someday bemoan a lack of political lunatics in contemporary Germany (just for the purpose of explaining something); and - unlike, say, many progressives - I am unwilling to go back about 70 years in German history, tempting as that may be (for some of the White House people I’ll gladly to make an exception).
Anyway, given the choice and the nature of the electoral system in the US many self-proclaimed progressives have subscribed to the Anybody But Bush “philosophy”. If people like Noam Chomsky feel compelled to vote for somebody like John Kerry you know the pro-verbial piece of excrement is quite close to hitting that big fan. Today, I found an interesting article by Naomi Klein, which made it a little bit easier for me to understand what the Anybody But Bush people might be thinking.
Excerpt: “The zealots in Bush’s White House are neither insane nor stupid nor particularly shady. Rather, they openly serve the interests of the corporations that put them in office with bloody-minded efficiency. Their boldness stems not from the fact that they are a new breed of zealot but that the old breed finds itself in a newly unconstrained political climate. We know this, yet there is something about George Bush’s combination of ignorance, piety and swagger that triggers a condition in progressives I’ve come to think of as Bush Blindness. […] This madness has to stop, and the fastest way of doing that is to elect John Kerry, not because he will be different but because in most key areas […] he will be just as bad. The main difference will be that as Kerry pursues these brutal policies, he will come off as intelligent, sane and blissfully dull. That’s why I’ve joined the Anybody But Bush camp: only with a bore such as Kerry at the helm will we finally be able to put an end to the presidential pathologising and focus on the issues again.”