After a healthy dose of Coors Light last night, I was predicting that we wouldn't know the results of the election for another week. It's a good thing that I have a career outside of political forecasting to fall back on, because Kerry did the realistic thing this afternoon and conceded the election. I am sure in my tired and beer-addled brain, that some hope of Kerry pulling through still existed somewhere in my mind, but now we're faced with a harsh reality.
Here are ten things we have to look forward to in the next four years with Bush at the helm. I tried to include data to back up my contentions, whenever possible. Feel free to read the links, particularly if you want to discuss it:
1) Economic Decline - Nevermind that Bush lost more jobs for the country during his tenure as President than any other since the great depression. The Bureau of Labor statistics shows plainly that not only did we have massive job loss, but the jobs we've replaced pay less money and have fewer benefits.
2) War - If there's one thing we can count on from this crowd, it's a good war. I'm sure the number of people who said they voted for the President's moral integrity had a hard time reconciling the fact that during out occupation of Iraq, we've almost caught up with the killing of innocent women and children that Saddam did before we booted him out. But, all those people that we killed in Iraq were probably insurgents, right? The big question is: Who's next to join the Axis of Evil?
3) Supreme Court Nominees - Chief Justice William Rehnquist needs a doctor. Badly. Even if Rehnquist pulls through this most recent setback, Vegas has set the odds the he kicks the bucket in the next four years at 2:1. The best news is that aside from a cyborg love-child of Dick Cheney and John Ashcroft designed by Karl Rove and Donald Rumsfeld, it's going to be tough to find a judicial nominee as conservative as Rehnquist, who isn't either planning to bomb a federal building or trying to get the Ten Commandments printed on currency.
4) Iraq - Thinks this fits under the war category? Weren't you there when the President said the war in Iraq was over? That's right, we're occupying Iraq in the middle of a civil war with no exit strategy. We're not at War with Iraq, we're creating Democracy by killing the people who don't agree with the Government we installed. Sounds like a stable foundation for a Democracy to me. A lot of Democracies start that way....like....uhhh
5) Health Care - Decreasing or a complete lack of insurance benefits got you down? You're not alone. This document has statistics about poverty, income and insurance rates from the US Census Department, and you'll notice spikes in poverty and dips in income and insurance rates (number of insured people not premiums) during the last four years after opposite trends in previous years. Our kids represent a depressing trend with 7.5% completely uninsured, and a larger more difficult to pinpoint number without adequate insurance. Bush's plan? I'll give you a hint, it doesn't involve health care coverage for all children. And if his jobs trend continues, a lot families won't be able to afford coverage for their children, let alone themselves. That means the rest of us pay higher costs for health insurance. It even hurts businesses.
6) Terrorism - Most voters in exit polls reported that they felt safer now than they did four years ago. While I will concede that we're more aware of terrorism than we were before, I don't think it's something we'll ever be safe from, regardless of who is President. The problem is that Bush has given us the idea that we're more secure, and taken steps that address specific threats (like flying airplanes into buildings), but has ignored other threats (like protecting nuclear reactors and ports) and has continued to occupy Iraq without the legitimacy of a multi-national coalition, making the US an easy target for terrorists to align themselves against. Unfortunately, terrorism is something that will be with us for the rest of our lives. The irony is that Bush spent all his time looking for a connection between Iraq and Al Quida, and in the process he created one.
7) Distortion of the Truth - We all know now that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and no imminent threat of chemical and biological weapons. This was our entire justification for invading Iraq quickly without UN support, and it turned out to be a complete lie. Now that Bush no longer has to worry about re-election, I think we're in for some REAL bullshit.
8) Justice - Bush's record as governor of Texas and the death penalty speaks for itself. These facts are particularly troubling given the recent evidence that has led other states like Illinois to drop the death penalty and commute those sentences to life without parole and evidence from the US Department of Justice to indicate that we're doing a pretty poor job of administering capital punishment fairly in the first place. What would Jesus do? Probably not kill people.
9) Isolationistic Foreign Policy - Despite the difficult economic problems we're facing, terrorism threats that don't have borders and don't exist only in certain countries, and the increasingly difficult task of rebuilding Iraq, we need the support of our allies. Where did they all go? When did multilateral diplomacy become a bad word? We're a great country that can do much on our own, but Bush will likely continue his "my way or no way" foreign policy, despite the obvious benefits of working with the world community at the cost of our security and economy.
10) Reproductive Health Issues - When you say this, many people automatically assume you're talking only about abortion. While abortion is part of this, the larger part and the part that has changed in the last 4 years relates to access to education and contraception, so women have options so they don't have to have an abortion. Bush continues to promote abstinence only education for the prevention of AIDS/STDs and unwanted pregnancies. An excellent review article about abstinence only education programs is available here. Now if you don't want people to have an abortion, and you understand that you're not going to be able to stop people from having sex, wouldn't it make sense to promote alternatives other than abstinence, in case some actually decides not to abstain? Not if you're George Bush, since good little boys and girls wait until they're married. If a person wants to wait until they're married to have sex, I have no problem with that. But it makes for very poor public health policy. And as a good friend of mine once put it "AHHH it burns when I pee!"
Someone told me today that it's time to move forward, and I agree. Hopefully, the list has helped to prepare you for what the road ahead holds. Feel free to add to the list at will.... (P.S. when STD comes up in a spell checker Styx is one of the suggestions ;)