The outcome of the presidential election leaves me cold and fearful. It is not just the outcome that I find disturbing but the reasons people give for voting as they did. The exit polls suggest that the number one consideration among Republican voters across the red belt was "moral values." The incumbent allegedly embodied such values; the challenger, in their minds, occupied some suspect gray area.
But what do we know? We know that the current administration repeatedly misrepresented intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction in order to rationalize an unjustified and probably interminable war in Iraq. We know that they repeatedly misrepresented the non-existent connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq for the same purpose. And we know that many Americans and roughly 15,000 Iraqis have died as a result. Let's not talk about the maimed and wounded on each side. Let's not talk about the long-term security damage the war has done to the US, either.
We also know that when confronted with the reality of such misrepresentations, both President Bush and Vice President Cheney have either blithely maintained their views or blamed underlings in the intelligence community. Neither has acknowledged, let alone taken responsibility for the misrepresentations. We know too that the principals in the administration who now beat the drums of war assiduously evaded military service in Viet Nam. The challenger, of course, volunteered to serve.
Since when are lying, killing, cowardice, and hypocrisy "moral" values? How about self-righteousness? Such questions get no traction in current conservative discourse. The reason is clear. For our Republican neighbors, the phrase "moral values" is little more than code for keeping gays in the closet and women barefoot and pregnant. My concern is not that Republicans apparently ignored issues like the war or security or the economy, but that they turned out and elected Bush and company on the basis of an indefensibly impoverished understanding of "moral values." This is a sad day for Americans.
Jim Johnson, Bloomfield
I have been overcome with grief since the election. I found out quickly that I was not alone. The enormous sadness of millions of Americans cannot be denied. As a psychologist, I know that this grief must be dealt with before healing can begin, before we can move on, and before we can stand again and fight.
I propose a national day of mourning for those millions of us who feel as though we have lost our country, for those many of us who fear Armageddon as we anticipate the takeover of the Supreme Court, the destruction of Social Security, and the iron-clad rule of the coalition between the corporate power structure and the fanatical right-wing Christians.
On Wednesday, the flag at my grandson's elementary school in Warren, Vermont, flew at half staff. It didn't last long before some bureaucrat took it down, but news of this event moved me like nothing else has over these last few days. It was a symbol of our collective, shared grief.
We need more symbols. We need more ways to come together and share our pain. Only then can we rise from the ashes.
Maryanne G. Hamilton, East Avenue, Rochester
BRAWN OVER BRAINS
Bush is the most hated president we've had in my lifetime, both within our country and (especially) without, and yet over half of the people in this country voted him back into office. This millionaire was able to convince millions that he's "the common man." This C-minus student responsible for the inane "No Child Left Behind" act has managed to convince millions that he cares about education.
He misled us --- and continues to mislead us --- about our reasons for attacking Iraq. And yet he has convinced millions that showing strength is more important than showing intelligence. Look strong. Don't back down. Go it alone. He twisted Kerry's words in obvious ways in the debates, and people just ate it up. Why?
The only reason I can come up with (beyond the fact that Kerry was hardly an ideal alternative) is mind-numbing fear. Terrorism is a scary thing. Bush is perceived as being the most likely to protect us from terrorism because he's attacking other countries, which is historically how we protect ourselves.
Most of the rest of the world disagrees with our tactics, and we don't care. We are spoonfed the idea that the rest of the world exists to serve us, and it doesn't matter what we do as long as we protect ourselves. Yeah, we've got troops on your soil. Oops, we killed some of your civilians. Deal with it.
Of course we have the right to protect ourselves, but is our cowboy president really doing anything that will help us? And even if he is, how many of our troops are pursuing these efforts, and how many are just fighting for oil?
Tim "Shoebox" Crist, North Chili
"Desiring the Everyday" (October 27) was a thoughtful and touching critique of fine art vs. mercenary art as it relates to ceramics and Convergence of Temperament. Although the art world may "seem to value the contemplative above the useful," there is little evidence that "our culture" shares that sentiment.
Mark Mason Oxford Street, Rochester
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