The View From Here

In my view, the most disturbing moment in “Fahrenheit 9/11” did not involve American soldiers mistreating Iraqis or politicians hiding shady business deals or distraught Middle Eastern women screaming about Allah wiping out America. The most disturbing moment centered around a disillusioned soldier as he renounced his Republican Party ideals and pledged his loyalty to the Democratic Party.

As if that was the answer.

But is there an answer? History frequently has a way of painting an accurate view of the future. I am convinced that one of the best classes any student can take is history. Maybe I say that because I like history. Or maybe I’m just scared to repeat it. Probably both.

Either way, my U.S. history professor here at Skyline has a knack for asking questions like, “What would George Washington say about [insert current political/social/personal issue here]?” Coming up with an answer is an interesting exercise, even though it is based on imagination viewed through the dark, distorted stained glass of opinion and assumption. So let’s try one.

What would George Washington say about the Republican and Democratic parties?

From his farewell address in 1800: “[Avoid] the baneful effects of the spirit of party.”

Thank you for your input, Mr. President. However, this is my column, not yours. So, what would I say about Republicans and Democrats?

“Avoid the bad stuff that can happen when you pledge your loyalty to a political party.”

Oops. Looks like I just repeated history.

At least I can take a little comfort in the fact that I am not the first to do so. After all, a few short months after Washington gave his advice to the young nation, the government was already sharply divided between two distinct political parties that spent their time fighting over alliances with Britain and conflicts with France.

Evidently, some things never change.

But every now and then, someone does come along and try to change things.

Ralph Nader lead a campaign four years ago that can be considered hugely successful because he managed to garner 2.74 percent of the popular vote by thinking outside the Republocrat box. Of course, half the country ended up hating him for it. Four years after he basically made George W. Bush president, Democrats have squeezed Nader out of the picture lest he repeat history. He’s not even on the ballot this time.

Howard Dean was an individual who had amazing leadership abilities and at least a little bit of personality. He was not afraid to speak his mind or even scream it. But suddenly people got scared that he would not be able to hold his own if running against Bush, so his passionate grassroots fire was doused by two or three of those tiny fickle empires that determine the course of world history known as “swing states.”

When was the last time you saw the news media covering the campaigns of candidates with names like Peroutka or Peltier or Badnarik? These candidates might very well be totally unfit for the job of President of the United States, but how are we supposed to decide that if we don’t know anything about them? Maybe it’s just that party politics have doomed them to unelectablitiy.

Now that the field has been narrowed down to two electable candidates (one who can beat Bush and one who is Bush) what do we know about them? We know Bush by what he has done the last four years. As for Kerry, we know that he is not Bush.

So, there are your choices for president. You can either cast your vote for President George W. Bush, or you can cast your vote for Senator Not Bush. Either way, it looks like Bush will be in office next year.

Actually, there is another option. Anyone can choose to write in their own candidate on the ballot. As of press time, I am winning the official poll on this newspaper’s website, so, on Nov. 2, feel free to write in “Neill Herbert” for President of the United States. Apparently, around here I am more electable than anyone else.

Now that is disturbing.