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 Bahamas Commentary

2004-11-18 19:27:47

Four More Years

Before any of President Bush's supporters jump for joy in an election celebration, they should be reminded that sometimes when you win, you lose.

Now that the U.S. presidential election is finally over, it is time to reflect upon what the re-election of George W. Bush means not just to America, but to the world including the Bahamas. For better or worse, we are stuck with George Bush for the next four years. Depending on who you supported will affect the attitude and optimism for the next four years. As someone who was embedded in and traveled with John Kerry's camp, I believe that I am aware first hand of the issues of the election and not the excuses indicated by editorialist Craig Butler in the Nassau Guardian on Friday, November 5, 2004.

Before any of President Bush's supporters jump for joy in an election celebration, they should be reminded that sometimes when you win, you lose. This victory was certainly no mandate for George Bush. Even though he had received a recorded number of votes, one must be reminded that America now has the largest population ever. Out of a possible 200 million Americans who could have voted, less than 118 million voted. George Bush received only about 35 % of votes from the voting population. This is certainly no mandate. Furthermore, one should also be aware that George Bush was an incumbent President.

Historically with the exception of Jimmy Carter and George Bush Sr., all incumbent Presidents, whether Republican or Democrat, beginning with Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1936) were re-elected by a land slide. Clearly, their performance during their first term determined their success. On the other hand, it was a nail biter for George Bush as it went down to the wire in the wee hours of the morning of November 3rd, 2004. This wasn't just a political campaign, but a desperate effort in the determination of the very survival of George Bush's political career.

How could George Bush find himself in such a fix? One of the main reasons cited was George Bush's failure of a domestic agenda. During George Bush's watch , millions lost their health insurance as the cost of health care skyrocketed by 35 %. Millions lost their jobs with George Bush's earning the distinction of being the only president since the Great Depression not to experience a net increase in jobs. In the No Child Left Behind Policy, hundreds of thousands were left behind as budget slashing took priority over social sympathy. Thousands who would have benefited from school programs lost out as their programs were eliminated. In fact, George Bush's press conference on his policy on education in 2001 was held at the prestigious Boston Latin School. This is symbolic as BLS is the oldest educational institution in America. It's alumni boast some of America's most elite and influential persons. It is recruiting ground for the Ivy League Universities, America's best. (My son attends this school). However due to budget cuts, parents such as myself had to assist the school with basic items such as copy paper, etc. Clearly, being America's best public high school, the Boston Latin School should have been given whatever tools is necessary to develop the minds of America's most gifted.

A declining family income, increased unemployment, no gun control on assault weapons, 47 million persons receiving only minimum wage, and increased health care cost led Ralph Nader, an independent candidate, to remark that these negative social developments if allowed to continue will one day have a catastrophic impact on America. This flu season, as many as 36,000 Americans could die from the flu, in part do to the lack of availability of a flu vaccine. After "flip-flopping" on this issue, President Bush has reluctantly agreed to import flu vaccine from at a reasonable and affordable price.

To make matters worst, the trillions of surplus dollars left in the Treasury by the Bill Clinton Administration was given away to America's richest one percent income earners as a tax cut. Now the Treasury is not only broke but back in the red with speculation that new taxes will be imposed on the poor to help pay for the deficit. Clearly, George Bush favours the rich.

The biggest losers under George Bush's Administration are minorities especially African-Americans. President George Bush has categorically refused to meet with the NAACP, the largest African-American Community Association. This is in spite of the fact that this group represents the population that needs government assistance the most. The African-American group has the highest HIV rate, teenage pregnancy rate, school drop-out rate, unemployment rate, imprisonment rate, chronic disease rates such as diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. Incredibly the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is now investigating the NAACP with the possibility of removing their tax exempt and charity status. How can America go into the future by returning to the past? It now appears that because of the new pending appointments to the Supreme Court, progress in the area of civil rights such as Affirmative Action may be reversed or abandoned.

Since President Bush could not campaign on the success of his domestic agenda, his only fodder was that of terrorism and the war in Iraq, both of which are most controversial. In both of these areas, America under President Bush has become more isolated from its traditional and closest allies who refuse to go along with George Bush's reckless policies. The image of Americans is now that of the "ugly american" with the perception of America as an arrogant bully. Look at how some ambassadors appointed by George Bush have treated the Bahamas. No respect, no cooperation and just plain rudeness when it comes to addressing the Bahamian government and people. The unique thing I noticed about Bahamians is that irrespective of their political affiliation, whether FNM or PLP, the Bahamian people supported Senator John Kerry for President. This was even more obvious after the Presidential debates when John Kerry demonstrated that he was intellectually superior to George Bush, winning all three debates hands down.

A desperate George Bush had one trump card left, that was to cater to the inner emotions of human insecurity. Under such circumstances some people have retorted to racism and nationalism. In George Bush's case, he appeased the religious zealots, confessing to being "born again." George Bush labeled John Kerry as the "liberal from Massachusetts," as if Liberal was a dirty word and not morally fit to govern. Regrettably, he was backed by evangelist Jerry Farewell, among others, who indicated that he will follow George Bush around the world to kill terrorists. The religious sector did not care about George Bush's record or issues. Craig Butler's assertion that the media was liberal friendly is completely unfounded. This was campaigning from the pulpit. Remember in the Bahamian election of 2002 when the Reverend Neal Ellis of Mount Tabor Baptist Church proclaimed that "if you ain't PLP get out of my church." This is the same practice by the "Moral Majority." George Bush's emphasis to win the religious vote was placed on family values. What kind of family values separates families like the Cuban families in Miami who can only visit their families in Cuba every three years.

In the area of the propaganda George Bush's team had the upper hand. Senator Kerry was too much of a gentleman. Just take the example of the Swift Boat Ads that attempted to discredit John Kerry's war records. Their accusations had been rebutted independently by newsmen Ted Kopel who interviewed the Vietnamese Village in question. The interviewed Vietnamese, who had no interest in the outcome of the American election, corroborated John Kerry's version. This group insulted all war veterans who had received a medal by implying that some of them were awarded it undeservingly.

One final fact is that George Bush is now a lame duck president. Anything can happen on this term and George Bush will not be there later to fix it. A deep concern is that George Bush is the only major world leader who has not signed the Kyoto Environmental Treaty to limit the effects of global warming. Ironically, a number of his advisors such as Colin Powell and John Ashcroft have resigned. George Bush must change his disastrous policies. With the Republicans controlling both the Senate and the House of Representative, there cannot be any excuse for George Bush not to execute his policies. Otherwise failure to do so will make his next term nothing more than "four more years" of failed American government policies.

Dr. Leatendore D. Percentie, D.D.S
Boston, Massachusetts
November 13th, 2004

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