As the emotional hubris slowly faded from view, the hope of securing a reasoned perspective on our political coronations emerged. But was it worth the time and energy to arrange my thoughts in an orchestrated manner, one that wouldn't offend the average liberal-minded Seattle-dweller?
I wasn't able to grasp the ineptitude of the Democratic National Convention until the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads began running - a 100-yard dash, knife in hand, straight toward John Kerry and his jugular.
Why would anyone, modeling himself after John F. Kennedy, base his run for the Presidency on war-related achievements from 35 years ago? Wouldn't it have been smarter to present an alternative to the current administration in the form of negative, yet reasoned, attacks on policy issues? Hello, Democratic leadership, are you conscious? Who's the President? Do you know what day it is? The material was there, after all, slumped over the deficit-spending ropes, begging for a well-positioned knockout punch or two.
The only headlining speaker I remember was Bill Clinton. His handsome, charismatic and poetic self was poised to carry the entire Democratic Party on seasoned, intellectual shoulders. His speech was masterful. I believe his legacy will live on as a hopeful "weathering the storm" reminder for any aspiring politician and citizen alike. One minor problem. He's not running. Darn.
The Republican Convention offered a sharp contrast of chilling substance. I'm guessing that John McCain and Rudy Giuliani gave the best speeches of their long and tempered lifetimes and careers. Toward the end of Giuliani's speech I turned my radio off due to the over-whelming nature of listening to the two of them back to back.
Something was wrong, but I couldn't put my finger on it.
I thought Arnold Schwarzenegger, Laura Bush, Zell Miller, Dick Cheney and President Bush gave thoughtful, passionate, zealous and measured speeches on behalf of the Republicans remaining in power. Choreographed to perfection, the RNC of 2004 will live on as political artform.
But where was the governing voice of the Administration? And who in the heck is Zell Miller anyway? A disgruntled Democrat?
Not having a television, I asked my father to keep an eye out for Condoleezza Rice, John Ashcroft, Colin Powell, Karl Rove, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld. Dad said that he noticed Rove briefly and that was it. Create a moderate face and govern from the right with an unrelenting iron fist. A similar strategy in 2000 kept things close enough for Bush/Cheney to be selected by the Supreme Court.
Being an ardent proponent of life (please forgive my need for definition), I wanted to support the Bush/Cheney ticket. Future appointments to the Supreme Court could very possibly overturn Roe v. Wade. Nothing else seemed to matter. Everything political boiled down to the right to life. I was a one-issue, all-or-nothing guy - dead on arrival as a political animal.
Still, something wasn't right. There was a frightening lack of balance among our three branches of government that awarded the President unprecedented power, even the authority to declare war. It wasn't that difficult to envision the Republican Party devolving into a benign dictatorship, if the freedom of our language would allow a dictator to be benign. A few strategic acts of terrorism, the gradual implementation of martial law and the Patriot Act, a bird's-eye view as our representative-democracy dominos begin to fall.
So I had to ask myself: What's more relevant, more important? The right to life, or potentially preventing the loss of our current system of government?
I scratched my head until a smooth patch of scalp appeared and I began to bleed. I didn't have an answer. Maybe abstaining was the way to go, while offering a heartfelt toast to History, our true governing force.