I live in central Florida. This is not exactly Bush or Kerry country -- kind of in between. When our activist group was out there, week after week, with signs protesting this war and this President, the reactions were startling. For every "thumbs down" or nasty look or head turned away, we received perhaps 10 times that number with horns honking and "go get um," "way to go." I knew, in my gut, that this President was toast in Florida.
Election night. How is it possible that Betty Castor is closer to Mel Martinez for the Senate seat than Kerry is to Bush? How in the hell is Bush actually leading in Florida? Who runs the company that put those electronic touch screen machines in? Republican donors and big time Bush supporters! How many experts in computer science do we need to tell us that a "paper less" trail leads us nowhere? Four years ago we had Bush campaign operative Katherine Harris aka Secretary of State, deciding how long the recounts would last- four years later they do it more subtlety and diabolically through these electronic devices! The same company was used in Georgia two years ago, and Sen. Max Cleland lost his seat to the Republican challenger, with a great deal of fishy business voting patterns. Strong, supposedly Democratic districts, revealed strange patterns of Republican votes. No paper trail to check out what really went down.
To all those neighbors of mine who continue to support this war and this President: you'll be sorry! When this administration, with its lapdog Congress and handpicked judges, finally finishes the work set out in 2000, our economy will be totally gutted! The sign I carried at our demonstrations, the one so many failed to understand, will finally ring true: "Bush Re- Elected in 2004.... Banana Republic in 2005! (its closer than you think)." In Ohio, where job losses were devastating, they still came out for Bush. (now remember, Ohio has those new "paperless" machines). They supported a President who encourages their job losses through the outsourcing of labor offshore to India, China, and Mexico. These are folks who can't afford the excessive heating bills come January, partially because Ken Lay ("Kenny boy" as Bush Jr. called him) and others scammed and ripped off local governments, taxpayers and investors nationwide. These are the folks who have sons and daughters or grand kids forced into combat in some Iraqi desert, while the Bush twins, fighting fit, laugh it up in the Oval office with chicken hawks like Daddy, Uncle Dick Cheney, Richy Perle, Paully Wolfowitz, Johnny Ashcroft and Tommy Delay.
When I visit the local nursing home where my 89-year-old dad has resided for 6 years now, I see what effect this war has had. Medicaid coverage has been curtailed and cut drastically. They can only afford to pay the aides, who are the lifeblood of any medical care facility, $7 or $8 an hour. You pay someone that little to wipe the excrement from your parent, and change a diaper, and wash and dress someone who can hardly move -- you should be thankful to get anyone who does the job well (and many do). Yet, how long will these folks put up with such meager pay for such difficult work? How long will they stay on such a job? Therapy coverage has been cut along with other essential services for our elderly and infirmed. As far as prescriptions, we all know how deep the Bush "ax" has already cut. Informed seniors realize what a joke the new Medicare drug bill is. And what of the 43 plus million out there with no coverage? How many of them voted for this President, and why? He has done absolutely nothing in 4 years to address their dilemma. He has done nothing to address the dilemma those of us with insurance have had: spiraling costs and ever restricting coverage. My wife and I fork out close to $10k a year, and still most of my doctors are not even in our network! How many of those in my situation still chose to support Bush, despite his total lack of addressing this major major national crisis in health care?
Finally, the war continues to polarize the world against America -- as it divides this nation worse than even Vietnam did. The rhetoric about "fighting terrorism over there, so it won't come here" is just that, rhetoric. The extremists, in my opinion, will "dance in the streets once again" with a Bush reelection. Why? With this terribly misguided and deceptive policy, our nation is alienating the world and giving sympathy to the terrorist clique of international criminals. When a fanatical Islamist is joining forces with an insurgent (who only wishes his country free of American occupation and control) the next generation of Muslims gets a distorted perspective, too complex to fully comprehend. "The enemy of my enemy..." and all that.
And what of the economic devastation this war is reaping on Americans? When $200 plus billion goes out, the only beneficiaries are the arms industry and the corporate contractors. We the people have to pay for it all, through not enough teachers, police, fire personnel; not enough schools, books, roads, mass transit. Guess what the end result is, to all those Bush voters out there? The feds cannot send block grant moneys to the states. The states then cut funding to the local towns, and they are forced to raise property taxes and sales taxes. Wait and see... wait and see.
If Bush does win, we, America, the folks who load the trucks, mow the lawns, scan the groceries, and clock in each and every day, we will lose. All you blue and white collar Bush voters, you were scammed, and now America has to pay for it. And we will, in spades!
* Related Article: Red-State America Against Itself by Thomas Frank
P. Anthony Farruggio is co-founder of "Pro Activists of Volusia County," a Central Florida grass roots organization. A small businessman and columnist, Mr. Farruggio spent his formative years in Brooklyn, N.Y. the son and grandson of Brooklyn longshoremen. He is a graduate of Brooklyn College ( class of '74) , and since the 2000 election has had over 45 columns posted on progressive sites and newspapers worldwide, including CounterPunch. He can be reached at PAnthonyF@aol.com.
Other Articles by Philip Anthony Farruggio