Open Letter to Conservatives
November 5th, 2008
If you are a conservative Republican and you woke up today feeling disoriented and crushed, I have some words of encouragement for you. I have proof that the selection of a President you don't respect or agree with can still be good for you if you try hard enough.
Twice in my life I have looked at the news incredulously the day after an election wondering how millions of American could be stupid enough to elect Yosemite Sam not once, but twice, to represent them as the leader of the free world. Yet for the last 8 years I have been building a career, starting and raising a family and having a decent life in the shadow of a President and Congress that I mostly don't respect.
He sold you out too. He abandoned your principles of smaller government and spent enormous sums of money that we don't even have - mostly on waging an immoral pre-emptive war with a country that had as much involvement with the events of September 11th as Fiji. This concept needs to be explained properly to make sense of my original thesis.
I got fired up about September 11th like a lot of Americans did. I worked at Morgan Stanley in Tower 2 of the World Trade Center until about 3 months before the attack. When I saw my home and workplace get destroyed unjustly by a cowardly enemy, I got inspired enough to pursue involvement in the federal government - an institution I once considered a "necessary evil" in my Wall Street days. So here I am in D.C. helping prevent terrorists from entering the United States in a biometrics screening program at the Department of Homeland Security - an entirely new federal agency created by one George W. Bush.
I was really buying into this new motivated America and excited to "smoke some terrorists out of their holes" just like W promised. And it looked like we were kicking butt - using bunker buster bombs in Jalalabad (it feels good just to type that!) and cutting off terrorist funding and seizing assets all over the world with amazing cooperation from every foreign government you can name. America and its President-I-didn't-vote-for were doing all the right things.
But then something happened that made no sense. The media started covering news stories about Iraq and the possibility it was building weapons of mass destruction. It perpetuated and took hold as a legitimate news story, and before you knew it, it was being debated in the U.N. General Assembly. Looking back - it was a classic bait and switch - using the momentum and good will allowed by the American people, Congress and the world at large to increase the scope of the war. All the plan needed was the right team and conditions.
Bush's supposed strength in campaigning for the presidency in 1999/2000 was his "dream team" of brilliant Washington insiders: Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney - who would more than compensate for the Texas governor's lack of experience. Yet two of the "stars" of this dream team, Cheney and Rumsfeld, used the War on Terror as the Trojan Horse for an ill conceived plan to re-engage in war with Iraq that they dreamed up prior to 9/11. They got George Tenet to invent the probable cause and got Powell to put his credibility on the line to sell it to the world. That's the Cheney motto: "Why do your own dirty work when you can delegate?"
You know the rest - we launched headlong into the costliest and most misdirected military mistake in recent history - pissing away the world's goodwill and trust once it became apparent that weapons of mass destruction were nowhere to be found. Some more jaded observers said it didn't surprise them; I guess I'm naive enough to believe the President and the U.S. Congress would not be evil enough to wage a war without being certain about the justification. I know Cheney is (evil that is).
So what did I do about all that? I voted against Bush in 2004 - sure that my fellow outraged Americans would do the same. Voting him out of office wasn't going to be a sufficient penalty for what he did, but it would still be satisfying. Then another strange thing happened. Bush won again. People say that Clinton was coated in Teflon when he deflected Whitewater and Lewinksy scandals, but he never waged pre-emptive immoral wars. I guess that makes W coated with something that hasn't even been identified yet on the periodic table. It must be powerful though; powerful enough to distract the public into debating about gays getting married and steroids in baseball instead of the fact that we invaded a country under false pretenses. But we all went on with our lives and made the best of the next four years.
But nothing is ever completely one-sided. Bush also did some good things. As I mentioned, he did everything right immediately after 9/11 and pre-Iraq. He made good on his pledge to cancel the debts of many African nations allowing them the opportunity to reinvest in their people. He also gave more American taxpayer money to poor African nations than any President before him. He was in charge during two Red Sox World Series victories, three Patriots Super Bowl wins, two Boston College hockey national championships and one Boston Celtics NBA Championship. He had nothing to do with the things in that last sentence, but you can see how life was pretty damn good for me during his tenure in some respects. I also got married to a wonderful wife, became a father of a beautiful baby girl and built a decent career in the government agency Bush created.
So you see - not everything is as it seems at first. Look a little closer and you start to see some interesting opportunities. So what if Obama is not your guy? There's still something in it for you, so get involved.