I recently revived an old Linux box that had been sitting under my desk for a while. As I was copying the contents onto other machines, I ran across an email I'd sent to a number of people shortly before the 2004 election. It was in response to an email I'd recieved from a conservative christian friend commenting on a Kerry/Bush debate.
Do not confuse the war with the warriors. A soldier's involvement in any conflict is predicated on the ability and judgement of his commander in chief. Ordering that soldier into harm's way should be a decision taken lightly. It demands careful reasoning, even agonizing over, and should only be considered after exhausting all other avenues. The decision to potentially lay waste to a young life and the hopes of his family should never be cast in stone, even after it has been made. At every possible opportunity it should be reconsidered, reanalyzed, rethought, or even just affirmed.
The affairs of government, politics, diplomacy and war are complex and subtle. They must be dealt with using intelligence and nuance, with dissent allowed to be given equal time to syncophants. Patriotism is not jingoism, nor is it Christianity, nor is it flag waving, nor voting Republican. It isn't homophobia, anti-muslim, discriminating against arabs or people who accidentally leave their purse on the bus. It's doing the right thing for your country when it really is the right thing--and speaking out when it isn't.
The war in Iraq does benefit some people. Those in the current adminstration with friends and associates in the Carlyle Group, Halliburton and Bechtel. The longer we are at war--with anyone--the deeper their pockets become.
Yes, only by thinking rationally for a minute can you realize that the current administration does not give a fuck about you. It cares about 4 things: money, power, bombs and oil. The Republican party is the party of the Christian Right because they know how ready and willing they are to Believe. They drum up red herring issues like abortion and gay marriage to stoke the fire of morality. What they don't like to mention is that a lot of them are gay, had abortions, and don't go to church that often. Faith, like fear, is an amazing thing. Unfortunately, like fear, it can be exploited.
I'm not suggesting you vote for Kerry in November. I am, however, suggesting that if you haven't already, do some research into the policies of the politicians you support. If it's Bush et al, then perhaps look into the benefits of an estate or dividend tax repeal. Or check out the Project for a New American Century. Or the advisors and business of the Carlyle Group. Or the aforementioned Bechtel and Halliburton, particularly Kellogg, Brown and Root. Look behind the phrases "tax relief," "partial birth abortion," and "no child left behind."
Pick one issue you care about, other than the incredibly narrow slice of issues being trumpeted this election, and find out everything you can about where your candidate stands. Maybe you agree with him, maybe you don't.
Consider if Kerry is elected for a moment, and really think about whether or not we would be in any more danger than we are today. The Pentagon will keep on humming, some troops might grumble, but then move on, every police station and fire department will still be open, every satellite and spy plane will still be aloft, and every guard will be just as vigilant. Maybe even just a little bit at ease.