When we cast a vote, we are in fact saying that, based on what candidates have said during the campaign, we believe a particular vision for the country. I took it upon myself, then, to try and imagine this vision based on positions and policy statements made by John McCain and Barack Obama. If one or the other candidate were to be elected–a sure thing–what would America look like in the coming years? What are we facing?
Below is my first prognostication, a John McCain victory. In the coming week or so, I will do the same for Barack Obama.
In each case, I had no pre-conceived notion of what I would say–or should. I am an independent voter, beholding to no political group. I don’t join political action groups or lobby for one person or another. I do, however, take positions based on my understanding of the issues, the concerns of my family, community and students, and my sense of where America should be in the not so distant future. I read a lot, study the issues, and think. The cause or issue I feel strongest about is education. And I can say unequivocally that neither candidate is even remotely close to understanding what’s happening in our schools. Of course, this issue is secondary to the devastation our move into Iraq and our disregard for Afghanistan has cost thousands upon thousands of people here and there.
As a theme, I took it upon myself to try and see how each candidate is going to try and move us away from the politics of destruction. This is the outcome.
America’s Future After a McCain Victory: Descent Into Darkness
Disorder and uncertainty are the guiding principles of our world today. This is what gets John McCain elected by a narrow margin. Somehow he convinces the electorate–including the intellectual class–that the sense of being adrift can be pushed back with his approach to the future, a conservatism based on letting market forces dictate everything from the welfare of veterans to the running of schools to the environment, and the continuation of a Machiavellian foreign policy.
Moments after his inaugural address, oil drilling in Alaska begins–as does a huge transformation in the area, socially, politically and environmentally.
Contradicting his promise during the summer campaign, McCain continues (quietly) filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). And since oil consumption in America dropped as Americans reacted accordingly to the high cost of their consumption, and gasoline prices at the pump leveled at just below $4 a gallon, McCain sees this as a sign of change, a sign that we have somehow turned the corner on our reliance on oil and we’re moving in the right direction. America is changing for the better, assumes McCain.
So John McCain proposes A National Strategy For Energy Security. But this does not include any incentives for alternative energy development, putting him at odds with Al Gore and the science of global warming. (see also What is Global Warming?)
John McCain is a proven conservative, and his strategy will not rely on subsidies, rifle-shot tax breaks, line-items for lobbyists, or big-government debacles. It will rely on the genius and technological prowess of American industry and science. McCain thus relies on outdated rhetoric that will continue to effectively build on the policies of the previous administration. But since gasoline prices dropped, the complacent (unconscious?) electorate believes him and goes along with his plan since it’s no strain on Americans–not for now, the immediate.
McCain appeals to American’s propensity to think short term.
The oil industry, in the quarter following McCain’s election, reports even greater profits than the year before. The Bush-Cheney presidency, therefore, is defined as extremely successful by the oil company CEOs–as well as by conservative think tanks–because the mantel has been effectively handed over to “the right person,” John McCain. He will continue the Bush-Cheney agenda in energy and the environment.
And just to make sure, McCain promises that should Americans be worried about the upcoming summer fun, since disorder and uncertainty are of primary concern, he will once again ask Congress to suspend the 18.4 cent federal gas tax and 24.4 cent diesel tax from Memorial Day to Labor Day in 2009.
Americans flock back to their vehicles, some to their outdated S.U.V.’s, but others to new hybrids and more efficient models. Consumption increases and McCain points to this as positive because there is an increase in revenues for rebuilding the highways and bridges across America–a sign of hope, a sign that America is back to where it once was. We’re rebuilding America! America is moving again!
But suddenly, before the first one hundred days are up, the stock market, which has been fluctuating up and down, eventually declines and oil prices tick upward again and reach unprecedented levels.
Terrorism affects diversification strategies in the market. Political volatility in the Middle East keeps energy traders on edge. Climate chaos, including weather swings, increasingly becomes a major element in evaluating the outlook for everything from agricultural crops to energy use, and even to energy production in offshore oil rigs (puts a damper on drilling in Alaska, which becomes more costly than anticipated and doesn’t affect the price Americans pay at the pump or for fuel for their homes–a tragic irony!) and refineries located by seaports. Matters darken. Nature’s whims affect financial markets, the ups and downs of our understanding of wealth. No stability is apparent. The poor in the cold regions of the United States suffer in unprecedented ways.
Our collective belief is that we are vulnerable, more so now then ever before in history. At one hundred days, McCain’s approval ratings are way down. Congress, dominated by the Democrats, is in a frenzy. Stalemate. Nothing is moving forward.
A slow but definitive brain drain, for the first time in American history, is noticeable: those Americans who can afford it, leave the U.S. for other lands–some for Europe, others for developing countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia, believing that the future is elsewhere and since globalization is built on the “knowledge industry” coupled to technology, their work–engineering, science and medicine, the arts and education–can be done from anywhere, and at lower human and environmental costs.
Education and Healthcare:
Education: John McCain issues his premise that Excellence, Choice, and Competition in American Education is what’s necessary to stop the increase in drop out rates, particularly among minorities, and make American children more competitive in the future. To accomplish this, McCain says that public support for a child’s education should follow that child throughout the education chosen by the parents.
On the one hand, McCain increases the demands placed on schools by No Child Left Behind and, on the other, he manages to get through Congress a bill supporting the movement of children from the less competitive schools to the more flexible, student-centered schools, free of violence and that are focused on character-building. The education double bind that spells disaster for learning is strengthened.
The poorest of American neighborhoods become even poorer, their schools even more deplorable. Those that can afford to leave for better schools do, for others, much like school busing in the ’60s, going to another school means tremendous sacrifice. Drop out rates increase, as does crime among kids 11 to 21.
John McCain persists and says that the cultural problems in our education system – is a system that still seeks to avoid genuine accountability and responsibility for producing well-educated children. He blames the administrators and teachers, and the parents for lack of involvement, failing to understand the socioeconomic-familial make up of the communities he’s addressing. The promises of education are now a distant, unreachable dream for many–the unreality of many poor.
Advocates of education criticize McCain for being totally out of touch with the poor in urban centers whose unemployment is 6 to 8% higher than in other parts of the country
Educationally, the gap between the haves and the have nots widens. Some of the most challenged urban centers in America deteriorate further. On the other end of the spectrum, competition for elite colleges and universities increases, particularly given the new financial aid policies of these schools, enabling them to pick from the cream of the crop. The rest are left for the second and third tier schools.
There is an increase in online schooling; likewise, some students learn that Europe offers a competitive higher education model and go there where they are welcomed with open arms.
A more stringent–and obvious–demarcation between the classes ensues. Status reigns supreme; it is the calling card. Class, not race (though this is still the unspoken problem in America, especially after the election), becomes the central issue separating Americans.
John McCain argues for standards based education on a massive scale and points to his success in getting Congress to approve the “let the money follow the child ” model of competition in education as beginning to move children–and America–in the right direction.
Mayors from urban centers gather and complain even more forcefully that the Federal Government has totally forgotten them. Governors of states with large urban centers follow suit. Cities have lost Federal grants for infrastructure needs, the money being channeled to Iraq and the chaos in Afghanistan.
Healthcare: Healthcare and Education run side-by-side. The way of healthcare is the way of education.
John McCain pursues a policy that is similar to his education policy–let competition settle the problem. This is seen as the right direction by the pharmaceuticals since they are really the managers of America’s healthcare system.
Since 2000, the number of Americans without healthcare has increased by almost 9 million–16% of the population without healthcare. Given the economy, the loss of jobs and the increase in unemployment, coupled to the gutting of inner city neighborhoods, under McCain’s watch, the number of uninsured rises.
Following this “competitive model”, even those who are employed lose healthcare coverage. In 2006, 37.7 million workers were uninsured because not all businesses offer health benefits, not all workers qualify for coverage and many employees cannot afford their share of the health insurance premium even when coverage is at their fingertips. By the start of 2010, McCain’s second year in office, this number increases by 2.5 million workers.
Americans that can afford it seek healthcare services abroad, where it’s cheaper and increasingly just as good. Why put up with expensive, run-of-the-mill health care at home when you can be treated just as well abroad?
McCain’s healthcare policies exacerbate America’s brain drain, on the one hand, and more so than ever before, globalization begins to affect the cash flow in the U.S.: investors place their money in foreign companies in developing countries. More investment capital leaves the U.S..
Veterans hospitals across the country suffer along with large teaching hospitals because external competition means a loss of patients. Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, still increasing, are forced to seek help from non-governmental sources, even non-American sources, because the U.S. medical system’s infrastructure is chaotic, at best, and inadequate for their complex needs.
John McCain insists on pursuing this approach to healthcare since it’s the method he promised to follow during his campaign for office. In two years, the American medical system is the shame of the industrialized world.
In difficult times, Americans chose John McCain for what he said was his “foreign policy expertise.”
But increasingly, Americans realize that McCain’s understanding of foreign policy is merely the continuation of Machiavellian policies as old as the conquest of the Americas. Americans see that McCain’s foreign policy is based on the fundamental themes of conquest, retaining the strength and vitality of the causes of “savage injustice” for those who fail to go along with America.
For John McCain, putting America first, we learn, defines a predatory foreign policy that in reality puts America at further risk, alienating us from the rest of the world that seeks a more hospitable future.
McCain goes against the wisdom outlined by experts and journalists from the left and the right, suggesting that unbridled Bush-style aggression is perceived by adversaries as a justification to wield weapons of terror. Thus McCain calls for the transformation of the military to a more pliable machine and argues for the first use of nuclear weapons and the right for unilateral use of military power, particularly against Iran. American aggression increases.
Iraq is at odds with McCain because he extends pull-out dates into a nebulous future, which is consistent with Bush-style aggression designed to ensure the U.S. maintain military bases in the Middle East. (US Military Facilities in Iraq)
Afghanistan further deteriorates, particularly since U.S. Special Forces increase clandestine operations into Iran. Brutal violence and devastation increases in Afghanistan because McCain follows the Bush-Cheney model of not going after Osama bin Laden. McCain does not heed the advise given to Bush by senior CIA analyst Michael Scheurer, responsible for tracking bin Laden, that “US forces and policies are completing the radicalization of the Islamic world, something Osama bin Laden has been trying to do with substantial but incomplete success since the early 1990s. As a result…it is fair to conclude that the United States of America remains bin Laden’s only indispensable ally”(qtd in Failed States, 23). Indeed.
Afghanistan is in chaos after Karzai loses the election. Attacks by the Taliban on all foreigners, whether military or non-governmental workers, increase.
Pakistan, too, is in chaos, pursuing the Musharraf impeachment. McCain maintains that the military dictator Musharraf is an ally of the U.S. and that he’s been honorable in his pursuit of terrorism; however, Al Qaeda gains unprecedented influence over the Pakistani parliament, finally infiltrating it with political forces sympathetic to their radicalization of Islam.
India gets nervous because Al Qaeda control of Pakistani politics is a threat to their sovereignty. McCain, of course, sees this as a common pattern and he calls forth an alert of strained American military forces.
Israel practices bombing Iran over Iraqui airspace further escalating tensions throughout the Middle East. McCain, like Bush before him, backs Israel’s plans to bomb Iran, though publicly he asks Israel to “cool” their mock military maneuvers.
Throughout the Middle East, even among American supporting moneyed Muslims, there is dismay, an outcry condemning U.S. force , labeling it imperialism.
Europe supports the Middle Eastern outcry and backs away from the U.S.. Even the European wanna be cowboy, Sarkozy, finally pulls French troops from Afghanistan saying that his country had suffered too many causalities amidst NATO chaos.
Meanwhile, in Latin America, an alliance–Chile, Mexico, Columbia and Brazil–manage to isolate Chavez. They pull in the new leftist leader, Fernando Lugo of Paraguay. Likewise, these same countries increase their investments in Cuba while the U.S. maintains its current anti-Cuba policies, though countless Americans travel to the Caribbean country via Canada and Mexico.
In Africa, the U.S. builds more military bases while China and the EU make huge monetary investments. Throughout Africa, the attitude is to turn from the U.S. and towards a future that promises creative engagement with those partners willing to invest in infrastructure building, education and science.
Russia laughs at the U.S., extending its control over oil and gas meant for Europe; in a sense, tension rises because the Russian bear is seen as aggressive as the U.S. There is nothing the U.S. can do since it needs Russia.
China grows, increasing its military strength as well; the country’s demands for natural resources are extensive, compelling it to move wide and far across the globe, becoming partner to many regimes, good and bad.
Within two years, McCain’s America is effectively isolated.
I had no idea I would come up with these conclusions; however, following what the senator has been saying, laying out a grid of potential results, leads me to these conclusions. History tells us so; we have no reason to believe otherwise since, as McCain tells us as often as possible, he has experience. This is his experience. Facts are facts.
A McCain victory is a descent into darkness. America finds itself in a state more confusing then it is now.
McCain is not an independent person at all, but someone who is deeply entrenched in vituperative politics. How can he be independent when he is beholding to oil barons, the military and military providers, big business–and the list is endless. John McCain is the extreme opposite; he is a product of the elite system that first pushed him into Annapolis, since he was inadequate intellectually (the same as Bush at Yale), and then enabled his rise through the political structure that rewards those of similar make-up.* McCain is just like everyone else; he’s the same product we’ve had for 8 years.
What is most frightening is that the press doesn’t pick up on this, nor follow the obvious. Mainstream media covers only process, highlighting the “ad” tendencies of each candidate, rather than being responsible–and doing what democracy asks–and putting the candidates’ feet to the fire, asking them relevant questions about how to solve America’s challenges.
Essentially, a McCain victory will lead to a further disenfranchisement of America from the rest of the world. McCain’s narrow vision–held together only by aggression and a shallow open market idealism–leaves America vulnerable to those that are ideologically opposed to this, while then enabling narrow self-interest to manage our affairs of state.
I therefore predict, as I said earlier, the beginnings of an American brain drain. Why stay where reason, humanitarian interests and creativity are not wanted? In a global economy, even Americans can work and study anywhere.