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Thursday, November 2, 2000

Herewith, I present my rationalization for the decision I've come to about how to cast my vote for president. As a liberal of long standing, it hasn't been easy to get my head and my heart going in the same direction. I don't need a debating opponent, because I'm pretty good at arguing with myself.

First of all, let me say that I have big problems with the Democratic candidates' crusade against Hollywood. If anything would keep me from voting for Al Gore, it would be that specter of censorship. We spent forty years making movies under the restrictive Hays code, and a lot of great movies were made. But a lot of great movies were not made, out of fear of blacklisting or other reprisal. That's just not right, and I don't appreciate the threats against artistic freedom.

Then I think of how much worse off we'd be under George W. Bush, in that area and so many others, and a shudder of dread passes through my body. Four years would give this man a crack at undoing environmental safeguards, individual liberties and gun restrictions.

This is a man who wants big polluters to self-regulate. He likes the idea of concealed weapons in hospitals and churches (and everywhere else). He thinks the government should control women's bodies.

For most of the summer I considered voting for Ralph Nader. It would have been a protest vote, and maybe even a noble one. The country could benefit from more voices being heard. Nader's positions on important social issues are closer to my own views than any politician I've ever had the option of voting for.

So I won't join the chorus criticizing Nader and his supporters. I'm glad he's running for president. But I think he's wrong when he says it doesn't matter whether Bush or Gore is elected. It matters a lot.

I know that Nader cares about the environment, and a woman's right to choose. I know he is closer to Gore than Bush on these issues. I doubt that he wants to see Bush elected president. And yet he's said that the Democrats and Republicans are the same.

Yes, the Clinton administration has made compromises and failed us in some ways. The Democratic party has moved too far to the right to suit me. It seems that every time we take a few steps forward, we get jerked back a pace or two.

But there's no progress at all if the other guys have all the clout. By winning the presidency, the Democrats have been able to do more good than they could have done from the sidelines. And I cringe at the thought of Bush having four years to work on taking us back in the other direction.

I'm not holding my nose. I'm not voting for the lesser of two evils. I'm voting for Gore because I believe he's a decent, caring, fair-minded person and I think he'll be a good president. I don't believe Bush would be a good president, because I don't think he's prepared for the challenges of the job.

The impression I get from observing Gore is that he's intelligent, and capable of thinking clearly and expressing himself lucidly. Bush has proven over and over that his mind is full of mush, and his tongue trips over even the simplest thoughts. He's a dumbed-down version of Dan Quayle.

Faced with a supreme court vacancy, Gore would search for someone who would live up to the standards set by Thurgood Marshall, while Bush would come up with another Clarence Thomas. That alone is enough to make me enthusiastic about giving Gore my vote.

Now, I'll admit I'm predisposed to vote for Gore. I've been voting for Democrats for president since George McGovern. Al Gore has a long record of public service, and there are inconsistencies in it that I'm inclined to overlook. For example, he once held to a strict anti-abortion position, but he's reversed his stance on that issue.

When a public figure you don't like changes positions, he obviously does it for political expediency. When a champion of your cause has had a change of heart, he is to commended for his flexibility, or his willingness to learn and grow. It's the difference between "he's seen the light" and "he doesn't know what he believes."

I know that there are no perfect politicians. All humans are flawed. And the more personal history that comes to light, the more a person's flaws will show. I just want vote for the best candidate, and I'm convinced that I am. The decision I've made is right for me, because I think it's right for the country.

I'm not campaigning, though. I respect the beliefs of those who disagree with me, and I would defend their right to vote for Nader, or even Bush. I'm not writing this to change anyone's mind, just to sort things out in my own.

Veering gratuitously off track: The view from the balcony, with late afternoon sunlight coming through the window behind me and showing the trees and fields to the east of my house.

view from the loft

If only my camera could do it justice.

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Lynda, (Parenthesis), November 2, The Thinking Beast

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I didn't realize how much I've been stressing myself out over the election until I felt such sweet relief today, when I completed my absentee ballot and put it in the mail. Now I can sit back and cheer for the losers, because my candidates and causes rarely prevail, especially the ones I feel the most passionate about.

I'll tell you about just where I've been, it shouldn't take too long.