I really hate politics. I hate the bickering, the divisiveness, the arrogance, and the dishonesty. Generally, when I bother to vote, I vote for "None of the Above." That said, I have lot of political opinions (especially in regards to government reform). I tend toward the abolition of all government. I hate big brother. So I haven't paid much attention to the presidential race. I don't like Bush and I can't stand Gore. Nader's too much of an unknown, and no one is even in the running. I missed the earlier debates, but tuned to most of this one. Here's what I thought.
Gore initially surprised me with his knowledge of facts and figures. Whereas Bush was very general, "This is going to cost a ton of money," Gore was specific: "This will cost 53% more than 1% of the top tax bracket." Of course I have no way of knowing if anything he said was accurate (I found out later that some was not), but it sounded impressive. But my initial warming toward Gore (which surprised me) quickly evaporated as Gore abused the debate rules. He continuously ignored calls for time and kept right on speaking, and near the end of the debate actually disobeyed Lehr's command to not rebut and instead answer a different question, going off on a long rebutal. When he finally got around to the question, Lehr canceled it, saying "We're moving on," but he never gave Bush a chance to rebut Gore's unauthorized rebut! (BTW, I thought Lehr was biased toward Gore, a moron, and a complete wimp. You could see him there waving his hand and stammering "T-t-time, Mr. Vice President," but he never once cut Gore off, though he cut Bush off several times.) In short, Gore was a jerk, while Bush handled himself with dignity. My estimation of Bush (which had been pretty low, considering his father), rose considerably.
What I don't like about politics came out early in the debate. Why did Bush refuse to answer Gore's accusation about non supporting the Dingle-whatever bill (something with patient rights the Demos support and the Repubs don't)? Bush kept ignoring the question, even though Gore pushed it several times. Either Bush supports the bill, in which case he should say so, or he doesn't, so he should tell us why, or he's never heard of the bill, and he should say that. Just ignoring it was dumb. There were lots of games like that. For instance, Gore seemed to have trouble understanding English. Bush said he supported "affirmative access," not quotas (he explained affirmative access is a Texas program for encouraging ethnic diversity in schools and business). Gore said he wasn't for quotas either, but he supported affirmative action (he didn't say what that was). Bush came back saying "If affirmative action is not quotas, then I'm for it." Then Gore pushed again (violating the debate rules by asking a direct question, not part of a rebuttal), "Well, do you support affirmative action?" Huh? These guys were agreeing and yet they were still arguing! Grrrr. Stupid, stupid. And what was the deal with numbers? Numbers should be easy to compare, right? One's bigger or smaller, it's simple! So why did they get into a silly "My plan's cheaper, yours is more expensive," "No, my plan's cheaper, yours is more expensive!" It was like hearing two-year-olds argue!
The final straw for me was regarding taxes. I'm a tax hater, so I like Bush's tax cut plan. Gore did a whole thing about how Bush's plan is going to give tons back to the wealthiest 1% of America. Bush explained, "Everyone, wealthy or poor, is going to get a tax cut. You can't give everyone a tax cut and not not give the wealthy a tax cut." Makes sense to me. Sounds fair, too. I have nothing against the wealthy. I hope to be one of them someday. Why shouldn't they get a break like anyone else? What's the point of being wealthy if the government just takes more of it away? But Gore's counter really struck me as being so Washington I wanted to barf. He just repeated himself, saying "See! I told you so! Tax cuts to the wealthy!" What a moron.
When it came to education -- an issue I see as being one of the most important -- I could not support Al Gore. When a tiny private school, with 100th of the funds per student as a public school, can do a better job educating, it tells me that money isn't the problem. The problem is bureaucracy. Gore wants to increase that bureaucracy by expanding the school system. Some of his ideas were good: I support standards and accountability, but Bush had a good point when he said that there were no consequences for bad schools. Bush claimed he wanted schools to be local, saying programs like vouchers should be up to the individual states. I can't support Bush on that. If there's one thing that should be standardized across the country it is schools. As someone who went to a different school for nearly every grade level, I had a "Swiss cheese" education, where different schools taught me the same thing and neglected other (mostly this was true in history and geography, where schools typically alternated between teaching national and international and I got one of the twice and none of the other). Anyway, I feel very strongly that schools need standards, teachers should be tested, and schools should all be the same, whether you go to school in Colorado, Connecticut, or California. One idea I think should be implemented: if I was President, I'd pass a law that says "No non-teaching personnel at a public school can make more money than the lowest paid teacher." Bingo. Wouldn't that solve a LOT of problems in our schools?
Conclusion: I hadn't planned to vote for Bush, but after seeing him in the debate, I think I could. That doesn't mean I will, but I could. I do know that I wouldn't vote for Gore if you paid me: his arrogance, politicizing attitude is exactly what turns me off to politics. While I don't agree with Bush on many issues, he seemed like a reasonable man. With Gore I felt he'd shove laws down my throat whether I liked them or not (which is exactly why I don't like government).