I cannot vote. Although I hold a Green Card, that does not give me the right to vote in US elections; however, the political process is just as important to me as it is to any US citizen. So I watched the debate, and I listened carefully to what both President Bush and Senator Kerry had to say.
First, I must give you some background. When I was living in the United Kingdom, I always voted for the Conservative Party. I believed their right-of-center stance of creating national wealth, defending the country, and minimizing the size of government was the right way to go. And I still believe that, so my natural inclination should be to vote Republican; however, the Grand Old Party differs from the Conservative Party in several respects, all of which are deeply troubling to me:
- I have always thought the women should have the right to choose whether or not to have a child. The Bush Administration, and the party behind it, are trying to restrict that choice as much as possible.
- The Bush Administration continues to persue a missile defense system. Even if such a system was capable of defending against a missile attack from another nation, which is doubtful, it cannot protect against hijacked airliners, suitcase bombs, or biological warfare - all of which seem more likely in this day and age.
- The Republican record on the nation's economy is atrocious. The British Labour Party was always known as the “tax and spend” party, so I could never vote for them. The Republicans are responsible for spending like crazy and cutting taxes - an equation that will never add up.
- Foreign Policy
- The day after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the headlines around the world declared, “We Are ALL Americans Now.” Now you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who feels the same. The Bush Administration has squandered all that good feeling in just 3 years.
Coming in to the first debate then, I was leaning toward Senator Kerry and the Democrats. Although some of Democrat policy doesn't appeal to me, I consider it to be the lesser of two evils. From what I had seen of John Kerry, I found him to be wishy-washy and uncharismatic. The debate changed my opinion of him. Kerry can be a strong and focused public speaker if he wants to be, and I think he acquitted himself very well against a man who is known for being good at staying on message.
President Bush failed to answer Kerry's valid criticisms about the Iraq exit strategy, and the reasoning behind invading in the first place. He also failed to account for his inexplicable abandonment of the pursuit of Osama Bin Laden. Furthermore, he referred to the terrorists as folks!
Both gentlemen got a few figures wrong (Bush overstated the number of trained Iraqis, Kerry overstated the current cost of the war), but neither were responsible for major errors or untruths. Bush emphasized the importance of continuing with existing policy, whereas Kerry was eager to show the importance of modifying that policy.
I have to say that Senator Kerry was a clear winner of the first debate. He managed to restore my faith in him, and his party. His performance wasn't exactly stellar, but it looked a whole lot better than his opponent's. I look forward to the debate on domestic issues.