Gosh, as I was watching the Republican National Convention, I realized how much I dislike Bush (or "W" as everyone there affectionately refers to him). In about a third of the way through his speech, he managed to switch from talking about poor families on welfare to mentioning abortion (though never actually saying the word), religious charities, and gay marriage - all three topics in all of three sentences. I have to give him credit, it was quite amazing. I mean, I don't think that anyone could have done so much to insult my values as an individual in so little time. Really impressive.
And as I was watching the festivities, I realized how much I hate the fact that conservatives/Republicans/the right wing has coopted being "patriotic" and "support out troops." Yes, I oppose the war. Yes, I oppose what Bush has done in his "war against terrorism." But by no means does that make me less of an American than flag waving Texans. No way does that mean that I do not wish to make this country better for everyone who lives in it, regardless of their socioeconomic status, their race, or any other characteristic of them. And by no means does that mean that I do not understand and appreciate the sacrifice that so many troops, all around the world, have made to stand up for "American values." I may not support the person who sent them to Iraq or Afghanistan, but I do support them as they need it. They need a country whose citizens, regardless of political views, appreciates their efforts.
However, I have to blame some of the liberals/Democrats/left wing politicians for not taking a more proactive stance and taking back the idea of patriotism and not promoting the idea that supporting our troops is not equivalent to supporting the war.
And back to war. I was looking through a photojournal on BBC about the efforts of doctors and nurses and other healthcare workers in an Iraqi hospital. It was really amazing, seeing the images of children and the cost of war on their faces. Also, seeing pictures of flag-draped coffins and soldiers in full gear fighting in over 100 degree weather really affects me. Seeing images of war, both of fighters and of victims, makes me more of a pacifist than anything. While listening to Bush, I realized that even if a Democratic president decided to wage war, I don't think that I could support it except in the most extreme of circumstances. War is ugly and oftentimes not justifiably so. Some people would argue that just because war is ugly doesn't mean that you should avoid it. However, most of those people have spent their lives in nice little suburban houses with white picket fences. They have not seen the aftermath of war. They do not think of the ethical ramifications of fighting war for one cause but not another. War is not something that goes on in basement offices but in the daily lives of people around the world. It is not a theoretical practice but very real to those taking part in it or those who are victims of it.
Overall, seeing Bush speak tonight made me think of how much I am happy to be an American. I wouldn't necessarily say that I'm proud to be one, especially with the leadership and the actions of that leadership. However, a lot has to change in America and Bush is not that person to do that. The first thing that has to change, before anything else, is Bush himself. He cannot be allowed to ruin America's international reputation and to make America as divided as it is. Seeing news coverage and just walking around Boston, I realized that I have never seen a nation so divided. Divided over war, over civil rights, over our next president.
Whatever happens in November, hopefully the next four years will be better than the last four.