Choices

Friday October 8, 2004

Somewhere along the way my days have become mixed up, running in to one another, lacking any clear point at which I can say with certainty that a new day has started and the old one has come to an end. It’s one of the things that happen when you are alone for any length of time and, in my case as in so many others, being routinely woken by hip joint problems prevents a normal period of sleep either side of which the notion of ‘days’ may fall. You get used to it.

So, anyway, when my hip joint jarred me into wakefulness at about 2:30 a.m. I hadn’t slept long enough to feel that I was into a new day. Confusing? Yes, but then I wasn’t promised much in the way of clarity in life.

I turned the TV on, thinking to catch up on the news over a mug of small-hours coffee, and was confronted by the U.S. Presidential debate, running in real time. Ah well. It may have been my tomorrow by the clock, but it was still today for my American friends. Whatever, it seemed reasonable to settle down to hear what Bush and Kerry had to say for themselves.

Can’t say I was much wiser when it ended than when it began. If there was anything new in the way of content it passed me by. It reminded me of nothing so much as a Jerry Springer show without the bleeping. But then, being fair, the Jerry Springer show is another mysterious institution from across the pond that I really don’t understand.

I snapped the TV off when the pundits and talking heads began to repeat the parts they’d liked and ignore those they found uncomfortable.

That should have been it for me. It’s not my election. I don’t have a vote in it, and our own impending General Election is not only closer to home but much closer to my heart. Even so, I got to wondering how would I vote if I were there instead of here.

First thing to say is that I would vote. Even though I’d find it hard to choose between the candidates, I regard the casting of my vote as a vitally important civic duty and I’d jolly well get out there and perform it. I have heard people say of this election that it’s a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils and so it may be. However, government is frequently a process of choosing the least evil from a number of less than perfect options and if I expect my government to act in that circumstance then I should do no less myself.

In this instance, it’s certainly not an easy choice, good or bad. The candidates seem pretty much evenly matched. One man stands on his record, the other proposes himself as worthy of the chance to make a new record. The one says he done good, the other says that ain’t so. Kerry says he could do better, Bush says that ain’t so. If I were an uncommitted voter I would, on balance, have found very little in this debate to help me choose between them.

When the programme finished I found myself asking if there isn’t another choice, someone else, another voice. Well, realistically speaking, there isn’t. As an uncommitted voter I’d have to choose between the candidates on offer. When polling day arrives I can’t demand more time, I have to vote now.

So, it comes down to deciding whether I would want more of the same, or a change to something that promises to be different. I’d have to say I was content with the status quo or, alternatively, that I wanted change. That’s not an easy choice, and never more so than when safety at home is a matter of such deep concern.

Being the kind of bloke I am, living in hope and impatient of fear, I’d opt for change. On polling day, I’d put my mark against Kerry’s name. And I’d make darned sure I did so firmly, leaving no pregnant chad to cast doubt on my preference.

 

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