By Edward Harris

   Did you get the drift? Have you guessed where I am headed? I guess not but as we head for the Republican Convention in a few days, I feel compelled to check on the state of play as to who is backing who? I recall that on the last occasion when it was Gore versus Bush, I was the only local Journalist in Bush’s corner. Unfortunately, I must admit this time around I am wavering but not flip-flopping. I am still standing. I am my own man.

   This time I find myself sympathetic to Sen. John Kerry but I am having problems with coming forward at this time to fully put my support behind him. I am not ready to jump ship. I am staying on board the Bush – Chaney Campaign to welcome my friends who are ready to jump ship.

   It doesn’t look good for Sen. John Kerry, after failing to get a real boost in the polls subsequent to his party’s convention. Already without the conclusion of the Republican Convention, President George W. Bush is ahead in the polls and will definitely get a bounce from the Convention. The incumbent if well stage-managed always has the edge.

   Politics is very much like cricket. Either is a game of uncertainties, very unpredictable and there are so many things that can impact negatively on the outcome. Many times it is the spectators who get the greatest frustration and so it is with politics. We back our leaders without question. In cricket spectators must have a say. There must be some mechanism to give the spectators a say. It is the same in politics. The voters must have a voice in dictating the pace of the campaign and ensure real issues are discussed.

   Given the state of the political debate in the USA today, it is very clear that the USA cannot justify its position as a world leader given the level of debate. It is very clear that if it continues like this, the voters will have no expectations to look forward to from the next Government be it formed by Democrats or Republicans. The way it is heading, it looks as though it will be 4 more years of President George W. Bush. His promises of No Child Left Behind, Better Health Care, Tax Relief for the Rich, etc. in the past 4 years did not yield the expected results, only exception being the Tax relief was implemented as promised. Is America better off today than 4 years ago, except for Homeland Security, the answer has to be no. Too much of the nation’s wealth had to be diverted in the name of fighting terrorism.

   It is very clear that the debate needs to get back on track, moving away from swift boat and military service. Those are things in the past. However Sen. John Kerry made some serious blunders. One that is very serious was the timing of his statements to the Senate citing atrocities by American soldiers. He did place soldiers that were in action at the time under increased pressure when they were captured. The issue as to who will be the better commander in chief will not be based one’s military service but the ability to bring other governments to the negotiating table and get them to rally around America’s efforts to rid the world of terrorists so that all peoples could feel safe.

   When America can attract other nations to take ownership for ridding the world of the scourge of terrorism, the dependence on America to maintain the level of soldiers in the battlefields will be lessened and many soldiers will be able to return home. So there will be a substantial relief of America’s financial contribution to the war effort. The question is – Is President George Bush the Man for the Job? If Sen. John Kerry could get the debate back on track, the dynamics could change. But with the formidable support that the Bush - Chaney Campaign has mobilized such as FOX NEWS TEAM and many others like the Religious Right, it will be difficult. So if you were looking for an intellectual debate during this campaign, don’t hold your breath. President Bush is happy to have the situation continue as is. The Iraq war is costing him dearly and could cost him the Presidency but surprisingly this is just not resonating with the voters. The three proposed debates are just one-night stands. In the main, it is just like cricket, the bowlers are bowling all wide of the stumps preventing any possibility of boundaries.

   It is a pity that a country to which the world looks for leadership conducts such a poor level of political debate.  I sincerely hope that in the coming week a new level of debate could be achieved. I will be watching. I hope it doesn’t move from swift boat to gay rights. It is interesting to note that the gay issue does not only demand the attention of ordinary folks but as high up as the level of the Vice President of the USA. When family is involved the tune is different. Have you ever heard Vice President Chaney disagree with President Bush? Blood is thicker than water.

   I am very disappointed at what is happening politically in the USA especially as the season of the election campaign is well advanced. I feel that it does not inspire Caribbean politicians as our politicians are doing much better. We surely have expectations at the end of any political campaign. The question is, do we have any lessons to take away from what pertains in the USA political debate – Elections 2004? I hope we do.

   Could the people of colour be a decisive force in this election? I feel so. The Democrats need to rally around those voters and get them to vote. Are you sticking with the Democratic Party or are you ready to jump ship as so many democrats have done already, including a former prominent Mayor of New York. He said he is going back to the party in 2008 to vote for Sen. Hilary Clinton.

   I am reluctant to stop now but it is after midnight. I have made my deadline and I sincerely hope you enjoy reading this article. Please note that I have not named the Presidential Candidate who will be victorious at the polls in November 2004. That is for another time.

   Keep the Faith – God is in Charge!!!