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by Alyssa Goldstein
I must confess to making a really bad decision recently. I watched the entire third and final presidential debate without consuming any alcoholic beverages whatsoever. Unfortunately, this means that I remember enough of it to be able to write about it. What angers me is not even so much the things that were debated as the things that weren’t: what gives America the right to be the world’s policeman, why the only nation in the world that has actually used its nuclear weapons to kill hundreds of thousands of people gets to decide who else gets to have them, why the Middle Eastern country that actually does have nuclear weapons and actually has driven most of its indigenous population “off the map” is “our greatest friend and ally” while Iran is deserving of “crippling sanctions.”
Our choice is between the guy who loves capitalism and the other guy who loves capitalism, between the guy who loves military spending and the other guy who loves military spending, between the guy who kills people with drones and the guy who agrees with the guy who kills people with drones. And when Jill Stein, a presidential candidate who actually has different views on these issues showed up to the first debate, she was arrested. Though I’ve considered myself a socialist for years, I’d always been sucked back towards the democrats. “Lesser evil,” I’d think. “Vote strategically.” “Be realistic.” This year, finally, I’m glad to say that’s over. There is no point in me being a socialist if I’m just going to vote for a capitalist party.
My ranting aside, what I came here to do was to point out something Romney said about Syria that seemed notable to me. He said, “our objectives are to replace Assad and to have in place a new government which is friendly to us, a responsible government, if possible. And I want to make sure they get armed and they have the arms necessary to defend themselves, but also to remove — to remove Assad.” Now, Romney’s statement does not represent a new and different direction for American foreign policy by any means. The only thing that caught my attention was his honesty about it. Keep in mind that I grew up and became politically active during the Bush administration, when “freedom and democracy” were the reasons for our invasion of Iraq. There is no pretense of “freedom and democracy” here. No pretending that the Syrian people will get to elect a democratic government in a free and fair election. Not even much concern that the new government not be authoritarian or abuse human rights. The only important thing is that it be friendly to America. A friend of mine who I chatted with during the debate said, “Does Romney realize he is the reason why people support Assad?”
But for what it’s worth, I appreciate honesty. I’d rather hear Romney being up-front about the fact that America will just do whatever the hell it wants then hear him spewing empty platitudes. There was a lot of hidden ugliness in this debate, and it’s refreshing to have some of it right out there in the open. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need a drink.