United States must learn from mistakes of past eight years

Before we look forward to the departure of the Bush administration, the campaign season and the upcoming election, it is imperative we slow down and take a look back.

George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” With that thought in mind, I am struck with fear for a number of reasons. If you’re not as afraid as I am, you’re clearly not paying attention.

First of all, the collective attention span of this nation is just shy of an 8-year-old’s on too much Mountain Dew. Remember Katrina? Or better yet, remember New Orleans? Remember the broken levees, the historic sections of the town underwater and the thousands of people taking refuge in the Superdome? Remember the joke of a job the Federal Emergency Management Agency did? Remember Michael Brown? Well I do. He was the man Bush appointed head of FEMA. Do you know what his prerequisites for the job were?

Brown worked for the International Arabian Horse Association as the Judges and Stewards Commissioner, but he was forced to resign. If the guy couldn’t handle the association of My-Little-Ponies, how was he qualified to handle emergency management? Remember the lives of 1,836 New Orleans residents and the surrounding areas that were lost? They probably have slipped from everyone’s minds, because somewhere between American Idol, your Blackberry and your Dunkaccino, you have forgotten them. But you probably remember that Bush is pro-life.

He is so pro-life he cut short his “vacation” at Camp Anawana in Texas to fly back to Washington, D.C., to sign a law halting the removal of a feeding tube to Terri Schiavo, a Florida woman who was in a coma for 15 years. He flew back at 1 a.m. to sign that law. What happened to Terry Schiavo was no doubt a tragedy, and Bush is so pro-life he was kind enough to cut his vacation short to save her life.

However, when the people of New Orleans were being dragged beneath the storm surge, Bush stayed on vacation in Texas, clearing brush from his yard and playing in his rock garden. For more information, look up the word “hypocrisy” in the dictionary.

Fast-forward to the present. We are amidst one of the most important elections in our generation’s history, and one of the candidates from the Senate voted with Bush well over 90 percent of the time. Who is the bigger idiot, the president whose antiquated economic policies, blatant nepotism and sheer hypocrisy divided this country with two costly wars, flawed educational policies and political hackery, or the idiot who agrees with him nine out of 10 times?

What scares me even more is that to millions of people, none of what I just mentioned matters. Instead, they base their vote on completely unimportant issues like flag-burning amendments, lapel pins and other social issues settled 40 years ago. Never mind the struggling economy, the resurgence of al-Qaida and the unrest in Pakistan, the Category 5 hurricanes aimed at our cities, the handling of the war in Iraq and the dying environment. Playing into the cultural civil war the Republicans have successfully waged to gain office has done absolutely nothing to help our country.

Call me naive, but I always thought the purpose of this collection of humans we call the United States of America was for progression – moving forward. Instead, we have moved backward, because people place their political support with a candidate who reminds them of someone they would meet in the local pub or someone in their PTA. Newsflash: These are not the people you want running your country. This ideological bullshit surrounding a candidate’s supposed educational elitism is the most counterproductive argument one can think of. It would seem common sense the American people would want the most highly educated, intelligent person running their country and not someone who blurts out poorly memorized xenophobic nonsense into TV cameras all day long.

If I haven’t completely scared you yet, imagine this frightening scenario. If McCain is elected as the oldest person ever to the Oval Office, at 72, we could very well eventually have the Palin administration in charge. This is something Republicans have had a wonderful time ignoring. Sarah Palin would be president. I repeat, Sarah Palin would be president of the most powerful country in the free world. Congratulations, posthumous McCain, you would have achieved something many figured was downright impossible: installing someone to the White House who is even more incompetent and out of touch than our current president.

I’d rather have the pitbull with lipstick.

Sources: nytimes.com, cnn.com, msnbc.com, washingtonpost.com