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Issues and Debates in the 2004 Election: What Matters? Why Vote?

Many believe that the 2004 elections, especially the presidential choice between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat John Kerry, is one of the most important in recent memory. Elections that will help determine control of the Senate and Congress are also significant. How will the war on terrorism proceed? What should be done with the economy? What role should religion play in government?
  1. Political Marriages
  2. 2004 Election Jokes
  3. 2004 Election Polls
  4. George W. Bush News (176)
  5. John Kerry News (50)
  6. Church Tax Exemptions

2004 Elections - The Muslim Vote
Information on the 2004 U.S. elections from an Islamic perspective: Where the candidates stand on issues important to the Muslim community, how to register to vote, Muslim lobby organizations, how to get involved, and more!

Election 2004: Issues Related to Women
From Nikki Katz "Here you'll find information regarding the issues important to women and the presidential election. Learn more about the issues and find out where the presidential candidates stand."

2004 Post-Election Coverage
Time to start looking back at the election in order to better understand what happened, why it happened, and what might have been done differently - or might be done differently in the future, assuming that there is anything that can be changed.

2004 Election Night Coverage: George W. Bush vs. John Kerry
This is where I will be reporting and commenting on various news items over the course of the election night, 2004. I'll be watching CNN primarily, though checking lots of web sites as well. Apparently a lot of sites are having trouble, but I expect that About.com will be remain solid.

2004 Election Day Coverage: George W. Bush vs. John Kerry
After all the writing, smears, pundits, and polls we finally come down to the one poll that really matter: the election. I've already voted - voter #80 at my polling place. How about you? I expect plenty of stories to come up through the day so keep checking back here for news, commentary, and more.

GOP Operative Defends Unethical Behavior
Nathan Sproul is a GOP operative who sent out people in various states to register new voters - but only if they agreed to register as Republicans. Volunteers were told to walk away from anyone who indicated they might vote Democrat. Some even tore up Democratic registrations. Sproul is unapologetic - he thinks that acting unethically is just fine.

Should Atheists Vote for the Republican Party?
Should atheists vote for Republican candidates? There's nothing inherently incompatible with being an atheist who is Republican or who votes Republican, so this question may seem rather strange. However, I think that there are practical issues which should make any atheist think twice before helping any Republicans - even moderates - take public office.

Future of a Second Bush Presidency
Many people are excited at the prospect of a second Bush presidency. There are, however, quite a few questions about what a second term would mean for people, especially when it comes to issues like the separation of church and state. Unfortunately, the outlook for separation and religious liberty under a second Bush presidency is very poor.

GOP Tricksters Wilt Under the Cameras
The dirty tricks used by Republican operatives to suppress votes have become well-known and may even end up backfiring, encouraging people to vote rather than keeping them away. It can be interesting, though, to see the reactions of tricksters when they are exposed to the harsh light of publicity and photographic records.

Democratic Presidential Candidates on Church & State
For most atheists, an important issue when it comes to the presidential election is the candidates' position on the separation of church and state. It's not the only issue, that is true, but it is very important. Here you can learn more about where the various Democratic candidates for the presidency have stood on the separation of church and state as well as related matters.

Florida Recounts, 2000
Is the controversy over the election recounts in Florida in 2000 really that important? Arguably it is because the actions of both political parties reveals a great deal about their character, their agendas, and how they should be treated even today.

College Republicans Scammed Senior Citizens?
Usually when we hear about senior citizens being tricked out of their money, it involves insurance scams or fake charities. Now, however, it sounds as if the College Republicans may have gotten in on the act. There are reports that they got seniors to donate to them under the guise of donations to the election efforts of Bush and other politicians.

Tom DeLay: Daily Kos Raises Money for Anti-US Fighters
Tom DeLay, Congressman from Texas, has been having a lot of ethical trouble recently. Well, to be fair it may be the case that he has had seriously trouble with ethics for a long time - it's just that his trouble with ethics has become more public recently. He also seems to be getting desperate to take down his critics.

Political Machine or Media Machine?
People are probably familiar with the recent flap over the decision of the Sinclair broadcasting group to air an anti-Kerry program without commercials. One question raised by this is whether Sinclair is a media company stepping into politics or, instead, a political machine that is pretending to be involved with media?

GOP Criticizes Get-Out-The-Vote Campaign
School students in Milwaukee, Wisconsin will participate in a "get out the vote" effort on November 2, skipping school in order to go door-to-door and encourage people to vote. Sounds like a nice exercise is civics and politics, getting young students involved at an early age. So why are Republicans opposed to it?

Politics & Persuasion
There is some discussion now and again about how conservative talk radio has transformed American politics, but most of what I have read hasn't really been very satisfactory. I think that what analyses tend to miss is that the changes have been due to much more than just talk radio: conservatives have transformed several institutions that all work together

Conservative Support for Literacy Tests for Voters
Adam Yoshida, a Canadian who is too extreme for Free Republic, equates dissent with terror, wishes harm on those who disagree, and dreams of an American empire in space, is apparently mainstream for some conservatives.

Vote Suppression: Florida, Ohio
Republican leaders screwed up and sent private communications to the wrong people - but their error will benefit others. Those communications reveal a plan to challenge nearly two thousand named voters in Florida, mostly minorities in Democratic districts.

Are American Voters Stupid?
Do voters pick the best or the worst candidates in democratic elections? In order for them to pick the best candidates, they would have to both know the relevant information and be good at making decisions. Otherwise, their choice couldn't be any better than chance. Studies suggest that in America, at least, voters really don't know much about what they are doing.

The World According to Ann Coulter
Ann Coulter is very popular with conservatives in America. They buy her books, read her newspaper columns, and invite her on their talk shows. Many insist that she doesn't really represent American conservatism, but it's hard to see how that can be true - at least, with regards to contemporary conservatism. What's she really like?

Republicans, Racism, and Apartheid
During their debate, John Edwards brought forward the fact that while in Congress Dick Cheney voted in support of the apartheid regime of South Africa. Considering past conservative support for segregation in America, this should have been taken as an opportunity to apologize - but it wasn't. Why?

Liberal Media Bias: Complaints are Hypocritical
Many conservatives like to complain about the "liberal bias" in the media. They can't quite explain what this bias is, why it exists, or what should be done about it, but they do complain about it. When conservative bias manifests itself, however, they insist that this is just the free market working the way it should. Hypocrisy? You bet.

Ralph Nader Wrong About Democrats & Republicans?
Ralph Nader likes to say that there is no real difference between the Republican and Democratic parties - that they are both the "Business Party," Tweedledum and Tweedledee. It's an accusation repeated by many who tend to support third parties. But is it true? A study done by a group founded by Nader shows it's not.

Corruption of Congress
Whichever political party has a majority in a given elected body also has greater power - typically the power to set agendas, control committees, etc. Naturally such power can be seriously abused and there are plenty examples of all parties abusing such power from time to time. Recently, though, Republican abuses of such power have been egregious.

Suppress the Vote!
Most politicians support getting out the vote on election day - but not some Republicans. Instead, they support efforts to "suppress the vote," at least if the "vote" is that of liberals, Democrats, and especially minorities.

Demented American Voters - No, Really
American voters are increasingly demented - literally. More and more Americans are suffering from one form of dementia or another and there is nothing that stops them from voting in elections. Indeed, they sometimes turn out in higher numbers (percentage-wise) than the rest of the population.

Debates? What Debates?
Did you watch the first presidential debate? No - even if you watched the meeting of Kerry and Bush, you didn't watch the first presidential debate because a debate has yet to occur. Indeed, there is no chance of one actually occurring this year and the prospects for one occurring for any future election are vanishingly small.

Does Vietnam Still Matter?
The presidential campaign of 2004 has featured a lot of discussion about Vietnam and the two main candidates' actions during that role. Many have complained that the campaign should deal more with current issues, not a war from 30 years ago, but is Vietnam really so irrelevant? Perhaps not.

Election Debacle Looming?
At the same time that they are voting for the next president, Coloradans will also be voting on an amendment to their state constitution that would allocate electoral college votes proportionally, rather than winner-take-all as everyone else does. For various reasons, this could throw the entire election into complete chaos.

What Is "Liberal Bias" in the Media?
There is a common complaint from conservatives that there is too much "liberal bias" in the American media today. What exactly do they mean by "bias," though, and what exactly do they want to see done about it?

Gallup Polls Cannot Be Trusted
Recent Gallup polls have shown George W. Bush far ahead of Democratic challenger John Kerry. What makes this interesting is that no other polls show anything like this. What's going on? Well, as it turns out Gallup polls are constructed in such a way as to benefit Republicans. Accident or deliberate bias?

Method to the Madness of Bush's Negative Campaign
Most Americans at least say that they don't like negative political campaigns, but it's clear that President Bush is intent on running a brutally negative campaign, even if it has to be done by proxy rather than openly through his own words. Why is that?

Limbaugh Smears John Edwards
Rush Limbaugh has taken it upon himself to smear John Edwards by asking where he was during the Vietnam War. Why is it a smear? Because with little effort he would have discovered that the draft ended before Edwards would even have been eligible for it. Instead of doing some actual work, though, Rush thought it easier to paint Edwards in a negative light.

Eternal Fascism
There's a lot of academic debate about the nature of fascism. It's often misused in popular discussions, with liberals bashing any conservatives as fascists and conservatives bashing any socialists as fascists. Some even go so far as to object to its use in a technical, specific sense, even while acknowledging that that is correct. Can anything sensible be made of the term?

Free Elections Threaten America
One would think that if anything would be fundamental to America, it would be the free elections that go along with democracy. Unfortunately there are more than a few Americans who regard liberals and dissent as such serious threats that perhaps they shouldn't even be allowed.

Democracy & Ethnic Cleansing
Mass murder for political or religious reasons is nothing new, but "ethnic cleansing" seems to have become more common at the same time that western-style democracies have expanded their reach. Could there be a connection? Perhaps. It could be that the demands of identity and social stability encourage the same attitudes that lie behind genocides.

Corruption of American Media
A couple of days ago I wrote about how Vice President Dick Cheney suggested that voting for John Kerry would invite new terrorist attacks. His spokesperson "corrected" him with a new interpretation, but for someone reason the media isn't really reporting on just how different the two versions are.

End of American Conservatism
What does the future hold for conservatism in America? Traditional conservatism is largely dead and the leaders of the current conservatism movement have little or no respect for the traditional values conservatism has stood for. Fiscal conservatism hardly seems to exist anymore. Only religious "conservatives" remain prominent, and they are more radical than anything else.

Schwarzenegger's Claims Unhistorical?
During his speech at the Republican National Convention, Arnold Schwarzenegger made some dramatic claims about how he was faced with communist power in Austria and left at the time of a socialist government. All of this was supposed to make Bush and America look better in comparison, but the problem is that his claims were false.

Conservatives Shocked At Keyes' Position on Reparations
Some conservatives are just aghast that arch-conservative Alan Keyes would actually support any kind of reparations plan for African-Americans. The nature of their shock, though, says quite a lot about them.

Politics: Americans Not Playing With a Full Deck
If any decisions were to be made by using reason and evidence, political decisions would have to be among them - but Americans generally don't do that. Only a small percentage appear to have a coherent political philosophy, consistent beliefs, and an ability to explain what they decide. The rest go by gut instinct - they're inconsistent and react poorly.

Zell Miller, Unhinged?
Zell Miller has been making a lot of news lately. It was just a few months ago that he was praising John Kerry in all sorts of ways, but now he is famous for a harsh attack on John Kerry specifically and liberals generally. That, however, is not the news: what's news is the idea that some have that this will undermine the Republican chances.

Republican Attitudes Towards Vote Fraud
Vote fraud is always a serious issue in democracies and the introduction of paperless electronic voting machines is, according to many, a serious threat that increases the chances of fraud. Does the Republican administration agree?

Strip Club View of the Republican Convention
Conventions, whether business or political, tend to provide a big boost to the business of the local sex industry: prostitutes, strip clubs, etc. This is especially true when the convention is conservative in nature and the Republican National Convention in New York City is no exception

Julia Child, Conservative?
With people like Ann Coulter and Tom DeLay serving as the very public face of American conservatism today, it's understandable that conservatism would develop a bad reputation - but we shouldn't be led astray. There are some very good and very strong conservative values which should be acknowledged and fostered.

Keyes on Reparations and Tax Cuts
Illinois Senate candidate Alan Keyes is caught in an interesting conflict with other conservatives: he supports a kind of reparations for the descendants of slaves which one normally hears of from the far left. Conservatives who are Keyes usual allies are aghast at this - but maybe they shouldn't be.

Republicans Blackballing Hardball?
Chris Matthews, host of the MSNBC show Hardball, asked some very tough questions of Republicans recently and demonstrated how they used creative editing a Hardball interview with Kerry in order to misrepresent his beliefs. Now they are trying to retaliate.

Revealing Swift Boat Vets' Lies
The Swift Boat Veterans attacking John Kerry have, for the most part, been treated with kid gloves by the media. Most reporters have acted as though there are two sides to the story, theirs and Kerry's, even though every credible examination of the claims reveals that they are false - if not obvious lies. Why don't more media outlets get serious with this?

Liberalism is America's Downfall
It's interesting that the Christian Right tends to hate all of the same things about modern America that Muslim extremists complain about when they list their grievances against the West. Usually, though, Christians don't acknowledge this connection and thus make it sound as though they agree with the terrorists.

Florida: Disenfranchising Ex-Felons - Because They're Not Republican
A few states not only prevent prisoners and parolees from voting, but also convicted felons who have completely served their sentences and are "free" now. This includes Florida. Why - because voting would be dangerous to society? No, because they wouldn't vote Republican.

Methodists on the Ticket
Of the four men running for president and vice-president from the two major parties, three are Methodists. Isn't that curious? If the three were Catholics or Jews, there would be a lot of ink spilled over this in the media - but not when it comes to Methodists. Why?

Republicans Hiding Religious Agenda?
The Christian Right is a major force in the Republican Party. So important are they that if they reject something, it almost certainly won't happen. So why does the Republican Party try to pretend that they aren't beholden to people with an extremist religious vision of America?

GOP Wooing Keyes To Take On Obama
The Republican Party would like to find someone, anyone, to run against Barack Obama for the Illinois Senate seat. They are so desperate that they are, apparently, even thinking about asking Alan Keyes to enter the race. I think that's a great idea.

Spinning Obama's Speech
A lot of people have been talking about how great Barack Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention was and how he is a "rising star" in the Democratic Party. That's all well and good, but it isn't especially interesting. What I really find interesting are the ways in which his speech is being misrepresented by the Right.

Barack Obama: Can't Relate to Blacks?
Apparently desperate to find some means of increasing his popularity, Illinois Senate candidate Alan Keyes has accused his Democratic rival Barack Obama of not being to "relate" to blacks well enough to represent the interests of black voters. Yes, that sounds like a winning campaign theme.

Why Postponing Elections is a Bad Idea
There has been some discussion about setting up the conditions for postponing federal elections in the event of a large terrorist attack. At first glance this seems like it might be reasonable, but there are strong arguments against it.

Why Did McCain Sell Out?
Today you can easily find John McCain out working on behalf of the George W. Bush reelection campaign. What few remember, however, are the dirty tricks Bush used to beat McCain for the presidential nomination in 2000 - and how mad McCain was about it all. So why did he sell out to support Bush now?

Panglossian Libertarians
Not long ago I quoted Ed Brayton's comments about Libertarian Party presidential candidate Michael Badnarik, describing him as a 'yahoo'? and stating that he wouldn't vote Libertarian this year. Turns out, he's not the only one.

Postponing Elections
It's been hitting the news media that the American government is considering ways in which the November elections might be postponed in the event of a terrorist attack. Conspiracy-minded people see cause for concern, but there is no question but that this is a serious issue that deserves some discussion. The question is, does the government have the authority to do this?

A Regular Guy for President?
In almost every election, and certainly in every presidential election, the candidates compete to be seen as the most "regular guy" in the crowd. The premise seems to be that only a "regular guy" can understand and address the needs of the average citizen. Is this a valid position? Should candidates really shun the label "elite"?

Media Distortions about Politicians' Faith
The media is playing a game with Americans by distorting what politicians think about religion. In the case of Republicans, they are described as "religious" just so long as they say they are religious and no matter what they actually do. In the case of Democrats, they are denied the "religious" label no matter what they say or do. Why? It's that nasty liberal media bias, I guess.

Politics and Society Polls: Register Your Opinion
It's difficult to get people to agree on most political or social issues. Whatever the topic, ten different people are likely to have ten different opinions - and that is especially true with atheists because atheism doesn't imply any particular political or social ideologies. Here, though, you can find out what sorts of trends exist among atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and other nonbelievers.

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