On Tuesday, I will be voting for the first time in American elections. I'm still not 100% sure who I'm going to vote for. Sorry - this is long, and political! Oh well.

For those of you outside the US, count yourselves lucky. This election is confusing as anything. The pure conspiracy theories make things too simple, make it too easy. I think it's a horribly difficult choice.

Bush seems sincere about trying to do what he thinks best. But he seems lazy about hearing all the evidence and trying to understand the situation before he "goes with his gut." He seems humble about his relationship with God, but not humble about his relationship with people. If the New York Times is to be believed, his whole administration is characterized by an unwillingness to bear reproach.

Bush says he doesn't want America to need a permission slip to defend herself. But he acts like he doesn't want to need a permission slip from anyone to do anything. I want all powerful leaders to need to get a permission slip to defend themselves. That's how international diplomacy works. What does "defend" mean, anyway? We have a Department of Defence, not Offense. Of course we call attacking Iraq "defence." And I personally want the US president to obtain permission slips from congress and the supreme court when acting internally, and from other countries when acting externally.

I agree that Kerry is a politician. I agree he seems vague, and difficult to pin down, that it's difficult to know what he believes, if anything. The warmth Bush shows for his wife, the warmth he shows for his God - these things count strongly for me in my opinions of a man. I still have trouble calling Einstein "great" when I know he practially abandoned his wife and sons.

I think that I fundamentally disagree with the idea that stamping down with the Iron Heel is the way to make America safer. Crushing resistance has always and only just caused resentment and bitterness to grow. I still haven't figured out how what Jesus said fits into international politics and wars: "But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also."

I'm also worried about the neoconservatives, and the Christian right. I want church and state to stay separate. I don't like the mixing of the two. I'm not sure quite what to think of the PNAC conspiracy theories, but it certainly does sound a bit like Bush's cabinet wanted a war in Iraq or somewhere in the region even before the 2001 terrorist attacks.

I'm worried a bit about foreign debt. In general, recent conservatives tend to increase the deficit more than liberals. Yes, you read that right. We can't continue borrowing forever. I believe you should pay what you owe. I understand the need to stand behind our convictions, but sometimes I wonder if it's not a bit like saying, "I feel so strongly for the poor that I'm not going to stint in giving them your money." I'm not sure it's fair to ask our children to pay our debts. From what I understand (and I have a very limited understanding of it, Yugoslavia had a very prosperous, happy time spending on credit. For a while.

The abortion issue is still lurking... according to one report I found on the CDC web site, approximately 1.3�1.4 million abortions are performed per year in the US. That's a crazy huge number. I actually can't really think about it or imagine it properly. I feel like if I could actually realize what it meant, I would be a wreck. I would almost vote for Bush just because he seems to oppose abortion.

Guantanamo is the thing that still disturbs me the most. If America really believes in a right to a fair and speedy trial, and all that other stuff that we claim is undeniable and self-evident, then why are they trying to slide their way around the rules to imprison people indefinitely? Okay, so they're not US citizens. Okay, so it's not technically US soil. You might even agree that the Geneva Convention doesn't apply. But when you twist things so that you can obey the letter of the law while contravening its spirit, you send a message that you don't really believe those things. You're basically saying that you can mistreat others but others better not mistreat you, or you'll beat them up. It no longer has anything to do with beliefs about human beings, with right and wrong. Just imagine that among the dozens and dozens of inmates there, there are a handful of ordinary people who were arrested too. Imagine that happening to your father. If I were in charge, I would be in an agony to get things sorted out, to have speedy trials, to send the innocent and accidentally included home to their wives and children and fathers and mothers. I don't understand it at all. It bothers me deeply. I have woken up in the early morning thinking about it. I would almost vote for Kerry just to get those people out of there.

So, right now, today, I think I am going to vote for John Kerry. I like Bush a lot more, but I don't like the way America is behaving.


Not a real update (yet)

Go watch this. If you have iTunes, you can see a large version here. (Via Tim Bray.)