crypto and public policy

It’s a Bush Country After All

Filed under: General November 3, 2004 @ 10:29 am

Lessig is right: John Kerry lost the election and we need to admit it [ah, it looks like Kerry is admitting it right now]. My friend Jon was right: I am woefully out of touch with how Americans think.

There will be many theories about this election. The Republicans brought out the vote by inspiring fear (of terrorism) and disgust (of gay marriage), especially by pushing anti-gay-mariage amendments in key states (like Ohio). Young people didn’t vote as much as we’d hoped. Edwards didn’t pull out all the stops in the South. Kerry didn’t inspire enough. Etc.. etc… There’s some truth to all of these theories, but the only result that matters is that Bush won. Both the Electoral Vote and the Popular Vote.

I worry about the future of our country. I worry that the rest of the world will truly lose respect for the US given Bush’s stupid foreign policy. I worry that, as we lose allies, our security will falter. I worry about a number of ecological disasters under Bush. And, most importantly, I worry that this country is moving towards religious extremism, where facts are quickly dismissed in favor of ideology.

So, where do we go from here? For me, this is a realization that I need to step back and stop spending so much time thinking about politics, and more time doing what I know how to do. I’m not a politician. I’m a scientist, a technologist, and a teacher. If more reasonable, fact-based policy is ever to return to American Politics, then it can only happen through education. And so I will work to do my tiny part in that. I will seek every opportunity to educate as many people as I can about science and technology. I will work to build technologies that help people share knowledge and educate themselves. I will do this because I believe that more information, more knowledge is always a good thing. I believe that, the more people know, the more humble and reasonable they become.

It’s a small piece, but it’s a piece on which I can act. For me, it’s time to stop thinking abstractly, and time to start acting. This is my last blog post on politics. From now on, this blog will be dedicated to science and technology: what’s new, what’s interesting, what’s worth thinking about.

I’ll leave politics to the politicians, and hope the damage over the next 4 years isn’t as bad as I fear.


  1. Claire:

    I understand the desire to do something radical, emphatic after these sad news – but it would be too great of a loss to your current and potential blog readers if you stopped blogging about politics. Why not incorporate blogging on politics into your new goal of educating through technology and science? I, for one, feel more knowledgeable or educated after reading your blogs, and it’s the political blogs that interest me most. I can’t imagine that I would be the only one…

  2. Patrick Giagnocavo:

    An honest question is, given that your opinion is this, what are you doing in case the worst does happen? How do you get out of the country with some cash, quickly?

  3. Mike Ananny:

    I’ve got to agree with Claire on this one, Ben. I understand you wanting to focus on activites you know are valuable (teaching, research, technology) but I, too, think your political comments are of great value. It doesn’t have to be an either-or argument: you can teach, do research and build technologies while still developing and sharing your political viewpoints. Your technologies and how you choose to build them can be means of political involvement and represent perspectives on citizenship.

  4. Dan Connolly:

    Well said, Ben; it’s time to return to each of us doing his part.
    (I bookmkarked this under CivicDuty).
    I also hope you’ll continue to share some of your thoughts on politics as they come to you in the course of doing your part.

    I’m considering teaching a course (at the local community college) on media literacy… teaching people to trace links from newspaper articles to the actual text of a bill even when they aren’t explicit in the web… teaching people to demand that journalists make those links.

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