[-empyre-] An Artist's Endorsement

An Artist's Endorsement

I am an artist: an information provider and interpreter. I am part of a 
group of people who are masters of the search, often drawing on intuition 
and practice to reveal the ambiguous and the inexplicable. As an artist I 
have learned to examine issues critically. I dismiss the obvious while 
focusing on the subtleties between the shades of gray. In the midst of 
this Presidential campaign's rhetoric I have had to look closely in my 
search for truth. With one week to go I am listening more intently to both 

During his presidency George Bush has shown an unwillingness to diverge 
from his prescribed agenda even in light of overwhelming evidence that he 
should. He has refused to admit to mistakes about Saddam's weapons of mass 
destruction and to his faulty postwar plans for Iraq's reconstruction 
which are putting American soldiers at risk. He often seemed so narrow in 
outlook, so unable to adjust to changing conditions, and so unwilling to 
admit to errors, that he seems more intransigent than a bulwark against 
terrorism. As an artist I have learned that admitting failure is the 
quickest way to succeed. In the world I live it is hard to fathom a person 
like him.

Bush's unilateral approach to international affairs, his distance from any 
constructive criticism, and the increased partisanship at home have 
divided us both here and abroad. Collaboration, common in art practice, is 
absent from his Administration. The President could have learned a lot 
from us.

George Bush's agenda has diluted his "call to arms" and has made both our 
foreign and domestic policies less effective. Four years into his 
presidency we are a divided and angry nation.

In the early 1990s attempts to censor artists such as Robert Mapplethorpe 
and Andreas Serrano taught us that anyone could become a scapegoat for 
conservatives' exclusive moral agenda. We learned to use our creativity to 
speak loudly and clearly when we were marginalized and discredited. 
Throughout this campaign artists have strived to clarify and illuminate 
our country's present divisive issues.

Today the Internet has eliminated traditional information gatekeepers. 
Technology has given us the means to organize with others. We share. We 
question. We speak out. During this presidential campaign artists have 
worked together and we have refused to be silenced.

Under George Bush the American people have been barraged by attempts to 
police our moral and patriotic beliefs. Artists are critical of the Bush 
Administration's myopic interpretation of the Constitution and the 
resulting forfeiture of rights Americans have held as sacrosanct. We 
mistrust and challenge his priorities.

Many have questioned George Bush's intelligence. But his folksy ways
should neither be mistaken for those of a simple and forthright man nor
for a simpleton ruled by handlers. Neither extreme is correct. He has
purposely developed this facade to be accessible and non-threatening to
his traditional base while the rest of us suffer the consequences. He is
well versed in the 20th century partisan political process. But this is no
longer the 20th century. The American public is more independent and
well-informed. The world is more porous than ever. Secrets are harder to
keep and obfuscation is more transparent. When we are being asked to
sacrifice we demand unfiltered access to the truth.
Mr. Bush represents this old world status quo --a President of the past. 
Some see this as reassuring --insurance for victory both home and abroad. 
To these people Mr. Kerry represents a world of unknowns. Yet throughout 
the debates John Kerry showed us his intelligence and his ability to 
convey his beliefs in an honest and direct fashion. A politician? Yes. But 
America can accept the foibles of political discourse if it is 
intelligent, compassionate, and realistic. After the past four years once 
again I feel hopeful. Trust was a feeling I had almost forgotten.

John Kerry represents a future with possibilities, creative and inclusive 
possibilities. And America needs to see it has a bright future if it is to 
succeed. He has promised us we will still recognize America's priorities 
after his election. I believe him. While we must adjust we will continue 
to be committed to the values we hold dear. Our goals will be the same. 
But the process by which we reach these goals will change.

As an artist and a designer I constantly look for new vantage points to 
view the world. A new century demands innovative ways to succeed and new 
ways to define victory. I share that vision with John Kerry.

Jeff Gates

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