BBC journalist and liberal political commentator Ian Masters blamed public ignorance and what he described as a manipulative presidency for the current state of American politics during a speech in Old North last night.

Masters launched a movement called “Rock the Vote” to urge 20 million single mothers and 25 million young women to register to vote and support Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry.

Masters uses celebrities including Christina Applegate and Jake Gyllenhaal to get his point across in a series of popular commercials that have already resulted in the registration of 1.3 million new voters.

Masters sharply criticized the policies of the Bush Administration and congressional Republicans.

“The goal here is to keep the culture of this country out of the hands of the Republicans,” he said.

Masters added that he was baffled by America’s passive acceptance of President Bush’s faith-based value system, which he described as detrimental to America’s democratic institutions.

“In other countries, you vote for people who do things,” he said. “But here our politics have been side-tracked.”

Masters claimed that a compact between Republicans, the media and Southern Baptists has led to a deep fear of religion in America, one that has worked to Bush’s favor by allowing him to wage a “righteous pursuit of empire” in Iraq.

“We have lost this war,” he said.

Kerry, he continued, should admit this openly to the American public.

Masters claimed that America will be driven out of Iraq, just as America was driven out of Saigon in the 1970s. This time will be worse, he added, because we must “fight our way out.”

Masters said he believes that nostalgia for Saddam Hussein will grow as the situation continues to deteriorate in Iraq.

Meanwhile, Arabs will rally around terrorists to counter Bush’s faith-based characterization of the war on terrorism as a crusade against the cradle of Islam, Masters said. By projecting faith-based domestic and foreign policies, Bush is also creating conflicts abroad and culture wars at home, he said.

The Bush administration is telling a “clueless public” that the insurgency is just “a bump in the road,” Masters continued.

In America today, he said, “truth is on life support and ignorance is being force-fed” by the administration.

According to Masters, the U.S. is also becoming more polarized.

“We are dividing into two countries again,” he said.

Masters also discussed a variety of domestic problems, such as unemployment and the budget deficit, that he said will be financed by middle class taxes. Masters predicted that the upcoming presidential election would remain close, calling it one between a “thinker and a believer.”

Bush is at the heart of anti-Americanism and should he lose, asters continued, leaders in every capital around the world would be celebrating.

In a 30-minute question-and-answer session following his lecture, Masters addressed issues ranging from electoral politics to the likely winner in the presidential race.

Yasuko Murai (SFS ’07) said that Masters’ speech was “refreshing.”

“Coming from Los Angeles where most people are pretty liberal and predominantly pro-Kerry, it’s nice to see liberal views expressed here in Washington,” she said.

Heather Silvero (MSB ’07) agreed with Murai.

“He wasn’t afraid to state his views,” she said. “Masters said that Bush is setting up a theocracy. It’s kind of true and really scary.”

The Lecture Fund sponsored the speech.

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