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August 20, 2004
A Little Rant

The Guardian also takes on the Republican campaign. Only true believers need apply

Neurotic control lies at the heart of the Republican campaign

Before attending a rally to hear vice president Dick Cheney, citizens in New Mexico were required to sign a political loyalty oath approved by the Republican national committee. "I, [full name] ... do herby [sic] endorse George W Bush for reelection of the United States." The form noted: "In signing the above endorsement you are consenting to use and release of your name by Bush-Cheney as an endorser of President Bush."

Bush is campaigning at events billed as Ask President Bush. Only supporters are allowed in. Talking points are distributed to questioners. In Traverse City, Michigan, a 55-year-old social studies teacher who wore a Kerry sticker had her ticket torn up at the door. "How can anyone in the US deny someone entry?" she asked. "Isn't this a democracy?"

At every rally, Bush repeats the same speech, touting a "vibrant economy" and his leadership in a war where "you cannot show weakness". He introduces local entrepreneurs who praise his tax cuts. (More than one million jobs have been lost in his term.) Then Bush calls on questioners. More than one-fifth of them profess their evangelical faith or denounce gay marriage. In Niceville, Florida, one said: "This is the very first time that I have felt that God was in the White House." "Thank you," replied Bush. Another: "Mr President, as a child, how can I help you get votes?" In Albuquerque, he was told: "It's an honour every day when I get to pray for you as president." And this one: "Thank God we finally have a commander-in-chief." Others repeat attack lines on John Kerry's military record to which Bush responds with an oblique but encouraging "Thanks".

You know what astonishes me?

The idea that some people I'd previously thought of as intelligent and thoughtful are actually planning to vote for someone who is this afraid of an unscripted question. (And, I should add, so unable to answer one.)

This election is kind of a breaking point for me. There are those who call themselves "independent" or "moderate" but admit they usually vote Republican.

This election is kind of like an opportunity to prove their bona fides in the "moderate" department. If they've been watching the Bush Administration's failures, failings, and inadequacies, and still find that they plan to vote for Bush in November, they should stop pretending they're anything but die-hard Republicans.

Anyone whose revulsion against voting for a Democrat is so strong that they'll support this Administration...well, the mind boggles.

I mean, let's face it. Unless you're so gullible you're buying into the whole smear campaign against Kerry, when you look at his record, he's reasonably liberal but he's hardly a wild-eyed leftist. His proposals are sensible; they're even moderate. (I can tell because I'm frustrated at how they sometimes fail to go far enough to suit me.)

I loathe hypocrisy.

I don't mind so much the people who blog or comment and who have supported the Bush Administration since Day One because at least they're consistent.

I disagree with them (violently) but I admit their right to believe that organized, systematic abuse of prisoners all over Iraq could have taken place without any Administration knowledge or complicity and that invading smaller, poorer countries and killing thousands upon thousands of civilians in an attempt to liberate them from a way of life we've decided not to approve of and cutting domestic spending instead of increasing it is a way to jumpstart the economy in the face of decades of experience that prove the exact opposite, and other ridiculous things. They have the right to believe those things.

There's no law against being an idiot. You can believe those and all of the other failed policies of the Bush Administration.

But anyone who has been blogging a change in their perception of the Administration, anyone who has been, over the last six months or so, blogging about the Administration's failures on the domestic and international fronts, who pretends that four more years of unprovoked aggression, regressive tax cuts, and catastrophic cuts in domestic programs is the better choice, but finds themselves just "unable to vote for Kerry" is going to lose my respect in a major way.

I read all over the middle and the right in the world o'blog. The blogs on my blogroll are just those I check regularly. I've read a lot about people becoming disenchanted with Bush&Co over the last few months but now that it comes down to it, I'm appalled to see how many people are finding party affiliation more important than principles.

It's as though they have some delusion that a political party is actually more important than the country or something, you know? As though the political party is an end in itself.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:22 PM


"The idea that some people I'd previously thought of as intelligent and thoughtful are actually planning to vote for someone who is this afraid of an unscripted question.

I am so with you on that. I've been thinking that often. I was at a big party this week and it was mostly a crowd of 20 somethings and 30 somethings. Maybe 20% of the crowd called themself Republican, which is reflective of the social circle I run in. A few them said, sensibly enough, that they usually vote Republican but couldn't vote for Bush. A few said they were proud to vote for Bush. I had two friends, a man and a woman, from opposite sides of the political spectrum, who said they believed in individualism, freedom of speech, and respect for the working class, but they fell into a heated disagreement about which party championed these beliefs. It's like they were in an alternate realities, they disagreed about some very basic facts. The woman was 27 and Republican and the guy was 37 and very Democrat, and neither could convince the other that the other party was lying through its teeth on nearly all issues.

Also, reading your post, I thought of one of my friends who voted for Nader in 2000 and now is really proud to be voting for Bush. War does strange things people. It brings out sides of people you'd rather not know about.

Posted by: Lawrence Krubner at August 21, 2004 12:20 PM

I know I don't do enough reading of material detailing the opposition picture :) of the country. I don't read even a tenth as much of the material printed to support the Republican POV as I do books and other material offered by the Left.

That's partly because the loudest voices from the Right are so distasteful to me. I mean, there are conservatives like George Will, whom I disagree with but can read regularly, but look at the books being published from the Right.

The vast majority of conservative authors are still obsessed with proving the Bill Clinton (and, by association, Hillary) was the anti-christ. Aside from them, you have the hate-mongers (C**lter, L*mb**gh, etc.) and the "The Left Is UnAmerican" faction. (Some of these categories overlap.)

Where are the sensible publications from conservatives? Is it that sensible Republicans don't have anything to offer outside of the neocons' view of perpetual warfare in the name of 'democracy'?

Once you remove the resistance of the Religious Right to true social tolerance, are conservatives left with no social agenda any of them can identify?

I can't believe that the wingnuts are all that's left of the Republican Party but they certainly seem to be the only ones talking.

That's part of what makes it difficult for me to understand how so many people can still be reflexively voting Republican. I've gone through a long "apolitical" stretch myself, but at my least-informed, I can't imagine myself voting that carelessly.

Posted by: Anne at August 22, 2004 11:55 AM

The amount of shame that is heaped on people for being "librul" has alot to do with it. I'm a full immersion liberal who will get in your face about it. But the fear and hatred of the mythical liberals that the Limbaugh types have created is so thorough that people who really should know better are amazed to find out that I vote for the Democrats and try to heap shame on me. It's all emotional thinking, and people don't want to vote for the party that "hates America". But they also know they are voting for the party that houses the ugliest of the ugly in racism, sexism, censorship, homophobia, you name it. So they compromise with themselves and claim to be "moderate" Republicans. And yes, they are the biggest problem.

Posted by: Amanda at August 22, 2004 12:26 PM

It still mystifies me, Amanda.

Or maybe my brain just isn't agile enough to let me run such a mental obstacle race -- telling myself I can identify publicly with the "good parts" of a party while having no responsibility for speaking out publicly against the bad parts.

Clearly there are some issues that are of so much importance to these people that sexism, racism, and the rest of the Republican Party's current offerings can be overlooked, but it's a mystery to me what those might be.

Jobs? The Republicans are never the party to turn to for those.

Security? The current crop of neocons are a disaster. "They" hate us more today than they did three or four years ago.

Education? Healthcare? Social Security? Reducing crime rates? Preventing corporate fraud? The Republicans aren't the party to turn to to safeguard any of those issues.

Fiscal responsibility? Don't make me laugh. We'll be decades getting out from under the burden of this Bush Administration's criminally reckless financial policies.

The only thing that's left to me is assuming that all of those Republicans think discriminating against gays, preventing abortions, and promoting one or two religious sects are important enough to destroy the country over.

(Okay, that's a bit extreme, but I still insist that I haven't read anyone "conservative" in the last year laying out for me exactly what the Republican party stands for these days, besides the neocons' goals.)

Posted by: Anne at August 22, 2004 06:17 PM

Well, I'm somewhat sympathetic to moderate Republicans who hate several of the factions in the Republican party, because I have the same relationship to the Democratic party. I always vote for the Democrats, but there are issues (education, foreign policy, federal versus local power) where I find myself at odds with the dominant sentiment of the Democratic party. Likewise, I know there are some decent people who vote Republican (my older brother, for instance) but who are displeased to be in the same party that harbors so many unreconstrcuted racists (Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms) and religious fanatics (Jerry Falwell).

But what can we do? America doesn't have a parlimentary system, instead we have two "big tent" parties that have to hold inside of themselves some very diverse factions.

Posted by: Lawrence Krubner at August 23, 2004 09:37 AM