November 05, 2004

Some Points

ONE: 58 million people did not vote for Bush/Cheney on Tuesday because they were against gays. Yes, the "moral" vote played a surprising part, and possibly a substantial part, in the overall turnout, but it was by no means the main reason people voted the way they did.

TWO: Middle America is not comprised of just a bunch of uneducated, uninformed Bible-bangers. There are doctors, and there are lawyers, and there are professors, and there are journalists and there are millions and millions of very smart, educated and informed people living in middle America who just happened to vote based on a different set of opinions than Coastal America. It does not make Middle America inferior to Coastal America, or vice versa.

THREE: Had the election gone the other way, I'm sure we'd be hearing all about how the election was a repudiation of the war on terror and in Iraq, and you'd be hearing precious little nothing about the legions of conservertive voters who turned out in record numbers based on "moral" reasons.

FOUR: Who I actually voted for may surprise a lot of you, but I won't be saying who until I'm damned good and ready, if ever.

FIVE: To all the people singing about moving to Canada and that America is fucked, please take a sizable chill pill, sit back, and then start thinking about how you can help America become the America you'd like to see, whatever that may be, and then become active in trying to achieve it. I was in Canada recently. It was a lot like America, except it's currency is worth 80 cents to our dollar. That, and Toronto, inexplicably, had a lot of homeless people. And it's going to get really cold there shortly.

SIX: It's the weekend, people. Get out and enjoy yourselves, and think about something else for awhile.

REALLY LATE UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds writes: If you think that much of America is like a foreign country, you're not likely to win many elections -- because it's hard to get foreigners to vote for you. Calling the voters dumb probably doesn't do much to win people over, either. It always strikes me that so many people who are quick to note the importance of understanding the differences in perception between nations, or races, or sexual preferences, and to try to bridge those gaps, are so unwilling to do the same thing where people from elsewhere in their own country are concerned. But Democrats must do better, or become a regional party. Because contempt doesn't win a lot of votes.

Posted by Ryan at November 5, 2004 01:04 PM

So here's the thing—

You're right, of course. I've been blogging about this very thing over at my place.


I also think it's unreasonable to expect those who voted for Kerry not to be pissed off about how things turned out. It's pretty frustrating to be in a war that was started on questionable pretenses and is now going really badly, in an economy where jobs are hard to come by and pay poorly, with a president who has a radical social and economic agenda (Privatizing Social Security? Are you fucking kidding me?), and have anyone vote for the guy because of gay fucking marriage.

It's no less frustrating that a report released on October 20th, 2004 found that 47% of Bush supporters believe that Iraq had WMDs before the war, and that an additional 25% believed they had a major program in place. Not only that, but 56% of Bush supporters believe that most experts agree that Iraq had WMDs before the war. Fifty-seven percent believed that the Duelfer Report indicated that Hussein had a major WMD program. Twenty percent persisted in their believe that Iraq was directly involved in 9/11.

Given the large numbers of Americans who still think these things in spite of the abundant evidence to the contrary—much of which is corroborated by Bush himself and his cabinet and security council—it's hard not to believe that a lot of people voted for Bush because they're—not to put too fine a point on it—a pack of fucking morons.

Is everyone who voted for Bush a moron? Of course not. But if you take all the Bush supporters and shave out the morons, the religious zealots, the Machiavellian tycoons and the freaky anti-federalist tinfoil hat brigade, you know what you've got left? A few million people like Michele Catalano and Mitch Berg; smart enough, to be sure, but not exactly voting from a position of enlightened self-interest.

I am not, as I once said in a post over at the Red Pages, a strict multiculturalist. I do judge cultures and large groups of people based on their actions. When I look at 20 million people who still believe that the Iraq had a WMD stockpile before the war, I don't think, "Hm, maybe they're just misguided. Maybe they've become distrustful of the main stream media, and have been forced to seek information from other sources— so they cannot be blamed for the enormous glaring inaccuracies in their world-view."

I don't do that, anymore than I excuse Islamic fundamentalists for stoning queers to death. I look at that, I see a culture that needs to be changed. I see dangerous stupidity. I see a threat to peace. I see willful fucking ignorance.

The approach I think is most likely to fix the problem is the same in both cases: make these peoples' lives better, and they'll emancipate themselves. Sound condescending? It is. I condescend to people who don't believe in evolution the same way I condescend to people who think women shouldn't be allowed to learn to read. I condescend to idiots and zealots. That's why I'm not a politician; I can't help myself.

And we both know you do the same fucking thing. So don't even try to play.

Posted by: Joshua at November 5, 2004 02:43 PM

Regarding it okay if Michael Moore still moves out?

Posted by: Jim at November 5, 2004 03:21 PM

Joshua, I understand you point about the percentage of Bush supporters who thought Iraq was directly involved in 9/11 and all that, but I can't help but wonder what kind of results you'd find if the same light was shined on those who voted for Kerry. I mean, how many Kerry voters, do you think, went to the polls believing that Bush orchestrated 9/11? How many went into election day believing F/911 was the final, unassailable word on Bush? How many believed Bush is actually a Venusian who emits mind-control pheromones from his pores? I'm kidding, obviously, on that last one. But, the point is, how many Kerry voters went to the polls believing some pretty outlandish stuff about the president, and 9/11, and Iraq? I'm betting the percentage is probably pretty high. If the turn-out of MoveOn personnel on election day was any indication, I don't think I'm far off in making that claim. Perhaps there was a study done to find out those percentages? And, if not, why wasn't such a study done?

So, is it okay for one side to be misinformed, but not the other?

And Jim: Michael Moore can move to Canada, or Mexico, or Africa. So long as he shuts up for awhile.

Posted by: Ryan at November 5, 2004 03:44 PM

This is the first election where I have actually canvassed for a candidate, that's how important I thought it was. This from an individual who is highly skeptical of the whole political process. I worked with a bunch of those craaazy MoveOn people you're slagging, and I did not in fact find them to be a bunch of wild-eyed conspiracy theorists. Mostly they were recently-graduated twenty-somethings, sweater-wearing software workers, grannies. You know, about what you'd expect. Their sole unifying purpose was to get as many Kerry supporters as possible out to the polls. Period.

As for your point about which side is more poorly informed, that is an interesting question. Somebody should do a study like you suggest. We do know, however, that on the issues Joshua mentions, i.e. WMDs and 9/11 links, that Kerry supporters appear to be better informed. Again, it's all well and good to give both sides of a debate a fair chance to make their case, but when one side is basing their argument on easily disproven "facts," the need to pretend both arguments have equal weight ends right there. At least in an acutal debate, like the kind high school forensics teams have, that's how it works.

I think that having the nation this sharply divided points out a systemic problem, not just a problem with one party or the other. Even minority viewpoints deserve a hearing -- one reason that discriminatory laws stay on the books is because ethnic minorities don't have enough votes to overcome the "tyranny of the majority." Yet in our system it's winner-take-all, especially now that we effectively have, at the federal level, a one-party government. All those pissed-off Kerry voters can just sit down and shut up as far as our political process is concerned. And not just on who gets to be president, but on every single other issue as well.

What doesn't often get pointed out is that all those Bush supporters also now get to sit down and shut up. Because the way our system works, you have to take the whole package, even the parts you don't agree with. Think Bush would be better at tracking down terrorists? Well, as far as the current system says, that means you also think that privatizing Social Security is a good idea, that gays shouldn't be allowed to form Civil Unions, and that the Estate Tax should be repealed. What, you say you don't agree with all those things? Too bad.

The fact is that people on the "Left" and "Right" in this country agree about a lot of issues, but our system does not allow them to build consensus, becaue they are only offered two choices and both sides bundle together issues based on their calculations of what appeals to their base.

One good thing about Canada (other than the fact that, as you point out, it's too fucking cold there) is the Parliamentary system that forces parties to form coalitions. This is a way around the two-party gridlock, allowing people to vote for issues without fear that, if they don't just bite the bullet and vote for some guy they really don't like that much, the other side will get to have everything their way.

If I go out and pound the pavement for a political cause again, I think it's going to be instant-runoff voting.

Oh, and by the way. Have a nice weekend. Good advice, and I think I'll take it.

Posted by: flamingbanjo at November 5, 2004 05:58 PM

Who cares how you voted? I sure don't.

Posted by: amelia at November 8, 2004 09:35 AM

Amelia, I received more than a few e-mails from lurkers who cared more than just a little bit who I voted for. A couple also had some strange ideas as to my ancestry. Ahhhh, blogging. Gotta love it!!

Posted by: Ryan at November 8, 2004 09:39 AM

Your vote is your private moment of decision. I would never tell you who I voted for. ;)

Posted by: amelia at November 8, 2004 02:15 PM
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