November 05, 2004
Who are these people who voted for Bush?
Timothy Burke has written an insightful essay exploring what drives the people who voted for George Bush; why the Democratic party failed to reach the majority of American voters; and what changes can be made to correct this failure.
I think Burke's essay is so good that I have quoted it's essence at length below. Do yourself a favor, though. Click here to find and read the entire text. Because of its lenght, Burke has posted it in pdf format, so you'll need to click a second time when you get to his website.
Much as I would like to think so, it’s . . . not enough to wait for four more years of failure, dishonor, and malfeasance and thing that this will make enough people come to our point of view. [T]he case was made very clearly this time that Bush and his colleagues were incompetent. More than anything else, this has fueled the despair among those of us who oppose him. Can’t they see? Don’t they know? Are they stupid? Are they blind?
What I’ve had to face is the last three days is this: a desire for competency and respect for political process is a cultural value, as surely as abortion is. My intense belief in the importance of those things is just that, a belief. More to the point, it is a self-serving belief that advances the interests of my own social class. I believe in the importance of competency, knowledge, "best practices" of decision-making because I’ve been trained to be apart of an elite that holds those things to be of importance, and aspires to them as a matter of course. I believe in those things as a way of life, as a part of self and identity, as deeply as any evangelical believes in the spiritual presence of Jesus Christ in all things.
[Bush supporters] look for a leader who symbolically summarizes and emphasizes the values and beliefs that sustain their lives within their own communities and that connect them to the larger imagined community of the nation. [They do not] have any reasonable expectation that competent governance will address the priorities and issues they face in their everyday lives. They do not think that good or bad policy can help or hurt them.
[Bush supporters hate us.] [T]hat hatred is based on a rational parsing of economic and social facts, and implicit understanding of the drift of American history and its likely forward arc. . . . They hate us because we are in economic and social and cultural terms the winners, the owners of the future. Because they are the losers.
People living in many of the communities that compromise the red states are there because they could not or would not leave. . . . Why should the love us? We steal their children, we kill their towns. We show the next generation the bright lights of the big city everyday and we ask them to love us for doing so. . . .
Whomever is left in the red states is left because they have no skills which are transportable, because they have no capital to pay for the costs of relocation, because they have no social networks to act as their safety net in the blue-state world, because they have family or friends who are not leaving and they cannot bear to leave, because some dominant person in their life terrorizes them and bullies them into staying. Because they like it where they live and figure nowhere else could be better, even if their aren’t any jobs besides minimum-wage service jobs where they are. Because, . . . , they don’t particularly have any ambitions beyond getting along o.k.
What’s left to the red states? What do they own? They own the political system . . . [T]he conventional Democratic approach to the problems of the red-state American would do little to address its resentment and isolation. . . . The people who are left don’t want job retraining; that just fives those who get retrained transportable skills that they will use to leave. They don’t want an infusion of capital or investment that will turn their communities into yet another blue-state city or town, that will price them out of housing and living.
Burke then goes on to lay the foundation for a coalition that includes those have voted for Bush.
It is . . . characterized by an intense commitment to the universal enforcement of constitutional rights, by an uncompromising protection of free speak, free assembly, to the restraint of the power and capacity of the federal government . . . to intrude on the rights of its citizens. . . . [It] has to abandon the strong version of the welfare state, to throw overboard strong regimes of governmental regulation of business, to subject government intervention in economic and social issues to very strong-needs test and very intensive assessment of effectiveness. The rhetoric . . . would have to strongly favor meritocratic visions and conceptions of social mobility and economic policy.
Essentially this embraces the common interests of suburbanites, business elites and cosmopolitan liberals, and I strong suspect, many of the so-called "Reagan babies" and South Park Republicans," who vote Republican . . . much more for these logics than because of red-state "moral values"rhetoric. It throws overboard the union consistencies and their political allies, and to a lesser extent, throws over more conventional forms of patronage politics aimed at ethnic groups.
[Burke’s vision for the future of the Democratic Party] draws much more on 19th Century liberalism, and tires to pull out those aspects of the left-liberal tradition that owe heavier debts to that lineage. . . . [W]here the left would enter very much as the junior partner into this coalition, not as a vanguard or leadership.
November 04, 2004
Arafat has slipped into a coma
A gravely ill Yasser Arafat reportedly slipped into a coma today. My guess is that his inevitable death will be the excuse for a rash of violence.
November 03, 2004
It's the American people, stupid
The world will now be blaming the American people, instead of the Bush Administration for all of Dubya's misjudgments. This just in from the Sidney Morning Herald.
It's the American people, stupid
By Peter Hartcher in Washington
The American people have for the first time decisively endorsed George Bush, handing him an explicit affirmation for America's most controversial war since Vietnam and a mandate to press ahead with strident foreign policy.
The President lost the popular vote in the 2000 election by half a million votes and suffered from questions about his legitimacy, but has now won it by about 3 million to 4 million votes. The result gives him over 50 per cent of all votes cast, a feat his predecessor Bill Clinton never achieved.
If his dominance of the popular vote is validated by a victory in the Electoral College, the Republicans will be in a commanding position, cementing control of the White House as well as both houses of Congress.
One of America's leading conservative intellectuals, Professor Francis Fukuyama, said Mr Bush's victory foreshadowed an increasingly tense relationship for the US and the world.
"This is very important internationally. People will say that its not George Bush that's the problem, its the American people that's the problem."
International antagonism to US foreign policy had, up until now, centred on the Bush Administration, while sentiment towards the American people was more benign. But Mr Bush's return will entrench world opinion against the US as whole.
And US foreign policy will be tested almost immediately with the advent of an immensely difficult and dangerous new nuclear crisis, in Iran.
According to polling expert Carroll Doherty, editor of polling at the Pew Research Centre, this election was decided on the issue of terrorism: "If Bush wins, it will be because of 9/11."
Like many experts, Professor Fukuyama predicts that Mr Bush will pursue his existing foreign policy with new energy if given a second term.
Bush foreign policy is defined by three distinctive doctrines: pre-emption, unilateralism, hegemony - all of which assert US power and interests above all else. Or, as Professor John Lewis Gaddis, of Yale's history department, has put it: "In this new game there are no rules."
Professor Fukuyama said: "I don't see much evidence that Bush is a reflective guy. I'm afraid there will not be much rethinking at all. Re-elected, he will say: 'They approve of what I'm doing - let's keep going.' "
A senior official in the Bush Administration confirmed this interpretation last night: "As disappointing as Iraq has been, it in no way, shape or form changes the basic mindset and vision of the President.
"Some will call it arrogant; others would call it brutally strong. It's what he took on the campaign trail, and it's what he took to the people."
If elected, Mr Bush will have in domestic affairs unchecked power to make vital long-term appointments without risk of a Senate challenge.
His party controls the house with what appears to be an enlarged majority of 54 seats.
This will allow Mr Bush to choose freely the next appointment to the already conservative-dominated Supreme Court and the next chairman of the Federal Reserve, when Alan Greenspan retires in 2006.
But the most urgent and dangerous challenges are in foreign policy.
On November 25 the International Atomic Energy Agency will decide whether to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for failing to meet guidelines against nuclear proliferation.
George Perkovich, who is vice-president at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington and an expert on Iran, believes "Iran will absolutely be the first crisis".
"It will be the biggest issue of the next year. And the first problem for the Bush Administration is that it does not have a policy on Iran," he said. "They have tried to get an Iran policy ... but they haven't been able because the Administration is split.
"The Vice-President, Dick Cheney, believes we just do not deal with governments we don't like, with governments that are evil. Others in the Administration say that we have to deal with them because, like them or not, they are the Government and we have no choice."
Mr Bush has supported the work of three European powers - Germany, France and Britain - to negotiate a deal to stop Iran's uranium enrichment program.
No deal has been reached so far and, according to Mr Perkovich, the US needs to work with Europe and Iran to find a solution. But Mr Cheney "can't bring themselves to do what's necessary", he said.
Temptations were there for an armed solution, "but even Paul Wolfowitz [Deputy Secretary of Defence and advocate of the Iraq invasion] has said that there are no good military options in Iran".
The slow-burning crisis in North Korea will also continue to unfold. Here, the US is working with others, including North Korea, in a six-nation negotiating group in an effort to halt Pyongyang's nuclear program.
The economy presents pitfalls too. There is international unease over the deficit in the US Federal Budget and the deficit in the current account.
Two highly respected US economists, Ken Rogoff and Professor Maurice Obstfeld, wrote this week that the current account deficit should be problem number one and warned of financial crises, higher interests rates and a big drop in global output.
Mr Bush has promised to halve the Federal deficit but has no specific plan to do so.
All of which recalls Winston Churchill: "The problems of victory are more agreeable than those of defeat, but they are no less difficult."
The government that we deserve
In my despair I fear that, if the pundits are correct and the American public re-elected George W. Bush based upon his moral vision for this country, then America has gotten the government that she deserves. Like the idiots who followed the false Aslan in C.S. Lewis's The Last Battle, the American people believe that they's elected a lion but instead have returned a jackass wearing a lion's skin to the Oval Office.
I am certain that carnage lies ahead and that the images that await will be too terrible to view, except in glimpses. And I fear that the America that emerges -- after the carnage -- will neither be recognizable nor to my liking.
Fortunately, though, life need not be a spectator sport. Those of us who believe that we deserve more than a president who lies to us, who uses the weapons of war for the sake of commerce, who is willing to sacrifice lives for oil, have a great deal of work ahead for us these next four years. It may take us a few days to recover from the sucker punch that has knocked us off our feet, but we must continue to fight the good fight. We owe it to the countless men and women who gave their life's efforts and their lives establishing and preserving the freedoms Geroge W. Bush is hell bent on destroying.
November 02, 2004
Eminem Video: Get out and Vote
November 01, 2004
Election Day Game: Give Bush a brain
Bush did not support Americorp
Yesterday, when asked to identify a program proposed by the Democratic Party that he finds worthwhile, George W. Bush cited the Americorps program that was initiated by Bill Clinton. Bush made a similar endorsement in his state of the union address in 2002, on Jan. 29, 2002.
It may or may not surprise you to learn that, in fact, the Bush administration has not supported Americorps but has allowed Congress to cut its funding. Hundreds of established and effective AmeriCorps programs across the country received no federal funding for the 2003-2004 program year.