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what I think about the election

October 20, 2004

This is for Tim.

Okay, well this is a complicated thing to figure out, or at least express with any amount of eloquence. In many ways I am very much in opposition to Bush, yet I also not a huge fan of Kerry. However for me the key issues are the war in Iraq, drilling in Alaska, abortion. There are a lot of other issues I care about, but I don’t always know how the candidates stand on those. So judging just by those three, I will be voting for Kerry. But what I find more scary that anything else is the article about Bush that I provided a link too in my last post. Bush is not as stupid as he sometimes appears, he is a lot smarter and determined than I think most liberal critics give him credit for. The following quote really made me think:

“You think he’s an idiot, don’t you?” I said, no, I didn’t. “No, you do, all of you do, up and down the West Coast, the East Coast, a few blocks in southern Manhattan called Wall Street. Let me clue you in. We don’t care. You see, you’re outnumbered 2 to 1 by folks in the big, wide middle of America, busy working people who don’t read The New York Times or Washington Post or The L.A. Times. And you know what they like? They like the way he walks and the way he points, the way he exudes confidence. They have faith in him. And when you attack him for his malaprops, his jumbled syntax, it’s good for us. Because you know what those folks don’t like? They don’t like you!”

Wow! I find that a very fascinating concept, because in someways liberals have played right into Bush’s hands. By reacting to harshly to his slip-ups and mispronunciations, we further widened the gap between Bush supporters and his opposition. In the end I think it is that gap that saddens me the most. No matter who wins this election, the president will be hated by close to half his country, how are we going to get any real work done, or do anything to improve this country in an environment like that?

While I agreed with much the article or at least found it very interesting, I was bothered by its portrayal of faith. For me, faith is so very different than that expressed by the President, I think the quote of Jim Wallis, used to end the article really expresses that difference:

“Faith can cut in so many ways,” he said. “If you’re penitent and not triumphal, it can move us to repentance and accountability and help us reach for something higher than ourselves. That can be a powerful thing, a thing that moves us beyond politics as usual, like Martin Luther King did. But when it’s designed to certify our righteousness — that can be a dangerous thing. Then it pushes self-criticism aside. There’s no reflection.
“Where people often get lost is on this very point,” he said after a moment of thought. “Real faith, you see, leads us to deeper reflection and not — not ever — to the thing we as humans so very much want.”
And what is that?
“Easy certainty.”

In summary, that is what I fear the most about living under another four years of Bush as a President, his absolute certainty in the rightness of his actions and rejection of the useful tools of critique and doubt.

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One comment

  1. Thanks for your dedication Abby. (pun intended)

    Thinking about the way Bush supporters view him and his faith is especially relevant because you and I both know we have plenty of relatives who will be voting for Bush for some of the reasons you’ve outlined.

    How can we avoid being slotted into those “liberal” stereotypes that every good conservative has? How can we avoid what one might call “conservative baiting”? I don’t know if we’ll get into disucssions about it at our Christmas gathering, but regardless I think its good to try to think about how conservatives think. Or perhaps more importantly how they feel.

    One article that I may pull out in a discussion with a conservative is The Revealer: Our Magical President. The author argues convincingly that when it comes to the way he really functions, Bush is more of a new age president than a evangelical. Sharlet points out that Bush uses bible verses and phrases like spells. But his most fascinating statement reflects on the way the press has covered Bush. He points out that while the Bush presidency has resulted in a much closer scrutiny of Evangelicalism in the U.S. it hasn’t really understood the faith in Bush’s faith that really undergirds his candidacy.



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