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Friday, November 05, 2004
Election Reflection #2
But my good friend Angela has made a good statement about the election and it really is an insightful analysis on her part. So I want to share it with you all and she was so good to allow me to do so. Angela is a Texan but just moved to the to New York City about a month ago to try and make her calling in the fields of art and animation.
So here goes Angela:
The country is now dealing with Bush's re-election. Republicans are happy, while democrats are scratching their heads trying to figure out what went wrong.
I am saddened that he is once again our commander-in-chief. However, I started wondering what about the man made him appealing to Americans. If you look at a map of electoral college votes, the mid-west and the south supported Bush, while the East and West coasts did not. Why is that? I have several theories.
May I present...
Angela's reasons for why Bush won
1) Republicans and democrats were arguing different things.
Republicans were more war on terror focused, and democrats were more issues focused. But the republicans were able to convince most people that it was the war on terror that was the REAL issue of the election.
2) With this framework in mind, Bush was able to convince (most) people that he is the only person who could protect the country from terrorists.
People are understandably concerned that America may be attacked again and well aware that many countries hate us. Bush used this to his advantage. As stated earlier, he made the war on terror the main issue. He successfully convinced America that only he- the man who got us into two wars in the first place, is the person who can help change the world. This is interesting considering that:
a) we went into Iraq on false pretenses
b) Osama Bin Laden is still making video tapes
c) Bush has never been to war
d) The state that suffered the most from the terrorists (my state) overwhelmingly DID NOT support the man, nor did many of the firefighter's unions
e) we have no exit strategy for getting out of Iraq or Afghanistan, and in fact, a good chunk of money designated for Afghanistan was funneled into the war in Iraq before that war began
2) Bush was able to convince Americans that he is more similar to the average person than Kerry.
Bush's lack of social skills actually worked to his advantage. Before the debates, I heard people half-jokingly say that if the man simply stood straight and gave direct eye contact that he could win the debates. This is quite sad. Even republicans admit that the man is not a skilled orator. Oddly enough, this works to his advantage. He is viewed not as an intellectual snob but a down-home everyday kind of guy. A lot of people relate to that. And what he lacks in communication skills he makes up for in image. All those shots of him in Crawford are strategic. They portray him (again) as sort of a modern day everyman, a guy who is not so high in mighty in the white house that he can't enjoy the simply pleasures in life- God, family and country. And once again that resonates with regular people.
In contrast, many view Kerry as an elitist, especially since he is married into the Heinz family. However the Bush family is elitist as well. Everyone modern president has had money and connections. I don't care how podunk he acts, Bush is not poor. People tend to forget that though when they see him in boots and a cowboy hat.
3) The rhetoric of religion is a powerful thing.
Like it or not, religion plays a big role in the lives of most people. Most people in the US believe in some form of God, and Bush knows this. He wears his religion on his sleeve in order to portray himself as God's candidate, a moral choice in an amoral world. People, especially Christians, flock to him because of this. Which is unfortunate. Being a Christian does not automatically make you a good leader. As a Christian, I have seen many people who also share the faith or claim to who are horrible leaders who make bad decisions. And Kerry is not anti-religion. He is a Catholic, but he chose not to frame everything he does in Christian terms.
4) The republican party as a whole is seen as the party of family values.
Republicans are seen as the party of God, family and country. The moral compass of the nation. Their views on letting people do what they want in a free market, having a small, unobtrusive government and letting people live their own lives appeals to folks. Which is interesting considering that they do not go out of their way to provide affordable health care, child care, better jobs, efficient environmental regulations or lower taxes for the middle and lower classes. And then there's the patriot act, which takes away many civil liberties.
5) The Democrats are out of touch with most Americans.
Liberal is a bad word nowadays. Most people in this country are probably more conservative or middle of the road. They're not eager to hear about stem-cell research, gay marriage, Hollywood people and rock stars who don't necessarily know anything about politics, legalizing marijuana or the myriad of other fringe issues that more liberal-minded people gravitate to. They may not agree with abortion. They think that democrats expect minorities and women to vote for them but don't do anything to court their favor.
They want to hear about what is familiar- again God, family and country. They want to feel safe.
6) Many hated Bush but they did not like Kerry.
Kerry did not frame himself well as the stronger more driven leader. I don't think of the word "tough" when I think of Kerry. I think smart, I think intellectual, but not tough, or go-getter, which is what people think when they think of Bush. Yes, he may be stupid. Yes, he is a bad public speaker. But with Bush, you know what you're going to get. With Kerry, you don't. And that fear is what drives a lot of people. Also, Bush successfully framed himself as being decisive. Even though he made bad decisions, they were decisive, unwavering decisions. Kerry unfortunately got labeled as a flip-flopper for having second thoughts about important things that affect millions. In other words, he showed he's human, but people don't want a second guesser, they want someone who is going to go forth with something. Even if it is wrong.
7) The views of Americans in different states are deeply rooted in 200+ years of history. New York and LA are cosmopolitan places that share more in common with the world than with the rest of America. We are all Americans but we don't understand each other, and instead of trying to find common ground we give cop-out answers- Bush is stupid, Kerry is a
flip-flopper, blah blah blah.
So that is my assessment. What say you?
If you all wish to respond to her statement, then leave a comment, and please sign your comment or leave an alias...and she will keep a tab and respond...her alias is Phoenix. Okay, folks. Have a good day and God bless.
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