Dems "Uncredible"

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Adam's Apple, Nov 23, 2004.

  1. Adam's Apple

    Adam's Apple Senior Member

    Apr 25, 2004
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    By Andrew Sullivan, The New Republic
    November 19, 2004

    The new conventional wisdom is that the election results were not so much a triumph for right-wing Christians as a more general endorsement for George W. Bush's clear, reassuring cultural presence in a troubled time. How else to explain the nine million extra votes he racked up this time, when only a third of them came from evangelicals? How else to explain the one in five gay voters who went for Bush despite his determination to rob them of civil rights? Or the big gain in Bush votes in New York City?

    Well, here's another cultural explanation. A large part of the pro-Bush vote - especially among blue state residents - was a vote against the left elite and the cultural attitudes it represents in the public imagination. It was a vote not so much for Bush or his often religious policies (or even the war on terror), but against the post 9/11 left, against Michael Moore, political correctness, Susan Sontag, and CBS News, among a host of others. I have to say that this was the most appealing thing about George W. Bush for me. If he hadn't so obviously screwed up the Iraq war and endorsed a constitutional amendment against gay rights, I would have succumbed myself.

    This is what the left has lost sight of: Americans tend to believe that talent needs no apology; that action is often better than complaint; that their own country, despite its many faults, is still a force for great good in the world. The left tends to view things a little differently. The most shocking manifestation was the way in which the far left saw 9/11 as an indictment of America, rather than of Jihadist nihilism. A more anodyne version was the way in which the Kerry campaign tried to reassure Americans of Kerry's commitment to national defense by playing up his Vietnam record rather than unleashing him to rage against the evil of terror. The legitimate criticisms of the Iraq war seemed at times to emanate from a welter of whining rather than from a determined attempt to win in Iraq, and from righteous, well-deserved anger that Bush had botched it. Facing a world of unprecedented danger, the Democrats still offered little in the way of a constructive message about what they would do proactively to defeat the enemy. For all his faults, Bush did.

    At home, the Democrats spoke too easily of people injured by fate or economic transition or social injustice, while scanting the positive things that people can and will do to change their own circumstances, to beat the odds, to rise above their own limitations. They had a trial lawyer as vice-presidential nominee and a candidate who had spent a lifetime in politics achieving very little, even by the standards of the U.S. Senate.

    The truth is there is a conservative majority in this country, not because the religious right is a majority but because the Republicans have also been able to corner the market on the themes of achievement, individualism, energy, action. And they have also won over those who disdain the politics of resentment, whining and permanent criticism. If James Dobson represents one wing of contemporary Republicanism, Arnold Schwarzenegger represents the other. Democrats will never win over the Dobsonites. But they can win over the bluish voters who voted red last time because the pious, do-good, elite whining of Gore, Teresa and Hillary seemed so alien to many Americans' entrepreneurial, anti-p.c. and irreverent popular culture.

    There's a reason Schwarzenegger couldn't be a Democrat. And a reason why he's a red-tinted governor of one of the bluest states in the country. If you want to understand why, go to the movies and watch cartoons and puppets. They'll beat focus groups every time.

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