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Jackie Ashley

George Bush: Pre-Modernist Politician?

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I took the bus out from California on the night before the election to canvas the Las Vegas area and help people get to the polls. Clark County was the only county in Nevada to go for Kerry, but it was too little, too late. I spent the evening at Senator Harry Reid's election party at the Rio Hotel, watching the election results. I remain skeptical about some of the votes...a number of states started out for Kerry but rapidly shifted towards Bush as the evening wore on and it looked like Kerry was gonna win. This is the exact opposite of the usual trend, as absentee votes, counted first, are traditionally Republican. Nevertheless, Kerry was helpless to argue against the possible voter fraud without embarrassing his country and provoking violence. He's still a Senator and needs to at least pretend our system works. Consequently, Bush won and Democracy lost. It would sure be interesting to see how many minority votes were thrown out in Ohio due to double-punching or other supposed technical infractions. The exit polls apparently showed that Kerry won in that all-important state and yet we'll probably never know the truth.

That aside, what is really scary is that the newspapers and spin doctors are trying to portray Bush's victory as a MANDATE. This is the biggest bunch of b.s. I have ever heard. The man had more votes cast against him than any incumbent in history and yet they are trying to sell us that his policies are the will of the American people. And this despite, as John has pointed out, those who voted for him did not defend his policies, and quite often preferred Kerry's policies on Social Security and health care; they voted for W instead because he shared their values, i.e. he's a born-again Christian who doesn't read much, doesn't travel much, likes his guns, and fears homosexuals. I'm simplifying a bit but not much. The Bush campaign was successful in getting apolitical Christians to vote en masse against their own interests through the use of Christian organizations disseminating fear and hate propaganda. I received numerous e-mails from relatives in the mid-west which sought to alert me to the horrible facts that John Kerry (a life-long Catholic who regularly attends mass) was out to ban religion, was friends with JANE FONDA, was in the North Vietnam Hall of Fame, was a secret Communist, was pro-homosexual, was the most liberal Senator in America, wanted to repeal the second amendment guaranteeing the right to bear arms, and had faked his war medals. And, oh yeah, his wife has a potty mouth and just may have murdered her first husband, a Republican, for his loot. Yesterday, I found on the ground here in California a Colorado voting guide put out by the Christian Coalition, which listed the various candidates and their position on "Christian" issues. Under the issue of "Teaching Homosexuality to School Children" all the Republican candidates were listed as having said they were opposed, while all the Democratic candidates were listed as having "Refused to Respond." OOOHHH...they must be hiding something.... It was this kind of idiocy that decided the election or at least made it close enough for Bush to steal.

The real precedent in this election wasn't that people voted for the wrong guy, it's that they KNOWINGLY voted for the wrong guy. The Presidency has grown to be of such status that a large percentage of Americans will vote for the guy they consider to be the most like them even if he's an obvious incompetent. It's an us against them mentality that feeds off the insecurities of white males from the south who know that their accents are looked down upon by the cultured elite of Boston, New York, and Los Angeles, and still think the South got screwed in the Civil War. In this climate it is doubtful that even John Kennedy would have been able to beat Bush. While the international community may look at the election as a referendum on Bush's war on terror, the election itself was not about that at all, as those most likely to be a victim of terror, i.e. those in the big cities, voted overwhelmingly for Kerry (58-40 in New York state and 90-10 in D.C.). To paraphrase Mao and Nixon, "The real war is in ourselves." Sadly, the lesson to be learned from this election may be that Democrats will have to nominate Southerners in years to come to even stand a chance.

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The idea that George Bush is the first pre-modernist politician is an interesting concept. If so, is the election of Bush the beginning of a new political phenomenon?

I think it might be worth considering what a pre-modernist America will be like. The first change will probably be the appointment of someone like Alberto Gonzales to replace Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who is dying of thyroid cancer. This will help to overturn the moderate majority of the Supreme Court. The next four years will see the rights of women, homosexuals and African Americans undermined.

This will be all done in the name of a moral crusade. These people define morality in a very narrow way. Primarily they are concerned with sexual issues. Having sex outside marriage or with someone of  the same gender is immoral. So also is having an abortion or watching adult rated material. It will not be long before they will be campaigning against birth control and marriages under the age of 21.

These people appear to be unconcerned with other aspects of morality. For example, the killing of innocent women and children in Iraq, the death of millions in Africa from starvation, or the poverty of their own citizens.

It many ways, the Christian fundamentalists are a mirror image of Muslim fundamentalists. They are obsessed with sex. Especially the sex lives of young women. Much of what is happening is an attempt to maintain and expand the sexual dominance of males. Both groups are particularly concerned with overturning the changes that have taken place in the improvements in the freedom of women over the last few years.

I believe the election of Bush is as significant as the decision by King Victor Emmanuel III in 1922 to appoint Benito Mussolini as leader of Italy. Mussolini made it possible for Franco and Hitler to gain power. However, I doubt if Bush will have this impact on the world. His views are unlikely to have any influence on important political leaders outside the UK and Italy. In fact, Bush’s victory is likely to make it more difficult for his supporters in Europe. Will he get any help at all if he decides to invade Iran, North Korea or Cuba? Blair might be tempted but it would be political suicide. One of the reasons why he is keen on an early election as it might pre-date these actions.

By 2008 the United States will be even more divided from the rest of the Western World than it is now. The big question is what state will the United States be in. Will the poor, racial minorities, the homosexuals, the trade unions, non-fundamentalist Christians, liberals, radicals, etc. join forces to defeat pre-modernism?

The allegations against Bush and those who support him do not reflect the facts To equate Christians with Muslim fudamentalists who are spreading hate around the world is outrageous. Terrorism, hate, antisemitism threatens Europeans as much as Americans and Canadians. There is no appeasement with terrorism...and that needs to be the focus, not Bush bashing. Look at all the concessins and appeasement that Europeans made prior to World War II. How many thousands of young people lost their lives, beccause the world did not stand up when it could have done some good.

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You ask: What will the new Bush administration bring to America in these next four years? The answer is: More of the same, much intensified. The movers are men typical of Vice President Cheney and Karl Rove, the drivers of the “Movement.” They are business oriented but in a manner Texas style—not traditional. They come on the world scene surveying its assets as their own to be manipulated and utilized under their control. Government is their instrument. Forget Bush; he is the functionary who signs the papers and poses for pictures.

However much they speak of “order,” and their abhorrence of “chaos,” the latter is the principal method for getting their way.

While they see their way as new and unique, it is a variation on ancient Empire building. They are merely filling in the day to day operations with immense personal satisfaction of the feel of immense power in their hands.

Since the 1930s America has had some social programs on its mind—Security in old age and health care for all as well as some control of poverty. The Cheney/Rove group has dismantled that movement by a method of impoverishing the government with war, gifts to the most wealthy and to business. Jack Ragsdale San Francisco

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Why is the Deficit off the voters' Radar?

What happened to the Business Model of State?

This is truly awful.

Reagan, nitwit and "big picture" guy waited for the Soviets to come to him,

and they did...but he largely refrained from instigating

War...in Nicaragua or anywhere else larger than the mythical liliput, Grenada.

This is a whole different bag....

Kerry did pretty well. he held the Gore states. No major gaffes. Bush took the rural and suburban counties. the November 4th New York Times had blue and red counties. Memphis, Atlanta, New orleans, were southern blue cities. Bush won some cities, Salt Lake City, Dallas, Phoenix, but Kerry took El Paso Brownsville and Las Vegas. We have a replay of 2000 but with shades of 1860... its really Lincoln verson Breckinridge/DOuglas, the race card has been played.

The democrats need to win a southern state next time. Gore couldn't carry Tennessee. Edwards couldn't carry North Carolina. John Rockefeller should have pumped 10 million into West Virginia. West Virginia went for Mondale, Dukakis and McGovern, but turned RED. Ohio turned Red, the southern rural "thing" they have down in West Virginia and Indiana pincered in Ohio.

Of course the Bush family had industrial interests in Ohio , back before the Union Pacific and Brown Bros. Harriman days...

The Well Informed Party was defeated by the Less Well Informed. States went for Bush by inverse of SAT scores. Authority, fear and security trumped "liberalism" and civil rights...

Rove put the gay marriage bans on state ballots to help get out the vote and establish linkage.

Late night TV made it clear evangelicals were divinely and en masse BUSH voters

Deficits are still off the radar, and the war spending, and the economy.

Shanet

Edited by Shanet Clark

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There have been much talk about US exceptionalism. It is more and more evident that there is a growing gap between a majority of US public and most of the European public opinion. These are the main differences:

Religion. Not only Christian fundamentalism, but a general opinion that makes impossible for any politician to confess himself as a atheist or not religious.

Patriotism. Being the only hyperpower, being an immigrants country... the result is a nationalism difficult to find in Western Europe as a general feeling

Individualism. Most of the American public (including working classes!) are suspicious of any welfare policy that involves more taxes.

Guns and death penalty. More that 240 million weapons around the country.

About death penalty, just read what Nicholas Kristof op-ed columnist in the New York Times wrote yesterday:

Bill Clinton won his credibility in the heartland partly by going home to Little Rock during the 1992 campaign to preside over the execution of a mentally disabled convict named Ricky Ray Rector.

There was a moral ambiguity about Mr. Clinton's clambering to power over Mr. Rector's corpse. But unless Democrats compromise, they'll be proud and true and losers.

Obscene, disgusting for most of the European public opinion.

Anyway, if we want to prevent US administration to implement dangerous policies and help American liberal opinion, we cannot exaggerate and affirm statements that only favor Bush and his friends:

United States is a democracy. No matter how chaotic or imperfect is its voting system (Are we going to call Kennedy victory in 1960 into question?)

Bush is not a smirking dumb. The fact that we cannot understand the success of Rove's tactics to mobilise the Christian fundamentalist voters must not lead us to elaborate a caricature of Bush and his voters. At least, if we want to understand US reality and help liberal Americans to win in the next election.

Once we have realised that Bush has a strong support for his unilateral foreign policy, the best thing we can do is to foster European integration. It is evident that US needs a certain counterweight. Europeans are not US foes, we are friends but friends that strongly disagree with some American administration policies.

A good example is all the current chitchat on "moral values". Aren't European MPs moved by "moral values" when they forced Durao Barroso to get rid of Mr. Butiglione? Liberal and left-wing people, we also have "moral values".

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Here are the percentages of the different groups who voted for Bush: Evangelical/Born Again (78), Protestant (59), Catholic (52), Jewish (25), Gun Ownership (63), Homosexuals (23), Trade Union Members (38), Married With Children (59), More than $200k (62), Less than $50k (43), White (58), Black (11), Men (55) and Women (48).

It is no coincidence that Bush did so well with the religious groups (except Jews who have a long record of holding liberal political views). People were asked: “What was the most important issue to you when voting?” as they left the polling booth. This was the result: Moral Values (22), Economy (20), Terrorism (19), Iraq (15), Healthcare (8), Taxes (5) and Education (4).

Other factors that need to be taken into consideration include the numbers who bothered to vote. A high percentage of the Evangelical/Born Again Christians decided to cast their vote (20.7m for Bush). Whereas other groups that overwhelmingly supported Kerry (Blacks and those living in poverty) had low turnout rates. This was especially true in the Deep South. Despite having a lot of blacks and people living in poverty, every state was won by Bush. The reason for this is the turnout rate.

It is highly unlikely that Christian groups will lose their faith during the next four years. In the past these groups abstained in large numbers (Bush did not have much of an impact on this in 2000).

To win in 2008 the Democrats have to find someone who is appealing to those Christians in the Deep South. If they don’t do that, they will be beaten by the Republican candidate who will definitely be chosen to represent these views.

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Below is an email I received concerning Kerry (I did not see it before the election). There is NO doubt that Kerry's actions as a Naval Officer in Viet Nam were close to being outright treason. The INTERNET was obviously a factor in getting the truth out about Kerry as he was not as he was presented on the evening news. Things such as going hunting for geese a few days before the election were meant to hide his leftist leanings, but what they actually did was expose him as the fake that he has always been.

It took very little research to find out that Kerry was not a reasonable alternative to G.W. Bush.

On the deficit that Bush has run up, the same things were said about Reagan, who is now to go down in history as one of the greatest American Presidents. The deficit from the 80's was forgotten as the economy expanded. We seem to be on the front end of another economic expansion after the economic downturn seen at the end of the Clinton administration and the negative impact of 9-11.

Concerning Clinton, there are storys afloat now of his covering up terrorism by IRAQ in the United States during his administration. Although, the big MSM (main stream media) in the USA won't touch any of these stories, it doesn't look good for Clinton who obviously lied about this too.

Think of the implications of this story in history. Clinton, to get re-elected surpressed terrorism stories in the US for polictical reasons.

Bill Clinton never met a lie he wouldn't tell.

Kerry surrounded himself with Clinton people from the 90's.

Bill

Subject: THE JIMMY CARTER LEGACY CONTINUES

Sean,

I was on active duty as a U.S. Navy lawyer when all of this was going on some 25 to 30 years ago, and so was Mark F. Sullivan, who at all relevant times was the personal lawyer to J. William Middendorf, then the Secretary of the Navy. We remember.

We are trying to break this absolutely true story nationwide, i.e., Fox News, C-Span, and hopefully all the major networks. We are positive that John Kerry was one of those dishonorably dismissed from the Navy for collaborating with the Viet Cong, after he was released from active duty but still in the Navy, and for a totally unauthorized trip to Hanoi. He later got an "honorable" separation in 1978, some 12 years after joining the Navy, under President Carter's "Amnesty Program" for draft dodgers, deserters, and other malcontents who fled to Canada and Holland, among other places, to avoid military service to our country.

This is why he has refused, and continues to refuse, to release all of his Navy records: they reflect that he was Dishonorably Dismissed from the United States Naval Service. If they do not (which they do), he would have released them to the public. Again, he has not done so, because he well knows that the truth would kill his challenge to President Bush. If you would like to talk with me, I may be reached at

telephone number (925) 964-0943 in Danville, California, or at DLNelsonSF@msn.com

Sincerely,

DONALD L. NELSON

CAPT, JAGC, USNR (Ret.)

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Here are the percentages of the different groups who voted for Bush: Evangelical/Born Again (78), Protestant (59), Catholic (52), Jewish (25), Gun Ownership (63), Homosexuals (23), Trade Union Members (38), Married With Children (59), More than $200k (62), Less than $50k (43), White (58), Black (11), Men (55) and Women (48).

It is no coincidence that Bush did so well with the religious groups (except Jews who have a long record of holding liberal political views). People were asked: “What was the most important issue to you when voting?” as they left the polling booth. This was the result: Moral Values (22), Economy (20), Terrorism (19), Iraq (15), Healthcare (8), Taxes (5) and Education (4).

Other factors that need to be taken into consideration include the numbers who bothered to vote. A high percentage of the Evangelical/Born Again Christians decided to cast their vote (20.7m for Bush). Whereas other groups that overwhelmingly supported Kerry (Blacks and those living in poverty) had low turnout rates. This was especially true in the Deep South. Despite having a lot of blacks and people living in poverty, every state was won by Bush. The reason for this is the turnout rate.

It is highly unlikely that Christian groups will lose their faith during the next four years. In the past these groups abstained in large numbers (Bush did not have much of an impact on this in 2000).

To win in 2008 the Democrats have to find someone who is appealing to those Christians in the Deep South. If they don’t do that, they will be beaten by the Republican candidate who will definitely be chosen to represent these views.

John I totally agree with the above, but the Republicans play so dirty. They lie. So no matter who the Dems put up there will be a very expensive smear campaign filled with hate and lies. In this election they went after Kerry on the very issue where he was strong and Bush was weak: his war record. The swift boat lies dominated the cable news stations night after night, immediately after the Democratic convention. How do people fight against a machine so powerful that they can employ countless lies to be elected, while fooling the masses into believing that they are in fact the "moral" group?

I really thought people would see through this.

I am also receiving emails containing news stories about suspected fraud in Fla and Ohio. So, I wonder if we will ever know.

Dawn

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Picking up the thread of the isolation of the USA, I always find that when I go to the USA (and I visit the USA quite often) that I lose touch very quickly with what is going on in the rest of the world. I tune in to CNN’s “international” news, only to find that 11 out of 12 news items focus on the USA and one on Canada. Only major disasters in Europe or elsewhere in the world hit the headlines.

Bill Bryson (who is an American) sums up the situation in an article entitled "Those boring foreigners" in his collection "Notes from a big country". Bill Bryson writes:

"Julian Barnes, in a line I intend to make my own when the moment is right, once observed that any foreigner visiting the US can perform an easy magic trick: 'Buy a newspaper and see your own country disappear'. Actually, you don't need to read a newspaper. You can read a magazine or watch TV or just talk to people."

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I don't know that the US is any more isolationist than other countries. When I was in London, the Times contained mostly news about England. When I was in Canada, again most of the news was Canadian. And why wouldn't it be? People are most interested in what is happening in their immediate vicinity, so if you want to sell newspapers you'd better write about "local" news.

Kerry was indeed a poor option. I believe a different candidate could have defeated Bush. I voted for Nader because I couldn't stand either Kerry or Bush. It was clear (to me) that Kerry was a typical politician who's main interest was himself. I also believe he lied about his war time service. His service in Vietnam was not "his strength" - it was a detriment. Now if he'd been John McCain or someone like that, it could have been a strength.

Again, Bush did not "steal" the election. The democrats lost it.

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I don't know that the US is any more isolationist than other countries.  When I was in London, the Times contained mostly news about England.  When I was in Canada, again most of the news was Canadian.  And why wouldn't it be?  People are most interested in what is happening in their immediate vicinity, so if you want to sell newspapers you'd better write about "local" news.

I have spent time in a large number of countries but the United States was clearly the most parochial. Only France comes close to matching the American approach. There have been a large number of surveys carries out that shows that the average American has little understanding of what goes on outside its own country.

Take a look at Guardian online to see how a serious newspaper in the UK reports on the world. The UK is not the best at reporting on world news. I have found that countries like Sweden and Denmark are the best for this international approach.

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Little things like insisting that public schools couldn't display "belenes" (traditional models of nativity scenes) even though these are pretty basic cultural symbols for the growing hispanic community, the city council who had to take down the menorah in the square in front of the town hall at hannukah in case it offended non-jews, seemed to indicate an increasing secular "fundamentalism" which was denying what many of these voters saw as a basic foundation stone of society.

Sorry it's taken so long to add this comment - I've been busy lately.

This may very well be 'secular fundamentalism', but it was the type of secularism on which the USA was based. Just as the Electoral College mechanism was put there to prevent the emergence of an 'elected monarch', the separation of church and state was intended to prevent public affairs being infected with religion, as they had been so often in Europe in the centuries preceding the writing of the US Constitution.

From where I'm sitting, it looks as though the true heirs to the Founding Fathers are turning out to be those very Europeans the Founding Fathers were trying to break away from, whilst the country they founded is looking more and more like a 17th century European power (perhaps a Holy American Empire?!).

Edited by David Richardson

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Just a couple of quick comments:

1. Yes, of course the news coverage in the UK focuses mainly on Britain, but if you read any "quality" newspaper or watch the TV news you'll find that international events are very well covered. How many Americans own a passport? I've heard various figures quoted, from 10% to 20%. Not that owning a passport necessarily makes you better informed about world affairs - v. the number of Brits who holiday each year in Spain but who have little exposure to Spanish culture in the purpose-built English-speaking holiday resorts. I have, however, been frequently surprised while travelling in the US to find that many people I have met have never travelled outside their own state, let alone travelling abroad.

2. I enjoy the religious diversity in the UK. Our neighbours (Hindus) have just celebrated Guy Fawkes night (5 Nov) with a firework display, and they will be celebrating Diwali (12 Nov) with another firework display. They also celebrate Christmas and New Year. We are usually invited to Diwali parties in the area where I live. It's great that we can all join in with one another's festivals. It makes life far less boring!

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I certainly don't have extensive international experience - I can't afford it. However, my limited contact with "average" people from other countries doesn't lead me to believe they're terribly different from the average American. Similarly, reading "quality" US newspapers would produce the same result as reading "quality" British newspapers. And it's not that hard to do with most of them being on the Internet now.

I guess another way of making my point (that the US is not particularly isolationist) is - how many (insert country name here) read and care about international issues? I contend the vast majority of the world's population is most concerned with local issues and is relatively uninformed regarding international issues. Academics are not "typical" in this regard.

In fact, one could make a case for the US being LESS isolationist. Why else would "we" feel it's OK to interfere in the governments of other sovereign nations?

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Mike asks:

I guess another way of making my point (that the US is not particularly isolationist) is - how many (insert country name here) read and care about international issues?

At the risk of being accused of being flippant, we Brits take an avid interest in World Cup soccer and rugby, and many Brits can name the leading European soccer teams and players. :tomatoes

But, yes, Mike is right. Local issues play the predominant role in politics.

On the other hand, why do I always feel that I have lost touch with the rest of the world after 2-3 weeks in the USA (or Canada, where I have relatives)?

I guess the point I am making is that travel broadens the mind: v. the case of G.W.B. before he became President. When I first visited Northern Ireland (where my wife was born) I was shocked by its religious fundamentalism and prejudices - it's still dreadfully racist. I recall being asked by someone on my first visit: "What do you think about Northern Ireland?" I replied "I think you need to travel a bit more." (I was just 23 years of age at the time.) In retrospect, I don't know how I avoided a dig on the jaw.

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