Thursday, November 04, 2004

[Ann] Coulter writes a chapter [in Treason] claiming that the religious right is a myth dreamt up by the liberal media (which is sort of like saying that cows are a myth dreamt up by griffins)...

-- Ruthless

I had an opportunity to get a small sample of how the other half thinks over the past few days. One of my fellow archaeologists is a Bush supporter and probably a classic neo-con (registered Democrat who believes the party deserted him, etc.). A nice enough fellow, and we're both level-headed enough to allow for civil debate of our ideologies (especially at 5 in the morning, in a truck, on our way up to Luke Air Force Base, when I was still fairly certain that Kerry was assured victory). In this series of mutual interviews, I was sincerely, ardently trying to suss out why on earth ANYBODY would vote for GW Bush, being fully aware of the mind-boggling hatchet job he's made of such enormous and fundamental issues like international relations, the economy, the endless morass that the Iraq situation has become, etc.

And interpreting this political "push hands" that we spent a few hours on, I'm still not 100% sure what his take on these essential issues is. Our debates came down mostly to information bias in the media -- he trotted out the old "liberal media" chestnut; I pointed to Fox News, Sinclair, virtually all popular radio talkshows, and probably over half of all newspapers. I won't bother debating him all over again in this space -- his most impassioned response to my concern over the black-and-white, name-calling, "we're right and they're evil" approach on most overtly conservative media (esp. right-wing radio and fuckwits-in-print like Ann Coulter) was that people are intelligent enough to distinguish these as mere entertainment. And of course he poo-pooed Rush's "dittohead" army as simple playfulness.

And essentially that's where the debate ended. We spoke at length on other issues (as a hunter, guns are very, very import to him, and he thinks everyone should have one for home protection. I don't care about them at all, although I think every movie hero should have one if they're in a tight jam), but everything seemed to come back to "credibility" (read: news channel) of the information one consumed.

Which is really fucking scary, because I think a lot of the American voting public is doing what Adolph Hitler suggests early on in Mein Kampf: don't read anything that doesn't already agree with your viewpoint. That's what's so goddamn frightening about hacks like Limbaugh -- even if you are listening to him for entertainment purposes, he will never say anything that conflicts with the conservative agenda. He will not question, he will not suggest a different way of viewing an issue, he will not offer opposing opinions. Even if I were to assume that most people who listen to his show are intelligent enough to see his show as entertainment, I don't believe that they, like our president, are intellectually curious enough to go explore other points of view.

This election hasn't inspired me so much with despair or anger as fear. I fear that Americans have become big fucking chumps -- supremely gullible, close-minded, myopic, NIMBY-centric rubes, too intellectually lazy to digest anything more simplistic that Rush's brand of pre-chewed wrong-headedness, served with a side of smug insufferability. I am dismayed at America right now. There are no further excuses -- by electing George Bush, the United States has put its official seal of approval on all of Bush's inexplicable actions over the past four years. I find this jaw-dropping.

And maybe they didn't even really mean it like that. Maybe, for a lot of people, it was hopelessly irresponsible single-issue voting -- gays shouldn't marry, abortion should be illegal, I want the Ten Commandments in the classrooms. Nevermind the downward economic spiral we're in, nevermind we're in an unnecessary and appallingly expensive and deadly war that's seemingly endless. Bush is fiddling, and half of America has been persuaded to act as a happy, smoldering string section as Rome burns.

H.L. Mencken wrote, "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard." Well, the Republicans have the wheel, and pretty much carte blanche to do what they will for at least the next two years, and for every massive mis-step or outright travesty we're subjected to, there will be a legion of propagandists to blame everyone but the obvious culprits.

I think we'll all be getting it good and hard for the next few years -- the ones not smiling about it will be the Democrats.

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