Saturday, November 06, 2004
Democracy, losing and telling people that they are too stupid to count
Middle America experienced an epiphany. We are not bigots or yokels just because we believe in the family and in traditional virtues and values. We are not hateful merely because we support our troops and cry when we hear the national anthem.
Working-class Americans began to ask some questions. They wondered why wealthy, white entertainers, artists and, I'm sure, freelance manufacturers of organic yogurt, were announcing that they would leave the United States if George Bush won the election.
Imagine that. If democracy didn't provide the result they wanted, these selfish rich kids would run away to Canada or Britain.
Is that patriotism? Middle America didn't remember Republicans threatening to leave when Bill Clinton won a second term.
Middle America grew tired of the insults. We're not voting out of fear, they said, we don't accept every word we hear from the government and we're not so easily manipulated. Stop telling us that we don't understand what's going on.
We've raised kids and paid mortgages and we resent listening to lectures, especially when delivered by an actress with a vacant smile and a copy of Socialism For Beginners.
Tired of the critics
Middle America shouted its impatience. It wasn't that it so liked George Bush, more that it was so tired of Bush's critics.
Middle America remembered a time when actors, singers and writers reflected the nation. These performers no longer aspired to reflect but to reshape it in their own narcissistic image.
John Kerry was too close to that clan, too much part of the culture of smug assumption.It wasn't George Bush who was the victor last week, but men and women who stood up and announced to the self-defined elites that "the people" is not a concept but a flesh-and-blood reality. And one that bites back.
Important thing to realize: Democracy doesn't mean if you lose, you run away. Democracy doesn't mean you begin to campaign for revolution, or try to figure out ways to take the vote away from the people (both solutions I have seen posted by democratic activists in the last two days). Democracy is the art of choosing leaders based on being able to persuade others that your approach is more correct and better.
Note to the wise: If you really want to persuade people, don't tell them you know better. Be careful of your own propaganda - this time around, so much of what people were saying seemed to be based on items repeated over and over without any fact checking that a lot of people just stopped listening. Look and see what motivates them really. Any English teacher can tell you that one.