The War on Culture

Why Bush will be tough to beat no matter how terrible his performance

It’s not hard to imagine a blithering flunky yammering to an unflustered Rove about the string of the administration’s disasters coming to light. Bush’s inactions prior to 9/11 (what Al Franken brilliantly deemed “Operation: Ignore”). The lies, corruption, and sheer stupidity involved in dragging us into the deadly quicksand of Iraq. Their long habit of sliming whistleblowers without ever commenting on the merits of the dissenters’ complaints. The suppression of scientists and inconvenient facts, Medicare and the EPA in particular. On and on.

It’s also easy to imagine Rove gazing contemptuously at said flunky, and paraphrasing Bill Gates’ legendary (and perhaps apocryphal) put-down: “It’s the culture war, stupid.”

Sometimes, it seems that the American people are unforgivably stupid. How can half the country, many of us ask, still rally behind this clueless chimp? He’s a man who blunders his way through the simplest questions, even complaining that he should get them “ahead of time” to allow him to “plan” for them. This is a president who doesn’t understand the difference between wanting weapons of mass destruction and actually having them. Our president claimed to a foreign leader of a different faith that God told him to strike at al-Qaeda and Saddam. In any other democracy in the world, this man wouldn’t be a national leader — he’d be in a nice, safe rubber room where he couldn’t hurt anyone.

In America, he’s guaranteed about 40% of the vote, even if he executes a puppy on national television.

It can be difficult to admit to ourselves that we have to just write off about 120 million Americans as a lost cause. To be honest, it may not be that high — even now, only about half the country’s eligible voters plan to get off their rumps this November. Activism is high, so this number might climb to a stunning 55% — but don’t quote me on that. So it could be that most of the people who won’t vote just don’t care.

Still, the basic issue remains. Tens of millions of Americans will vote for George W. Bush no matter what. If a nuclear attack occurs on our soil and executive negligence can be conclusively proven, they’ll vote for him. If he personally executes Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office, they’ll vote for him (and think she deserved it). If he piles the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Federalist Papers, and Jefferson’s personal letters on the White House lawn and uses them to light a barbecue on national television, they’ll vote for him.

Why? Because John Kerry is a Democrat (and a real one, at that). That means he’s pro-choice, pro-environment, believes in freedom of religion, supports GLBT rights, and wants to keep the government involved in health care and social programs. His Purple Hearts, record as a prosecutor, and relentless defense of first responders (the firefighters’ union backed Kerry early, and stayed faithful while Dean was the front-runner) are irrelevant. He’s a liberal — a Massachusetts liberal, at that — and they all know what that means.

Except they don’t. In spite of an eight year Clinton presidency where the worst that happened was a year-long non-scandal involving a cigar and an intern, there appears to be a continuing belief that progressives somehow want to burn down their churches, force the men to wear pink, make all the women have abortions, and turn their children into gay atheist goths. Naturally, the government is going to be their tool, even though the military and the police trend toward Republicans. The irony of Bush being the major agent of change on that trend remains lost on these people.

An even greater irony is their ever-increasing effort to insert their agenda into American life: destroying the “wall” separating church and state, blacklisting “subversives” from using air travel, and trying to record everything from our e-mail to our biometric information. Any reasonably objective look at both sides will see that the vast majority of the suppressionist rhetoric is coming from one side — not all, certainly, but most of it. It even has a name and a movement strong enough to influence the current political scene: Christian Reconstructionism. [ed. note: The original link, “Christian Reconstruction: God’s Glorious Millennium?” by Paul Thibodeau at, isn’t archived anywhere I could find.]

Nevertheless, they see liberals and progressives as the enemy. Simply by existing, we threaten their way of life, because our freedom threatens theirs — read their arguments against “gay marriage” and their true position is laid bare. We endanger their beliefs solely by being endowed with our inalienable rights. Therefore, they must have a protector in a position of authority. Someone who will fight for their beliefs, no matter the facts, no matter the evidence, no matter the consequences. So help him God. They have such a “champion” in George W. Bush, and they will fight to keep him in office to the end, no matter who pays the price.

It is not important to know this in any attempt to reach these people. Most of them will never entertain the idea that they could be wrong — doubt itself is demonized, sometimes literally. This may, however, prove useful when trying to reach the people in the middle, while trying to explain why the man is such a menace that we’re coming out in droves to stop him. It may even inspire a few more in that center — or out toward the fringes where little difference is seen between the main candidates — to get more involved.

Good luck to you all.

(/) Roland X

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