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November 04, 2004

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Andrew Reeves

Claudia, it's really not that scary. The peculiarities of the way that information gets transmitted across the Atlantic are making the Bush administration and the American people look much more fascist than is actually the case. Bush is fiscally incompetent, but he is not evil, and his advisors are not planning on turning America into a police state.

Your husband has spent lots of time in the Washington Establishment and so could tell you better than I that most of the law enforcement provisions enacted by Bush were stuff that had been happening gradually for years anyway.

If your going to find Bush upsetting, find him upsetting because he turned the Iraq war into such a goatf***k. Find him upsetting because he seems to be trying to bankrupt the U.S. government. Find him upsetting because parts of his administration decided that it would be helpful in warfighting to wink at torture.

But if you're going to be disturbed at Bush, don't be disturbed because he's going to institute theocracy, and don't be disturbed because he's going to turn America into a police state. Neither one is going to happen.

Look at Illinois. Alan Keyes ran on a platform that was essentially Thomist and got something like 10% of the vote.

Natalie Getzoff

I am horrified at the results of the election. I am even more horrified today. The take-over of the Republican Party by far-right-wing conservatives with their agendas is of great concern to me. I emphatically (definitively, absolutely, etc.) do not want my morals to be legislated by people who do not share my views. I doubt I will ever vote for a Republican for president for that very reason.

Andrew wrote:
"But if you're going to be disturbed at Bush, don't be disturbed because he's going to institute theocracy, and don't be disturbed because he's going to turn America into a police state. Neither one is going to happen."

What you say makes sense, except for one important point. I don't believe that Bush has the power as a single person, even as POTUS, to institute a theocracy. However, the people of this fine (?) country seem to be electing officials in greater and greater numbers who are hyper-religious and do not mind mixing religion with government. I fear a theocracy. I believe that we as a country are a little way down that slippery slope, and it seems to me that many people are okay with that. This is what frightens me.

How sad that in 11 states bills passed to limit a small minority group's rights. And people seem fine with that.

Natalie

claudia

Yes, I feel like Natalie. Not for nothing is she my best friend, eh? :-)

I find that whole "Jesus/God is in my life and talking to me" very difficult to understand. It's fine for people to have their faith and even to demonstrate it to the world. I might even sometimes be a bit envious - life seems much easier with a strong faith. It's not OK when religion and politics get mixed up, though.

BTW, Natalie, I also signed The Million for Marriage Petition. For Dan and Don, and who knows, maybe one (or both?) of my own kids.

A big hug to you.

Andrew Reeves

Let me elaborate a bit on my point about the non-threat of theocracy. All the electoral triumphs that happened Tuesday were based on attempts to slow down or stop change that is currently going on. That's it. Dispite Bill Bennet's hopeful rhetoric to the contrary, there is going to be no rolling back of rights gained. Gay marriage would have been unthinkable just twenty years ago.
No one, though, is going to try too hard to illegalize abortion. One thing to remember about American Xians is that yes, about a third of all Americans claim to be born again. Of that third, though, for most of them it doesn't translate into wider action.
For example, something like 51% of Texans are Southern Baptists. The Southern Baptists interpretation of Xianity is pretty firm on the notion that alchohol is probably sinful to consume under any circumstances. I have lived twenty of the twenty-eight years of my life in Texas and I can say with a great deal of confidence that despite the extreme religiosity of Texans, despite the fact that over half of them are not just Christians but Southern Baptists, the Southern Baptist Church has had almost zero influence on the way Texans drink. Though the bars do close at 2 a.m.
Christians get abortions. Think about it: if you come from a faith that says that sex outside of marriage is not permitted, then when you do slip up and wind up having sex, chances are that there was probably not much preparation in the way of contraception. The natural result, plus the messy man-made solution happens more often than you'd think.
The reason that the election has been made all about gayness is that its easy to attack gays. Unless you are a gay person who was going to get married and now won't get spousal benefits, these kinds of actions have almost no effect on the populace at large, so politicians can do it. You start enacting other provisions of the Christian faith, though, things that will effect your average person, and you'll see a politician tossed out of office.
Trust me. Very little is going to come of all this.

Bernard Guerrero

Claudia & Natalie,

I have to agree (in part, at least) with Andrew. The idea that the U.S. is moving in a theocratic direction is merely hyperbole. Actual policy decisions in the last 4 years with a real religious tint are basically confined to an underutilized capacity for "faith-based" charities to get Federal money and John Ashcroft spending too much time worrying about pornography.

And on a more personal note, I did not vote for George Bush because "Jesus/God is in my life and talking to me". I go to church perhaps twice a year. I have a little car-magnet of a stylized fish with legs and "DARWIN" written inside. I do not care if people sleep with men, women or sheep. None of my business, knock yourself out.

I voted, in large measure, on the basis of the idea that the use of force to protect and advance the interests of the state, and, by extension, my own interests (to the large extent that those two sets overlap) is perfectly fine and dandy. I cannot accept pacifism as a moral imperative, and I find that a large portion of the Democratic Party seems to trying to sell me exactly that proposition, with complaints about the _execution_ of the war merely a smokescreen. I can and do accept arguments about execution, but the only moral imperative I see is the protection of me and mine. The government of the United States is not here to make the world a better place, it is here to make the world of the American taxpayer a better place, whether via the application of negotiation, bribery, argument towards mutual advantage or force. They're all just tools, and I don't feel that the Democratic Party properly accepts that. Yet.

Andrew Reeves

Out of curiosity, Bernard, what exactly is your thought on the fact that GW has been trying to do this Iraq business with far few troops and paying for it on the national credit card? Because the thing is, I agree that the Iraq war was more or less necessary and that the way to deal with people who think God wants us dead is to kill them first. I think, though, that the Bush administration's execution of the Iraq war has been badly done (especially the Fallujah vacillation last April).Do you think that any Democrat to the left of Joe Lieberman could make the case to you for fighting the ongoing war under different leadership?

Natalie Getzoff

Thanks to you, Andrew and Bernard, for your views. It is helpful to hear these things. However, as a secular Jew, I *feel* uncomfortable with the creeping insinuation of evangelical Christianity into the government of my country. Whether the a "theocracy" will actually come to pass is not the complete issue. Rather, much of the religious right's agenda produces a sense of unease and a feeling of being "other". Not nice feelings. Perhaps I am extra sensitive about it, since I have no real connection to the faith of Christianity. I have read the new Testament in the past, so I have had some real exposure to Christian teachings, but it held no real interest for me.

Actual decisions in the past 4 years producing no significant policy changes notwithstanding; there are more highly right wing conservative people in government as of 11/2/04. The future might very well be different.

And I loathe that hate-mongering of gays was used to "bring out the vote". It makes me sick. So speaks a hetero married woman.

Natalie

Kevin

Slow down there folks. Really. Let's not jump into the fever swamps with Michael Moore and the rest of the loony left. If anyone.... ANYONE can justify all this talk about an American thocracy by quoting a single Republican calling for any such thing please enlighten me. Remember, this was not an election won just with the votes of a bunch of medeival minded Christian Taliban. Consider the following from The Times of London:

"But before the entire Bush constituency is dismissed as merely a collection of religious fanatics, armed to the teeth and living in the hills, it should be remembered that the army of secular Americans is about the same size as those for whom cultural conservatism is the essence of their politics.... The crucial additional building blocks in the Bush coalition were drawn from beyond the stereotype of the Republican electorate. Mr Bush performed notably better among three categories of Americans on Tuesday than he had done four years earlier. These were women, the elderly and Hispanic citizens. The Hispanic electorate has been wooed by the White House for the whole of Mr Bush's tenure. He reaped a substantial reward for his efforts, not least in Florida. The Democratic Party, once the ultimate "rainbow coalition", has thus lost its hold on female electors and its dominance over a rapidly expanding ethic minority".

Realize that George Bush was the first president since Reagan to receive over 50% of the vote, the Republicans increased their majority in Congress for the second election in a row, have held a majority for ten years now, and hold a majority of the governorships and legislatures accross the country.

If you really want to start to understand the election, you'll need to take add some alternative views to your acceptance of the echo chamber constructed by the BBC, NY Times, The Nation, etc... Try this from a Wall Street Journal column by Jeffrey Zaslow on politicians' coping with political loss:

"I interviewed George W. Bush when he was governor of Texas, and he spoke frankly about how family bonds are tested. He said he had a "tempestuous" relationship with his daughters, then 13 years old. They listened to "songs that demean women" and watched "TV shows that disgust me," he said. "I'm constantly at war with them over that '90748' -- whatever that is, the one with all the numbers." (He was referring to "Beverly Hills 90210.")

But he said he had come from a family that practiced "absolute love" -- no matter what. That had carried the family through its lowest moments, including his father's losing 1992 re-election bid, and his brother's loss in the 1994 Florida governor's race. After their defeats, the future president said, he comforted both men by listening more than talking. "There's not much you can say but 'I love you.' I made sure I said it."

That is the George Bush 59 million Americans voted for.

Cat Meier

Claudia,

I'm only just now going back and reading your posts from right after the election. I sort of had to go into an information blackout for a little while after the election while I got myself back on an even keel emotionally.

That said, I want to thank you for the points you've been trying to make in posts like this one. I, like Natalie have really been feeling more and more like an outsider and an "other" in my own country lately. The point you made in a different post about how safe do gay people in those states that passed "marriage protection" laws feel right now? The answer, for those states and others like Virginia that have already passed such laws, is not very safe at all. And its not just that I feel like my rights and security are at risk, its that it seems like an awful lot of good people are just standing by and letting it happen. That's really the scariest thing.

But anyway, really I just wanted to say thank you for all you've said and all you've done. A lot of Americans are very unhappy with these results and we're not going to let go without a fight.

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