Thursday, December 16, 2004

Election Blues, Part II

Briefly, now. Here's the thing. The election was fought on the "security issues" because BOTH candidates WANTED it fought there--Bush because he's the salamander in chief, Kerry because he thought he could avoid the "liberal" designation if he waged the campaign on foreign soil, that is, outside the jurisdiction of liberals, whose domestic policies are the analogue of the "nation-building" foreign policies favored by the Bush junta.

Didn't work, did it? You want to be a liberal and run for president, you got to show how and why your opponent's FOREIGN policy mutilates the liberal DOMESTIC agenda almost everyone--except the Club for Growth or the Federalist Society--wants enacted. That large crowd of Americans would include Newt and his contracters: a lot of undecideds there, my friend.

Kerry, instead, EMBRACED the Bush foreign policy, and so could never foreground the crucial domestic policy differences. The turning point in the campaign came when Lurch says, "Well, yeah, I'd have voted for war even if I had known there were no WMD in Iraq." Don't get me wrong, I canvassed in Allentown, PA, for this man on the weekend before the election.

But please. You try to make foreign policy, the "security issues," the central themes of the campaign because some twit has told you that you gotta trump Bush on this, and then you say, "What a good idea it was to invade Iraq!"

At that moment, the real undecided voters ask themselves, what's the point of voting for the other guy? The guy who's there is as dumb as a post and just as immoveable, or, more politely, resolute; the guy who's not in the big office is awful smart but agrees with the dumbass on the key issue. Why go for broke? Why go for the guy who confuses you on the issues he's chosen?

Remember, 30-40% of those who voted for Bush do NOT agree with him on the public policy issues. In this, I think, he is another Reagan, and to this extent I dissent from Steve Usselman's post.

But shit, there is such a thing as the blues: "blue devils," the etymology and Albert Murray tell us, those overwhelming feelings of disaster, defeat, disappointment, dismay, disbelief, discumbobulation, despair, disgust. . . We have to play through it, or dance to it, or both, make our way toward the other side however we can. Already it looks closer. See you there.

3 Comments:

At December 22, 2004 at 11:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having also spent time in Pennsylvania canvassing for Kerry I have also thought a lot about the campaign. But I’m surprised that our perceptions diverge so much.

Kerry may have thought that he could avoid the “liberal designation,” by focusing on foreign policy but I don’t think that he had much choice in the matter. Foreign policy had to be one of the “central themes” of the campaign. How could it not be? It wasn’t the advice of some “twit” but a political necessity to attempt to trump Bush on this. How could any Democrat not want to try to address the concerns of post-9/11 Americans about security and foreign policy issues? If liberal and left-liberal candidates are going to prevail in future elections, they can and must frame better foreign policy arguments than the Republicans.

Yes, Bush’s foreign policy, such as the billions wasted on missile “defense,” “mutilates the liberal domestic agenda.” That is an argument that Kerry could have made while avoiding the “l” word. But that would have been insufficient to win the election because it would have not have spoken to those voters who were unconvinced that Kerry and the Democrats could “keep us safe.”

I disagree that Kerry “EMBRACED” Bush’s foreign policy. Yes, Kerry did say some foolish things about the war, like the statements you cited. On the whole, I think that with its multilateral emphasis Kerry articulated a foreign policy vision that was very different from Bush’s. And increasingly during the campaign, he distanced himself from Bush’s Iraq policy and articulated real and substantive differences that he had with Bush over the conduct of the war and the decisions that had led to it. Even with that Kerry lost the votes of white working class people who thought that Bush made them feel “safer.” That Kerry had trouble getting across what he could to resolve the Iraq war was a serious problem.

Now Kerry missed opportunities. He could have made much stronger arguments that Bush has made us less safe by making war on Iraq, that he has squandered world-wide sympathy for the United States after 9/11 by taking a dangerously unilateralist approach, and that an unfriendly world could only be a dangerous one for Americans. I would have liked to see him make arguments about the Middle East peace process and why progress there could reduce our exposure to Jihadists but it would have been very difficult to get into that in the atmosphere of the campaign.

Yes, Bush may be “another Reagan” only his instincts are far worse.

Bill Burr
Washington, D.C.

 
At November 8, 2005 at 8:28 AM, Blogger NoTONoEagles said...

Help Mommy, there are Liberals! underneath my bed!!! (No, seriously, that's the name of the book...) Don't believe me? The dang thing's on Amazon, not some hippie-press bullcrap ;) Anyway, thought you might enjoy, pinko ;)

 
At January 5, 2010 at 7:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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