Bad Voting Habits
Bush in a not-shell.
by Alan Bisbort - June 24, 2004
I am working up the courage to ask my brother-in-law why he will vote (again) for George W. Bush this November. My brother-in-law is a G-man, one of the most upstanding, outstanding and clean-living people I know. He is filled with integrity and driven to do right in a world gone wrong. He works hard, doesn't complain about pain (from which he suffers constantly due to a back ailment), puts his ass on the line every day he reports to work, loves his family intensely, and admires his older sister (my wife) with a quiet pride that is touching beyond words.
And so, I have often found myself wondering what he finds appealing about George W. Bush, the antithesis of all the things he has devoted his life to battling, a man who even cut the funds for his own G-Man office to reward his fabulously wealthy campaign donors. Or about Rush Limbaugh, to whom he not only listens on the radio but to whose publication ( The Limbaugh Letter ) he subscribes. That would be Rush Limbaugh, drug addict, pathological liar and laugher-at-torture.
Maybe the more appropriate question I should ask my brother-in-law is: What has GWB accomplished to warrant your rewarding your vote to him for a second term?
My guess is that my brother-in-law would start by saying, "Well, he is not a liberal." And that would be true enough. George W. Bush is not a liberal. And I am not a pedophile, but that does not qualify me for the priesthood. Nor am I a crook or a crack addict, but that doesn't qualify me to be a G-man.
Then, he would say, "And he is not a member of either the Clinton or Kennedy families." End of discussion.
Maybe these "negatives" explain why otherwise rational people would consider voting (again) to hand our nation's most crucial job at a time when we're facing our gravest dangers to a man who hears voices from God, taunts his enemies, thumbs his nose at the rest of the world, lies to the United Nations, the Congress and the American people and finds adolescent humor in all this.
Indeed, the only things GWB has going for him are negatives. He is not a liberal. Not a woman. Not black. Not any persuasion, really, other than Connecticut WASP. Not gay (although Betty Bowers offers a "fabulous" assessment of that possibility at her hilarious Web site: www.bettybowers.com
). Not a vegetarian, not a tree hugger, not even as smart as Billy Carter. Not, not, not: GWBush in a not-shell. He is simply "not" and nothing else can be said for him.
So, when did we stop demanding that our elected leaders have a positive vision? And I don't mean ridiculous things like, as one poll determined, Bush being "the guy you'd most want to have a beer with."
As far as I can see -- and, yes, I'm capable of seeing some "positives" in Republicans like Eisenhower, McCain, even Nixon -- there is nothing positive about the incumbent. He is inarticulate, petty, small-minded, bitter, inattentive, incurious, lazy, vindictive, rash, irresponsible with our money and our children's lives, deceitful if not pathologically truth-challenged, cowardly in the face of physical danger. And, as far as I can tell, his "vision" resembles the final pages of the Bible, an Apocalypse toward which he is dragging the rest of us who are not enraptured with his delusional prophecies.
And, likewise, there is little positive about the upcoming election that I can see. It will be ugly, deceitful, brutish, slimy, nauseating, vision-less, storebought, propaganda-driven, small-minded, mawkish. It will be an extension of the Reagan Funeral Mythologizing, featuring the tired old saws of Gay-Baiting, Fetus-Flogging, Class and Holy Wars, Flag-Waving, and Gun-Toting.
Because historian Theodore Sorenson's recent New School commencement speech stated the case so unsurpassably, I quote from it here: "This is not a speech. This is a cry from the heart, a lamentation for the loss of this country's goodness and therefore its greatness. Future historians studying the decline and fall of America will mark this time as the time the tide began to turn -- toward a mean-spirited mediocrity in place of a noble beacon ... . 'There is a time to laugh,' the Bible tells us, 'and a time to weep.' Today I weep for the country to which my four grandparents sailed over a century ago with hopes for a new land of peace and freedom. I cannot remain silent when that country is in the deepest trouble of my lifetime."
The deep political divides that exist in this country right now, and the fear and loathing that wafts out of Washington, D.C. to stoke this mean-spirited malaise, may make it impossible for Americans to be fully honest with themselves. Because if American voters were honest with themselves, they'd have to admit that, just this one time, the incumbent's miserable failings do not warrant turning to the Republican Party out of habit this November.