The Manichean Candidate
Not only are we going to Bar Rouge, we’re going to the Hawk and Dove and Chi-Cha and the Felix Lounge and Madam’s Organ and New Vegas, and we’re going to the Marx Cafe and Juste Lounge and Recesssions! And we’re going to Firefly and JR’s and Hung Jury and Degrees! And then we’re going to L Street to take back the masthead, yee-uughhhh...
But The Shouting
The most frequent objection I’ve heard to the [Feiler Faster Thesis] is that it seems to assume that ordinary voters pay as close attention to the up-and-down birdsong of politics as political reporters do. No it doesn’t! The recent elections in California suggested to me how the FFT might apply even when voters only really pay attention to a race at the last minute.
Actually, that last bit is the key. Voters only really pay attention at the last minute. This was evident this year in the battle for several California propositions, in which the entire campaign effectively started the Thursday before the election. Of course, in relatively placid, prosperous times, when people have better things to do than worry about elections, it stands to reason they’ll pay less attention than before to drawn-out political campaigns and that they’ll wait to focus on their civic duty until they absolutely have to decide. [Emphasis mine. —E]
So if the Presidential election is already over, what’s with all the media activity in Iowa and New Hampshire? That’s easy: it’s the Recount.
The MoveOn.org experiment continues to turn heads with its volunteer mobilization, an achievement that probably would not have been possible without some rabid anti-Bush preaching to the choir. The downside to Internet organizing, of course, is that it is all too easy to lose control over the message, as the kerfuffle over the latest Godwins Law violation shows.
Whats been depressing me about contemporary political discourse is that Im having extreme difficulty modeling the thinking of the average Bush supporter, or, more importantly, the Bush supporter whom I might putatively be able to persuade to change his vote. At the grassroots level, American politics seems to lack the maturity that comes with realizing that ones own reason(s) for supporting/opposing a candidate are not necessarily the most persuasive in trying to sway others. The aforementioned Balkanization will only exacerbate this trend.
I was therefore pleasantly surprised by the winner of the
"Bush in 30 Seconds" contest, particularly considering who was doing the judging.
Because I cant model the worldview that believes the Bush Administration has
made the world safer, I dont have a strategy to disabuse anyone of it. I
am much more comfortable rebutting the post-Clinton assertion that "the
grownups are back in charge" by simply referring to the budget. To every
American voter who thinks that the invasion of Iraq strengthened U.S. power abroad,
who thinks the Department of
Defense Against the Dark Arts Homeland Security
is acting wisely and competently, who thinks "moral clarity" is an
important quality in elected officials, or who thinks (with little argument from me)
that the current crop of Democratic nominees is uninspiring, I would say only this:
George W. Bush ran as the "C.E.O. of America;" do you really want to be a
shareholder in Enron?