Thursday, November 04, 2004

Two causes for the tragedy

The American election was a great tragedy, both for the American people and for the world. It will be the direct cause of untold suffering, death, and destruction. It is impossible to overstate how terrible an untrammeled Bush is going to be, and the full extent of the damage won't be known for years. The Democrats are already starting to turn themselves into knots over their loss. They had a perfectly presentable candidate who twisted most of his policy positions around to satisfy all but the most right-wing of right-wingers, and who was facing a blundering idiot with an unparalleled legacy of disastrous political decisions. How could Kerry possibly lose? Two reasons:

  1. People aren't entirely prepared to admit it, but there really is an underclass of very unhappy white people in the United States who are still fighting the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, and the Civil War. The dissatisfaction in their lives is caused by the powerlessness they feel in the face of the fact that they fall further behind with each generation. The Republicans manage these people with great skill, and use the full force of the media to direct all their anger and hatred to liberalism. The fact that many of them are evangelical Christians is more a symptom of the same malaise that it is the cause of their hatreds. Nutty religion is their opium. While many of them are terribly misinformed and stupid, I don't think it is entirely fair to say that they misunderstand their class interests. They have come to the conclusion that they are going to be screwed regardless of which party is in power, and they prefer to be screwed by a group that doesn't appear to hold them in contempt. Indeed, you get the impression that their hatred is so great that they are taunting the liberal attempts at policy solutions to their problems, almost saying we hate your contempt for us so much we'll prove it by voting against our own interests.

  2. The computer voting machines were fixed. This will be proven when differences between the recorded votes for Bush and the exit poll results are found to be higher in a statistically significant way in areas where computer voting machines were used. This will have to be carefully studied, as the Republicans were very clever and not greedy. They only manipulated the results in the key states and only to the extent they needed to win. The Democrats have only themselves to blame for this mess, having had plenty of notice of the problem and failing to complain about it until it was too late.

Both of these factors were necessary to the Bush win, and neither would have been sufficient in itself. So you can simultaneously blame the hating underclass, and absolve the majority of the American people. To put it another way, were it not for crooked voting machines, Bush's posse of haters wouldn't have been enough to gain the victory. What should the Democrats do about it? There appear to be two conflicting proposals, neither of which seems right, and no doubt the subject of my next posting.