Sunday, November 07, 2004

Our People Deal In Absolutes II

It’s worth reading this Post article from the other day, though I’m somewhat wary of the priority given to the “moral values and “Evangelical Christians won it for Bush" narrative being championed right now- as though this was the ultimate lynchpin in the victories the Republicans scored on November 2nd. To that vote, which I do think was highly mobilized to get out and vote against the cesspool of hot gay sex and the grotesqueries of vacuuming up brain tissue in partial birth abortion procedures you also need to add other factors like those so-called Security Moms who continue to wake up in the middle of the night, shaky from nightmares they’ve had of their children swallowing mouthfuls of dirty bomb or (worse), of their elementary schools being taken over by al-Qaeda terrorists who promise to show no mercy and have rigged every inch, from the tiny school desks filled with paste and crayons and #2 pencils to the roofs and doors and corners with fire bombs and murderous chemicals. For a great number of these Moms (and Dad’s too, mind you) the decision to vote for Bush wasn’t necessitated on the idea that he was on the side of Jesus (with everybody else is busy worshiping false idols or secular humanism) but by being persuaded through whatever media cocktail they’ve been drinking since 9/11 (the morning paper, a bit of the Today Show, the 6 O' Clock News. the latest Vanity Fair or Time Magazine and the passive consumption of the millions of dollars in campaign commercials and rhetoric pushing their primal parental buttons) that Bush was going to do a better job then Kerry in protecting their children from terrorists.

We have to add the rights further outreach and inroads into the suburbs (where those Security Moms and Dads live in gathering abundance) and rural areas, too. We have to include those fiscal conservatives and moderates who held their nose and voted Bush even though they agreed that Iraq was a mess, the deficit way too deep and that, yes, there was something a little off putting about the way Bush pandered to the evangelicals. They voted Bush anyway. There were those who voted against Kerry’s because of his vote for, then against, funding in Iraq. They voted against the flip-flopper, the Swift Boat liar and coward, and the wind sailing New Deal liberal. There were those who voted Bush because they believe Iraq was a noble and on-going experiment in democracy and we owe it, in the very least, the burden of our awesome responsibility. Some voted for Bush because they make over $200,000 a year and worship at the temple of the free market and less taxes. They voted Bush because they like having extra cash lying around for private jets and half a dozen vacation homes. Some voted for Bush because all that talk of traditional values spiked with his resounding determination to kill terrorists appealed to them.

All of which makes me wary when folks like David Finkel proclaim that the moral value/Evangelical Christian vote, like the Leslie’s as depicted in Finkel’s Post article, “are precisely the people the Bush campaign built its reelection strategy on.” It’s too soon to construct a meaningful narrative that encompasses all the contours and nuances for why the Dems lost. Finkel’s article offers a kind of quick fix. The Leslie’s are perfect specimens of Evangelical Christianity for all that want to see. Knock on enough doors and such exhibits are pretty easy to find. Do the Leslie’s oppose abortion? Check! Want a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as being between a man and a woman? Definitely! Hope we can get more Supreme Court Justices just like Scalia and Thomas? You bet! Say things like, “I think it’s so important to have a society of moral absolutes.” Of course they do! Finkel doesn’t say if they’re End-Timers or if they’ve read most of the Left Behind series but we’re going to hazard a guess that they’ve even watched the Kirk Cameron straight to video adaptation.

This isn’t to say that I don’t find the fact that large swaths of this country believe George Bush is the vehicle through which their God speaks to and for them highly disturbing. It also freaks me out that they believe separations between church (at least the Christian ones) and state to be a myth and have theocratic intentions. But Finkel’s article is manufactured pap pandering to those looking for easy answers. “It’s because they hate homos and abortions so much- that’s what got them out to vote!”

A couple months ago a group of us were having breakfast at the Lincoln Restaurant in Ravenswood when we overheard the woman (we wondered later if she wasn’t visiting from out of town) tell those sitting around her, “I just don’t see how God would bless a nation that didn’t obey His laws.” Or maybe you’re like me and believe that we reside in a secular republic and a pluralistic society, one founded by men who had only to look to England and its national religion to recall the yoke of state sponsored monotheistic religious oppression.

Gore Vidal once wrote, “It is curious just how little understood this amendment (the First Amendment) is- yes, everyone has the right to worship any god he chooses but he does not have the right to impose his beliefs on others who do not happen to share in his superstitions and taboos.”

Fundamentalist Evangelicals are a concern, but I don’t think their turn out was why Kerry ultimately lost this election and we’d no well to resist the trend over the last 5 days to accept this narrative as conventional wisdom.

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