The Civility Vote
by Ari Armstrong, November 11, 2004
One source of Bush's victory not captured by the exit polls was the civility vote. The hysterical left was Bush's ally in this election, as the mainstream voted against mean-spirited, condescending, Chicken-Little politics. Indeed, I suspect Michael Moore got more votes for George W. Bush than he got for John Kerry. The Democrats got out the vote, but they also did so for Bush.
The day after the election, anti-Bush protesters in Denver reminded many why they voted for Bush. A Denver Post story relates, "An unruly crowd... wended its way through downtown Denver on Wednesday evening loudly protesting the re-election of President Bush and the war in Iraq. They marched, sang, chanted and shouted. And, in shades of the 1960s, they even burned a flag."
Because, as everybody knows, burning the American flag has always been a big turn-on for mainstream and conservative voters, particularly veterans and their families.
One protester told the Post the goal was to "bitch" about the election. The group chanted, "Not my president. Not my war." This from the left, which purportedly endorses democracy.
This group was hardly representative of Kerry's supporters, of course. Yet neither Kerry nor his mainstream supporters spent much effort trying to keep the enraged left in check. Instead, Kerry sometimes encouraged it.
Rich, spoiled, hopelessly cocooned Hollywood elitists frantically cried this was the most important election of their lifetimes. Now they're shocked -- shocked! -- that few voters take their political opinions seriously. Meanwhile, the Hollywood crowd led "get out the vote for Kerry" efforts cynically couched in non-partisan, democratic language. It wasn't too difficult to guess the intended meaning of the "vote or die" T-shirts. Voters don't trust Eminem to pick the President -- go figure!
Entire books have been devoted to making Bush look stupid. Michael Moore titled a book, "Stupid White Men." A web page called TooStupidToBePresident.com targeted Bush.
Jason Bosch, who participated in an event called Organizing Political Education with Non-Partisanship, wrote in a November 4 e-mail, "This is a shameful time for America and a nightmare for the world... I've heard several people say they want to leave the country. Please don't... [W]hat went wrong is Americans are severely ignorant and misinformed."
Hmm... it's a wonder voters didn't warm up to people who despise their fellow Americans and call them stupid. The campaign pitch, "Hey, you pathetic idiot, vote for Kerry," seems not to have worked, for some strange reason.
In March, a comment on the web page of the Rocky Mountain Progressive Network stated, "[State Senator] Mark Hillman whines about librul professors... Those inabstinent profs just ruffle his 'do, but 'durn it, he still stares right..."
Hillman rightly blasted the "limousine liberals [who] assume people from the country are too dumb to spell or speak properly, which obviously means we're too stupid to have relevant opinions." Yet Hillman should take the criticism seriously: we all know a "librul" professor would never, say, kick a student with a Republican sweatshirt. (Oh, wait -- that did happen to a student from Fort Lewis College.)
Thankfully, Bill Vandenberg of the Colorado Progressive Coalition denounced "liberal elitism" and said it's "not representative of most 'liberals' with whom I and my organization work." Still, following Bush's election, the New York Times quoted one liberal elitist who decried the "obtuseness and shortsightedness of... the heartland," a placed marked by a "redneck, shoot-from-the-hip mentality." Yesiree, blame us rednecks.
Moore's film made tons of money, but his claims were mostly destroyed by David Kopel's Fifty-nine Deceits in Fahrenheit 9/11. Moore demonstrated his mean streak by taking a clip of Bush, who was speaking at a fundraising event to help sick people and where speakers traditionally "roast" themselves, completely out of context. This was at the the 55th annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner on October 19, 2000. Many voters reacted angrily to Moore's conspiracy theories and sleazy tactics.
An ad from MoveOn PAC was not so egregious, but it still quoted Bush out of context. The ad showed Bush joking about looking for weapons of mass destruction. This was at the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association 60th annual dinner on March 24, 2004. While Bush's use of humor was questionable, the ad didn't tell the whole story. Humor is common at the event Bush attended.
Here's how Bush ended that speech: "But I do have a few serious photos to show you, in closing... Some of our Special Forces sent me this last picture... The photo hangs in my private study next to the Oval Office. To honor those who died on September the 11th, and to make a statement of their own commitment to this country's security, these Americans buried a piece of the World Trade Center in a place in Afghanistan where the al Qaeda once ran free. They wrote that they held a ceremony, which was far more emotional than they had expected. The team leader wrote a prayer and a dedication. Let me read you one sentence from that dedication. 'We consecrate this spot as an everlasting memorial to the brave Americans who died on September the 11th, so that all who would seek to do her harm will know that America will not stand by and watch terror prevail.' We will not stand by. The greatest honor being President is leading such men and women. We have the freedom we enjoy tonight because they protect that freedom. And may God protect them."
MoveOn didn't want to quote that part of the speech. Nor did MoveOn want to review the ties between Saddam Hussein and terrorist organizations, as described at HusseinAndTerror.com and elsewhere.
Of course, nastiness infected both sides. Randal Wagner of Lakewood was out stealing the yard signs of Democrats when he tripped on a chain and knocked himself unconscious. Few will accuse either side of keeping their ads civil, and both sides could collect endless anecdotes about nasty behavior.
On net, though, the left's hatred of Bush helped Bush probably more than the right's hatred of Clinton helped Clinton years ago. The snarling disrespect for Bush and his supporters by elements of the left was palpable. Will the left blame the voters, or will its members drag themselves in front of a mirror?
Ari Armstrong edits
This article has been edited slightly from the version distributed by the Independence Institute.
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