Bush As John Wayne

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Four more years. It’s hard to know just where to start on this one. First of all, I must admit that I am not surprised George Bush won the election. In fact, much to the chagrin of some friends and colleagues I predicted this outcome.
Because of my dire prediction one friend scolded me for my “pessimism.â€? But I am a realist. And realistically I just didn’t see the Democrats winning. Why?  Well basically it has to do with understanding the times and the average American. Unfortunately, most of us who live in big-city America fail to grasp how most of America works and thinks. And most of America is not gridlocked-highways, crowded-subways or concert plays. America is very much a small-townrural nation.
Often when we think of small-town rural America we become intoxicated by thoughts of its scenes and smells. We think of its carefree atmosphere. Life there is a world away from our everyday reality. In many ways it is more simplistic. And that is exactly the problem, because suddenly life in a post 9-11 America is much more complex than before.
However, complexity is not something that America appreciates.  Complexity is scary. It is hard to contain in one-liners. Therefore, simple-minded slogans such as “you’re either with us or against usâ€? are easier to fathom. The truth of the matter is that the average American suffers from the ignorance of a Peter Pan mentality.   After 9-11 many were asking “why do ‘they’ hate us?â€? But this is a question that requires the kind of analysis that America is not yet ready for. The idea of “themâ€? hating us “because of our freedomsâ€? strokes America’s juvenile need to appear innocent.  Give the Republicans credit for understanding and exploiting this, as well as the political obtuseness of many in “America’s Heartlandâ€? and “Bible Beltâ€?.
  The religious aspect of this Republican victory should not be overlooked because the “religious rightâ€? is one of the most powerful voting blocs. So playing to their extremism also factors into this equation via issues like: abortion, stem cell research and gay marriage. Many were scared into believing that gay marriages would mushroom in a Democratic White House. Hey we may all lose our jobs as the economy descends into the toilet but at least there will be no marriages for Adam and Steve or Evelyn and Eve. Republicans also reportedly passed out fliers in these areas stating that the democrats wanted to ban the bible from many aspects of everyday life.
Let’s face it the Republicans are masters of using fear and deception. And the American people are very fearful now. 9-11 saw to that. So Bush came galloping to the rescue, which leads to another reason Bush won: the John Wayne effect.
The personality of John Wayne is one of the most widely revered in America. All you have to do to realize this is watch any classic movie or western channel. But what is it about John Wayne that Americans are so in love with? Well the answer to that is partly why fifty-nine million voted for Bush. You see John Wayne epitomizes two virtues most Americans fallaciously think define them. And that is the notion of a nation that is fair but tough. The “Duke� represents (in their minds) the good-natured but rugged-as-nails cowboy. This is something Ronald Reagan understood, as well as Bush.
The irony here is that John Kerry’s real life experiences more closely mirrors these ideals than Bush’s even though Kerry doesn’t wear a cowboy hat or boots. But empty imagery seems to be enough for this majority. So Bush now personifies John Wayne.
Many have told me that Kerry failed to clearly articulate his position. So Bush did? Well to be fair, John Kerry wasn’t always quite clear. For instance, Kerry fumbled what should have been the touchdown question in the first debate. PBS’s Jim Lehrer invoked this post-Vietnam question when Kerry had asked: “how can you look at a man and ask him to die for a mistake?� Lehrer then asked him if he thought the Iraq War was a mistake. However, after criticizing Bush all night about his rush to war and his handling of it, Kerry curiously answered no. These contradictions are just the kind republicans like to point out. But Bush’s August’s 30th 2004 Matt Lauer interview is now forgotten. That was when a rare moment of sanity possessed Bush to say that you can’t really win the war on terror. However, the very next day he back-pedaled (or flip-flopped) and was once again in his gunslinger, law-and-order posture.
In the end the Republicans won by manipulating a public that is very much out of touch with the pulse of the world. Maybe America thinks it can survive in a bubble of innocence forever. Many republicans are gloating at their victory saying amen and “god bless America.� But I say may god help us all.

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