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Thursday, November 04, 2004

Yesterday was a tough day, a depressing day. Today was a little better. I've regained my sanity a little, and I'm beginning to keep solid foods down again. I was kind of hoping Ashton Kutcher would show up on CNN and tell us that what happened Tuesday was nothing more than an elaborate hoax, that we'd all been royally Punk'd. But Ashton is nowhere to be found. And so, all the questioning, all the soul searching, all the what-the-fuck-happened? has begun. I can't be bothered to weigh in on the speculation about what the Democratic Party needs to do to right the ship because, frankly, I'm tired. This does not, however, mean that I'm giving up - not by a long shot. This also doesn't mean that I don't have a few theories as to what happened. In short, I'm blaming God.

Ok, that's a bit dramatic, but I truly think religion played a larger part in this election than in years past. We've heard a lot about what mattered most to voters as they headed to the polls on Tuesday, and surprisingly (to me at least), the overriding issue seems to have not been terrorism, not the mess in Iraq, not the failing economy, but rather, "values," specifically conservative values. Before I get into it, let me make clear that I have nothing against religion; I think it's a good thing. What I do have a problem with is people hijacking a religion to further their own agendas and ambition, and it is my contention that this is exactly what the Bush administration has done.

I remember in the days and weeks and months after 9/11, how quickly the country began to turn toward religion for answers. In my lifetime, I had never seen such a dramatic embrace of religious values, but it made sense. We'd seen hell-on-earth on our television screens, or, in the case of those of us here in New York, in our skies. People we're scared, they wanted answers. September 11, 2001 instilled so much fear and panic throughout the country, I think many people just threw up their hands to the heavens and said, "we don't understand this crazy world, please help us God!!" And then, along came Bush proclaiming to be hand-picked by the almighty himself to fight this war and lead this country. The people said, "Hallelujah! Bush talks to God, let him guide us!" And now, despite all the facts and all logic, they support the guy, unwilling to admit that, when the curtain is pulled back, the mighty Oz is nothing but a mere mortal, able to make mistakes just like the rest of us. If the people admitted that, they'd panic all over again, fearful of a scary world without clear and simple answers. And so, blind faith trumps fear of the unknown and Bush gets four more years. It's the only explanation for how a president whose policies are disapproved of by a majority of the population, can still win the popular vote.

Reasoned thought lost out in this election, blind faith won. Just like Islamic fundamentalists have hijacked the Muslim faith to further their fundamentalist agendas, the Bushites have hijacked Christianity to further theirs. To understand what I mean, just take a look at the completely unnecessary issue of gay marriage, which was introduced into the campaign by the Bush machine simply so Republicans could use it to tout their so-called 'value' system and get their conservative base to the polls. While P.Diddy and Jon Bon Jovi worked to energize the youth vote for the Dems, a good majority of priests, ministers and other clergy in the heartland were busy pumping up the Republican base by extolling the evils of 'gay marriage', often doing so at the behest of the White House.

But just because the Republicans hold up the 'values' mantle, it doesn't mean their interpretation of "core values" are in the best interest of the country. How does denying an entire group of Americans their basic civil rights because it makes some people 'uncomfortable' equal 'values'? How does bankrupting our children's future fit in with core Christian 'values'? How did making it easier for anyone to get their hands on high-powered assault weapons become a core 'value'? How does sending jobs to India instead of putting people back to work here at home translate into 'values'? How does limiting scientific progress that could lead to cures for a slew of deadly illnesses amount to solid 'values'? What kind of hypocritical 'value set' are they talking about when the life of an unborn child is valued more than that of an 18-year-old sent off to Iraq without the proper equipment or planning? I hate to say this, but to all you well-meaning people of faith: These folks are using you. Sorry, but you've been Punk'd.

Again, I'm not slamming religion, I'm slamming the way the Bush administration has hijacked religion and played on people's fears to push their ultra-conservative agenda. And now they claim to have a mandate to do it... I'm not sure how 51% translates into a mandate, but we're not living in a "reality-based community" anymore, we're living in BushWorld.

And so, I will continue to fight because I, a proud member of the reality-based community, don't want to live in BushWorld anymore. But of course, I'm nothing but a godless, valueless heathen from a blue-state, so why listen to me?

Errol Louis: The Red State Blues.
Richard Reeves: The Dangerous Mix.
William Saletan: How to start winning the red states. (Thanks AB)
Chen Chung-ho and the Lion's Den, a metaphor?

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