Saturday, November 06, 2004

Mass hysteria

The emerging buzz seems to be that the Democratic Party needs to re-examine itself. A lot of commentators think that the Democratic Party needs to figure out how to pitch its message in a more religious way. Some observers, including some whom I respect, even point approvingly to Amy Sullivan's nonsensical blathering about the Democratic Party's alleged hostility to religion.

The outcome of this election was determined by mass hysteria and insanity. People who cited "terror" as their top issue voted for the President who refused to testify before the 9/11 Commission under oath; and who, when he ultimately appeared before that commission, needed Papa Cheney to hold his hand. People who cited "moral values" as their top issue voted for the adminstration that winked at Abu Ghraib, and that commissioned memos defending torture as a matter of principle. I define insanity as belief incompatible with consensus reality. Bush voters acted from inside a collective hallucination.

Red America is Winston Smith, strapped to the table. Red America is seeing O'Brien hold up four fingers, which transmogrify on command into five. And as the music announcing our glorious military triumph plays from the telescreen, a bullet is entering Red America's brain, a tear is trickling beside its nose: Red America loves Big Brother.

The Democrats' job is not to pander to this insanity, but to help cure it. The way to cure it is not by figuring out how to walk and talk like the sanctimonious assholes on the other side of the aisle. It is to bring reality back to the voters --- at least, to those voters who are not so far gone as to be unreachable (I happen to think that much of the evangelical Christian population is, in fact, gone past the point of no return; we'll just have to wait a generation for them to die, and hope their children rebel).

Also, it is worth pointing out that when people talk about "religious" voters, they mean white rural and suburban Protestant voters. Black Christians vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. Jews vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. Muslims voted, in this election, overwhelmingly for Democrats. I don't know for sure, but I would venture a guess that Buddhists, Hindus, Rastafarians, etc., vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. Even Catholics still vote Democratic more than Republican. So we are not talking about "religion", but about one particular religious bloc which doesn't even constitute a majority of the population anymore (the current CIA World Factbook says that 52% of Americans are Protestants; white rural and suburban Protestants must necessarily be a minority).

And in calling these voters the "religious" bloc, we reveal an underlying assumption that this minority demographic somehow has values that are more genuine, more worthy, more really religious, than anyone else's. Nonsense. Our message reaches every other religious demographic just fine. The question is not how to make our message more religious. The question is, why does this one demographic bloc have beliefs (about both reality and morality) that diverge from those of every other religious bloc? Which is a good question.

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