Monkey-brained Musings

Saturday, September 11, 2004
The Long Shadows

So, here we are, three years on from the attacks of September 11th, 2001, and on the eve of a Presidential election defined by what we have done in response. Given the record, it is clear that if the election were to be based on a rational decision, Kerry would win in a landslide. Unfortunately, however, the decision will be based largely on emotional responses as well. While liberals are driven to fits of aggravation over this, this is the aspect of the election that Bush understands the best and where he has the advantage.

Paul Krugman had an excellent column this week on the mythic reality underlying this election. This is an area that Kerry and the Democrats have neglected to their peril. In this campaign, the mythic terms and Jungian archetypes are almost as important as the policy proposals. Presidents Clinton was a master of speaking to the American myths. Senator Hillary Clinton is smart enough to recognize the need to speak to citizens on such mythic terms even though it is not her usual approach. She is not a master, but she makes the effort.

I am concerned that Kerry doesn’t get this. Recently, the chief question that I have gotten from likely Democratic voters is that they do not have a sense of who Kerry is. They have not heard enough about what he has done in the Senate and about what is offering for the four years ahead. These concerns go to the emotional heart and to the American myths of progress and of our place in the world. Those concerns will be the focal points of this election. Back in December and January when Dean was looking like the runaway favorite and Kerry’s campaign was in disarray, Kerry stepped up, spoke to the voters’ concerns, and turned his campaign around. Let us all hope that Kerry gets to the emotional heart of this election in time.


>>I am concerned that Kerry doesn’t get this. Recently, the chief question that I have gotten from likely Democratic voters is that they do not have a sense of who Kerry is. They have not heard enough about what he has done in the Senate and about what is offering for the four years ahead.<<

I think that this problem exists largely because Kerry isn't sure who he is. Unlike Bush, who has picked an ideology and more or less sticks to it, Kerry has gone through a very uneasy evolution over the years and now his desire to get elected and please his party, his real long-held values and the positions his handlers are pushing him to take are pulling him in three different directions and it leaves him horribly confused.

Bush is no great prize, but at least when you see him you know what you're getting, like it or not. With Kerry you might find yourself voting for Clinton and getting Che Guevara.

As for your basic thesis, it's pretentious bunk. From what I've seen it's democrats who are overwhelmingly driven by emotion and republicans who are given to looking at things more logically. Right now democrats are driven mostly by rage and fear and bewilderment. They don't understand Bush, they fear what they think he stands for, and even more they fear the dawning realization that their long-held beliefs have lost currency and are slipping more and more out of the political mainstream. This means a loss of power and a loss of relevancy that most of them can't bear to face. In this state of constant fear they are incredibly gullible and easily manipulated. Any Michael Moore who comes on the scene with lies and distortions which play to their paranoid expectations can herd them in a frenzy off his cliff of choice.

In contrast, republicans as a whole are much calmer and less emotional. They have a certain faith in the constitution and the republic and the people which leaves them confident that things will work out. They're much more optimistic. For the most part they don't have to paint Kerry as a devil or fabricate criticism to maintain their sense of safety. They see a job that needs doing and they support Bush because they think he can do it. It's more pragmatic and less reactive than the democrat perspective. Sure, some of their beliefs are reprehensible, but ont he real issues they usually come down on the side of the individual, and that earns them a lot of points with me.

Good comments, Dave.

Jeb, I have yet to meet a Democrat who can tell me why he/she is voting FOR Kerry. Within 30 seconds, it turns into a tirade about why they don't want Bush. You mentioned Kerry's record. That's his problem. He has no record. He has spent twenty years in the Senate and cannot point to any major accomplishments. Now he supposedly has a plan for everything. I'm not buying it, and I don't think the majority of the country will either.

During the early part of the primaries, he was pro-war. Then, when the media decided that Dean was not electable and Kerry took a $6 million loan on his wife's house to finance his losing campaign, he became an anti-war candidate and won the nomination. He doesn't know who he is, just that he wants to be President. Do you really have a clue what he will do if (God forbid) he becomes President?

The short answer to your post is that Kerry hasn't found his heart. Your former governor is a good man. I have no doubt that he has a heart and that it is in the right place. Vote with your mind; vote for Bush.
Well, I am voting for Kerry because I know that he will lead America back onto a track of fiscal responsibility and diplomatic integrity. I know that Kerry will not compromise our national values to serve the goals of individual factions. I know that Kerry will responsibly and ethically use science in developing and implementing public policy.

Emotion plays a role in the campaigns and bases of both parties. My argument is that it Bush is using it to greater advantage. You can see this with how he plays on people's fears with lies such as Kerry's planning to treat the terrorists as a nuisance and in the attacks on Kerry for mentioning Cheney's daughter.

As for the Dems exhibiting "rage and bewilderment" at challenges to their "long-held beliefs," a debate over those beliefs has been taking place for about 15 years. Clinton, in his election as President and before that in his election to lead the Democratic Leadership Council, challeged those beliefs. What we have seen this year has been just the opposite. We have seen the emergence of new beliefs, coalitions, and motivations that will guide the Dems during the coming decade.

Polls are open. Time to vote.

Post a Comment

The scattered musings of Jeb Boyt, Austin Texas. A collection of the random bits that scamper through my monkey brain. This blog is my personal record. The opinions expressed here are my own and are in no way associated with any employer, board, commission, organization, or other entity that I may be affiliated with. So there.

Austin Links

Mike Dahmus | Prentiss Riddle | Austin Metro Trails & Greenways | Austin Bloggers Meta Site | Austin Screenwriters | Chronicle | S. John's Blue Room | Ray in Austin | Life in Austin | Sal Costello | Allandale Neighborhood | The Texas Whip | Austin Hotspot Map | New Urban Prospect |

Good Folks

Gareth Michael Skarka, | Wil Wheaton, | Elissa Carey, | Justin Achilli, | Monte Cook, | Ken Hite, | Ian Noble | John August | Theron | I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing | Complications Ensue | Chris Pramas | Scriptweaver | Screenwriting Resources | Treasure Tables | Terra Nova


Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo, | Burnt Orange Report, | Pink Dome, | Ruy Teixeira, | Democracy for Texas | Wonkette | Clusterfuck Nation (James H. Kunstler), | Panhandle Truth Squad | Grits for Breakfast | Off the Kuff | View from the Left | Swift Report | Houston Democrats | The Daou Report | Sierra Club | Light Rail Now | Democracy University | Frame Shop | The Oil Drum | Jim Wallis - God's Politics

<< ? Austin Bloggers Web Ring # >>

The WeatherPixie

09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003 / 10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003 / 12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004 / 01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004 / 02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 / 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 / 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 / 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 / 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 / 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 / 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 / 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 / 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 / 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 / 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 / 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 / 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 / 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 / 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 / 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 / 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 / 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 / 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 / 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 / 12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006 / 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 / 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006 / 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 / 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 / 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006 / 07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006 / 08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006 / 09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006 / 10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006 / 11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006 / 01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007 / 03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007 / 04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007 / 08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007 / 10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007 / 12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008 / 01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008 / 03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008 / 05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008 / 07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008 / 10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008 / 04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009 / 11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009 /

Powered by Blogger