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Tales From The Barstool By: Clint Lien

“The Voting Game"
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In My Opinion
By L.N.P.

Thoughts on the Election

As former President Clinton said, "Strong and wrong beats weak and right every time." Now, undoubtedly Clinton meant that to be taken literally, as in Bush is wrong-perhaps about everything, perhaps just about the war in Iraq (I didn't get the context) and that John Kerry is right-again, about which issues I'm not sure, but that the perception of strength appeals far more to voters, or people in general than the perception of weakness.

And indeed, although polls showed that a majority of Americans believe that the war in Iraq was a mistake, and that the economy was worse than it was four years ago, they still supported strength. It's the definition of strength that is crucial here. People, Democrats and Republicans alike, see George W. Bush as strong because he's a man who means what he says and says what he means. You don't even have to ask him where he stands on a particular issue; you already know. He's an open book-the Democrats might say it's a book that's mostly empty, but that doesn't matter. He's strong because he doesn't bother with the grays; he sees good vs. evil, right vs. wrong, and guess what?…….that's how the majority of Americans see. Bush demonstrates at all times a backbone of steel, and whether you like what he stands for or not, in the end the voters felt more confident following someone with a backbone of steel than a backbone of facts, intelligent analysis and rational arguments.

Many of the people I know have spent most of their lives living within 30 miles of either Manhattan or Hollywood, just as I have. When we talk to friends, neighbors, fellow workers, we stupidly think we're getting a representative sampling of how voters feel and think. Surprise! We're getting an unbelievably skewed viewpoint, as was evidenced by the maps we all looked at with those immense expanses of red between the two blue states. What the Democrats need to learn is just that lesson; the rest of the country doesn't think like New Yorkers and Californians! They LOVE "what you see is what you get", because that's what they're used to. They believe in God and country. They don't care about carefully articulated distinctions between Sadaam and Osama; they know evil when they see it. When they look at George W. Bush, they see themselves; they see their culture, their morality, and their character. When they looked at John Kerry, they saw a stranger, someone too pessimistic about where this country is heading, too interested in Europe's opinion of the United States, too sophisticated to invite to dinner.

It's no wonder that the majority often feels like the minority, however. The media, the television and film industry, the major advertising companies, all reside in the two blue states, and their viewpoints, standards, moral values and opinions are what the entire country is exposed to on a constant basis. And, there's no use disputing it; the media has an institutionalized liberal bias. No one doubts that their beliefs are passionate and heartfelt, and they fight fervently for freedom of speech, choice, tolerance, and secularism. The fruits of their labors are everywhere: in the newspapers we read, the TV programs and commercials we watch, the films that are produced. If you're a church-going, flag waving, hard-working American, you can't help but think you MUST be in the minority. But more than that; you can't help but feel marginalized, because you've been denigrated, ridiculed; you're the "crazy" character in most movies, the biggest laugh on the sitcom. For people who've been the butt of media jokes most of their lives, what a relief to wake up in the morning and discover their power, discover that THEY were the majority!"

That's where the Democrats have gone wrong, and as James Carville said, the Democrats must do better. They can't ignore the heartland and insulate themselves with a blanket of Hollywood stars and big name rockers. One pundit said that the seminal moment in the Kerry campaign was during a rousing concert in Manhattan, during which there was a lot of music, sprinkled with a lot of profanity, by various well-known entertainers. As the applause died down, Kerry allegedly said, "That's the heart and soul of America!" The Democrats must do better. They need to find a way to reach America's true heart and soul. It's not that they didn't campaign hard enough in middle America. It's just that they never understood what mattered most to those who lived there.

And it appears that it wasn't their pocketbooks, or their lack of healthcare, or the loss of jobs that affected so many of them. It was their pride in a country that refused to back down in the face of evil. Their pride in standing strong and tough, despite what they thought about the war. Their respect for that backbone of steel in their Commander-in-Chief. And their respect for the heart; the heart they saw worn on the sleeve of George Bush. Sure he's emotional and occasionally gets teary eyed. Sure he advertises his moral values. Heck, he even scowls! So what? That just shows how much he cares. Kerry's best moment was when he got choked up during his concession speech. He needed to show his heart more during the campaign rather than after it.

In my last column I talked about the fact that I didn't believe that politics and religion should mix, and I still believe that. But what I meant was that no one religion should be "in power" or impose its will on the people, because you can't legislate morality. What I also said, however, is that the actions of individuals could have a ripple effect that "spreads until so many are in favor of making good moral decisions that the government has to respond. But it won't happen because we legislate morality. It will happen because there are enough moral people to have an impact on the legislators." Maybe that's what happened here; I don't know. Or maybe it was strictly political. I also wrote that in the end I would cast my vote for the candidate I believed would "command the most respect." I think that's what the majority of Americans did.


Send me your opinions at LParis@netlistings.com

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