Jeff Jarvis points out that ‘values’ were the driver for Bush in the exit polling.
: The NBC exit poll includes some fascinating and surprising data. Among the issues that mattered most to voters, the top issue was not terrorism or Iraq.
The top issue (21%) was “moral values”; 78% of those who cared about that went for Bush, 19% for Kerry. That’s a huge difference. Read this one as you will (MSNBC commentators see it as code for Vietnam and the Swifties).
I disagree a bit on what it’s about.
I’m off to some work meetings early today (will try and comment more later) but want to shamelessly recycle an old post from Armed Liberal on exactly this subject to kick off some discussion.
“Screw Them” Kos, over at the Guardian, demonstrates why he has no clue as to what happened:
So how did Bush even get this far? By demonising an entire group of people — gays and lesbians. By cynical appeals to religion. By slandering a true war hero. And, most importantly, by scaring people. You see, terrorists would detonate a nuclear bomb in a major city if Kerry were elected. Only Bush can protect us.
And those efforts, as I have written before, were all aided and abetted by a well-oiled message machine the likes of which the American left is still unable to match.
No, Kos, you ignorant tool. The problem isn’t the message machine; it’s that the core activists in the Democratic Party have managed to walk away from the values that most people in this country hold, and persist in looking at the electorate as if it’s the one with the problems. The majority of people in this country don’t want gays put in camps, they don’t want a theocracy, they don’t believe in ‘shoot first, talk later’. And as long as you believe they do, you’ll lose, and you’ll take my party with you.
And, by the way, Bush took Clark County by about 1,600 votes.
THE RED AND THE BLUE, part 1
(originally posted Dec 1, 2002)
I’ve been thinking about the whole “coast” “heartland” thing, as noted by Yglesias and others, and had a hard time finding a way into the issue until last night.
We were driving home from the movies, Tenacious G, Middle Guy and I (we saw 8 Mile again, because the two of them wanted to), and I was punching the buttons on the stereo in the Mighty Odyssey Minivan when a discussion broke out.
The top 3 buttons on the stereo are taken up by the three major stations that TG and MG listen to (I tend to listen to the CD’s in the changer because I hate commercials).
KCRW, the local NPR station; KZLA, the local corporate-owned country station; and KROQ, the local corporate-owned alternative rock station.
The voting politics are complex. I’m totally fickle. I’ll mostly turn things off; KCRW when it gets too sanctimonious or the World Music interludes become intolerable; KROQ when the grindcore songs come on; KZLA when really bad country-pop gets played. TG likes KCRW and KZLA. MG hates KZLA.
So when we got into the car, some awful Incubus song came on, and I punched KZLA, which was playing a current country hit called “The Good Stuff”. In case you don’t listen, here’s a typical lyric:
Not a soul around but the old bar keep,
Down at the end an’ looking half asleep.
An he walked up, an’ said : “What’ll it be?”
I said: “The good stuff.”
He didn’t reach around for the whiskey;
He didn’t pour me a beer.
His blue eyes kinda went misty,
He said: “You can’t find that here.
“‘Cos it’s the first long kiss on a second date.
“Momma’s all worried when you get home late.
“And droppin’ the ring in the spaghetti plate,
“‘Cos your hands are shakin’ so much.
“An’ it’s the way that she looks with the rice in her hair.
“Eatin’ burnt suppers the whole first year
“An’ askin’ for seconds to keep her from tearin’ up.
“Yeah, man, that’s the good stuff.”
And Middle Guy looked disgusted and asked me “Why the hell do you listen to that stuff, anyway? How can you like the Vines and this?” That answer’s another issue…
But what I told him was that I liked the sound of good country music, and then started talking about the changes in country since I’d started listening to it, and that today it was almost the last music about love, fidelity, loss and hope, and that I liked that.
And that one thing that I missed from rock was the hope and yearning that used to be a part of it back when I was Middle Guy’s age.
And, as these kind of talks tend to do, they got me thinking.
I’d been thinking a lot about the Great Cultural Divide…the whole red/blue thing, and I had a brief moment of clarity.
It’s all about country music.
Or, rather, it’s all about the worldview that country music encapsulates.
Here’s a counterpoint. My subscription to Harper’s hasn’t run out yet, although I won’t be renewing it in spite of the flood of imploring letters and postcards I’ve received from their subscription service, and in this month’s is a classic explanation of why (not available on the web):
On the honest unlovliness of William Trevor’s world
By Francine Prose
If part of what we seek from art is solace and consolation, an interlude of distraction, a brief escape from our daily cares, even a glimpse of happiness – and who, in these disturbing times does not, or should not want all of that and more? – it is simple enough to understand why the products of what we might call Comfort Culture should dramatically outperform a writer like William Trevor in the marketplace of analgesic entertainment. The Lovely Bones is narrated from heaven by a fourteen-year-old girl who has been raped and brutally murdered by a neighbor (think Our Town with dismemberment) and who receives as compensation for her earthly travails, an afterlife that includes a nice apartment, plenty of teen-girl magazines, a paradisical version of high school, and a front-row seat from which to observe the folks back home coping with their grief and puzzling over her killer’s identity. No such comforts are provided the unfortunate young women dispatched by Hilditch, the creepy serial killer in Trevor’s Felicia’s Journey; indeed it is characteristic of Trevor’s bravery as a writer, and of his passionate sympathy for even the most loathsome outsiders and misfits, that a good part of the book is written from the point of view of the demented and delusional Hilditch himself.
First, I can’t help myself, but the idea of a literary critic with the name ‘Prose’ does give me the giggles…
…but to get back to culture; while I can see a sensitive reading of Felicity’s Journey and a sympathetic nod to the loathsome outsider as a steady part of the programming on KCRW, and a speed-metal version on KROQ (in fact the song probably already exists), there is no way that sympathy would be found on KZLA. No contemporary country song would celebrate that kind of brutality and despair. We’re talking about a fundamental difference of worldview and taste, and this issue ought to serve as a pathway into understanding the gap between the worlds.