Ian Bicking: the old part of his blog

The Two Sides

I read a couple articles that mention the 2000 elections as a unfortunate polarizing force, from both sides.

I find this peculiar. Of the people I know who hate Bush, they don't hate him because of the 2000 election. It doesn't hurt... but if he hadn't stolen the election, we'd all still hate him just as deeply. I might even put the whole thing in a more positive light. I don't have to feel quite so disappointed in our democracy, because the citizens of the US made the right choice.

What does it mean to Bush supports that he is so deeply hated by so many? I realize Clinton was similarly hated by an entirely different segment of the country. If Kerry wins, I suspect he'll be hated as well, though to really make it work they'll have to look a bit more for a good hook like they had for Clinton. But ultimately the loathing isn't entirely rational. I think Dick Chaney is probably a worse person than Bush, but his voice doesn't inspire nausea. So a hook probably isn't necessary.

I wonder when we'll have a president that isn't widely hated? Recent elections have been divisive, but Bush had a chance midterm to win over a lot of Americans after 9/11, and even a chance to win over a lot of foreigners. He pretty much threw that away. Do we only have a chance to come together when things get fucked up?

As a sidenote, I feel a little awkward about this post. It might seem that I want everyone to meet in the middle. Or that both sides are on some level equal. Or that reasonable people can disagree on these things. I don't think any of those things. There is no "middle", except when you look at the issues in a very limited, framed manner, and I absolutely don't accept the frames with which either Republicans or Democrats view the world. But I'm disappointed, because even though this election is between two distinctly different people with different policies, the national debate around the election has been pretty tedious and lacking in vision, creativity, or thoughtfulness. These two distinct sides seem to leave little room for other perspectives, perspectives which aren't just bullshit and political expediency.

Created 01 Nov '04
Modified 14 Dec '04


It's not a new phenomenon - it only seems so because the media has no historical perspective. There was a furious minority that hated FDR with a passion. Lincoln inspired visceral hatred. Thomas Jefferson did as well. Andrew Jackson was absolutely despised by his political opponents, who spared no expense in the media of the day to make that fact known.

The only difference is that we have the internet and 24x7 media now to let us find like-minded individuals anytime we want. The level of visceral dislike though - not new at all
# James Robertson

The level of dislike is not new. James Robertson is correct and has said it better than I. I think that the way the system is setup now, it will be a while before we have a widely liked president. The way that both sides have attacked each other during this election is appalling really. And the truth is , the country is just divided.

Which truthfully if Kerry had run a better campaign, this election would be in the bag. If you ask a Bushie he would say, if it were not for the media, this would not even be a race.

Sadly I actually think that if Bush wins we are heading towards a really bad time for the U.S. If he wins and gets abortion outlawed as he wants, I think that we are heading towards a civil war. I know that it sounds nuts and I need to pull out my tinfoil hat... but I do think that is where this country is heading.

Hopefully not, even if Bush does win, hopefully he will not do something that stupid.

# Tonetheman

The phenomenon certainly isn't new, but the 24x7 media onslaught certainly is. And that's what seems to be qualitatively different this time around.

Of course, I can't speak for someone back in Jefferson's time, but it seems like back then you could just walk away from it and get some peace, but today I can certainly turn my tv off, but everyone else on the planet isn't and the thought-form of divisiveness is omnipresent and seemingly inescapable.

Maybe a second round of the American Civil War would push things far enough to get people to wake up and stop hating...
# Tracy Ruggles

It sounds like you and I are in the same boat, Ian. I'm a Reagan Republican who would vote for Bush (I have only a mild dislike for him and for his style), if it didn't also mean voting for his cabinet. I think there are only two people in his administration I would really trust: Rice and Powell.

I still wish Powell had run (and won) in 2000--it certainly would have made my choice easier this year. Unfortunately, I'm left with holding my nose and voting for Kerry now. I've become disgusted with some of the things my party has done over the past four years (within and outside the White House), but I'm even more disgusted with the idea of switching parties...
# Tim Lesher

AFAICT, you're doing the right thing, Tim.

FWIW, any traditional fiscal conservative who would vote for Bush probably needs to read this: http://www.plope.com/Members/chrism/fiscal_fun

# Chris McDonough

I don't normally do politics, but Ian's last paragraph touched a nerve. Viewed from afar (I've just moved from Europe to Australia) the election is not so much between two opposing views but simple variations on a theme. Looking at the policy statements of both candidates they appear to be saying roughly the same things about many issues.

As far as I can tell whoever wins the election will not make a great difference to things like foreign or economic policy. It especially won't alter the jingoistic pronouncements by political leaders and the media or the oxymoronic posturing that says that America is God's own country but dismisses anyone else who makes that claim for their own corner of the globe.
# Andy Todd

James Robertson is right of course, and in fact it's been MUCH worse at some points in the past.

To also address your point about "lacking in vision, creativity, or thoughtfulness", that's certainly nothing new either although it might be much worse in modern times because TV tends to emphasize "events" rather than rational thought. My hope is the Internet will allow more rational discourse and creativity as it gains wider use and acceptance. I guess it'll either be that or a non-stop X Files type conspiracy mill :/

This won't help settle down the firebrands (because they serve a useful function for the party as motivation to the base), but at least we finally have an arena for real discourse that we haven't had with TV and modern newpapers.
# Van Gale