Red vs. Blue: The Aftermath

Seattle Weekly readers sound off on the election.

I feel like someone has died, and I guess that someone is my country and its shining ideals. The people have voted, cowering in fear and ignorance, and now retreat to their caves with the same mentality . . . playing right into the hands of this despicable bunch that will control our country for another four years. I'm shocked and appalled, fearful, and more than a little ashamed of my countrymen, and I'm worried about what the next four years will bring. Because it's "open season" now for this awful, evil administration and their radical agenda, and suddenly the kidding about moving to Canada isn't so funny anymore. We must stay mobilized—first stop, Pennsylvania Avenue this January, with a whole crate of eggs and rotten tomatoes! Then it's on to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to form a human chain around the area. Ugh. I was soooo looking forward to being able to relax on the activism, and now we'll have to redouble our efforts. Let's start with Impeach Bush/Cheney!

Maureen Finn

Sammamish

Look on the bright side, Seattle lefties. The election results give you opportunities for four more years of mindless protests and insipid yard signs. Now you won't have to go through withdrawal!

Mark Braden

Seattle

I'm both sad and angry that we will have to put up with another four years of George Bush—a man who clearly lost all three presidential debates. A man who has proven to show little intelligence, who is so stubborn and arrogant that he refuses to admit his own mistakes, and who has refused to work with the rest of the world. This leader of the free world can't even command the English language. I've heard politicians from Third World African countries speak better English.

But my real anger is the reasoning that so much of our country used in deciding to re-elect him. It would have been different if everyone who voted for him based their vote on the real and substantive issues. Instead, as recent surveys suggest, a significant number of people voted for him because of his stance on "moral issues." In other words, "God, Gays, and Guns." And worse, the Republican Party had the nerve to use these moral issues to pander to the religious right, thereby creating a further divide in this country that will be difficult, if not impossible, to heal.

This especially worries me because these are all issues that are really not that important to the future of our country. There are far greater issues that we should be worried about. The Iraq war has opened a Pandora's box that will only lessen the security of our nation and the world. Our economy, the environment, the national debt, Social Security, and medical care reform are much more important issues than whether or not we allow two people who love each other the ability to show their commitment; or whether we continue to debate an issue such as a woman's right to choose, which was legalized 30 years ago.

Yet there's a real contradiction here. The real moral issues we should be concerned about are economic disparity, destruction of our planet, misleading the American public and the world about an unnecessary war resulting in over 1,000 American lives and countless innocent civilians, and the unwillingness to allow basic civil human rights to U.S. residents.

The even greater irony is that instead of moving forward with the rest of the civilized world, our country seems to be moving backward, where religious fervor continues to reign in our government's international and domestic policies. Does this not sound like Iraq, the very country we are supposed to be liberating? What ever happened to our forefathers' idea of separation between church and state?

I am saddened for the future of our country. I hope that Bush is honest when he says he will try to heal the divide he's created. He certainly didn't keep his promise during his first term, and he doesn't have anything personally to lose during his second.

Steve Sindiong

Seattle

Somewhere in between the optimism of Nov. 2 and the disappointment of Nov. 3, America witnessed a surprising cameo from a new player on the political scene. In hundreds of exit polls across the nation, those voting for George W. Bush consistently named "moral values" as the most important issue of the 2004 election. Suddenly the war on terror, the failing economy, and the debacle in Iraq had all taken a backseat to good morals for Republican voters.

What does this say about those of us who didn't vote for Bush: no ethics? Unprincipled hedonistic atheists? It gets me thinking. Hmmm. Actually, I think that I have some pretty good moral values of my own.

My morality says that over 1,000 brave American soldiers and 100,000 Iraqis shouldn't have died for an unjust cause.

My morality says that we should preserve global alliances and eradicate racism and homophobia, rather than preserving racism and homophobia and eradicating global alliances.

My morality says that we should safeguard environmental regulations and do away with extra tax cuts for the wealthy, rather than safeguarding extra tax cuts for the wealthy and doing away with environmental regulations.

My morality says that religion can be a source of great strength and inspiration, a reason to have hope in a hopeless world; yet religion never belongs in public schools, and it certainly doesn't belong in a State of the Union address.

I know that my moral values are the best ones for America. Why? Because I read about them in the Constitution. So why did the unthinkable happen on Election Day? The answer is simple: because we like to believe that someone else is going to get the job done for us. When Martin Luther King Jr. was famously imprisoned in a Birmingham jail cell, he wrote, "We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people."

The greatest tragedy of the next four years will be allowing the appalling silence of the good people to continue. I ask people to take a stand. Talk about your values. I've spent the last three months asking strangers on the street to vote and embarrassing my friends by refusing to leave the house without wearing my decidedly unflattering Kerry/Edwards wardrobe ensemble. At one point, I spent an afternoon alone at a road stop off the New Jersey Turnpike with a 50-year-old stranger named Barry because the two of us got lost on a Kerry volunteering expedition from N.Y.C. to Philadelphia.

Being an agent of change isn't always easy, and it's hardly ever glamorous. But it's always the right thing to do.

As John Edwards said to supporters in Boston, "It's OK to be disappointed. But you can't just walk away—the fight has just begun!"

Kristina Aija Johnson

Seattle

I am sure that you will get a tremendous outpouring of letters regarding Bush's election. Let me join the throng. My sense of despair about Bush's election is not about Bush. My response to my friends is that America is now Germany in 1933. In a wave of fear and anger, the majority of citizens have expressed themselves as fascists. The outpouring of votes that were made to stem the tide of moral degeneracy is significant. These voters, who gave Bush his majority, are voting from a nonrational sense of moral and religious certitude. They are the NASCAR Nazis and Christian Crazies who are certain that they are recipients of God's direction and eager to purge the elements of sin and evil from the society. They are the most dangerous people in our country. As long as we try to "understand" them or appeal to reason, we are in decline. This is American Fascism come to term. This election was a tipping point in which the sentiments of the fascists became the will of the people. This is not a minority group of nuts; this is the American center, and they are on the march.

It is a critical period for those who value personal liberty, freedom of thought, and pluralistic tolerance. These are not the values of the majority of voting Americans. If we are to defend these values, we must join in force to combat—yes, fight—against the growth of American Fascism. In other words, name it and bang it. We can start by holding any Republican we know, if we are still talking to them, responsible for the continuing loss of freedom and the violations of the constitutional separation of church and state. We must be clear that we are proud of our liberal values and see the Republicans as the party of American Fascism. Do a Web search on fascism and attack the right like a junkyard dog. Fight or die.

Carl Flowers

Olympia

To those of you who sued for the right to marry earlier this year, thus leading to the decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court to legalize it and measures on ballots in 11 states, including Ohio, all of which passed: You know, you could've waited until 2005 to push this. You didn't have to do it in a presidential election year. But noooooooo.

Are you happy now? Because if you hadn't pressed this issue, John Kerry would've been elected president. The massive turnout for Bush was largely based on "moral values," not terrorism or the war in Iraq.

Next time, can you think about someone besides yourself? Unless you're a Republican.

Jerry Cole

Seattle

One can argue that the economy is in a temporary recession and by continuing the conservatives' policy it will soar, and that Kerry was not the best deal. Yet, with all the civil rights abuse facts and cases, wrong international decisions, unjustified war, and conflicts with allies, Bush still got the popular vote. I think this is a clear message to the world and to the immigrants that the majority of the people agree with the Bush administration's various unjustified policies.

Moustafa Khalil

Seattle

It is clear that blind faith triumphed over reason in the presidential election. This blind faith was manifest in some rather striking contradictions of belief over fact, particularly in regard to the so-called moral issues that apparently were the margin that bucked George Bush into office for a second term.

In an election that carried grave consequences concerning the Iraq war, the economy, health care, the environment, and the budget deficit, large constituencies constituting "evangelical Christians" were apparently motivated to vote by their opposition to abortion and gay marriage. Regardless of how one stands on these issues, they alone do not constitute one's fitness for office when so many other issues that affect all Americans are in the balance.

In addition, one may well discern a moral blind spot—the failure to censure Bush's repeated and unapologetic refusal to confront the fallacy of his "compassionate conservatism" stance, his reliance on false and misleading propaganda in regard to Iraq, and his permitting Dick Cheney to ride his Halliburton gravy train without the slightest ethical qualm. If there is any justice in the world, Cheney will eventually face criminal charges stemming from the current FBI investigation and perhaps be forced to resign.

And then there were the "mothers with children"—mainly the majority of white female voters who in fact voted for Bush and not Kerry—who feared "terrorism." Whether or not this "terrorism" is a code word for fear of racial minorities is an open question, but it does beg the question that if they still feel unsafe, then shouldn't they examine Bush and his policies as the cause?

The election is over now, and we are hearing the same promises of bipartisanship we heard four years ago. Don't be fooled—this president, who has refused to be accountable for any of his past missteps may well feel even less restrictions to continue those mistakes. As they did four years ago, Bush's words will likely prove to possess neither honor or truth—and the country will suffer for it as it has for the past four years.

Mark Kittell

Seattle

It's one thing if George Bush won the election through shady tactics, lawsuits, poor voting methods, and other illicit means. It's a completely different thing to win by popular vote.

I've always been proud to be an American. Proud of the principles that the country was founded on, such as freedom for all, equality, and justice. Now I have to come to grips with the fact that the majority of my fellow Americans are righteous, oppressive, selfish, shortsighted people. People that will rally behind a war against an abstract idea. Do they not see that terrorism is an action taken against oppression? Do they not see that you can't eliminate terror by killing people, only by providing freedom and justice for everyone? Do they not see that our own Revolutionary War, which created our country in the first place, was also a string of terrorist acts against the British government?

My fellow Americans act with fear, not bravery. My fellow Americans are people who will put their own comfort and safety ahead of anyone and anything else, including their own children. The belief that we must protect our economy, the free flow of oil and money, and that environmental issues, global impacts from pollution, or any impact felt beyond this year or next is not worth planning for or thinking about shows horrendous shortsightedness that will doom us and several generations beyond to truly terrible living conditions. My fellow Americans will not sacrifice their right to revel in riches now, because they blithely expect everything to work out fine tomorrow.

My fellow Americans are people who hold a righteous belief that their interpretation of holy scripture must be forced on everyone. Outlaw stem cell research. Deny gay people rights. Eliminate abortion. The Bible says so, and no matter what you believe in, my fellow Americans will make sure that you live your life by their Bible. My fellow Americans believe they know how you should live your life.

I always thought that the mistakes of my country were due to a few corrupt or misguided or misinformed people. Now I realize that the majority of my country is too stupid or too ignorant or too selfish or too cowardly to live up to the ideals that our country was founded on.

I've always been proud to be American. Now, I'm ashamed of us.

Korey Krauskopf

Redmond

I'm very sad. My heart is broken. I was on the ferry when I heard that Kerry conceded. I literally got tears in my eyes. I was so optimistic about change occurring in our society. Kerry might not be the ideal president, but I envisioned a country bold enough to elect someone who was ready to chart a new and safer course for our country. I've lost any modicum of respect I had for the American electorate—how can the average thinking person ignore a deficit that has ballooned, the misdistribution of income-tax cuts, the collapse of health care, the massive loss of middle-income jobs, rampant corporate malfeasance, an incomprehensible and incompetent attempt to foist democracy on a sovereign nation (Iraq), and the blood of 100,000 Iraqi citizens on the hands of the U.S. military? Back all of this with the complete fabrication and misrepresentation of evidence as an argument to attack Iraq.

Re-elect Bush, in the face of all this? It just does not make sense. What part of the story have I missed?

These events have pushed me even farther to the left, and I think I'll become an activist with a local chapter of an environmental group when Bush decides to open the pristine Alaskan wilderness to oil drilling.

I hung out at Chop Suey until 1 a.m. on Election Day, drank a few beers and cheered for J.K. and other Dems as they won races. It was fun to chat with people that I've never met. Clearly, most people I spoke with felt strongly about the liberal agenda in this country and were very well informed. It's good to know that caring and intelligent people are living in this city with me. There was a point where the GOP spokesperson was speaking, and the sound engineer at Chop Suey morphed her voice into a possessed, demonic growl; the crowd went wild. As much as the GOP affiliates itself with the Christian right, their actions, especially internationally, seem guided by evil intent.

Scott Sattler

Seattle

What have the voters told us by putting George W. Bush back in the driver's seat and even more Republican legislators and justices into the front seat with him? That he's the right man for today's America, a stubborn, ignorant, arrogant place that has, in its fear of the unknown and in its resistance to change, reverted to social and religious conservatism while paying no attention to the costs.

Bush is a father figure lost in Iraq and Afghanistan, terrified by the neighborhood he's taking us though, running out of gas, yet refusing to stop or ask for directions. Americans have chosen to ignore the fuel gauge, the pollution their vehicle is spewing, and the complaints of half the passengers. Blind to the resentment in the eyes of pedestrians and the ominous "do not enter" signs, they urge him to drive on.

Our only hope is that in another four years—when the traffic fatalities mount and our little detour into nation building becomes a dead end, when prayer won't pay the bills, when "shut up, you bratty kids" doesn't change the fact that we're lost, when the poor people in the backseat are hitting each other and the rich are calling for taxis on their cell phones—we'll finally lose faith and choose a very different driver.

Tom Davis

Seattle

The Democratic Party is the oldest political party in the world. It was formed following a trip by Thomas Jefferson to New York, where he met in secret with Aaron Burr to form a new political alliance. Jefferson and Burr brought together the small farmers of Virginia and the mechanics (working class) of New York to create a political party based on the economic interests of the "common man."

Today the Democrats have lost their way, and their message of economic justice has become obscure in the politics of group agendas, failing to unite the American working class.

I voted for Kerry because Bush is another one of the arrogant, corrupt leaders most nations on the decline have put in power for thousands of years, attempting to recapture the glory of days gone by. In vain I looked for the Democrats' economic message throughout the campaign and found nothing.

The Democrats need to return to a message of economic hope and reform. Had Clinton's administration economically revitalized the Midwest and been more concerned about workers instead of NAFTA and shipping jobs overseas, we'd be celebrating the re-election of President Gore.

Bill Johnston

Tacoma

Congratulations to President Bush and the Republicans for your win in the election. You have won the day—in fact, four more years to pursue your agenda and extend your policies, potentially beyond even your term with the ability to mold the Supreme Court for a generation or more.

Your place in history will now be assured. Future generations will read about you and what you stood up for when it counted most: your work to institutionalize intolerance in the bedrock of our legal system; your use of a self-perpetuated climate of fear to curtail our most precious civil rights; your selective interpretation of a religion of peace to justify war, both military and cultural; and your decision to use an unprecedented unity of the global community to show the world not our ability to be humane and just toward our fellow human beings but rather our shocking disregard for these principles.

You have your 270 electoral votes. To the rest of us you have given 1,000 lost American sons and daughters; 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians, the majority of them women and little children; a million jobs lost overseas while you encourage more of the same; 5 million more people without health insurance; and the countless billions upon billions drained from our future for a needless war and further handouts to those who need it least. I wonder which numbers the judgment of history will remember most clearly.

Richard Law

Snohomish

Thanks for Geov Parrish's interview with Paul Loeb ["What Next?" Nov. 3]. While not disagreeing with their perspectives, I'd like to add a strong caution. Progressives will not win by just beating their old drums louder or demanding more political correctness. We need some new strategic ideas and new language, not just our old agenda. We cannot build a winning coalition simply by pooling the marginalized—"I'll support your issue if you support mine," etc.

We need new themes to reach out to more conservative, family-oriented voters. I'd suggest taking on the huge rise in marketing targeting children and the theme of work-family balance. GOP pollster Frank Luntz found that lack of free time was a central concern for so-called "swing" voters.

We also need to reframe the idea of a better society, with more focus on quality of life. Progressives as well as conservatives are caught up in the ideology of growth—"grow the economy," etc. Instead, we need to pose the question: What is an economy for? We can suggest that it's not about having the grossest domestic product—it's about healthy families, relationships, community, and sharing existing work to give people more time for those things that matter. "Time to care," "Time is a family value"—these are ideas that resonate with conservatives as well as progressives.

We need a larger strategy, a new vision, and new language, as pointed out by George Lakoff in Don't Think of an Elephant!—a book progressives certainly should be reading. And in the next four years, we need to be proactive with new ideas (a few good big ones, not the usual laundry list of the left). We cannot simply play tourniquet politics and spend all our time trying to stop the bleeding caused by Bush's policies.

And we cannot afford to just " pick some sort of a goal that's achievable, and get to work," as Parrish suggests. We've already been working like mad on our narrow "issues" with no sense of the big picture. We need to think in much bigger strategic terms, as the right has been doing since its disastrous defeat in 1964, and learn from some of what it has done.

John de Graaf

Seattle

Thanks for the article "What Next?" [Nov. 3]; it was excellent. Many people who are just normal citizens and not activists are fed up with what is going on and want to get involved. We just don't know where. There are plenty of Web sites to go to, but all you can really do is subscribe to their newsletter, which only tells us information that, for the most part, we already know. We can write letters to our congressmen, but I would like to be more active than that. Any suggestions would be heartily appreciated.

Rachel Hooton

Seattle

Geov Parrish responds: Where to get involved depends on where you live and where your interests lie; there are several hundred nonprofit groups in the Puget Sound area, from activist organizations to service groups to churches, that are eager for volunteers. Some of my favorites: For antiwar activism, there's Sound Nonviolent Opponents of War (SNOW), Peace Action, or, for the faith-based, Fellowship of Reconciliation and the American Friends Service Community. Community Alliance for Global Justice does great work on fair-trade and globalization issues. There are environmental groups like Sierra Club and the Mountaineers; homeless and housing advocates such as Seattle Displacement Coalition and Seattle Tenants Union; Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility on health care (and disarmament); the list goes on. Unfortunately, there's no one central repository of progressive groups that I know of. If a reader knows of one, e-mail us at letters@seattleweekly.com.

My jaw nearly hit the sidewalk on Nov. 3 when I saw a Weekly with full election results and coverage the day after the vote. I'm not sure how the Weekly team pulled that one off, but my hat's off to you. (I was imagining the newsroom re-enacting Citizen Kane, with two editions ready to go ahead of time, either "Kerry Wins!" or "Fraud at Polls!") It was great to see you guys right in the hunt with the dailies. Congratulations.

Robert French

Seattle

There could be no more telling example of the sad state of politics than the victory of Dave Reichert over Dave Ross for the 8th Congressional District seat, and I think it has strong parallels to Bush's victory ["Color Washington Purple," Nov. 3].

An admirer of Reichert as an outstanding law-enforcement leader, I was also a longtime listener of Ross' radio show, and was excited to see a tough battle of ideas between the two moderate candidates. Sadly, it became glaringly obvious that Reichert, although an excellent sheriff, knew almost nothing about ideas on the national and world platform, other than to mouth some one-dimensional Republican platform bullet points.

At the debates and before the media panels, he displayed no creativity or depth of knowledge about the complex and multifaceted problems facing our country and the world. Quite the opposite from Ross, who gave clear answers on every issue and detailed where he believed solutions could be found.

Many in the 8th District I talked to acknowledged that Ross "knew more about the issues" and "won the debates in terms of substance," but they liked Reichert "because he will be a good, strong leader" and did not want to lose a Republican seat.

It seems Bush also won in large measure due to such intangibles as "morals" and "leadership," even though it was clear Kerry had a superior knowledge base on nearly every issue.

Such a nose-ring devotion to leaders becomes problematic when those leaders lack the intellectual bandwidth to examine huge and complex problems and try to attain workable solutions. They inevitably rely heavily on their advisers, who more often than not mirror their advisees in brain power and inevitably give poor advice with the predictable poor outcome.

Paul Wilson

Seattle

I've never cried after a presidential election. I've cheered or booed, but never cried. This year, I cried. I haven't even been speechless after a presidential election. This year, I am speechless. How can someone, let alone the president, get away with so much crap?

I can't just pooh-pooh 2000's stolen election or sweep four years of the Bush administration's hypocrisy under the carpet. And I thought I was in the majority. (What is wrong with Bush supporters? Are they blind?) I don't know what bothers me more—that Bush "won" or that "the voters have spoken." This isn't brain surgery; the president of the United States lied to us.

Thanks to Knute Berger for writing "Our House of Horrors" [Mossback, Nov. 3]. Let's console each other, dust off our weary legs, and get back to work, because there is so much to be done.

Sarah Montgomery

Seattle

In the aftermath of the president's re-election, Knute Berger moans wistfully for an "alchemist who can turn this shit into gold," but all he's done is demonstrate once again his knack for turning ink into shit [Mossback, "Our House of Horrors," Nov. 3].

Berger claims Bush has been a divider of the U.S. sociopolitical spectrum. That's rich, for Berger himself does a fine job in using the royal "we" to claim that half of America is as dug-in, stuck, and afraid as he evidently is. Berger and his cronies in the professional-dissenter trade need to get out more; try and understand the red shift of the country instead of reflexively cursing it.

Rather than crying out for an übervater to fix everything wrong in the world (including the busted, unhappy lives of overage radicals), how about adding to the political process? Berger's chronically subtractive blue attitude clashes badly with America's new purple, and has become quite predictable and tiresome.

Alex Templeton

Seattle

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