Dubya’s up in the electoral vote count, which means the GOP Alternate Reality Field is in particularly fine shape this week; those all-too-dubious Dubya National Guard letters didn’t help matters either. This is Kerry’s big problem at the moment: When people go after him (i.e., Swift Boat), he takes the hit. When people go after Dubya and do it badly, he also takes a hit. It’s an interesting dynamic. We’ll see how the GOPARF fares in the next six weeks, but for now, it’s on full power.
I don’t wish to be uncharitable to the folks who will eventually vote for Bush, but at this point I do have to say that I do strongly believe that outside the GOP hacks who would vote a dog into office as long as it was Republican dog (“Checkers in ’08!”), people who are planning to vote for Bush fall into three primary categories: The stupid, the ignorant and the hypocritical. I’ll note that I imagine there is significant overlap between the stupid and the ignorant categories, but not so much overlap between those two categories and the hypocritical category. To be a hypocrite suggests an awareness of facts on the ground, and the commensurate intention to totally ignore said facts; the former of these conditions means one can’t be ignorant, the latter means one can’t be stupid. It takes brains to be a hypocrite.
However — and I think this is an important point — it’s possible that some of the hypocritical Bush voters have been so indoctrinated by the GOP party line that they are utterly incapable of consciously realizing that they are hypocrites. It’s not that they lack self-awareness; I’m sure they possess it, in some rudimentary “dog in the mirror” form. Merely that this self-awareness has been channeled so as not to delve too deeply into certain lines of personal inquiry. Basically, they learn not to think about certain things too much.
You can’t do anything about the stupid Bush voters; stupidity is a not correctable issue. You have more leeway with the ignorant; while some of the ignorant are indeed stupid, there’s a sizable percentage of ignorant people who have functioning brains. They can be taught, and that’s an encouraging thought. With the hypocrites there is, alas, nothing to be done about the hypocrites who know they are hypocrites, except to attempt to make them acknowledge that they are, in fact, contemptuous hypocritical bastards. But perhaps some of the unknowing hypocrites can be saved.
How to do this? Well, I’ll tell you. In the film Blade Runner (with which more people are familiar than its literary forebear, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep), there’s something called a Voight-Kampff test, which is used to winkle out replicants walking among the humans. It measures empathy by asking a series of questions designed to evoke an emotional response. Get too many of the questions wrong, and you’re a replicant, and the next thing you know Harrison Ford’s on your ass. It’s always something.
Polling hypocritical Bush voters for empathy would be a fool’s errand, of course, so I won’t even bother. However, what I would like to do is set up a series of questions which I feel will rather effectively bring the hypocrite issue to the fore. So, if you’re planning to vote for George Bush, believe you are reasonably smart and informed, and in fact are not aware of being a contemptuously hypocritical waste of meat, please answer the following questions as truthfully as you can.
1. Is it more important to judge a president on his party affiliation or his policies?
2. A Democratic President promised to deliver 6 million new jobs during his candidacy for president; four years later the economy has had a net loss of 1 million jobs, and the president is the first in 70 years to have lost jobs over the span of his administration. On the basis of job growth, should this Democratic president be given a second term?
3. A Democratic president inherited a federal government that was running a surplus and within four years presided over a federal government which, in raw dollars, ran the highest deficits ever recorded, and which the CBO estimates will add $2.3 trillion to the US deficit in the next decade. On the basis of budget management, should this Democratic president be given a second term?
4. During his party’s convention, a Democratic president outlined a second term agenda which outside analysts estimate would cost $3 trillion to implement, in an environment in which no new government revenues were expected and the federal government is already running large budget deficits. On the basis of fiscal feasibility, should this Democratic president be given a second term?
5. After a massive terrorist attack on America’s soil, a Democratic president diverted troops and supplies from the military effort to find the perpetrators of the attack in order to attack a second country which, while hostile to the United States, was not involved in the terrorist attack in question. To date, the masterminds of the terrorist attack on America’s soil are at large. On this basis, should this Democratic president be given a second term?
6. In justifying the attack on this second country, the Democratic president and his advisers presented a particular justification and several other lesser justifications for invasion. In time it is learned that this particular justification was erroneous as were most of the lesser justifications. The Democratic president and his advisers have recently admitted that their reasons for attacking this second country may have been in error. Meanwhile, over 1000 American soldiers have died in the country we attacked. On this basis, should this Democratic president be given a second term?
7. Citing national security, a Democratic president and his administration have attempted to detain American citizens without regard to their constitutionally-protected rights, an action sharply rebuked by the Supreme Court of the United States. Given this attempt to circumvent the Constitution of the United States, should this Democratic president be given a second term?
8. A Democratic president has declared that he supports a constitutional amendment stripping all Americans of personal rights a sovereign state court has determined that they have. On the basis of attempting to curtail already-determined personal rights, should this Democratic president be given a second term?
9. If the phrase “Democratic president” is changed in the above questions to “Republican president,” would your answers change?
10. Does the answer to question 9 invalidate your answer to question 1?
11. If the answer to question 10 is “yes,” please explain how this does or does not make you, in fact, a contemptible hypocrite.
Have fun with the quiz!