Posted on October 20, 2004 Posted by John Scalzi 26 Comments
Clearly, I’m not a George Bush fan, and I’ll be voting against him come November 2. But I’ve been asked — and not unreasonably so — just how bad would another four years of Bush be for me? The answer: Honestly? Not bad at all.
Why? Well, simply put: On paper, at least, I (and my family) are exactly the sort of people the Bushies assume everyone is (or should be): White, married, educated, well-off property owners with adequate health insurance and no reason to rely on the government for any direct need. Almost none of their policies impact this demographic in a negative way — or if they do, it’s so negligible as not to matter in a practical sense.
White, married, educated, well-off, insured property owners (henceforth abbreviated to WMEWIPOs — pronounceed “wimmie-wipos”) don’t need to worry about the tax cuts; they skew to us anyway, and when the bill comes due, as they will in my daughter’s generation if not sooner, we’ll be insulated by our investments. WMEWIPOs don’t need to worry about underfunding of schools because we can afford to educate our kids on our own dime if we need to. WMEWIPOs don’t worry about Roe v. Wade being overturned, because if it comes to that, we can easily make a trip to Massachusetts, California or Canada. WMEWIPOs don’t worry about military shortages because none of our kids are in the military, and even if there’s a draft we can usually manage to keep our kids out of harm’s way. WMEWIPOs don’t have to worry about same-sex marriages or civil unions, because we’ve already got the rights others are hoping to get.
Why do I suspect another 4 years of Dubya will leave me mostly unscathed? Well, among other things, the first four years of Dubya left me mostly unscathed. The most I’ve been personally inconvenienced by the policies of George W. Bush was the time an officious TSA schmuck wouldn’t let us carry a collapsed beach umbrella onto a plane as a carry-on because it was sealed in plastic. So I took it back to the car at the airport and we bought another umbrella at the beach. That’s it.
Now, this is not to say that I can’t tell you of people, even within my own extended family, who have been negatively affected by Dubya’s policies; I certainly can, and it’s certain they will be additionally negatively affected. But they’re not me, or members of my immediate family (i.e., Krissy, Athena and the pets). We’re fine. And barring a sudden, random change in fortunes, we will continue to be fine through 2008.
So, no, having another four years of Dubya in office won’t be the end of my world; indeed, given Dubya’s executive inclinations, it’s likely another four years would benefit me. Why deny it? However, and this is an important thing, one of the things about being a grownup is looking beyond one’s personal and immediate benefits (or lack of negatives). I tend to look at the overall health of the nation when I vote for president, and I think in both the long and short term, we’d be better without another four years of Bush. Yes, Bush isn’t bad for me. But I think a president should do more than look out for me, or people who, on paper at least, are just like me and mine. Not every American is a Wimmie-wipo. All Americans, however, deserve to be served by their president.
My wife and I are mostly in the same boat. Except that she is a public school teacher. So I do have something to worry about.
I’d say rather, it won’t hurt you in the short run. In the long run, if you don’t die off quickly, you’ll be fucked over due to the massive deficits he’s running up (and your short term benefit probably isn’t high enough to offset that, unless you’re REALLY well-off) — your future taxes will be higher, your future Social Security benefits will be lower, your future Athenian college payments will be higher.
And of course you’re forgetting about the “environment? we don’t need no steenking environment”al policies that have maybe already pushed us past the Natural Disaster Tipping Point, and if not then soon will.
If I had no other reason to vote against Bush, this would be enough; anyone who decides that the current air is “clean” and that God Will Provide Food and Water and Air for us all isn’t living in the same world as I am, and that individual’s policies will -clearly- have a direct effect, if not on me than on my kids.
Deficit: Yes, but as I said, I suspect I like many WMEWIPOs will be insulated from the worst of the deficits by way of personal investments and holdings. In any event, personally speaking, I’ve *always* assumed I would never get any Social Security.
Environment: Agreed it’s an issue, but again on a personal level it’s less likely to affect me than others, living as I do in a rural area where the air is clean enough I can see the Milky Way without problem (I also get my water from a well and am therefore responsible for its filtration, not the government).
Wow, I’m a wimmie-wipo, too. Congratulations, John — you’ve coined a new term! Sounds catchy, too — this one just might catch on.
I can see it now, Peter Jennings asking George Will for his take on the next presidential speech or event: “We know how the NASCAR dads feel about this issue, George, but what about the wimmie wipos?”
And to think, I was there at the beginning….
Well, I guess in Ohio you don’t have to worry about the Atlantic drinking up your house like I do… of course, if the whole melting-glaciers-turns-salt-water-less-salty thing happens, and science says it will, and if the northern oceans start freezing and Middle America snowballs for a few hundred thousand years… well, -that- might affect ya. But in your lifetime, probably not.
Yeah, might as well vote Bush. Me, too, since I’m as WMEWIPO as you, and don’t even -have- kids yet to endanger…
Yes, I read the post and know where you’re coming from. But even WMEWIPOs aren’t quite as insulated as you think.
In a worst-case, if we run out of oil and our deficit prevents spending on research for other materials… well, I can’t think WMEWIPOs are any better off… and might be worse, since we mostly don’t even know how to farm.
-j, pessimist today
That’s strange … just yesterday I was thinking “You hardly ever hear anybody say that one candidate would be better for him (or her) personally, but that the other was enough better for enough other people that social justice demands I look past my own self-interest.” I am not a wimmie-wipo; I am moderately white, completely married, and well-educated, but well-off is relative and I don’t feel well-off (for instance, I have very small savings and essentially no investments), own no property, and my insurance runs out in six months, after which it’s up to the job market.
Still, I also feel that, should Our Only President stay in office for the next four years, the only way he is likely to make my own life worse is by making my head explode whenever he (or one of his cronies) talks. I’m not even likely to live in a big enough urban center to worry greatly about (a) the big terrorist attack that I think his policies make marginally more likely, or (2) the unpleasantness of travelling through economically depressed high-crime neighborhoods that I think his policies make enormously more likely. Yep, if I didn’t give a crap about anybody but myself and my wife and progeny, I wouldn’t give a crap about the presidential election either.
I refuse to vote for Bush because he’s exactly why many people don’t like white men. In short, George makes me look bad. They see him and assume I’m a mean, arrogant, short-sided bastard who cares about nothing but himself.
And where does he get off calling himself a Christian when he refuses to live by the Golden Rule?! Is it any wonder I haven’t set foot in a church in ages? Too many @$$#0!&s like Bush telling me I’m going to hell. Yeah, I know, he without sin’s supposed to throw the first stone, but dammit, I’m pissed off and have to throw something, preferably at Dick Cheney’s head.
I also fall into the category that would benifit from another four years with the bumpkin in office.
In a worst-case, if we run out of oil and our deficit prevents spending on research for other materials…
That would be a change that would directly affect me. Both my wife and I work for a company that produces ultra-clean synthetic fuels. The plant that I am working at now was funded by the DOE and we have several projects down the pike that are to be funded by both the DOE and the DOD. If funding is pulled, that means fewer projects for my company in a given year. Fewer projects equates to fewer jobs needed. Fewer jobs equates to the possibility of falling out of the WMEWIPO category.
Oh, John . . . you have no idea.
You can be ripped off so bad you have no idea. What will you do if your 401K tanks forever? I’m not talking about losing 2/3rds its value, like mine did, but is wiped out when you are 65?
I went along very happily, like you, figuring things were pretty well taken care of. The major trauma in my life was getting my 23-year-old defined benefit pension ‘converted’ to a private account, losing a third of the value in the process. Then the market tanked, and I lost 50% of the remaining value.
I’m 48 years old, and now have about a third in my pension fund compared to what it was when Bush started. I’ve got some time to recover, but my kids are starting college, and the cost of tuition is way up. Also, last year my job was shipped to China, and my new job may go to India.
Being in your early 30s with a single young child you are relatively secure. You’ve got a long time to recover from what happens in the next four years. But as you age, and if you expand your family very much, you will become more vulnerable. God forbid you or your family have health problems. God forbid your child gets drafted.
Yes, indeed, this estimation is predicated upon life continuing as it has. We are helped to some extent that I work for myself, which keeps me from having to worry about getting fired (it presents a whole set of *other* worries, of course, but let’s not get into that now).
But certainly things can go wrong. The question is, for the purposes of this entry, whether those things will go wrong *because* of Bush’s policies and if so, in the next four years.
For you, no, things will probably not go wrong, at least as a result of Our Esteemed Leader’s policies. Unless your investments implode… say, 1/30 chance.
For you in 2008-2012… chances go up. In 2012-2016… significantly up, I think, as a result of this president’s policies.
The deficit alone should be enough to do it, not minding the civil liberties and environmental costs… or the costs of a pissed-off jihadi (more of ’em now than ever, I’d imagine) wandering into your town with a junior cruise missile…
I’m making myself miserable. Stopping now. :)
and of course there’s also the extreme (and, I’ll hurry to add, extremely unlikely) scenarios, re-election is bound to give Bush one hell of an ego boost, what if he takes this to mean he’s got carte blanche to really do as he pleases with the nation’s resources? What if he creates a trully massive international incident of some sort, one that’d make the Iraq controversy look like a schoolyard argument? What if his domestic policies becomes such a burden that they result in riots in nation’s major cities? Sure these are extreme situations, but not entirely impossible, and they’re predicated on the basic precept that Bush is simply not intelligent or reliable enough to be entrusted with the kind of power his position grants him.
The back-and-forth between John and Tripp reminds me of an idea I’ve been toying with for a while — that Americans were largely living under a delusion that things were Basically Good, and would Basically Always Get Better, and that historical events like, well, 1776-1945 were pretty much gone forever.
Which is why we’ve more or less gone insane since 2001.
But that’s for another day. This time I’m here to argue with Scalzi on two of his points: one in the comments and one in the original essay.
Re “never expecting Social Security”, that’s awfully silly and buying into GOP spin. Read something the other day that if you want Social Security to be in fine shape for 75 years, bump it from 6.2 to 7.1%; as is, it’s good for 30-40 years. It’s Soc Sec AND MEDICARE that’s in trouble. Convenient fillip, no? You’ve been hearing about the collapse of Soc Sec for years, but really, it’s based in reality as much as Santa Claus.
Re “we’re fine”. This is just my personal capital-C cause, but it never ceases to amaze me how people totally discount their personal, real-world mortality odds due to nuclear attack. For all of the insanity over 9/11, let’s face it — we could have a couple of those a month and not approach roadkill statistics. But all it takes is one nuclear attack to End Life As We Know It.
ANY president who does less than everything he can to prevent proliferation is literally endangering Americans. As the state with the most conventional force, we have the most to lose (and are the biggest target) to states with nukes. This president has been more egregious than most in dropping the ball.
I appreciate what you are saying, John, but as others are alluding to, you and other (what is it? wimmy-wipos?) are not as insulated as you may think. I don’t want to be doom and gloom here, but as you know, I am not a wimy-wipo due to disability (as is my partner) and I work with former wimy-wipo’s turned disabled or chronically ill every day. One major illness in your family or one mistake in driving can cost you every sense of security you think you might have if one of you should become disabled. You have health insurance, but what is the cap? What are the co-pays and what are the exclusions. I’ve seen million dollar caps, and life retirement savings run out in a matter of a couple of years. And if you lose insurance and do have a disability, it nearly impossible to get insured again. Even the wealthiest, (aka Christopher Reeve-RIP) become bankrupt in a matter of years. (In his case, his foundation and Robin Williams picked up the tab for his care.) Many people think the safety net or lack thereof doesn’t effect them because they have done everything to insure their security through their own planning and investments. And I have to tell you that the way policies, health care, and insurance is set up in this country-everyone is potentially seconds away from being knocked out of Wimy-wipo status in a fraction of a second. I see it all the time. Now hopefully your family will be spared for the next four years and forever from any such medical tragedy, but these issues affect everyone, not just the poor, minority, uneducated, non land owners.
And I second those who mentioned environmental issues, and war issues. Both issues again can affect health and well being, as well as the economy and your place in it.
My biggest worry about Bush is how he handles potential crises. Let’s say oil keeps going up. There’s sabotage in Saudi Arabia and oil goes to $100 a barrel. Hello Great Depression II. Or say we have another big terrorist attack. Or say Russia continues its slide to totalitarianism and becomes our enemy again? (Looks like the best we can hope for there is that it turns into something like China).
Do you think Bush could handle any of this? Is he prepared for anything like this? I don’t think the guy is qualified to manage an Arby’s. I think he’s a force magnifier that actually makes dangerous situations much more dangerous. So that’s what keeps me up at night. I’m a single guy so stuff like tax cuts, health care, they’re not a big deal one way or the other.
Well I’m not quite in the same position as you John; I’m more of a WEWI (a single WMEWIPO without property). I guess the pronunciation would be “wee-wee” which does a lot for my masculine self image let me tell you. Anyway, I’m a WEWI, and a child of WMEWIPOs, so in general I would agree with the fact that the issues that you laid out do not directly affect me. However, the one assertion I have to disagree with is that the WMEWIPOs do not have to be concerned about military service. While the majority of the military, especially the enlisted ranks, are made up of men and women from lower middle class environments there are those that come from more privileged upbringings as well. Their reasons for joining might not be the same, but their parents fear for them just the same. I speak from personal experience having spent 5 years in the US Army from 1999-2004.
Speaking as one of your international readers, I am hoping like crazy that Kerry gets in. Just recently there was an election in Australia and we kept the incumbent in. Hell, there was a swing *to* him. As a reasonably healthy wimmy-wipo (I am *so* stealing this term) this probably won’t affect me too much but there are severe implications for things like healthcare, education, and telecommunications.
I am hoping that if Kerry gets in, that Australia – US relations might get a little less cozy and a lot less crazy.
At first, I thought I must fall into the same category. Wife and I are both well educated, both have good jobs, insurance, we own a home and two cars. Ane being DINKs (Dual Income, No Kids), you’d think we were doing alright for ourselves.
But as I look at the situation, after around 2001, I went from a regular plan of getting more money to getting less, in a hurry. We moved to Colorado for me to take a pay jump of $10K. Now, four and a half years later, I currenly make $3K less than I did when we moved here. Counting for inflation and for expected merit raises, I’m at least down $10K, or back where I started.
Add to that the fact that the wife and I are both in education (she’s a literacy and assessment coordinator and I’m in ed technology), and I think that not only would another four years of the Commander in Chimp hurt us, the past four years have directly impacted us in a negative way.
“The most I’ve been personally inconvenienced by the policies of George W. Bush was the time an officious TSA schmuck wouldn’t let us carry a collapsed beach umbrella onto a plane as a carry-on because it was sealed in plastic.”
Whew! I’ve been losing sleep worrying that the TSA would be unable to stop The Penguin!
Glad to see my concerns were baseless. The Penguin will never get an umbrella full of sleep gas (or worse!) onto a plane.
I’m also a WMEWIPO, & I think you’re taking too shallow of a look at your situation, John.
Isn’t the Iraq war responsible for at least some of the $55/barrel oil cost, making you pay more to fill your tank and heat your home? Even if you’re Geothermal Boy driving the Electric-Mobile you’re still paying indirectly, as manufacturers and suppliers are passing on their increased expenses to you.
Has your health insurance premium gone up, or has your benefits package been reduced?
You will probably not have to worry that the Whatever will be outsourced to Bangladore, but how will Ohio maintain tax revenues when they have to take into account all the other job/wage losses? Will your property tax stay flat, you think?
I don’t know about your retirement portfolio, but mine has been flat to declining the last four years. I had been looking for the miracle of compound interest to grow my nest egg into something I can live off of in a couple decades – can you afford another four years of your investments treading water?
Finally, do you feel secure now? Not only in the “I hope the terrorists don’t put ricin in my Budweiser”, but also in the “I hope the disenfranchised poor, minorities, and elderly don’t rise up and vote away my kid’s future”. After all, we may have the stuff, but as they become a larger and more desperate group, looking up at us across a larger divide, they may decide it’s time to redistribute the wealth. (Or stand us up against the wall…)
“ANY president who does less than everything he can to prevent proliferation is literally endangering Americans. ”
You really think Kerry’s going to do anything to stop Iran from getting nukes? Not a chance in Hell. George W Bush is the only one with the slightest inclination to take whatever action is necessary.
“Finally, do you feel secure now? Not only in the “I hope the terrorists don’t put ricin in my Budweiser”, but also in the “I hope the disenfranchised poor, minorities, and elderly don’t rise up and vote away my kid’s future” ”
You mean like they’ve been doing for 70 years now?
“After all, we may have the stuff, but as they become a larger and more desperate group, looking up at us across a larger divide, they may decide it’s time to redistribute the wealth. (Or stand us up against the wall…) ”
So giving the stuff to them now is the answer? I thought appeasement was a bad idea.
Ken, do you actually believe all the stuff you just wrote? I mean, c’mon.
John, the one bad note in the wimmie-wipo symphony is that you’re fine *as long as nothing changes*. If you lose your house in a tornado, one of you is laid off, or your doctor accidentally leaves a 12″ spanner in your tummy during abdominal surgery, the blips in the system start making everything go spla all at once.
Hi, John. What you have said is spot-on, and you’ve said it so eloquently.
Hi, John. What you have said is spot-on, and you’ve said it so eloquently.