Thursday, August 12, 2004

An Elusive Figure, I

ABC News has a political faux blog called "The Note." In it, Wednesday, they listed some "realities" of the coming election. Among them was:

Forget the fact that that we still can't find a single American who voted for Al Gore in 2000 who is planning to vote for George Bush in 2004. (If you are that elusive figure, e-mail us and tell us who you are and why:

Evidently, I'm an elusive figure. I wrote to them tonight. Here's what I said:

Is it true you can't find anyone who voted for Gore in 2000 and is likely to vote for Bush in 2004? OK, count me as one.

I live in Pennsylvania. I became a registered Republican about 10 years ago, without much enthusiasm for the party. But in this part of the world, even if space aliens kidnapped three out of every four Republicans on the eve of the next election, the GOP still would win. The contests are decided in the primaries; it's fiscal GOP vs. Bible-thumping GOP in these parts, and if you want to participate, you become a Republican. I joined the GOP so I could have the pleasure of voting against the extremist candidates twice a year.

I thought 2000 was an instance of the two-party system at its most inept. I began as a McCain supporter. Once the nominations were made, I felt little enthusiasm for either candidate, but I had a positive contempt for Bush's ignorance, his social conservative agenda, and the general way that he ran his campaign. Al Gore did nothing at all to inspire me, however, and I was planning to vote for Nader until about a day before the election, when my then-girlfriend reasoned me out of it. I voted for Gore.

What happened between now and then? Let me see if I can find the right words:

Sept. 11, 2001.

Bush still doesn't rate a lot of respect from me. I thought he handled himself poorely on that horrible day (Giuliani was my hero). He's grown, albeit slowly, since then. But he has certain qualities, a moral clarity, if you will, that make him better suited to being a war leader than he would have been in peacetime.

America is two nations today -- not the two that John Edwards sees. One nation believes we are in a very serious war with a very dangerous enemy. Islamist terrorists have the potential to make mayhem that Hitler could only dream and Khrushchev dared not try.

The other America? I'm hesitant to say what they think, but if I had to guess, it would be that Sept. 11 was a one-off event, that the best response would be to ask ourselves what we did to deserve it, and to trust in the U.N. and the World Court to protect us from it ever happening again.

Mind you, that's not what John Kerry says. But it is what most of the people I know who back him might say. Really, they don't back him. There is no Democratic candidate in this election. There's an elemental force of Bush-hatred, like a spirit-monster out of "Lord of the Rings," that, in accord with the laws of the U.S. electoral process, has to assume a human form and take a human name.

I don't object to John Kerry. I think we'd survive his presidency. In many domestic issues, I think he might do better than Bush. On the other hand, if he wants my vote, he has yet to tell me the things I need to hear that would indicate to me he understand the gravity of the threat from Islamofascism, or the importance of finishing the work that, agree with it or not, we have begun in Iraq. And I doubt I ever will hear those things from him.

But this election is not about Kerry. It's Michael Moore and and Democratic Underground. That's where you see the real face of it. I am utterly unwilling to see them become the kingmakers of America. Kerry won't repudiate them -- he can't; they're his base. Unless he does so, I'll be forced, like I was four years ago, to vote for a candidate who inspires little enthusiasm in me. Last time it wasn't George W. Bush. This time, it seems, it will be.