I didn’t vote on Tuesday, and I wouldn’t have voted for George W. Bush if I had voted. But this doesn’t keep me from being revolted by how the left-socialist pundits and cultural elite are interpreting the election results. (There is already a set of maps purporting to show that the red states correspond to the pre-Civil War slave states and territories.)
I would disagree with the typical Bush voter on many things. Nevertheless I am confident that he is not an intolerant, racist, gay-bashing, theocratic fascist. This voter most likely supports the war in Iraq not because he’s a neocon neo-imperialist, but because the Bush administration effectively and subtly, albeit cynically, tied it to the attacks of 9/11. This voter opposes abortion not because he wishes to see women subjugated, but because he believes that fetuses are rights-bearing persons. This voter opposes government funding of stem-cell research (something any libertarian opposes) not because he fears scientific advancement, but for reasons similar to his reasons for opposing abortion. This voter wants the U.S. Constitution changed to outlaw expanding the word “marriage” to include gay people, but he doesn’t want them marched to death camps or even stripped of civil liberties in lesser ways. Etc., etc., etc.
As I said, I disagree with these positions (except the one on tax-funded stem-cell research; I oppose tax-funded anything). Nevertheless, in my view America is not in the grip of Christian totalitarians or even authoritarians. Most of the people who voted for Bush probably generally favor smaller government over bigger government. They either are not aware that Bush has been a big domestic spender or they feel that whatever he has spent, John Kerry would have topped him if elected. (And since when has the left associated big spending with authoritarianism?! That would be progress indeed.) Most Bush supporters believe that Bush’s foreign policy is ultimately a national-security policy. They would be uneasy with explicit imperialism and would have opposed war in Iraq had it been sold purely on the basis of freeing the Iraqis and building a democracy there, which is why the Bush people came up with the WMD rationalization.
The red-staters are not libertarians (although they share some of our positions), but we have less to fear from them than we have from the secular left, which would impose legal and chemical straitjackets on us in the name of mental and physical hygiene, that is, science.
We should be able to disagree and make our case without demonizing our opponents in extreme and repugnant terms. Much of the left-socialist analysis of the election discredits the analysts, not the red-state voters.
This is not a great time for libertarians, but the dark ages are by no means descending on America, regardless of what Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman, E. J. Dionne, Michael Moore, Barbra Streisand, and their worn-out statist ilk may think.
Jason Pappas - 11/8/2004
Given all the hysteria in virtually every intellectual quarter, it’s refreshing to see someone achieving perspective.
John Arthur Shaffer - 11/8/2004
Only ignorance can allow this:
Imperialism falsely masked as reluctant self-defense. The biggest expansion of government since LBJ cloaked in phony tax cuts (which will be dumped with interest on a future generation). Stripping gay people of any legal status is equivalent to protecting the "sanctity" of marriage.
Divided government is the only solution left to those who want smaller government. Sad to say, but true.
Perhaps those on the progressive left will realize now what a monster the federal government is and that the libertarian way is the only way out of this mess. It doesn't feel so good to see the other side have all the power, and Democrats now just have to sleep in the bed they made for 50 years after FDR.
Jonathan Dresner - 11/7/2004
I think the only way you get that 'typical' voter is with a blender.
Sheldon Richman - 11/7/2004
I have no doubt that Roderick Long has interesting things to say about the connection between the two maps, and I really would like to hear them. But for most of the people who will be e-mailing that map link to their friends, it is nothing more than a glib slur that they could not elaborate on if their lives depended on it.
M.D. Fulwiler - 11/7/2004
If one agrees with Sheldon's analysis, a huge portion of the country is, at the very least, ignorant as all get out. That ought to scare the pants off anyone, considering the possible consequences.
It is true that most Americans probably don't want to send gays to concentration camps, but most Americans would not have approved of lynching blacks in 1930 either. That doesn't mean life was a piece of cake for most blacks at the time, or that they shouldn't have worked for legal equality.
Sheldon's attitude reminds me of the attitude of Anne Frank, who wrote that most people were basically good at heart just before the Germans shipped her to her death in a concentration camp. There ~is~ a malicious anti-gay streak in America. Nothing really horrendous may come of it, but who would have believed in 1928 that the relatively civilized nation of Germany was about to descend into utter barbarity?
Roderick T. Long - 11/7/2004
> There is already a set of maps purporting t
> o show that the red states correspond to the
> pre-Civil War slave states and territories
Well, one doesn't have to think all Bush voters are "intolerant, racist, gay-bashing, theocratic fascists" to think that there's something culturally significant and non-coincidental about the correlation between the present blue-state/red-state divide and the 1860s free-state/slave-state divide. (After all, it's not as though the free-state/slave-state was pure good vs. pure evil either: see http://praxeology.net/unblog02-03.htm#05.)