Anger Just Doesn't Work
On the cusp of celebrating our Nation's independence, I find myself wondering about the level of anger that underlies the upcoming presidential election.
This isn't some starry-eyed speculation about our national partisan political system. This is personal, and even a little frightening.
There is no doubt that the upcoming election will draw the most serious distinctions between Republicans and Democrats in our nation's history. Some suggest the Gore/Bush race of 2000 set that standard, but Gore and his advisors were careful to remind Americans of Gore's southern roots, and of the very moderate, almost conservative bent of the Clinton Administration.
Senator John Kerry (D., MA.) makes no bones about his liberal beliefs, and his campaign chair likes to describe the senator's record on Capitol Hill as "progressive."
Conversely, President Bush is tending toward his conservative base this summer, away from the more moderate approach to governing that has dominated many aspects of his administration.
Talking heads are already warming up for the battle, and the spinmeisters are using divisive and hurtful rhetoric earlier in the campaign season than I can ever recall.
My personal favorite show is Hannity and Colmes on the Fox News Channel, as Sean Hannity is rabidly conservative while Alan Colmes is intensely liberal. The great thing about this program is that these two guys can debate almost any topic, including guests on both side of the spectrum, and remain courteous and friendly.
This idea, to respect differing opinions and the unalienable right to express those opinions, is the reason that our system of government thrives in the midst of chaos and turmoil.
That brings me to my point and the purpose in writing this. In the last few days, the choice that my wife Amy and I have made to display a re-election magnet for President Bush on our cars has elicited reactions I have never seen in Frederick County.
A driver expressed their displeasure to me, gesturing with their middle finger while driving at 70 miles an hour. It wasn't until they flew past that I saw the familiar Kerry bumper sticker.
In a moment of self-confessed weakness, I responded in kind. Admittedly stupid and unjustified, I've decided that an appropriate explanation is that the Kerry backer was simply attempting to communicate visually his IQ. My response was simply intended to confirm for him that I understood and fully concurred with his assessment.
Two days ago, Amy came home shaking her head and laughing. Another Kerry-ite had driven alongside her and given her a "thumbs-down", presumably because of the Bush bumper magnet.
Now it is possible that there is something else that we're doing that elicits these angry reactions other than our support for an incumbent President, but I suspect not.
I just don't get it! I don't like John Kerry at all. I think his vision of America's future is dependent on trying to incite fear and despair. I think John Kerry believes that the federal government can make better decisions than we can regarding our lives, our money, and our personal choices. I think his voting record in the United States Senate is one of the worst in history, and his frequent changes of position point to a fundamental lack of personal convictions.
That said, I don't begrudge any their support of Senator Kerry, and I simply cannot imagine being so worked up as to make hand and facial gestures at a total stranger because of a Kerry bumper sticker!
I am more than a little concerned for those poor souls out there who are so tightly wound that they feel compelled to "act out." Imagine their despair if the President IS reelected! I'm reminded of actor Alec Baldwin, who indicated his desire to move to another country if Bush beat Gore in 2000.
Alec is still here, still making movies, and now working for Kerry. Maybe he kept his bags packed!
To the knuckleheads out there compelled to show me their IQ, rest comfortable in the knowledge that you're surrounded by a couple of tons of steel, plastic, and rubber.
Your gesture might take on more significance if you were at a state of evolutionary advancement that you could walk up to me and express your thoughts and opinions in person. Who knows, you might even be able to make a point!