Monday, November 01, 2004

I've been engaging in an email exchange with my folks regarding the upcoming presidential election.

Since there's a chance someone who doesn't know me is looking at this, I'll say a bit about my parents before I go into what I'm thinking about.

My mom was fatherless since age 5. Her dad was the son of Irish immigrants, a WW1 veteran, a jack of several trades and master, perhaps, of welding, and an alcoholic. Her mom, essentially a hillbilly (I mean that in the anthropological, rather than perjorative sense) left school in 8th grade to care for her siblings and worked an assortment of jobs to keep food on the table for my mom and aunt. By the way, before mom was born, my grandmother did a turn as a welder in the WW2 shipyards in Mobile, Alabama. That's where she met my grandfather. Mom studied art in junior college, and worked at banks and in offices of other sorts to supplement the income of my dad.

Dad was the son of a coal miner (who died of, among other things, black lung) and a housewife. Dad was kicked out of school at age 17 for, among other things, punching out a teacher (who didn't even have it coming) and joined the Coast Guard because my grandfather wouldn't let him go to Vietnam (as he wished). Turns out he went to Vietnam anyway, on the USCGC Sebago. Afterwards he worked in a pipe factory before becoming a professional firefighter, and he earned a BS in business via night school. He has, in recent years, worked his way through the public housing system to become a director.

Both of my parents have always been interested in following the news (dad cares for little else on television, save documentaries, and they have always gotten and read "the paper" wherever they lived).

They are socially liberal, favor unions (dad was his local president for a time), and don't care much about fiscal matters save taxes (being of the working class, they have always sensed, correctly, that the system was rigged against them until recently, when dad's wages shot up).

What gets them is military/defense matters. They are, in this sense, the very models of Reagan Democrats.

So here is my point.

They are probably going to vote for Bush.

Last time they voted, on my urging, for Nader (there you have it! At least two Nader voters who would have otherwise voted for Bush!). This time they are so disillusioned with Nader that they are turning to Bush.

Here's why (I glean):

Kerry has been an awful candidate. The Vietnam business is one issue. Had Kerry made a forceful stand along the lines of "I served with vim and vigor but felt betrayed, so I came home to try to stop the betrayal of others" he might have reeled them in. Instead he campaigned as Ole Blood 'n Guts, which rings false. Another issue is that he has eschewed (for obvious reasons related to his voting record) attacking the war in Iraq, and instead attacked the *style* of the war, vowing to do a better job at what is quite obviously the wrong policy. It rings false because it is false.

I reckon there are people like my parents across the US. A better Dem candidate might have gotten them. Kerry won't.

I feel pretty (un)comfortable in predicting, based on this anecdote, that Bush will actually get elected this time. I mean he really will get more votes.


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