Rear Window Ethics Rear Window Ethics: Election 2004 and Cultural Homelessness

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Election 2004 and Cultural Homelessness

Well, that was what you could call a definitive route.

Here's what I said but one day ago:

No matter who wins this election, this country is going to have to find a way to get along. Each polarized half is going to have to talk with the other. If we can't talk with some kind of civility; if we can't have discussions without calling someone with other beliefs 'stupid' or 'liars' or 'traitors'; if we can't treat each other as Americans, then there's not much of a point for being one nation.

It sounds good, right?

Somehow after tonight's virtual conservative mandate across the board--most notably in the South--I feel like that isn't going to happen. With such numbers behind your party, wouldn't you move further in the direction you have been going? Wouldn't you become even more culturally conservative if that is what nets you such a decisive win in Congress and the White House?

I'm trying hard not to sound like a sore loser.

I stick by what I said yesterday. I don't believe that the people who voted for Bush in such staggering numbers--especially new voters supporting an incumbent--are stupid. I don't believe they're backwards. I don't believe they are all close-minded bigots. But at the same time it's very difficult for me right now to understand how I live in the same country as them.

A good part of me expected Bush to win this election. What surprised me was not the fact that he did so (pending currently, but sure to be certain in a few hours/days), but the fact that he and the Republican congressional candidates did it so decisively. I always imagined the numbers would be much closer in terms of popular vote. I mean, no President has lost the popular vote and then won a second term, let alone won it with such lopsided popular figures.

This entire week I have been thinking about how, despite all of our differences, people across this country truly believe in the same general principles. I believe that to be true, but at the same time it puts a considerable strain on that notion when a president as divisive as this president has been can win re-election by such a surprising margin.

I don't think I'm alone with these feelings. I would imagine that plenty of young, idealistic, yet reasonably grounded voters who live in "blue" states feel the same way. Tonight was a wake-up call that we live in a different country than the majority of American citizens. Tonight was a somewhat shocking realization that this country truly doesn't share our sentiments on issues of equality, integrity, compassion, and balance. Tonight we share a unified pain of cultural and national alienation from the land that we love.

It's quite an unfamiliar sensation to be a white, Protestant, straight, middle-class male in America and to feel like I don't belong here.