The Election

We lost. I’m depressed. And disgusted with my country. How can anyone look at the past four years and say, “Please, sir, may I have some more?” Masochists, every last one of them.

At the same time, though, I’m reminded of George Lakoff’s theory that conservatives use “frames” while liberals use “facts” and “issues.” See, the conservatives know how to talk about issues in a content-free but superficially attractive way to voters. Whereas Democrats believe that if they address the issues with facts people will realize how correct they are. It doesn’t work like that. Maybe we all need to read (or reread) Lakoff’s Moral Politics between now and ’06 and, especially, ’08. Check out the new issue of the Texas Observer. They talk about Lakoff and his counterpart on the conservative side.

I agree with Lindsay and Michelle and Ryan, a coworker. As Lindsay said: I feel lonely. I feel flabbergasted. As Ryan said today: It’s like a punch to the stomach. I’m just realizing that more than half of the country doesn’t share my values. In fact, they hate my values. And, as Michelle suggested: It’s all about values. We’re on the right but losing side of the culture war. Many people are saying this. A sample:

Thomas Friedman in The New York Times today: “. . . what troubled me yesterday was my feeling that this election was tipped because of an outpouring of support for George Bush by people who don’t just favor different policies than I do — they favor a whole different kind of America. We don’t just disagree on what America should be doing; we disagree on what America is.

Is it a country that does not intrude into people’s sexual preferences and the marriage unions they want to make? Is it a country that allows a woman to have control over her body? Is it a country where the line between church and state bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers should be inviolate? Is it a country where religion doesn’t trump science? And, most important, is it a country whose president mobilizes its deep moral energies to unite us — instead of dividing us from one another and from the world?

. . .

This was not an election. This was station identification. I’d bet anything that if the election ballots hadn’t had the names Bush and Kerry on them but simply asked instead, ‘Do you watch Fox TV or read The New York Times?’ the Electoral College would have broken the exact same way.”

Todd Purdum, who wrote a news analysis for The New York Times today: “It was not a landslide, or a re-alignment, or even a seismic shock. But it was decisive, and it is impossible to read President Bush’s re-election with larger Republican majorities in both houses of Congress as anything other than the clearest confirmation yet that this is a center-right country — divided yes, but with an undisputed majority united behind his leadership.”

I can’t even use my own words today. I just feel like I need to get away from all this. I need to reassess the situation. I need to be in the Netherlands for a couple of weeks, relax, get high legally, read Lakoff’s book, work on some frames and convince myself that we can win in the future.

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