Skip to comments.Last Word in DUMBO: I Voted With My Head, But Not My Kishkes
Posted on 11/11/2004 4:09:13 AM PST by KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle
BROOKLYN, N.Y.7:30 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 2, Hicks Street, Brooklyn Heights: Hamlet in the voting booth. My hand hovered over the Kerry lever as a small voice from within asked: Do you really want to do this?
In the end, I did, if only because I had indicated for Kerry in this space, and to have voted otherwise would have been hypocritical. The late Judith Shklar observed that hypocrisy is a small price to pay for a civil society, but there are times well, I can think of few things in my lifeattending night-school accounting classes during my first months on Wall Street in 1961 does come to mindthat I have done with less enthusiasm.
Why the hesitation? Off its record so far, by any conventional yardstick of success and failure, in whatever sphere of government you care to point to, the Bush administration deserved the sack. I dont hate the President; I find him goofy, and sometimes ominously so, especially in his "George of Arc" iteration, but I truly, deeply loathe and fear Dick Cheneywith an animus that passeth all rationalization. These are good and plentiful reasons for flicking the Kerry lever without a second thought, notwithstanding that John Kerrys campaign featured a good half-dozen of the most awkward, self-ridiculing, politically obtuse moments I expect to see in my lifetime: "reporting for duty," for openers, but lets not forget wind-surfing, the bicycle photo op in a helmet that made Michael Dukakis look like Patton by comparison, and the goose-shooting. Hang these together in a gallery and you have a regular Sistine Chapel of condescension.
Still, I pressed for the Dems, and then all day long felt like a complete butthead. Uneasy, wan and palely loitering?
How come? Not because the election might go this way or it might go that way, but because I was having trouble getting a handle on what was going on with me.
The next morning, when it was clear that Kerry had lost, I wasnt devastated. I didnt get on the phone and call my friends and proclaim my depression and that I was pricing expatriate accommodation in Goa. I wasnt happy that Bush had won, mind you. For different reasons, as I saw it, neither ticket was that much the lesser of two evils; each, in its own way, was unspeakable. I do have to say that when I think of all the people who will not be getting jobs in a Kerry administration, and of all the media types whove had to shove their expertise back up where it came from, it brings a certain glow to the heart. This isnt Schadenfreude talkingsimply a considered opinion that the names one heard bandied about are as equally unfit to govern as the present lot, or as the purported successors of some of the latter.
And then I finally got it: I had voted for Kerry with my mind but not with my gut, and the latter subsystemlocated on my anatomy just under where my Yale Phi Beta Kappa key would hang if I wore a watch chainwas letting me hear about it.
Heres what I mean. The way I see it, people who checked "Kerry" were by and large voting for their man or against his opponent, for reasons of policy or personal animus. But its my belief that the people who voted for Bush were not only voting for their man or against his opponent for this or that reason, they were also voting their feelings. And I suspect that for those voters, it wasnt about the two candidates per se or the issues; it was a vote against the sort of people they think of as supporting Kerry. Theyincluding, it would seem, some three million middle-of-the-roaders and Democratswere actively, awarely voting against Blue America.
Thats about 50 million additional reasons to pull the red lever. In a way, I sympathize. I cant stand 90 percent of the people I think of when I think of Blue Americawhich is not to say that I relish watching the country turned over to a bunch of Jesus-freaking rednecks bearing AK-47s, which is what Blue Americas condescending, self-congratulatory, knows-best interfering, cynical post-mortems claim has happened.
I have some idea of how Red America might feel. A month or so ago, I testified at a City Council subcommittee hearing in favor a plan that would place a new apartment building close to the Brooklyn Bridge. Brooklyn needs capital investment; this neighborhood needs people, because people create jobs, savings, commercial diversity. Capital transformed this neighborhood, and it needs all the capital it can attract to become dynamic and independent of Manhattan handouts. But sure enough, down they came from the Heights, with a thunderous rustle of twin-sets and a clanking of circle pins and a shimmer of petitions, the bien-pensant buttinsky brigade, cooing about threats to "DUMBOs historic character"which until a few years ago consisted of dark, dangerous, dirty streets lined with dilapidated warehouses occupied by squattersmoaning about "iconic views" and "the light on Water Street" (where I live) and so on.
This was Blue America at work, where butting in is the point of the republican exercise, where people routinely speak of someone elses property in the first-person possessive. I dont want to see where I live turned into Sag Harbor, that vicious little village where the notion of private property has been all but extinguished, but thats whatll happen if this continues.
Now this may be a point lost on, say, The Nation, which has followed up the election with a stirring summons to "Stand and Whine." It may be lost on the folks were given to read about in the Styles section of The Times, to which I admit I turn first thing each Sundayacting, I expect, on the same instinct that, when I enter a zoo, sends me straight to the reptile house. It may be lost on the crowd at Michaelswhich, if Allah is just, Al Qaeda is targeting as we speak. But its the impulse that I think drove a plurality of three and a half million Red America voters to vote for the President, in spite of all the perfectly rational arguments adduced by talking head after talking head that a Bush vote would be against their every material and physical interest. This time around, large parts of Brooklyn went "Red"like the apple of the Duchess eye.
I think I get thisbecause its the way I feel 99 percent of the time when I listen to my gut. Then I loathe Blue America, too. If I put the "issues" to one side, I dont want to vote for someone who preaches about economic justice from the seat of an $8,000 bicycle, who pays a lower effective rate of tax than people with a thousandth part of his family income while moaning in that saggy way of his about "unfair tax cuts," and I dont want to be lumped with those who do. Blue Americas all for moral laissez-faire and all against economic laissez-faire, at least as these pertain to the life of the ordinary man who cant tell one cut of sashimi from another, and I dont think thats a workable formula for political success.
Of course, the beautiful irony in all this is that the post-election Blue America hand-wringing in effect is saying that 2004 is the result, politically speaking, of the dumbing-down of America. But who orchestrated that dumbing-down? Who puts the crap on the airwaves and in print and in the museums and on video screens? Who preaches that everythings relative, that if everyones lying, no one is? Who worships the 18-34 demographic? Who supplies the in-and-out stock-market culture that rules the economy and gave us George Soros? Whered the people come from who really did Enron or Arthur Andersen?
Blue America, thats who, thats where. And why not, theyll tell you? Blue Americans have every bit as much a right to make a good living as some schlub in a pick-up truck. More right, probablybecause they went to Harvard. And if dumbing-down and bottom-line kiting pay for the Hummer necessary to make the fraught journey from Lily Pond Lane to Citarella to pick up the baby bok choy, whats the big deal? To the superior go the spoils.
And finally, theres this to consider: Blue America is, of course, the seat of "Blame America," the point of which, I guess, is that you reap what you sow. Well, take a look in the mirror, assholes.
If they got that far......... they won't vault! ;-)
Kerry supporter hangout.....
NYC Dims are a strange lot, I don't know if they'll ever come around (well, Ed Koch did, I guess that's a start!)
I think he gets it..!
The ones whose livlihoods aren't tied to the State are starting to "get it".
Interesting... but not unusual. It seems many voted against rather then for...
When I turned the switch for the President, I felt extremely satisfied and completely unconflicted.
As someone who was born and raised in NYC, I have to say that I have no idea how I escaped the mental poison of liberalism. Of course, I came from a good, loving, intact Catholic home - but that didn't help dozens of people I grew up with.
When the author says that parts of Brooklyn went red, I'd love to see the data.
>> To the superior go the spoils.<<
This guy must be part of my hubby's family!
Yeah, sort of. But he says he still hates 90% of red-state people and notice, he still voted Democrat even though he knows they caused most of the problems.
I love the way he is able to pinpoint a few of the hypocrisies that run so rampant in the life of the man he (regrettedly) voted for!
I have said all along that even if hated Bush, I would have voted for him in this election simply because of what Kerry represents.
It sheds light on the scary truth that a LOT of politicians say what the people want to hear and how they want to hear it, when someone in a position as prominent as Presidential candidate so flippantly changes his "beliefs" based on what audience he has at the time.
I rarely remember him ever just agreeing with his own policies. He usually said something like, "Well, I personally think abortion should be a LAST resort, but I support each woman's right to choose." Whearas, Bush just says, "Abortion is wrong, and I am against it." He wasn't trying to coddle all the baby-killers or even the ones who had done it in the naivety of youth and regret it now. He just stands by what he believes and doesn't worry about hurting feelings. But at the same time I have no doubt in my mind that Bush would warmly embrace any woman who was living with the guilt of having had an abortion and who now regretted that decision, and promise to pray for her and assure her that God forgives those who seek it.
And THAT'S why I voted for Bush. Not because I agree with him whole-heartedly on every issue.
This should partially explain why the biggest Eastern cities went for Kerry.
Think of them as the other side of the country club Republicans coin.
Uhh ...about one out of 2 Americans voted for W.
Don't look now but your hood's showing.
What the hell does DUMBO stand for?
Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass: DUMBO
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