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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Tuesday, 24 August 2004

Topic: Election Notes

Spite and its uses... Why One Votes for Bush

Why one votes for Bush? You will find this comment at the end of the last column, From the Department of Useless Advice - "...half the country likes this child bully who can sucker-punch the skinny, brainy wimp and get away with it. Hey, it is entertaining - and plays to the secret fantasy of so many who feel life, and brainy wimps who get along with the French, have treated them unfairly and mocked their lack of education and their simple incurious values and tell them life is complicated when it really isn't."

Here - (Mark Ames in the NY PRESS - Volume 17, Issue 23), curiously, this is explained in great detail - and this is an executive summary with key quotes -
PREMISE: In this country, tens of millions of people choose to watch Fox News not simply because Americans are credulous idiots or at the behest of some right-wing corporate cabal, but because average Americans respect viciousness. They are attracted to viciousness for a lot of reasons. In part, it reminds them of their bosses, whom they secretly adore. Americans hate themselves for the way they behave in public, always smiling and nodding their heads with accompanying reallys and uh-huhs to show that they're listening to the other person, never having the guts to say what they really feel. So they vicariously scream and bully others into submission through right-wing surrogate-brutes. Spending time watching Sean Hannity is enough for your average American white male to feel less cowardly than he really is.

PROPOSITION: What if Americans are not a likeable people? The left's wires short-circuit when confronted with this terrible possibility; the right, on the other hand, warmly embraces Middle America's rank soul and exploits it to their full advantage. The Republicans know Americans better than the left.

THE POWERLESS VOTE OUT OF SPITE AND ENVY: This explains the mystery of why Bush still has a chance of winning in November, even though most Americans acknowledge that his presidency is little more than a series of slapstick fuck-ups with apocalyptic consequences. Inspector Clouseau meets the Book of Revelations. Close to half of this country will support Bush simply to spite that part of America that it sees as most threatened by the Iraq debacle. If the empire ends up collapsing into that filthy, sizzling hellhole in the desert, if more terrorists are created to help set off dirty bombs in Manhattan or Los Angeles, our spiteful voter has a real chance of finally achieving some empowerment.

... Spite voting is mostly a white male phenomenon, which is why a majority of white males vote Republican. It comes from a toxic mix of thwarted expectations, cowardice and anomie that is unique to the white American male experience.

... One look at Bush and you'll know why: Bush is the privileged frat-boy/jock asshole that every spiteful male recognizes from his school days. Spiteful males may have supported him in the past, but only because Bush's cartoonish stupidity gave a daily dose of stomach cramps to the responsible, concerned Americans who voted for Gore. And really, what white male in his spiteful mind could possibly have voted for Al Gore, with that pained "Am I pleasing you?" smile he beamed at you? Spiteful white males don't want to be pleased-they want other people to be displeased.
Of course the whole item is much more detailed, and angrier. This summary is, after all, only that, a summary.

Read the essay here.

What to conclude? Never underestimate the power of spite. The old adage that some people will cut of their nose to spite their face? Maybe that applies here in some way.

The Bush campaign as planned by Karl Rove effectively harnesses this spite. What possible counter effort can his progressive-liberal-Panglossian opponents mount?


ADJECTIVE: Blindly or naively optimistic.
ETYMOLOGY: After Pangloss, an optimist in Candide, a satire by Voltaire (1694-1778).

A Voltaire quote -
"I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O, Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it." (Letter to M. Damilaville - May 16, 1767)

Posted by Alan at 15:05 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

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