Election Reflection: Sad American

I read this crazy letter (see below for info on this bad link) on Blogger this morning, and I couldn’t help responding. There were 11 comments when I first saw the letter. Two hours later, when I got around to writing something, there were 97 comments. By the time I posted, I was number 127.

I suspect this blog is not real. At the very least I’m not sure I believe this woman is being entirely sincere. Read it and see what you think. Since my feedback is buried 127 deep, here’s a copy of it:

Dear Sad American,My first reaction to your letter was that you have pretty clearly outlined the reasons why you shouldn’t have voted Republican no matter who the Democrats were running. The more I read, the more I thought that this was some backhanded way to gloat about Bush’s victory: My guy’s a complete asshole and he’s done nothing but bad and dangerous things in his public life, and your guy STILL couldn’t get elected! In the end, if Bush’s first four years in office weren’t enough to tip the scale for you, Sad American, then the Democrats will never have your vote, and probably shouldn’t expend too much energy trying to get it.

In broadest terms, the Democrats are the party of the people, and the Republicans are the party of the rich. The reason that sounds clichéd is that it’s been true for generations. Shame on us (the loyal left) for not elucidating that point effectively in this past campaign, and for not showing that there are moral reasons for our positions on abortion, welfare, war, racial equality, marriage (gay and otherwise), social security and the environment. Despite your words, or because of them, I doubt the Democratic leadership will ever be able to get through to you, but you’re right about one thing: we need to make our voice heard by more voters. And we will.

I can’t help noticing that your “blog” seems to have been created solely for the purpose of posting this one message. This makes me wonder if you’re for real. Here’s my real name and email address. What’s yours?

Larry Jones

[NOTE: I’ve had to change my name here for reasons discussed elsewhere in this blog. In my actual message to Sad American I used my real name and email address.]

I bet she doesn’t answer me, or reveal anything concrete about who she is.

Edit, 12 years later: The original “letter” was taken down soon after I wrote this post. I’ve looked for it on and off over the years, and never found until now, October 15, 2016. The link in my post above goes nowhere. Here’s the letter itself, which I discovered on a Daily Kos post dated November 7, 2004.

How You Could Have Had My Vote

It’s been two days since John Kerry conceded, and all I am seeing, hearing and reading from the Democratic party is that you guys think you lost on “moral values.” You seem to think this means nothing more than opposition to gay marriage. You seem to think that Bush voters waited in line for hours to stick it to the queers, to tell those faggots how much we hate them!

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Many Bush voters, like myself, were not happy to be voting for the President’s re-election. Many Bush voters agonized over our decision and cast our vote in fear, trepidation, and trembling. Many of us would have given our left arms for a Democrat we could have supported.

Because I am too young to be as disillusioned as I am, and because I know that one-party rule is not good for my country, and because it is my deepest wish to see the Democratic party change into one I can give my whole-hearted support, I am going to explain why you didn’t get my vote, and how you can get it in the future.

First, for context, let me give you a bit about my perspective: I am a single, heterosexual, college-educated woman in my late 20’s with an annual income of about $30,000. I live in a solidly red state in the South, the region you guys wrote off entirely without even trying to persuade us to vote for you. I am not an ideologue, and I experience painful ambivalence about many political issues. The notion of an abortion makes me queasy, but I don’t want Roe vs. Wade overturned. I have friends who’ve been impregnated by rape and friends who found out late in their third trimesters that they were carrying babies too malformed to ever have normal lives. The pictures of Iraqi children who’ve lost arms from the bombs my tax dollars bought make me shed tears, but I recognize that the war was the right thing to do, given the information we had available at the time the decision was made. I had no health insurance for three years, but I’m still, hesitantly, not in favor of socialized medicine. I know people who abuse the social services, but I also have friends who would be dead without the food stamps and SSI checks they collect each month. I believe in God and consider myself a Christian, but I don’t go to church, and Falwell, Robertson, and their ilk scare me more than they scare you. I believe that in a perfect world, Roy Moore would have to live with the stench of his own ego, just like the rest of us do.

I have gay friends who are closeted and gay friends who couldn’t be more open if they had QUEER tattooed across their foreheads, and I think they should be allowed to get married if they want to. I read The Onion, Dilbert, Dan Savage’s sex advice, Salon.com, and quite a few blogs. The local librarians know me on sight. I waited in line until midnight when the fifth Harry Potter book came out. I can’t wait to see the new Chucky movie. I will probably shack up before I get married, but I won’t be proud of it. I wouldn’t buy an SUV, even if I could pay cash for one. I recycle. I shop at Wal-mart, but I feel guilty about it, and if they unionized, I would never cross the picket line. I think FOX News is about as fair and balanced as a seesaw with a gorilla on one end.

President Bush’s close relationships to people like John Ashcroft scare me. I hate the PATRIOT Act and am fearful of what might be part of PATRIOT II. The two dumbest trial balloons I’ve heard floated for his second-term agenda are privatizing Social Security and abolishing the income tax. When he says that God chose him to be President during this time of trial, I am embarrassed. I roll my eyes.

I am a pragmatic, disillusioned, realistic, and entirely ordinary member of the radical middle.

Here is why you didn’t get my vote:

You didn’t give me clear positions on the issues. I followed the news closely all through the campaign, but I still don’t understand Kerry’s position on Iraq. I know he voted for the IWR, but then he voted against the $87 billion. To you, that seemed to be a symbolic stand against Saddam Hussein (the IWR) but also a principled stand against a President who was out of control (against the $87 billion). To me, that was just confusing. He said he would have done everything different, but he also said that, knowing what he knew today (the day he was asked) he still would have cast the same vote. He said that he would bring allies to our side to share the burden, but he also said he would be sending 40,000 more of our troops. He said that we must finish the job, but he also said it was the wrong war at the wrong place and the wrong time. Huh?
You didn’t convince me that you would defend America against the threats of terrorism. Kerry seemed to think that terrorism is like any other crime. You catch the people responsible and put them in jail, and that’s that. After seeing the destruction – physical, financial, psychological, and emotional — wrought by the September 11th attacks, I do not understand how he could believe this. The hijackers lived among us, ate at our restaurants, shopped in our malls, and wounded us worse than we have ever been wounded before. How Kerry saw this as a crime, and not as a paradigm-shifting event that deserved a military response, both in direct retaliation and to keep it from ever happening again by going on the offensive, is something I don’t understand.
You insulted my intelligence by the constant mantra of Kerry’s service in Vietnam. Most of the men I know who are older than 50 served in some way, either in country or in the Coast Guard or other non-combat roles. I don’t see the relevance, and the drumbeat of “three purple hearts” struck me as manipulation. It was as if you were saying, “These dumbshit hawks want war? We’ll give ’em a real war hero! That’ll get their votes!”
Your constant references to the opinions of the rest of the world scared me, and I’m not talking about the “global test” comment. I don’t care what Europeans think about me or my country. I learned in high school that living my life with one eye on the opinions of everyone else leads only to unnecessary turmoil and pointless pain. Why didn’t you?
You disturbed me with your demonization of the rich. Rich people were talked about in this campaign as though they were all evil cheaters who had wage slaves tied up in the basement to be flogged for minimum wage, and what they didn’t earn from the wage slaves’ labor, they stole from nursing home residents. I am not rich, but I work hard, am learning about investing money, am continuing to improve my prospects for earning more money in the future, and fully expect to end up at least well-off someday. If I do, it will be because of my efforts and work, not because of winning “life’s lottery.” I know two millionaires personally. Both are entrepreneurs who took big risks and worked their backsides off for years to get where they are. Given that Kerry is married to a billionaire, this seemed especially hypocritical.
Here is something you could work on right about now: I could not stomach to listen to your incessant hatred of President Bush. Bush is stupid, Bush is an idiot, Bush is Hitler, Bush is a Nazi, Bush masturbates to photos of dead Iraqi babies, I’d vote for my dog before I’d vote for Bush, I’d vote for Castro before I’d vote for Bush, the Rethuglicans are fascists, Bush voters are treasonous, Bush should be impeached, blah blah blah blah blah blah. It was old three months after Bush’s inauguration, and it’s now just tiresome. I don’t hate my President, even though I voted for him with more reluctance than I can express and a queasy feeling in my stomach. Language like this makes you seem immature, needlessly vulgar, and obnoxious.
Lastly, and I hope this doesn’t hurt anyone feelings, because my objective is to make you think, not emote: I don’t think you really want my vote. I actively sought out your perspective. I tuned in regularly, for months, to your biggest media project, your serious effort to get your message out: Air America Radio. I listened all day on Good Friday as host after host mocked people like me for believing in Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection. I listened as Janeane Garofalo, who was one of my favorite comedians for years, expressed hatred and disgust for Bush voters so vile that I ended my live stream feeling assaulted, as if I’d been vomited on. I listened the night that Mike Malloy told a young Republican to hang up the phone and go open a vein. I listened to pure, unadulterated venom that was so intense I sometimes cut the stream and cried. Tonight, your spokespeople on AAR have been calling people like me “snake-handling evangelicals,” and that was about the kindest thing I heard. Um…y’all? I’ve lived in the South my entire life and have never met a single snake-handler. Your attitudes, language, and behavior toward people like me: reasonable, thinking Christians who are quite moderate politically and who are just as well-informed as you are (yes, I’ve read all the PNAC essays, too, and yes, they scare me, too) is reminiscent of nothing so much as an abusive ex-lover, a crazy and drunken stalker. “I’ll make you love me, or you’ll regret it, you worthless bitch! Come here and let me beat you over the head and tell you how stupid and worthless you are! Then you’ll see it my way!”
I tried so hard to give you guys a chance. I’m young, I’m not extremely religious, and I’m supportive of liberal ideals like fighting for higher wages, stopping outsourcing of jobs, and standing up for the little guy. I wanted to vote Democratic this time, more than I can possibly put into words. You just didn’t give me the option.
President Bush won on values, yes, but not hatred of gays or any other stereotype you have in your head about Bush voters like me.

He won because he has values, clearly defined values, and even though I agree with little of what he believes, at least I know what he believes. At least I know that he really does believe in something. At least I know that he will do what he says he will do.

That’s disgustingly little, but unbelievably – you offered me less.

So, if you want my vote next time, and the vote of all my close friends, and the millions more like us that you refuse to believe exists, it’s pretty simple: take positions and don’t waffle on them. Stand up for America, especially with regard to terrorism. Shut up about what Germany and France think. Stop pretending that the only way to become wealthy in America is to cheat, for the sake of those of us who still want to get there. Treat the President with at least as much civility, if not respect, as you would’ve wanted right-wingers to give a President Kerry. Most importantly, please, please please, please, please, please stop abusing me. No more verbal and psychological and emotional savagery. Treat me like a voter whose vote you would actually appreciate getting, and you will get it.

Do you maybe, just maybe, see where I’m coming from?

I doubt it. But I had to try.


A Very Sad American

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4 Replies to “Election Reflection: Sad American”

  1. Mr. Jones,

    Did it occur to you that anyone who wants to know your real name can now find it on the comments to that letter? Food for thought.

    I like your blog. And your picture on your profile. Admittedly, though, I was afraid to click on “Full Size View”. 🙂

  2. Holly,
    Yeah, it has occurred to me. In fact, after I realized that I should try to hide my identity, I figured out three ways anyone who wanted to could track me down. This is a process of coming out, I guess (Note to gays: You don’t get the word “gay” all to yourselves, AND the phrase “coming out,” OK?). I can’t deny (not strongly, anyway) that I want to be known. I could keep my writing to myself if secrecy or privacy really mattered to me, as could we all, eh? I’d like you to see this little message, and I can’t picture you coming all the way back here to find it, so I may post it as a comment on your own blog, which, BTW, I find delightful. I hope you’ll forgive the intrusion…

  3. Are you kidding? I love intrusion. You should just be glad that I don’t have time to travel to Indianapolis and take secret pictures of you while you eat Chinese food with your friends. Not that I do that with any of the bloggers that I obsess with, but I’m just saying…..

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