This entry is all about politics, with some random observations mixed in. Just a warning.
George’s last entry fascinated me because it just made me realize how our perceptions of people are so different. In particular, political candidates. You know, George is from Arizona, I am from Texas, and McCain and Bush are from Arizona and Texas, respectively. The reason George’s entry so fasinated me is because I felt about McCain exactly how George feels about Bush. George might get mad at me for that, but don’t; I’m not saying I’m right, especially now. I mean, my only realization is that I have a very skewed perception of all the candidates, it’s very colored and totally subjective, so I can’t really say anything. But, I’m just saying in my heart, before reading George’s stuff, that’s how I felt about McCain.
Why? I don’t know. I just pick up random stuff from the news and particularly from salon.com, which I read pretty thoroughly. They often have very insightful analysis. But the impression I got about McCain is that he had a very bad temper, was more divisive than unifying (with his comments about religious right, etc. Not that it was untrue, it was just a dividing move), stubborn (I got this from his refusal for a while to apologize for using the term “gook”), and self-serving. The self-serving part is from the fact that he ran under the Republican banner but really presented an agenda that was decidedly non-Republican in many respects.
As you can see from what I just wrote, everything I know about McCain is pretty much inaccurate. At best, it’s colored. I, for some unknown reason, chose to look at only bad parts of him (not necessarily true at that) and ignore the good parts. And with Bush, I chose to look at only the good things and ignore the bad things, of which there are many, only some of which George pointed out. Realizing this just fascinated me. It’s just so interesting how me and George could see the candidates so differently. As you can see, part of it is just, I had a very selective, warped, inaccurate view. But for some reason I had it. It’s weird.
You need to understand that Texas loves George W. Bush. I mean, it’s pretty crazy the margins by which he was reelected to the governorship last election. It was a total landslide. They really really love him. The thing is, I mean, you get sound bites of him and stuff, but you would think the people that know him best are the people that he governs. You know, there his record is known, and his actions influence people. And there, they just totally love him. All I’m saying I guess is that, it’s cool to hate the guy, you just gotta realize that he’s not the leading candidate for no reason – his record in Texas is such that the people there adore him. They think he’s done a good job as governor.
I admit to getting caught up in that. For some reason I was there when he was campaigning for re-election (he didn’t do too much because he was so favored by the voters from beginning to end), I mean, saw the commercials and everything, and everyone that endorsed him, and you know, I came to like the guy. Like I said, the people he governed supported him a great deal, and that impressed me.
Which again is probably why my view was so colored. But to me, I mean, seriously, I would have voted for a Democrat before voting for McCain. I just chose to listen to only the bad parts. And like I said, my views were obviously very twisted. I should actually say, my opinion of McCain came primarily from an article on Salon.com which pretty much blasted him. I haven’t been able to shake it. Of course, I ignored the articles on the same site which blasted Bush. It’s just weird, that’s all.
Anyway, when McCain started getting a bunch of support, winning some primaries, I was shocked. I couldn’t believe that people would support that dirtbag. I’m sure that’s how George feels about people supporting Bush as well. And you know, he’s probably justified in that, given the stuff he cites. But regardless, his entry just interested me because it’s amazing how different our perceptions can be about the same things, and how colored they can be by preconceptions.
I guess I started realizing how my views of the candidates were very different from others when some of the early results came in. Like I mentioned, I could not believe McCain got so much support. Obviously, there was somethign good about him that I was ignoring (or something bad about Bush). Also, I could not believe how well Gore was doing against Bradley. I liked Bradley a lot. I don’t know why. It’s just some of the stuff he said early in his campaign just struck me as coming from a highly intelligent, very reasonable man. And good and decent as well. I don’t know, just his early speeches made an impact on me.
And I hated Gore. Why? He’s a gunner. Gunners make me nervous. I guess to run for president you have to be a gunner, but still. Anyway, I still remember the scandal where he asked for contributions to the Democratic Party from White House phones. Don’t ask me why, but that angered me to this day. It just struck me as the actions of a gunner, starting to raise support for himself way early, using government resources. Again, it’s illogical, but this one incident just colored my thinking of him until now. Well, along with other things. Like him trying to take credit for the Internet. How absurd. Again, to me, the actions of a gunner.
Plus, I’ll be honest; in my mind he’s associated with Clinton, and I detest Clinton. Clinton to me is the consummate politician; totally amoral. Not immoral. Amoral. The man simply has no morals, and I detest that. Again, this is colored, but I read this book Inside The White House that Andrew lent me, and I’m sorry, Clinton is just a terrible President. He did nothing for our country, and was personally a jerk in the process. The economy is good, but I honestly think that’s independent of his policy. This boom was fed by many technological innovations, and the groundwork for that was laid way before he took office, and it would have occurred without him. He had a terrible foreign policy. And he did very little domestically. His big initivative, health care reform, flopped. He did nothing. Maybe welfare reform. But really, very little.
Anyway, Gore is just associated in my mind with Clinton. A gunner and a politician. The man has lived in Washington D.C. for nearly his entire life. Sure he professes his faith, but so did Clinton. Clinton was actually very forthright about his faith. Have you seen those prayer breakfasts Clinton attends? A friend told me about one, and the man is just amazing. He can sound so sincere, I mean, just absolutely convincing. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating. I don’t know, maybe it’s wrong to associate him so much with Clinton, but I just do.
At any rate, I was just surprised at the early election results, which just showed how my views were decidedly different from those of the rest of the country, which showed I was missing something. And then a columnist I really like, Jeff Wells at reel.com blasted Bush and showed some support for McCain. Again, I was surprised. The whole point is that my views were very skewed, that’s all.
My feeling right now is that there are good and bad aspects to all the candidates, and if we see the good or bad only, we have a limited view.
Where do I stand on the candidates now? I still think I like Bush. I just can’t get over the fact that Texas, who knows him well, likes him so much. He must do some things right. I know the usual charges. He has a terrible environmental record. And they’re right. And George is right about the dirty campaign tactics. That pretty much sucks. But I mean, at this point, there’s no way I’m voting for Gore. But Bush has done some good things in Texas, and that’s hard for me to ignore.
Anyway, what I noticed is that a lot of people who supported McCain is that they all think that Bush is gonna get slammed in the general election. This is a popular viewpoint on Salon. I don’t know about that. Again, I think people are ignoring what Bush did in Texas. But one reason he was a popular Republican candidate was that he reached out to voter groups in Texas who were traditionally not Republican. In particular, Bush has a strong record with Hispanics in Texas. So one viewpoint was that Bush would reach out to groups not traditionally Republican in the presidential election, as well as staunch Republicans. Thus he had the highest chance of winning the election. If you’ll remember, this is the reason why he was able to raise so much so early – people felt that with his mass appeal in Texas, if he was able to duplicate it, he would be unbeatable.
The point being, the man is obviously popular with many different groups in Texas, not just traditional Republicans (this is without question, if you look at the records). So it’s not like it’s impossible for him to duplicate mass, cross-group appeal on a national level. I doubt many liberals will like him, but he has an incredible appeal with moderates in Texas. It’s the whole compassionate conservatism thing. I don’t know if it will happen, but it’s at least possible. He’s been able to do it in the past.
Regardless of Bush, I’m sorry, I know my viewpoint is colored, but I will not vote for Gore. Had Bradley won, I might have been more thoughtful about it, but I will not vote for Gore. It’s crazy, isn’t it? I know my viewpoints are skewed with preconceptions but it’s still that strong.
And here’s the crazier thing. I did that little political map thing that Eric Mao mentioned, and this site matches your views with the candidates. I matched the candidates in reverse order of which I would vote for them. That is, my views supposedly matched most closely with Al Gore, whom I won’t vote for. I can’t remember the order that followed, but I remember thinking, this is the exact opposite of how I would vote.
Kind of disturbing, huh? It just shows that how likely I am to vote for a candidate seems to be based on something other than logic or the issues. Kind of sad.
Oh one more thing. I forgot to tell you exactly how my views of McCain changed. I actually respect him a lot now. Especially his views on campaign finance reform. Anyway, I received a personal e-mail response from his campaign. It was the only response of any campaign that I received. That made a big impact on me. A very big impact. More importantly, the content of the response was a very good one. He seems to be a man of character, and that impressed me. At the very least, it helped balance the impression I had of him. But again, this is all moot.
I am bitterly disappointed about Bush’s campaign tactics, however. I do hope the national campaign isn’t so dirty. But I doubt that. Everyone goes negative. Have you seen Primary Colors? That movie fascinated me. Anyway, there was one worker who worked for their campaign (I can’t remember their name so I’ll just use Clinton, since it’s an obvious caricature). They were passionate about it, because they were convinced Clinton was different. In particular, this person was convinced they would never “go negative,” where everyone else did.
What happens is she comes across some information, negative, that could be used against the other candidate. She gives it to them kind of as a test. And Clinton and company rejoice. The worker is devastated. Not just because they decide to go negative, but because there’s not even a hesitation about it, no question. It destroys her.
It’s really fascinating. Anyway, nearly everyone goes negative. It’s sad, but true.