Wise words and bullshit
Digby nails it on the head.
I believe it was simply because we weren't entertaining enough and that's the sad truth. I think that Democrats are serious, earnest and substantive people. We are the reality-based community. And I think we top out at about forty eight percent of the population.
For everybody else politics is show business, whether in religious, political or media terms. Image trumps substance,charisma and personality trump everything. I don't find George W. Bush appealing in any way because my vision of an attractive politician is that he be smart, competent and rhetorically talented. But, to many people, politics is interesting because of the spectacle and the tribal competition and they just aren't interested in any other aspects of it. (See the PEW poll.) Oh, they mouth all the right platitudes about values and all, but this is not about governing for them because they have been taught that government is only relevant to their lives in that it houses their enemies --- liberals who want to take things from them and force things on them. This is a reality TV show and they want to vote someone off the island.
It's clear that a small majority of the country buy Junior's "Top-Gun" act. His youthful failures are seen as acts of anti-hero rebelliousness. His smart ass attitude is the sign of a macho rogue. He isn't the smartest guy in the class and he's often in trouble, but he's a fearless warrior when it counts. His image is of a fun loving rascal who found himself in an extraordinary position and rose to the occasion. I know it's bullshit, but that's the archetype that his handlers have laid upon him and it's a role he plays with relish.
The difference between the Republican and Democratic conventions made this extremely clear. The reason that the media focused so much on the balloon screw-up at the Democratic convention was not because it was a screw-up, it was probably because it demonstrated how pathetic our production values are. We buy some balloons, whoop-di-fucking-doo.
Meanwhile, they had the Shrub emerge from behind a movie screen after showing a documentary that pretty much compared him to a superhero/god and then he approached a podium designed to look like an altar. It was the death of ordinary democracy, right in front of our eyes.
One of the common complaints against the Catholic Church throughout history is the opulence of the church, how much money is spent on garish cathedrals while people starve in the streets. But the poor often like those garish cathedrals, because that is the only place they get to participate in something grand and larger than themselves. That's the need that the Republican party satisfies emotionally for people.
The Democrats still think of Americans like we were in the past, where our Protestant heritage led us to believe that unless something were stripped down and somber, it could not be serious. And that's still part of our heritage, as can be witnessed by the people who reacted well to Barak Obama's speech, which was a no frills, no special effects, all language affair, like an old-fashioned Protestant sermon.
Given my druthers, I'd rather have the stripped-down model. If nothing else, it chills me to the bone to remember that Goebbels jumped on the peculiarity of human nature that leads the poor to love the elaborate cathedrals and exploited that trait for the Nazi rallies. It would do well for everyone to remember that the appeal of the rallies for most people was it took them out of their drab, post-war, depression-era lives and let them participate in something larger than themselves that was important and emotional and dramatic for a time.
Salon has a round-up of post-mortems today, and while I found most to be intelligent and thoughtful, as usual I want to pop Camille Paglia in the mouth.
Progressives must do some serious soul-searching. Too often they are guilty of arrogance, insularity and sanctimony. They claim to speak for the common man but make few forays beyond their own affluent, upper-middle-class circles. There needs to be less preaching and more direct observation of social reality. America is evolving, and populism may be shifting to the Republican side.
She is the queen of projection. Because the only Democrats she knows are these types doesn't mean that the only Democrats are these types. This is evidence that Paglia herself doesn't leave her little upper middle class enclave is all.
Read the exit polls, Camille! Bush voters, on average, have more college and more money than Kerry voters! The latte-sipping weaklings are the ones voting for Bush, mostly because they know they don't have to live with the results of his policies. The only real "populism" of the Republican party is the kind that appeals to the need for entertainment and the ignorant religious values of some of the proletariat, not even a majority.
Most people I know voted for Kerry. And that's all they have in common. Kerry voters I know have college degrees, yes, but other Kerry voters I know haven't spent a day in a college classroom. Most of us Texas Democrats hate the East Coast elitists we see on TV everyday talking as if us heartlanders are fucking stupid and vote for Bush because he has a Texas accent. That's the real Democratic party, and it's not doing anyone any good to fall for a Republican-manufactured stereotype that we are all airy intellectuals.