On Native Ground
FAITH MEETS REALITY, AND REALITY LOSES
by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- So, this is what we've got to look forward to.
If John Kerry gets elected, we'll remain stuck in Iraq without a clear exit strategy, we'll have half-trillion dollar federal deficits without a coherent strategy to deal with them, we'll have a planet racing toward environmental meltdown, and we'll be rushing into another recession thanks to high oil prices, higher interest rates, a weak dollar and a low-wage, slow job-growth economy.
If President George Bush gets elected, we get all the above and then some.
A choice between horrible and catastrophic isn't exactly one that inspires people to run to the polls in November. But that's what we're stuck with - a depressing choice between varying degrees of bad.
But that's not nearly as depressing as the thought that there may actually be more of them than of us.
By them, I mean the people who blindly support President Bush and think he's a great leader despite abundant evidence to the contrary.
It's hard to feel optimistic when you read, a year after the fall of Bagdhad, that:
No evidence has been found to support any of these statements, yet according to a poll taken in mid-March by the University of Maryland's Program in International Policy Attitudes, half of the American people still believe that Iraq posed a grave threat to America. Even worse, the poll found that of those who believed that Iraq had nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, 72 percent planned to vote for President Bush.
Other polls report similar findings. A Harris poll taken at the beginning of April found 51 percent still believe Iraq had WMDs and 49 percent think Iraq aided al-Qaida. A U.S.A Today-CNN poll taken in mid-April found a 2-to-1 ratio of those surveyed think President Bush would not only do a better job than John Kerry fighting terrorism, but the Prewsident would be better than Sen. Kerry in dealing with Iraq.
That U.S.A Today-CNN poll baffles me. It questioned people in the midst of the bloodiest month for U.S. forces since the Iraq invasion began. Former anti-terrorism czar Richard Clarke had just laid out his case that the Bush team did next to nothing to stop the 9/11 attacks while trying to gin up a war with Iraq. Yet, half the people they talked to still believed the Bush administration's discredited version of events.
In other words, there are still enough Americans willing to give another four years to a President who, in the words of commentator Peter Lee, is "more incompetent than Harding, more dishonest than Nixon and stupider than Reagan."
This isn't a case of people realizing that the big picture won't change all that much with John Kerry as president. Or a realization that Kerry will have such a huge mess to clean up that his presidency will be just as limited and pinched as Bill Clinton's was when he had to mop up after 12 years of Republican misrule. Or that the right-wing screech monkeys will ensure that - as they did with Clinton - that Kerry will not be able to govern.
No, this is a willful denial of reality - something that too many Americans seem to be too good at.
Or maybe this isn't denial at all. There are more than 70 million evangelical Christians in America. These are the folks, of which President Bush is one, who supposedly take every word of the Bible as the literal and unerring word of God. These are the folks who put President Bush into office. According to Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, two-thirds of those who went to church, any church, at least once a week voted for the President in 2000.
If we're dealing with a population that believes that if they accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior, they will be wafted up into heaven one step ahead of Armageddon while the rest of us sinners are destroyed in the seven years of Tribulation that allegedly follows the Rapture, then it doesn't seem all that surprising that millions still are buying into President Bush's world view. After all, everything the President is doing seems to be hastening Armageddon, and that's a good thing in the eyes of the believers.
Think this sounds nuts? Not if your main voting bloc believes that we are entering the end times, so there's no need to worry about global warming or the other ecological disasters that are brewing. Not if your biggest supporters believe Israel must be supported at all costs because they are God's chosen people and have a Biblical mandate to control everything from the Nile to the Euphrates. Not if they believe that the United Nations is a tool of the Antichrist, or that Jesus' crucifixion is more important than any of his teachings.
If this is what a majority of President Bush's supporters believe, then it is easy to see why so many still believe his lies and believe he is worthy of another four years. If eternity is just around the corner, why quibble over silly little details such as an illegal and immoral war foisted upon the world under false pretenses.
Is it really better to believe a myth than be confronted with the reality of evil, especially when the evil is cloaked in righteousness? That is a question that more and more Americans need to start asking of themselves, as well as of their leaders.
Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 20 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at email@example.com.