If there was ever any doubt, the acceptance speech of President George Walker Bush as the presidential candidate of the Republican Party of the U.S.A., excised it when he proudly proclaimed himself God’s missionary on earth to bring God’s gift of freedom to the world.
“America,” said he from an altar-like podium especially constructed for the occasion, “is called to lead the cause of freedom in a new century….freedom is not America’s gift. It is the Almighty God’s gift.”
The night before, Vice President Dick Cheney trashed the UN as any kind of civilized arbiter of world affairs. The Republican United States of America will apparently have no truck with such sissified dialogue.
“George W. Bush will never seek a permission slip to defend the American people,” he thundered, and got thunderous applause in return.
Why should he, one might ask, when George W. Bush gets his instructions to create Imperial America directly from the Almighty.
That proposition puts this American election in everyone’s interest.
With a smirk, George W. declared that all Texans walk the walk as he does, with that bowleggety swagger that comes from strapping a hogleg mounted .44 revolver to the hip.
And so, in a set-up reminiscent of a thousand Hollywood westerns, George W. has swaggered out onto the dusty street in search of his effete eastern prey, the interloper John Kerry.
It is the election as shoot-out — a High Noon showdown at the ballot box with John Kerry in the Gary Cooper role.
If the Republican National Convention in New York told us one thing, it is that the two parties are separated by one letter in one word — crass and class — but there is an enormous gulf in sensibility between them as they fight for the American electorate.
Consider the keynote speakers:
The Democrats introduced a fresh 45-year-old first time Senate seat seeker improbably named Barack Obama, son of a Kenyan goat herder and an American aid worker — a perfect example of the American Dream.
Obama took the Democratic convention by storm, as well as every political pundit from Portland, Maine to Point Barrow, Alaska.
He was eloquent, mannerly and the soul of sweet reason who talked of the need for a united America.
The Republicans trotted out a Democratic Party turncoat Senator named Zell Miller, a bitter and twisted old man who spewed venom with a crazed glint in his eyes to roars of approval from the multitude.
It was a crazy speech, irrational, illogical and built on a tissue of lies. It tried to make the case that to oppose the “Commander-in-Chief” was treason and that John Kerry himself was treasonous.
The crowd loved it.
It was unbridled hate, live and venomous, and the Republicans loved it, every vile syllable.
So the question is: can you win an election based on the crassest of emotions — hate and fear?
In the immediate aftermath of the Republican Convention, CNN reported with obvious enthusiasm that the Republicans had received their hoped for “bounce” and opened up an 11-point lead over the Democrats.
Curiously, two other polls released the same day did not reflect the “bounce.” They went unreported.
A state-by-state analysis of the infamous Electoral College, gave the Republicans a 30-point lead over the Democrats.
Without question, hate and fear are the two strongest emotional motivators impelling human response. They are also the most destructive, to an individual, and to a society — and maintained over a period of time, ultimately become self destructive.
But in the meantime, they can cause a lot of hurt to a lot of people. Coupled with the notion that hate and fear can be mobilized into a quest for world imperial power, the scary meter goes right off the clock.
Bush and his Republican legions apparently believe they can win the hearts, if not the minds, of enough Americans by characterizing John Kerry as one of Ah-nold Whatsisname’s “girlie men.”
That, they believe, will be an expression of God’s will on earth.
It is a frightening thought, given H. L. Mencken’s aphorism that…“No one ever went broke underestimating the taste [and intelligence] of the American people.”
Politics is, after all, an emotional exercise.
So is religion.
God of Love, God of Hate.
Crass and Class.
Take your pick.
John Kerry has 60 days.