25. November 2004 · Categories: Politics

So now that the Republicans have full control of the government for another four years, what can we expect? I suppose we’re all betting on different things, but I hear a lot of talking about how the conservative Republicans are going to bust up the liberal crap that corrupts and pollutes America. This is the kind of talk that’s been powering what Thomas Frank calls the ‘Great Backlash’ since the the 1968 Nixon campaign. The culture war on the counter-culture, the AM radio assault on “Godless liberal elites”, “communist college professors”, leftist media and anything that remotely sounds socialist.

Over time, this culture war has won the voting hearts of more and more middle Americans from the lowest tax brackets to the highest and it’s not that unreasonable to suspect that the Republicans have this culture dispute to thank for their victory in 2004. So here’s an interesting question… Will the GOP really bust up the liberal crap if they need it to fuel the Culture War? I mean, wouldn’t that be like a super-hero that puts away all the criminals? Or the Cancer Society that cures cancer? Wouldn’t they exterminate their own validity? If all the immoral, pornographic liberal structures are knocked down and everyone converted to upstanding moral Christian conservatives, then what would AM radio have to gripe about? What would happen to the culture war?

I’m betting that we’re going to see a lot of changes, but I bet the bulk of the culture war targets will remain in tact. Especially abortion. That’s a huge issue in the culture war right there. Election after election the issue comes up and the nation rallies to one side or the other. It’s always seemed to me that the pro-life camp is the loudest, camp with more bumper stickers and more anger generating strong resolve to vote the liberals out. And even though the conservatives have had more control over the government since the Roe/Wade decision than the liberals, the practice still remains legal. Of course the Supreme Court can always be blamed for this, but today, as the conservatives control the Legislative and Executive branches, the Judicial branch is only one vote away from over turning the decision… Think it’ll happen?

After all, how concerned can the conservative lawmakers really be when underneath all the hype the abortion rate has actually increased since Bush took office, largely due to his economic policies?

 

Have you ever noticed that the White House tells us that the Iraqis are fighting on our side against foreign insurgents? Are the insurgents really foreign or are they simply the Iraqis that don’t agree with our solution? If the later case is true then why are we referring to them as if they aren’t Iraqis at all?

Roughly 37% of the Iraqi people are Sunni Muslim and 60% are Shia Muslim. The media seems to produce enough evidence to suggest that the Sunnis, in particular, are not happy with what we’ve done and are fighting back. Nevertheless, the Bush administration seems to push such evidence aside while emphasizing reports that some insurgents from neighboring countries are coming in to join the fight. Then there is the selective use of terms.

According to GlobalSecurity.org, the conflict in Iraq qualifies as a civil war, but civil wars tend to have a neutralizing effect on public opinion. So I’m sure for the purpose of generating public support for a ‘just’ war, it’s better to portray the mostly Sunni Iraqi’s that we are fighting as non-Iraqis. So what do you call them? Well, we could call them ‘rebels’ but that term has a close association with our own history and is often seen in our popular language in a positive light. The term ‘insurgents’ seems to fit the purpose… It’s a word that describes people that rise up against authority and has no association with anything in American popular language that can be held in a positive light. But to really complete the illusion it may be better to simply call the Iraqi’s that agree with us, ‘Iraqis’ and the Iraqis that disagree with us, ‘foreigners’. Ah, there we go… So we have liberated Iraq from an evil dictatorship and are now protecting Iraq from foreign invasion.

Our politicians have always been able to rely on the flexibility of language to achieve desired illusions.

I’ve always been intrigued with conceptual maps. These cartograms provide an interesting look at how evenly balanced America is between Republican and Democratic votes in the 2004 Election. They were briefly showcased on CNN and I immediately searched the web for them. The map below represents the nation, with the size of the states proportional to their population and of course red representing electoral votes in favor of Bush and blue representing electoral votes in favor of Kerry.

Diving even further into the details, the creators of these cartograms developed another view of the nation, this time county by county where the size of each county is proportional to their population. Another difference is that instead of dismissing the popular votes that did not win the electorial votes, all the votes are accounted for providing a more accurate picture of how America voted. This is done by blending the red and blue for each county according to the relative voter stregnth of both sides.


Source = Maps and cartograms of the 2004 US presidential election results.

Another web site
developed by Robert J. Vanderbei at Princeton provides some interesting maps for visualizing similar patterns.