Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Mass. Delusions

One of Joan Vennochi's readers has a secret:

"The day after the election, a group of women was sitting shiva in my health club locker room. Huddled together, they asked, 'How could Kerry have lost? How could Americans be so stupid?' I meekly asked the most vocal if she thought everyone who voted for Bush was stupid. 'Yes,' she said. 'Stupid, stupid, stupid.'

"I guess that makes me stupid. I'm one of those nameless people in Massachusetts with a full set of teeth and lots of education who voted for Bush and won't tell anyone. Not even my best friend who lives 2,000 miles away. Just last week, she called and asked not once, but twice: 'Did you vote for Bush? Tell me the truth.' Tell her the truth? I wasn't going to confess that I had scorned the Native Son, the Vietnam war hero, the Democrat.

"It wasn't an easy decision and I didn't truly make up my mind until I picked up that Sharpie in the voting booth. I don't see eye to eye with the president on most issues. I'm for gay marriage and stem cell research. While I initially supported the war in Iraq, I now see it as a tragic mistake. The religious right makes me nervous and privatizing Social Security is the stupidest idea to come down the pike in a long time. Then, there's the not-so-insignificant fact that all my friends still think Bush stole the election in 2000. Admitting that I was even considering voting for Bush would have ensured I'd spend the rest of my life with a scarlet "W' tattooed on my chest.

"Given all that, how could I have voted for Bush? It's simple: He wasn't John Kerry.

"Long ago, I gave up the idea that presidents actually do anything to make public schools better or healthcare more affordable. For me, this election was all about homeland security and the war in Iraq. Kerry never sold me on how he would do a better job with either one. To this day, I don't understand his positions on the war, or what his plan was to bring home the troops. Kerry didn't understand that I was a long way from seeing terrorism as a 'nuisance' and that I needed reassurance that if we were attacked again, he would strike back. I wanted plain speak, and he gave me nuanced rhetoric.

"Not so with Bush. I always felt I knew where he stood, what he believed in, and the direction he wanted to take the country. Even though we didn't see eye to eye on most things, I liked the clarity of Bush's convictions and willingness to stand up for them. So, I did the 'dirty' deed and voted Bush. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he'll do a better job in his second term. And for the foreseeable future, I'm keeping my mouth shut that I voted for him."