FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Poll of the Shirt

The polls are saying President Bush is in trouble. His approval rating, by most accounts, is currently somewhere around 50 percent, down from a high of 90 percent right after the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and down 10 points just over the past month. Now 50 percent may sound high, but apparently you have to factor into that the fact that many Americans automatically give the benefit of the doubt to any president because of the office, not the man in it, and a 50 percent rating is pretty darned low speaking historically. It’s also a figure that’s been dropping like a stone off a cliff.

But I have my own poll, and it says Bush is in even bigger trouble that the official polls might indicate.

My poll is my favorite T-shirt–a plain white thing with a peace sign on the back and “No War in Iraq” printed in huge brown block letters on the front. I purchased this piece of clothing on the eve of the war while speaking at the Socialist Scholars Conference in Manhattan last spring.

When I first began wearing it around the mostly Republican suburb where I live, just north of Philadelphia, as the war was underway, I got some scowls in the supermarket and the gym. Nobody verbally chewed me out or swung a punch, but there were quite a few definite grimaces and unmistakably angry glares. At the same time, I also got a lot of thumbs up gestures while jogging in the park, and some favorable comments about the sentiment in the checkout line at the local market and at the post office. In general, though, I’d say that back then in March and April, there was enough of a level of discomfort associated with wearing this shirt that I’d always kind of brace myself when I went out wearing it.

No longer. Now when I sport this shirt in public, whether it’s to take my car to the body shop for a fender repair, go running in the park or go grocery shopping, there’s not an unfriendly face to be seen. And plenty of the good Republican citizenry of my community offer friendly encouragement, even if they seem slightly bemused that someone would actually go around wearing such a charged political statement.

I contrast this to my experience as a long-haired college student anti-war activist back in 1968 or 1970, and am stunned at the lack of criticism I’m getting today.

In 1968, it was enough to simply sport a beard and longish hair, as I did at the time, to find myself hauled aside by a bunch of pro-war barstool cowboys in a small town in Nevada and be roughly shorn with a pair of scissors.

Wearing an anti-war T-shirt in a Republican or even a blue-collar Democratic neighborhood even in 1970 was to court cat-calls or worse.

Even in 1991, at the start of Bush Pere’s Gulf War adventure, when I was living up in Ithaca, New York (an island of leftish politics in a sea of conservative upstate Republicans), there was at one point a throng of aggressive, angry, shouting frat boys and ROTC types who tried to attack a peace vigil in the downtown town mall. They had to be kept at bay by local police. My wife, Joyce, who had to drive through a long stretch of upstate New York and central Pennsylvania one day while Desert Storm was underway, actually had to stop her car and remove a sign we’d made with masking tape on the back window of our hatchback saying “No War,” because she was having other drivers blare their horns at her and even try to run her off the road as she was driving along.

These days I ride my bike down the main road in town, and haven’t heard one horn honk, and no one has tried to run me into a ditch.

This is all very bad news for the president and his war-mongering advisers.

Americans tend to be a jingoistic lot, and if this war is not rousing those demons in the public, it must mean that there’s a lot of antipathy towards this Iraq war, even among those who voted for Bush in 2000.

If this keeps up, I may even get tempted to start selling copies of my polling shirt.

Dave Lindorff is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. A collection of Lindorff’s stories can be found here: http://www.nwuphilly.org/dave.html

 

More articles by:

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

Weekend Edition
May 25, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
A Major Win for Trump’s War Cabinet
Andrew Levine
Could Anything Cause the GOP to Dump Trump?
Pete Tucker
Is the Washington Post Soft on Amazon?
Conn Hallinan
Iran: Sanctions & War
Jeffrey St. Clair
Out of Space: John McCain, Telescopes and the Desecration of Mount Graham
John Laforge
Senate Puts CIA Back on Torture Track
David Rosen
Santa Fe High School Shooting: an Incel Killing?
Gary Leupp
Pompeo’s Iran Speech and the 21 Demands
Jonathan Power
Bang, Bang to Trump
Robert Fisk
You Can’t Commit Genocide Without the Help of Local People
Brian Cloughley
Washington’s Provocations in the South China Sea
Louis Proyect
Requiem for a Mountain Lion
Robert Fantina
The U.S. and Israel: a Match Made in Hell
Kevin Martin
The Libya Model: It’s Not Always All About Trump
Susie Day
Trump, the NYPD and the People We Call “Animals”
Pepe Escobar
How Iran Will Respond to Trump
Sarah Anderson
When CEO’s Earn 5,000 Times as Much as a Company’s Workers
Ralph Nader
Audit the Outlaw Military Budget Draining America’s Necessities
Chris Wright
The Significance of Karl Marx
David Schultz
Indict or Not: the Choice Mueller May Have to Make and Which is Worse for Trump
George Payne
The NFL Moves to Silence Voices of Dissent
Razan Azzarkani
America’s Treatment of Palestinians Has Grown Horrendously Cruel
Katalina Khoury
The Need to Evaluate the Human Constructs Enabling Palestinian Genocide
George Ochenski
Tillerson, the Truth and Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department
Jill Richardson
Our Immigration Debate Needs a Lot More Humanity
Martha Rosenberg
Once Again a Slaughterhouse Raid Turns Up Abuses
Judith Deutsch
Pension Systems and the Deadly Hand of the Market
Shamus Cooke
Oregon’s Poor People’s Campaign and DSA Partner Against State Democrats
Thomas Barker
Only a Mass Struggle From Below Can End the Bloodshed in Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
Australia’s China Syndrome
Missy Comley Beattie
Say “I Love You”
Ron Jacobs
A Photographic Revenge
Saurav Sarkar
War and Moral Injury
Clark T. Scott
The Shell Game and “The Bank Dick”
Seth Sandronsky
The State of Worker Safety in America
Thomas Knapp
Making Gridlock Great Again
Manuel E. Yepe
The US Will Have to Ask for Forgiveness
Laura Finley
Stop Blaming Women and Girls for Men’s Violence Against Them
Rob Okun
Raising Boys to Love and Care, Not to Kill
Christopher Brauchli
What Conflicts of Interest?
Winslow Myers
Real Security
George Wuerthner
Happy Talk About Weeds
Abel Cohen
Give the People What They Want: Shame
David Yearsley
King Arthur in Berlin
Douglas Valentine
Memorial Day
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail