On the Homefront of Our Civil Wars


Campaign 2004 is over, but civil war continues. Like Lincoln standing at Gettysburg, the commentator at today’s battlefields, whether in Cleveland or Samara, will share some bewiderment and grief with the common folks who do the suffering in these glorious affairs. Everywhere we look for America, we find the production and export of civil war.

Reports from Kentucky quote folks as deliriously happy that the USA finds itself now in red-hot Republican hands. They behave just like Iraqis were supposed to act last year at the sight of America on the move. So there’s that side of the civil war to write about. You can call it the Toby Keith side if you want, but I think that even Toby Keith has grown out of his boot kissing days.

On the other side of the civil war at home is a scurry of activity over election fraud that you can follow at most IndyMedia websites, helpfully summed up for Common Dreams in an article by Thom Hartmann. Why and when did close advisor Karen Hughes tell Bush that he had lost Florida? Why and when did Bush’s brain get changed out a few hours later to turn all his frowns into smiles?

And Thom Hartmann’s radio show Friday (this is not a paid advertisement) found guest and callers speaking insistently about the New York Attorney General’s inquiry into high crimes of negligence against the USA for its oversight of the massacres of Sept. 11, 2001. There is a lot of pent up paranoia in the civil war at home. So far, the official commissions have not allayed what many citizens still fear about the Bush regime.

And way up above it all, in the skies, like a remote spy planes, the professionals of American Mass Media Airways, they just keep following Bush around.

In contrast to adrenaline-soaked reports from election-fraud netizens, who are moving so fast that any observer would be wise to study quantum indeterminacy, web pages at the corporate press bellow their lowing assessments of cud pulled back up from the exit polls.

They are curious phenomena, these exit poll debriefs, because many of the polls once upon a time seemed to agree that Kerry had bagged every crucial house of electors by Tuesday supper (hence the legendary candidate-maintenance call by Hughes on Bush). You’d even expect the professional media analyst to mention in passing that exit-poll data has been tainted by the election fraud controversy, because either the exit polls expose election fraud, or the exit polls are wrong.

But, as I say, passengers of American Mass Media Airways fly way too high to bother with anything grassroots. No. Check that. I did read about some phone calls placed to Ralph Nader after he was herded into the one percent column. Having contributed heavily to Nader’s irrelevance, the passengers of AMMA found him to be quite a useful spear tip for poking the Democrats. Which is fair enough. This year, Nader gets to blame the Democrats for a change.

In the morning-after exit polls at CNN (revised overnight to match fraudulent election totals, allege netizens who pay close attention to these things) Americans were reported to be just barely happy enough on election day to re-elect Bush. For example, on questions of job approval, terrorism, and the decision to invade Iraq “as part of the war on terrorism,” Bush gained approval from 51 to 55 percent of the voters.

And despite a majority who said that the Iraq war had not made the US more secure, people still “trusted” Bush more to protect them against terrorism. The paradox in this combination–where his policies make us less secure but we trust him more with our security–is explained by passengers of American Media this way: Bush has an ability to “connect” directly with voters in such a way that the principle of contradiction does not apply. This quality of “connection” moreover is the most valuable stuff that a political candidate can push. Kerry didn’t sell enough of it. So contradictions in his case tended to stick.

Significantly, however, among voters who were “very worried” about terrorism, Kerry got the most votes. Doesn’t that surprise you? In the top tier of fear, you might say, voters wanted Kerry most badly. Gallows, it would seem, do have a way of bringing the mind back to life. But why does this fact remain buried in raw numbers? Do these numbers suggest that the Kerry campaign could have intensified fears of terrorism to selfish effect? Do the numbers suggest that the Bush campaign had to set the thermostat of fear to a “somewhat worried” level of reality-show suspense?

Forty three percent of voters reported worsening job situations. But again, when they compared the candidates’ abilities to handle the economy, people came to the polls distrusting Bush, who had presided over worsening jobs–but distrusting him less than Kerry, who had not. Kerry, you’ll remember, is a flip flopper. He might get you a job one day, take it away the next. Who knows? At least with Bush, the uncertainty is removed. It’s that connection stuff again.

A huge majority of voters (70 percent) were “very concerned” about the “availability and cost of health care.” And they voted for Kerry 58 percent of the time. As union guru Andy Stern had signalled loudly during the Democratic convention, health care would be Kerry’s strongest card to play. And don’t you remember Kerry’s memorable reply? He promised to reduce every family’s medical bills “by an average of $1,000 per year”? Whew. Still gives me goosebumps.

So I’m trying to figure out two things here. First, could Kerry have done better on health care, winning more than 58 percent support among 70 percent of the voters had he sworn that $1,000 promise on the Bible? And second, if Kerry did in fact win 58 percent of 70 percent, tell me again, how did he lose the election?

Along the way, somebody got my hopes up by pointing to Southern young voters, but I checked it out. Young voters in the South went for Bush, unlike young voters everywhere else who went for Kerry. The numbers at CNN are not clear enough on the racial breakdown by age. Maybe the good news is that 47 percent of young Southern voters went for Kerry, putting them in play next time around. But you know the Southern white youth have got to be disproportionately skewed toward Bush.

Can the Democrats get to southern white youth with an anti-racism vaccine before the Republicans tickle them with that lynch mob tingle? Well, for youth who joined the Republican movement this year, it may be too late.

And Texas liberals, can you believe it? Thirty five percent of them voted Bush. How do one third of a state’s liberals vote for a man to the right of Caesar? Unless you’re a genetic determinist, you gotta think it’s the upbringing. Texas moderates went for Kerry, too, believe it or not. But again, you’d have to believe the exit polls.

And perhaps like many of the 56 million voters officially enrolled in the Kerry column, I feel a little more steady after throwing a few fits last week. I’m not apologizing for preserving those moments. As the Black Commentator said with dead eye verve, this Bush movement is nothing but a lynch mob waiting to happen. You can be excused for all the things that drop out of you when you realize that the Sheriff has just handed you over to that crowd. Do you hear me, up there, American Air? Oh that’s right, you flew above the South all year long. Time to look now for reports from Falluja, where our civil wars continue abroad.

GREG MOSES writes for the Texas Civil Rights Review. Moses contributed a chapter on civil rights under Clinton and Bush for Dime’s Worth of Difference: Beyond the Lesser of Two Evils. He can be reached at: gmosesx@prodigy.net


Greg Moses writes about peace and Texas, but not always at the same time. He is author of Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Philosophy of Nonviolence. As editor of the Texas Civil Rights Review he has written about racism faced by Black agriculturalists in Texas. Moses is a member of the Texas Civil Rights Collaborative. He can be reached at gmosesx@gmail.com