Be Not Misled by the Blue and the Red
January 27, 2005
By Karyn Strickler
Americans are stupid.
Following the first "legitimate" election of George W. Bush, which
was against the self-interest of most American citizens, it is a
tempting theory with only one problem: it's not true.
Americans may be under-informed due to the domination of corporate
media and they are no doubt too comfortable to want to rock any
boats - at least not yet. But when provided with adequate information
on both sides of an issue, voters will usually make a thoughtful
and fair decision. As a grassroots, political organizer I've seen
it happen on some of the most complicated and divisive issues of
Granted, a look at a red-blue map of the country's 2004 electoral
results can make a progressive person feel like the nation is hemorrhaging
and on the verge of certain death.
Still, taking the election results at face value for the moment
- without even addressing the rising tide of charges of voting "irregularities"
in the Presidential election - take another look at the American
Only seventeen states went solidly for Bush in percentages ranging
from the high of 71 percent in Utah to the low of 58 percent in
South Carolina. All of the other states in the Union that were not
blue states can reasonably be called swing states, with some
closer than others.
Even in states where Bush won - if in fact you believe that he
actually won the vote of the people, as opposed to the vote of electronic
machines without a paper trail - it was close enough to send the
message that Americans are unmistakably and emphatically disavowing
the incumbent's agenda: forty-nine percent of voters in Iowa, Ohio
and New Mexico; forty-eight percent of voters in Nevada and forty-seven
percent of people in Florida said an emphatic, "No," to four more
years of Bush's despotic prospectus.
Bush may have gotten the most votes in history, but he also had
more people voting against him than any other Presidential candidate
The 58 million-plus Americans who voted against Bush's re-election
constitute more votes than any winning Presidential candidate to
this point in American history. The number of people voting against
Bush is almost 1.2 million more votes than Ronald Reagan won in
1984 and over 8 million more than Bill Clinton got in 1996.
Let's also bear in mind that the majority of the red states have
small populations when compared to the blue states. So while the
percentages were higher, the total numbers of votes in red states
were significantly lower than those in blue states. Maps of the
country, adjusted for population, give a very different perspective
and show that, with the possible exceptions of Utah and Idaho, Americans
are not generally being misled by George Bush regardless of their
state of residence.
When the size of the states on the coast are blown-up to reflect
population, the United States looks like a kindergartener's rendering
of an American eagle about to take flight. Actually, the U.S. is
not really all that red in color either. When controlling for swing
areas, the country has much more of an overall bluish,
Where is this purple eagle, this symbol of America, going? I don't
know exactly, but I can tell you where it's not going. It's
not going to proceed passively down George W. Bush's phony path
of "moral values," with a paltry 21% of his base indicating that
was the basis of their vote.
The vote against Bush in the 2004 Presidential election is a scathing
indictment of his policies.
The half of the population of the world's only superpower who
voted against Bush, including the men, women and children, (an unprecedented
one million strong) who took to the streets of Washington, DC in
the "March for Women's Lives" last Spring, are not going to stand
idly by while Bush eradicates the right to choose safe and legal
Mommas, who have grown sick of needlessly sacrificing their children
in Bush's imperial oil war, will continue to fight back with the
furor of a mother grizzly protecting her cub, as the peace movement
is invigorated by Bush's election victory.
Voices inside and outside the Republican Party, including those
of Ron and Nancy Reagan, are growing ever-louder at the idiocy of
protecting the rights of zygotes, but not those who could benefit
from stem cell research to end diseases like Alzheimers and Parkinsons.
If it were to become a part of the U.S. Constitution, the proposed
amendment banning gay marriage would disgrace our nation by limiting,
rather than expanding, individual rights. Ultimately Americans will
not stand for such an injustice. Only one other amendment has previously
limited individual freedom - the failed attempt at Prohibition in
the early part of the last century.
At the beginning of his term Bush announced, smirking proudly,
that he was going to end asbestos damage lawsuits, limit medical
malpractice suits, and ban class action lawsuits of all sorts. What
he had not figured out is that Americans will not allow his tort
reforms to prevail. We know that a society based upon the rule of
law must allow "the little guy" to sue corporations and others who
violate their rights; otherwise, the rule of law has no meaning,
and renders us a lawless society.
There is scientific consensus and agreement from the business
community to the Pentagon that we cannot continue to ignore the
ever-increasing threat of global warming, while the Bush Administration
profits from pillaging our forests and fouling our air and water.
The 84% of Americans who support the Endangered Species Act (ESA)
are not going to stand idly by as Bush and his right-wing Congress
gut the Act. Americans know that the ESA keeps us healthy by safeguarding
the species we rely on for life-saving medicines to fight cancer
and other life-threatening diseases. It protects undiscovered cures
for diseases like HIV-AIDS. The ESA protects forests, the lungs
of the earth, purifying our air. It protects wetlands, the kidneys
of the earth, filtering our water. A strong Act is an early warning
system - like the canary in the coal mine - identifying threats
to human existence.
We know that Bush has begun to overreach because even the Republicans
say that Bush's plan to revamp Social Security is dead on arrival.
If George has figured all Americans into his bogus "mandate" as
he begins to govern in his second term, that phony cowboy is in
for a real rough ride when the Americans who voted against him unite.
Hope springs infernal, because the mandate of the huge minority
that voted against him is to use the democratic process to bring
the fires of hell to bear upon Bush and his Congressional allies
who think they have the green-light from God to take away Americans'
rights and liberties.
Karyn Strickler is a writer and an activist living outside
Washington, DC. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.