At Least the Opposition is Still Loyal

Because this is primarily a technical weblog, I know there are right-wing readers who could leap to the defense of the Bush/Cheney campaign. Pretend for a moment I'm not a hopeless yellow-dog Democrat. Help me understand the logic of demanding loyalty oaths to attend Bush rallies, even to the point of driving away and alienating supporters.

In Pennsylvania, a GOP backer was refused tickets to a rally and harassed by campaign staffers. Her offense: Getting a ride from a coworker with a Kerry/Edwards sticker on her car.

... a man wearing a Bush-Cheney T-shirt confronted [Simi] Nischal in the parking lot and told her to leave.

"He was so rude, he made me feel like a criminal," Nischal said. "I said, 'That's not fair, you are losing a supporter.' [And he said], 'We don't care about your support.' "

Nischal said onlookers cheered and laughed at her as she left the property.

In Florida, a state senator led a crowd of 2,000 waiting for President Bush to say a pledge of allegiance, but not one to the country. To Bush.

"I want you to stand, raise your right hands," and recite "the Bush Pledge," said Florida state Sen. Ken Pruitt. The assembled mass of about 2,000 in this Treasure Coast town about an hour north of West Palm Beach dutifully rose, arms aloft, and repeated after Pruitt: "I care about freedom and liberty. I care about my family. I care about my country. Because I care, I promise to work hard to re-elect, re-elect George W. Bush as president of the United States."

I can understand cultivating a healthy amount of suspicion among campaign apparatchiks to ferret out people who are only attending a rally to raise hell. But there are a lot more Americans who would eagerly attend an event to respectfully hear the president make his case, even a partisan like me. Reading Joe Dougherty's report from Bush's recent Jacksonville rally at Alltel Stadium made me wish I had been there.

How can this Dear Leader Kim Jong-il stuff possibly help Bush? If John Kerry demanded proof of my loyalty, I'd vote for Pat Paulsen.

Comments

There will always be people who get so worked up about what they believe, that they become irrational. There are some people who are always that way, and some who just get caught up in the excitement of the moment. I think it is a mistake to judge an entire group of people based on the behavior of a few. We all have our own ideas, opinions, beliefs and values, and most of us live in harmony with one another, honoring our differences. We all want what is best for America. We just don't agree on what that is.

Rogers, I wish you had been there. Not to change your mind or anything (hell, my whole family's been working on my sister-in-law for months, and she won't budge). But, as you pointed out in your kind reference, the crowd there was happy and upbeat. Sure, there was a lot of "attacking" Kerry, if criticising his policies and record can be called "attacking." Politicians criticize one another all the time...they's why they call it politics. It isn't personal.

But Patty nailed it. 99% of the people I know working the campaign are just nice people who love their guy. Occasionally, you wind up with an asshat. Occasionally, you discover that the quiet guy three doors down the street is a serial killer, too. Certainly doesn't speak for the entire block.

Rogers - Aren't you too young to remember Pat Paulsen?

Well there is a psychology of crowds that takes over - people in large groups literally act (and say and do) things that individually, on their own, they would most likely not.

There have been some serious studies of this effect - mostly social science studies so of course need to be taken with a grain of salt - but in the large scheme of things think rallies - whether protests on the left or by facists - rallies tend to get a group of people chanting, nodding, and agreeing in unison.

Even if individuals on their own might not agree with a specific point - how many people can resist the impulse to be like the crowd.

Consider as well religious events - with the possible exception of Quakers - most religious gatherings are full of group affirmations, group actions in unisons, reinforcing that to be accepted you have to agree, have to nod/clap/shout/swear/affirm etc.

I think we - as a country - have far too few events that foster actual conversation and discourse between people of differing beliefs, viewpoints, or political leanings. One of the few that I am aware of, at least here in Chicago, is The Public Square (www.thepublicsquare.org)

Shannon

Rogers - Aren't you too young to remember Pat Paulsen?

Well there is a psychology of crowds that takes over - people in large groups literally act (and say and do) things that individually, on their own, they would most likely not.

There have been some serious studies of this effect - mostly social science studies so of course need to be taken with a grain of salt - but in the large scheme of things think rallies - whether protests on the left or by facists - rallies tend to get a group of people chanting, nodding, and agreeing in unison.

Even if individuals on their own might not agree with a specific point - how many people can resist the impulse to be like the crowd.

Consider as well religious events - with the possible exception of Quakers - most religious gatherings are full of group affirmations, group actions in unisons, reinforcing that to be accepted you have to agree, have to nod/clap/shout/swear/affirm etc.

I think we - as a country - have far too few events that foster actual conversation and discourse between people of differing beliefs, viewpoints, or political leanings. One of the few that I am aware of, at least here in Chicago, is The Public Square (www.thepublicsquare.org)

Shannon

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