Monday, November 08, 2004

The New York Times > Opinion > : Voting Without the Facts

The New York Times > Opinion > By BOB HERBERT: Voting Without the Facts:
"I think a case could be made that ignorance played at least as big a role in the election's outcome as values. A recent survey by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland found that nearly 70 percent of President Bush's supporters believe the U.S. has come up with 'clear evidence' that Saddam Hussein was working closely with Al Qaeda. A third of the president's supporters believe weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. And more than a third believe that a substantial majority of world opinion supported the U.S.-led invasion."

This is scary. How do you make a rational political pitch to people who have put that part of their brain on hold? No wonder Bush won.

The survey, and an accompanying report, showed that there's a fair amount of cluelessness in the ranks of the values crowd. The report said, "It is clear that supporters of the president are more likely to have misperceptions than those who oppose him."

I haven't heard any of the postelection commentators talk about ignorance and its effect on the outcome. It's all values, all the time. Traumatized Democrats are wringing their hands and trying to figure out how to appeal to voters who have arrogantly claimed the moral high ground and can't stop babbling about their self-proclaimed superiority. Potential candidates are boning up on new prayers and purchasing time-shares in front-row-center pews.

A more practical approach might be for Democrats to add teach-ins to their outreach efforts. Anything that shrinks the ranks of the clueless would be helpful.

You have to be careful when you toss the word values around. All values are not created equal. Some Democrats are casting covetous eyes on voters whose values, in many cases, are frankly repellent. Does it make sense for the progressive elements in our society to undermine their own deeply held beliefs in tolerance, fairness and justice in an effort to embrace those who deliberately seek to divide?

What the Democratic Party needs above all is a clear message and a bold and compelling candidate. The message has to convince Americans that they would be better off following a progressive Democratic vision of the future. The candidate has to be a person of integrity capable of earning the respect and the affection of the American people.

The question that needs to be answered is not, “How can 58 million people be so dumb?” but, “How did they come to be so uninformed?” It's not a values problem at all. the problem is media cowardice and laziness.

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/08/opinion/08herbert.html
con·cept: The New York Times > Opinion > : Voting Without the Facts