Sunday, October 31, 2004

Why the Polls Don't Make Sense


If you look at the weekend tracking polls, they don't make sense. The war on terror and the war in Iraq are listed as the most important issues in the election, Bush is rated far ahead of Kerry in handling those issues, and only slightly behind him on handling the economy, yet Bush and Kerry are even. There is an inconsistency there.

In thinking about that inconsistency, and some problems I have had to deal with in my family life, I remembered some words Bush has been saying, and the first three words of one of my favorite books, The Road Less Travelled, by Scott Peck. The first three words of that book are emblazoned on my memory. "Life is Difficult". In the rest of the book, a perennial best seller, Peck discusses the spiritual and psychological problems and consequences flowing from that hard truth. In summary, he says, if you face the difficulties, acknowledge them, work through them, then the difficulties are not so bad and life becomes, ironically, less difficult. But if you pretend that they are not there, or that they are someone else's fault, then, he says, they will get worse. Most mental and spiritual illness, he says, is a refusal to face the evil, the weakness and the pain in one's life. Scott Peck, last I checked was a liberal. Nevertheless, the ideas presented in his one great book still bear thinking about.

Because, I think, they explain this irrational desire to dump Bush, the irrational hatred of Bush. Bush is the leader who had the courage to point the finger, to name names to face the evil in our common lives as a nation.

We had 30 years of the American people refusing to accept this particular evil. From Jimmy Carter, whose State Department in the guise of helping a populist movement, refused to support the Shah of Iran , and Reagan, who had bigger fish to fry than what seemed like the petty evil of the Wahabbists, to Bush 41 who pretended it was just Saddam to Clinton who pretended it was a legal problem. Now we have a president who names names and kicks , well you know what. And it is scary. And it is hard and it is painful. And a lot of people are definitely not into scary, hard and painful. And Kerry tells them, leave it to me, I will take care of it, its easy if you know what you are doing. It is a siren song. REmember the sirens? They were the beautiful singers trying to lure Odysseus onto the rocks. And that is what is so frightening about this election. People want to be deceived because they have been promised that life really is not so hard, or it shouldn't be, or it is someone else's fault. So there is an emotional disconnect between what people know and how they are willing to vote.

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