The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

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Different Realities
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Last week’s PIPA survey has gotten quite a bit of play in the press. In short, red and blue America live in different worlds. Red America (that is, over three-fourths of President Bush’s supporters in this election) sees a world where Saddam Hussein was the shadowy figure behind al Qaeda and 9/11, where somewhere in the crannies of Tikrit there sits a yet-undiscovered stash of weapons of mass destruction, and where most of the world cheers our efforts in Iraq. Blue America believes the opposite on all counts.

When it comes to what people believe about their candidates, majorities of the President’s supporters misperceive his foreign policy positions, while majorities of Kerry’s supporters perceive his positions accurately, weeks before an election where foreign policy is supposedly the biggest issue on the table.

But the survey respondents who give me the most hope for democracy are the 18-Percenters. Eighteen percent of Bush supporters still believe Iraq had WMD or a major WMD program even though they know that the Duelfer report concluded otherwise.

Hans Blix. David Kay. The Senate Intelligence Committee. Charles Duelfer. Either invisible to faith-based America, or simply wrong.

So this is what it comes down to. We march to the polls a week from today armed with completely different truths, answering completely different realities. How are we supposed to build a democracy together? And what could possibly be done about this divide?

October 27, 2004 / Uncategorized

3 comments

Thanks for brightening my morning!

😉

The 18 percent is troubling — but I wouldn’t be surprised if something like 10-15 percent of non-Bush voters (i.e., the sum of those voting for Kerry, Nader, or other parties) believe a) Bush or b) Israel had something to do with the attacks on Sept. 11 or had advance knowledge of them — despite any evidence to support that claim. Especially if asked as a leading poll question.

As I see it, there are three possibilities here:

1) Sometimes, people are just wacko. Or so partisan they’re not willing to give up the ghost of an outstanding possibility if it confirms their position. See Dick Cheney. For the latter, I mean.

2) People don’t pay very close attention to the news, but don’t want to admit that. A good chunk of the 18 percent probably don’t really know what the Duelfer report is, but won’t admit ignorance to a pollster, especially if it sounds somewhat familiar. I could imagine an inattentive or even fairly attentive Republican (or even Democrat) believing that while the Duelfer report (whatever that is) concluded that no WMDs were found, that Saddam or his cronies managed to hide, destroy or smuggle them out of the country before the war. You had to work pretty hard to find out the true conclusion of Duelfer’s report: that Iraq had no real ability to produce chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons, nor were there substantive WMD programs in place or on the way. Even if Saddam was using the oil-for-food program to keep up his riches, sanctions worked to prevent development of WMDs — only if sanctions were prematurely brought to an end did Iraq even potentially pose a threat on this score. The Bush camp spun this well, and TV media didn’t help matters much.

3) Which brings me to my third point. We live in an age of startling (if often well-placed) distrust of mainstream media sources. The increasing politicization of the media — really, the media’s shift towards political theater for commercial effect — may obscure the larger problem that many of our citizenry don’t trust official information of any kind (from politicians, pundits, or television, radio, or print journalists) to unearth the basic facts, let alone present them without spin.

If the Post is too liberal — or “unfriendly” — for the right (as Cheney recently said in an interview following their endorsement of Kerry), and the Times too conservative for the left (as some of my faux-soc friends have it), we’re in real trouble, folks. All that’s left is belief in an X-files cosmology, where governmental or supernatural forces operate unseen behind the veil of so-called reality — and even the indubitable is always potentially (and conveniently) unexplained.

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