Sunday

Tweaking the Faith

Since 2 November I've been all over the web. People are worried. To be sure, many are tickled pink, but the worried ones seem to express their feeling better, or more often. I'm worried, too, despite declarations, by some of my peers, to the effect that Bush II's policies will not affect my corner of the world.

Those who aren't necessarily worried are dumbstruck: How did he do it? How did he win? I don't really know, but I'd bet on the Tweaking-the-Faith school. I believe that under certain circumstances most religious people will ignore any other important signs to the contrary, and act in line with what they suppose their faith dictates.
Kerry was also backed up by a 'ground operation' that succeeded in turning out record numbers of voters. But it was not enough. The Democrats simply missed the main issues of the day: religion and values. That this was central to the result is seen in the views of Anthony Falzarano, who runs an antique shop in Ohio's Jefferson County. Falzarano, who lives in an area of the state dominated by closed steel mills and hit by job losses, has not been able to afford healthcare for seven years. Nor have his wife or his children. But that did not dictate his vote. He is an evangelical Christian. 'I support Bush,' he said 'We are closet Republicans and there are a lot of us around here.' The polls showed that it was Falzarano and Rove, not the Democratic pundits, who were proved [sic] right.
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What actually did it, in my view, are the anti-abortion, the no-gay-marriages and the no-stem-cell-research stances -- and not much else. Not the fear of terrorism, not the war in Iraq, and certainly not domestic policies. It is so easy to use religion to get one's way that women were and are still discriminated against because the Bible "says so." Apartheid was driven by religion most of the time.

Usually, however, the one who tweaks faith and uses the faithful for any sort of personal gain is called a guru. That's how strongly I feel this vote was based not on all the issues, not on the current or past state of affairs, not on economical common sense, but on other-worldly considerations. It must really be tough on those who fail to understand how George Bush carried off the election, because they're right not to understand. It's a 100-to-one situation. If the 101 issues are considered, Kerry wins. If the 100 issues are considered, Kerry wins. If the one issue is considered, Bush wins. The one issue was considered.

Politics are particularly cruel in one respect: labels don't have to reflect their dictionary meanings, while voters often only have the dictionary meaning in mind. I'm thinking of values. The Bush camp redefined the term and got away with it. "Something (as a principle or quality) intrinsically valuable or desirable." [Merriam-Webster]; "A principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable." [Dictionary.com]; "Beliefs of a person or social group in which they have an emotional investment (either for or against something)." [Word-Reference.com]. Politics thus become a marketing exercise. In this case, it involved selling "an eskimo snow" and succeeding. Right after the 2000 vote, a friend from California came to see us. She said she'd voted for Bush. "What the hell for?" I wondered with an open mouth. "Because he has moral values," was the reply. What could I say? I don't think George has moral values, because if he did, he wouldn't have killed, lied or swindled. But my friend is a Christian fundamentalist, and I'm sure she voted for the Bush camp this time around, too. In marketing, a term may stick to a product, even if the term doesn't intrinsically reflect the qualities of that product. Think of the following terms, and try to link them to the product they represent: soft drinks: new generation; cars: safe; cars: engineering; toothpaste: cavities; cigarettes: real man. See what I mean?

The strategy was brilliant because in the end, what each side wanted was to win the election. Karl packaged his product and sold it off brilliantly.