Friday, November 05, 2004

Election Thoughts

Would have posted yesterday, but blogger was haywire throughout most of the day.

Don't have much time, so I'll just say this: This was not a victory for Bush's foreign policy, for his economic policy, or the war on terrorism... not really. It was his failures in those that boosted turnout on the left, and that should have defeated him.

Instead, this was a victory for social conservativism- specifically, the hatred and loathing of homosexuals that is bubbling under the surface of far too much of the United States for the rest's comfort. Forget Queer Eye, metrosexuality, lesbian chic and the rest... a significant minority (if not a majority) of Americans have shown outright hostility towards a group that consists of 10-12% of the American population. Rove was right about an aspect of American society that many, many people (including myself) had dismissed as too disturbing and outlandish to take seriously.

More broadly, it illustrates the dual nature of American society- that it is the fusion of the Enlightenment and of Puritanism. The latter was perceived as dying, as America moved in the same secular direction as the rest of the world, comfortably protected by the declared seperation of church and state. This was in error. Religiosity in the United States is very much alive.

The Republican party isn't going to forget this, and how useful it was. They'll milk this for as long as possible, and the Democrats aren't going to get around it by embracing the religious right. They'll be painted as faithless libruls, no matter what.

Osama Bin Laden won't forget this. Although I doubt he cares much about gays, he and his ideological brethren can easily spin this as proof that the "war of civilizations" is not between the "secular West" and "Islamic fundamentalism", but between American and Islamic fundamentalisms, differing only in which religion they assert is the One True Faith.

Moslems in general won't forget this. They'll see it as an endorsement of Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, and to the extent that it wasn't a repudiation of such, they'll be right.

Europe won't forget this. Every leader in secular Europe is going to array themselves against the American religious right, and benefit handsomely from it.

Canada won't forget this. North America just got a lot lonelier for Canada. Canadian and American values are diverging, but I don't think either Canada or the United States had fully realized just how much. Canada's past election was a repudiation of overt religiosity- the American one embraced it.

In the meantime, expect American gays to get the message, loud and clear... and expect the division between the United States and the rest of the world to become a gulf. Huntington may indeed have been right about the Clash of Civilizations what he didn't anticipate was that the United States would end up being its own.

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