Those who spend their time obsessing on politics and the intricacies of governing forget that most people in the country are living their lives, raising their kids, finding good entertainment, going to church, walking the dog, and shopping at Walmart. As we expect a politicized America, what we find mostly is America doing other things and paying attention to politics when they have to.
With this as a premise, I found the most compelling reason that George Bush won re-election so handily in a New York Times article yesterday titled War? Jobs? No, Character Counted Most to Voters.
“The first thing that drew me to Bush was his morals and his character,” said Nancy Wallace, 44, a homemaker here in this tidy suburb of Columbus.
Mrs. Wallace grew up in a family of Democratic union members and coal miners but abandoned the Democrats two decades ago, or, as she put it, they abandoned her. She voted for Mr. Bush in 2000, she said, and never wavered in her support in the dark days that followed: Sept. 11, a recession that hit Ohio especially hard, the war in Iraq.
“There was never really a choice for us,” Mrs. Wallace said. “And I’m speaking not only for me but for my husband and neighbors. He’s just an honest, hard-working, good man who had a tragedy to deal with and I think he did a great job.”
Many of those who voted for Mr. Bush said they often disagreed with his actions. Some opposed the war in Iraq, disapproved of his handling of the economy, differed on stem-cell research or abortion. Several said they feared he would appoint Supreme Court justices who are too far to the right.
But even when they disagreed with Mr. Bush, they said, they admired his resolution, a trait Mr. Kerry portrayed as stubbornness.
“Bush doesn’t let polls influence him,” said Sandy Johnson, 45, who had just finished listening to Mr. Bush’s victory speech on the radio in her home office in Carver County, Minn., which went overwhelmingly for Mr. Bush. “Even when he makes decisions that may not be popular, even on security, he does it in the best interest of the country and he does what he thinks is right. So in a way, all of that comes down to integrity.”
Ms. Johnson said she grew tired of the accusations that Mr. Kerry had “flip-flopped.” Still, she said, “I came away from this thinking that Kerry lacked integrity. I wasn’t sure what he believed. He needs to be everything to everybody around the world. You cannot say that about Bush, even if you don’t agree with him.”
She described an American cultural divide in a deeply personal way.
“I have been made to feel by the liberal people that my faith makes me weird,” Ms. Johnson said. “I don’t wear my religion on my sleeve either; I’m quiet about it. But I firmly believe that my country was founded on faith, and when I saw the popular vote this time, it made me feel like I’m not such an outsider, that there are others like me, and a lot of them.”