Wednesday, November 03, 2004

A Note About Theresa Heinz Kerry and Cultural Politics 

This morning my friend FMB e-mailed me the following:
My friend from NYC thinks that Theresa Heinz has a big mouth and hurt Kerry's campaign and it's costing him votes. What other opinions does anyone have?

I had an opinion, as follows:

I think the "big mouth" label that has been attached to Theresa Heinz Kerry is indicative of a still-ingrained cultural bias against independent women who aren't afraid to speak their minds and who don't hide behind their husbands.

I also think that the same people who would make their decision on a presidential election based on their opinion of whether the candidate's wife behaves herself in a quiet submissive manner are the same people who would be swayed by the scare tactics and distortions presented by the Bush campaign. In my opinion there is also a large overlap with the people who support Bush because they are afraid that allowing gay couples to marry would somehow invalidate their own marriage. And what's the current heterosexual divorce rate, even without it? Not to mention nondivorced couples who live an abusive, dysfunctional existence.

Wouldn't society be better off focusing on promoting the idea that people should respect each other and themselves, rather than finding a scapegoat on which to blame all of our culture's ills?

I'm once again reminded of the movie The American President, and the speech made by Michael Douglas as President Andrew Shepard, addressing tactics of and accusations made by his presidential opponent, Bob Rumson (played by Richard Dreyfuss, looking not unlike Dick Cheney):
We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things, and two things only: making you afraid of it, and telling you who's to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections. You gather a group of middle age, middle class, middle income voters who remember with longing an easier time, and you talk to them about family, and American values and character, and you wave an old photo of the President's girlfriend and you scream about patriotism -- you tell them she's to blame for their lot in life. And you go on television and you call her a whore.

And that, apparently, is still how you win elections.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:30 AM