RollingStone.com: Politics - Bush Like Me
Republicans are everywhere, but everywhere is not a good place to look for them. For my purposes I wanted to try to catch them in their ideal habitat. That was why I chose Orlando. For me, it is hell on earth, the worst city on the planet, a place that would make me long for Kinshasa or Volokolamsk. But for Republicans, it is ideal: a scorching-hot paved inland archipelago of garish shopping malls and stadium-size steel-and-glass Baptist churches, a place with no nonhuman life apart from the caged animals at the theme parks, and an entire economy organized around monstrous temples to fake experience.
... Part of my job, I soon came to understand, was to be supportive when people like portly Tampa sheriff's deputy Ben Mills came in to share their very serious utopian ideas -- like the benefits of having a society guarded by a clone army. "We'd save a hell of a lot on benefits and medical expenses," he said. " 'Cause you know if they got wounded..."
"You could just shoot them," I said.
"Exactly -- pow! Just shoot 'em dead, right in the ground."
He went on.
"We'd just have a big breeding farm in Colorado," he said. "Course, it'd be a security problem if they got out, you know, if you had rogue clones running around. You'd have to have a special security force to maintain 'em."
"That's where folks like us would come in," I said.
"Exactly," he said.
Folks like us. I was getting the hang of it.
... During my time on the campaign, I noticed an unusual phenomenon. The more involved a person was with the campaign, the more likely he was to be politically moderate. Most of the core group of our office -- Vienna, Rhyan, Ben, Don -- were quietly pro-choice or socially liberal in some other respect. It was the casual volunteers and the people whose only involvement was a bumper sticker who were likely to rant about liberals being traitors and agents of Islamo-Fascism who should be exiled from the country or jailed, etc.
I saw this clearly one weekend at a local gun show, where we were manning a voter-registration booth. I rotated with Rhyan and Vienna that weekend, and all three of us were quietly freaking out at the sight of all these fat weirdos from the sticks buying huge assault rifles and Confederate bumper stickers with messages such as IF I'D KNOWN THIS WOULD HAPPEN, I'D HAVE PICKED MY OWN COTTON.
"Man, I'm glad I'm a socially liberal Republican," whispered Rhyan at one point, laughing.
... . The problem not only with fundamentalist Christians but with Republicans in general is not that they act on blind faith, without thinking. The problem is that they are incorrigible doubters with an insatiable appetite for Evidence. What they get off on is not Believing, but in having their beliefs tested. That's why their conversations and their media are so completely dominated by implacable bogeymen: marrying gays, liberals, the ACLU, Sean Penn, Europeans and so on. Their faith both in God and in their political convictions is too weak to survive without an unceasing string of real and imaginary confrontations with those people -- and for those confrontations, they are constantly assembling evidence and facts to make their case.
But here's the twist. They are not looking for facts with which to defeat opponents. They are looking for facts that ensure them an ever-expanding roster of opponents. They can be correct facts, incorrect facts, irrelevant facts, it doesn't matter. The point is not to win the argument, the point is to make sure the argument never stops. Permanent war isn't a policy imposed from above; it's an emotional imperative that rises from the bottom. In a way, it actually helps if the fact is dubious or untrue (like the Swift-boat business), because that guarantees an argument. You're arguing the particulars, where you're right, while they're arguing the underlying generalities, where they are...
It's a curious article. In places he's sympathetic, in others caustic. He makes some interesting observations, but ends seeming rather puzzled and confused.
I do need to rise to the defense of Orlando. Disneyworld is not to my tastes, but there's still a bit left of the town of old Orlanda, and it's fairly interesting.