what bush supporters believe

The often vituperative rhetoric of public American discourse is counterproductive. It is unfair, however, to place the blame on only one party. I keep coming across references on blogs to the Democratic Party as out of touch with the mainstream, as elitist and condescending. Many of these references sound like (and are sometimes paired with) descriptions of academics like myself. And yet, when faced with millions of people who believe in a reality for which there is no evidence, what should the proper response be?

In recent months the American public has been presented reports by the Senate Intelligence Committee, and the heads of the Iraq survey group David Kay and Charles Duelfer (chosen by the president), concluding that before the war Iraq had neither weapons of mass destruction nor even a significant program for developing them. Nonetheless, 72% of Bush supporters continued to hold to the view that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%). Only 26% of Kerry supporters hold such beliefs.

Despite the report of the 9/11 Commission saying there is no evidence Iraq was providing significant support to al Qaeda, 75% of Bush supporters believe Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda (30% of Kerry supporters), with 20% believing that Iraq was directly involved in 9/11. 1 Sixty-three percent of Bush supporters even believe that clear evidence of this support has been found, while 85% of Kerry supporters believe the opposite.

[Quotes taken from “The Separate Realities of Bush and Kerry Supporters” (PDF), the report on a recent poll conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes and Knowledge Networks.]

The goal for all of us should be communication and understanding.

Do Bush supporters believe these things because they are unaware of the facts? If so, then the proper response by those of us who opposed four more years of Bush should be to work on getting those facts out there. Or do Bush supporters instead believe those things because they want to believe them, regardless of what new information might come their way? Is this a result of cognitive dissonance, as L suggests? If so, then it doesn’t matter how hard we work to get the facts out there. What then?

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3 thoughts on “what bush supporters believe

  1. Are we safer?

    The United States remains woefully unprepared to protect the public against terrorists wielding biological agents despite dramatic increases in biodefense spending by the Bush administration and considerable progress on many fronts, according to government officials and specialists in bioterrorism and public health.

    U.S. Unprepared Despite Progress, Experts Say,” by John Mintz and Joby Warrick (Washington Post)

  2. Read Wayfairer on this point. To southern religious conservatives, Bush “didn’t lie, he merely told the truth from a spiritual perspective, from the perspective of a man committed to God’s work, which involves bringing freedom to the rest of the world and stamping out the influence of Satan.” Kristoff made a similar point in his column for the NY Times, published on 27 October. (You can probably get it through Nexus/Lexus if you didn’t read it.) Kristoff’s point was that Bush doesn’t exactly lie, but that he uses facts selectively and even invents facts in order to support what he sees as the greater truth. I take Kristoff to be saying that Bush essentially constructs a narrative truth, one that is tested by the coherence of the fiction rather than a correspondence to reality. Of course, that is my strong reading of Kristoff rather than his point per se and it’s been a point that I’ve been pushing all through the election season.
    jwb

  3. I read a great article some time ago – last year? Before all the election hype – about Bush’s fundamentally Platonic view of the world: that is, if he could imagine something, then it existed (in the sense of Platonic forms: we can only think of something if it has a real, ideal existence outside of us; when we see a chair, we know it’s a chair because implanted in us is the knowledge of the ideal form of a chair, and the chair in front of us matches that ideal). This is contrast to the Aristotelian view – i.e., we know a chair is a chair because we’ve experienced chairs, seen them, sat on them, and constructed a model of chairs from our own experience. This article used this different approach to the world to explain Bush’s conviction that Saddam Hussein had WMD. I think this fits in w/Jimbo’s point about Bush’s narrative truths being measured by the coherence of the fiction rather than the correspondence with reality – so, short point, I agree with Jimbo.
    Knew a classical education had to have some purpose…

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