Why did you vote for Bush in 2004?
November 6, 2004 12:33 PM   Subscribe

I really want to understand: Why did you vote for Bush? Not snark at all -- a sincere question. I voted for Kerry. 51% of the people in this country think differently than I do and I'd like to try to get past my usual filters and biases and hear your point of view. If you voted for Bush/Cheney I'd appreciate you taking the time to explain to me what issues, beliefs, hopes, and fears motivated you voted the way you did, if you're willing.
posted by papercake to Law & Government (62 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The biggest voting issue for myself and others inside my Catholic circle is abortion (though it is important to note the the Pope also condemned Bush for the war). Think what you may of it, but a lot of people consider abortion the killing of a human, myself included, plain and simple.
[I don't mean this as another segway into an abortion fight as I understand it isn't always that simple...but you asked so I answered].
I also support gay civil unions and am not found of the war. So, yea, I was essentially a single-issue voter this election.
posted by jmd82 at 12:42 PM on November 6, 2004

professor Garry Wills' analysis:

Rove understood what surveys have shown, that many more Americans believe in the Virgin Birth than in Darwin’s theory of evolution. This might be called Bryan’s revenge for the Scopes trial of 1925, in which William Jennings Bryan’s fundamentalist assault on the theory of evolution was discredited. Disillusionment with that decision led many evangelicals to withdraw from direct engagement in politics. But they came roaring back into the arena out of anger at other court decisions — on prayer in school, abortion, protection of the flag and, now, gay marriage.
But even if he (Bush) wanted to be more conciliatory now, the constituency to which he owes his victory is not a yielding one. He must give them what they want on things like judicial appointments. His helpers are also his keepers. The moral zealots will, I predict, give some cause for dismay even to nonfundamentalist Republicans. Jihads are scary things. It is not too early to start yearning back toward the Enlightenment.

posted by matteo at 12:43 PM on November 6, 2004

a minor quibble... 60% of those registered to vote showed up and did so, and half of that group voted for bush so it's better to say 30% of the people in this country can be safely accused of thinking differently than you.
posted by mcsweetie at 12:44 PM on November 6, 2004

Response by poster: mcsweetie, yeah -- I meant to say that of those who voted, 51% voted/think differently.

thanks matteo, and jmd82 for the responses as well
posted by papercake at 12:51 PM on November 6, 2004

I have a red friend. I asked him the same question, "He lied about going to Iraq, denies he lied about it, deficit spending, restrictive laws..."

And he agreed that he's not doing right fiscally, Iraq was done "in the wrong way", but it basically boiled down to abortion, and gays. I was flabbergasted. He says he's okay with gays, but is against marriage because they'd have the same tax benefits. And of course I say then it obviously comes down to you not seeing gays as being equal -- and he conceeded he's tolerant of gays. Tolerant meaning of course as long as they don't expect to be treated on the same leve they are okay.

And abortion is he simply believes life begins at conception and anything after that is a form of murder. From a legalistic point, his belief isn't fundamentally flawed. Not that I agree with it, but no one really knows when life begins -- and he just happens to believe it begins at birth.

Basically, there are two groups hit by a bad economy. That's the very rich who lose when the dollar falls, or their stocks fall. The other are those most likely to be effected by structural unemployment, the lower classes. The middle class and lower-upper classes really won't see their lives disrupted by an economy like this. The economy would have to be so bad that the cost of basic goods increases to where they much choose between which basic goods to buy.

The other real issues for the Kerry campaign was international relations. The vast majority of Americans, again, don't travel overseas. They don't do direct business with French, British people. Besides wanting to appease your common man, what does it matter if someone in Britain hates you? It doesn't effect your life.

I think that's why you see a majority of Bush voters who vote the way they do.
posted by geoff. at 12:57 PM on November 6, 2004

jmd82, what I find most interesting is that the American Catholic Church, at least, has so focused on abortion. You can still have an abortion, perform abortions, or condone abortions and still be Catholic. The Catholic Church post-Vatican II introduces a concept of indepedent conscious or something similar to that wording. Basically if you look at an issue that the Church has spoken about, reflect and pray on it and still disagree then you are free to. This came from the Jesuit viewpoint (probablism I believe it is?) versus the Benedictine viewpoint, sometime in the late 19th century I believe.

Being way too close to being a theology minor, I get really angry when you have bishops, priests and others say you have to be against abortion, have to be against contraception to be Catholic. I don't know exactly where this comes from but the Catholic Church is not wishy-washy. It has a strong history of being legalistic and clearly states that anything non-infallible (the ecumenical councils, the two papal infallabilities) can be disagreed with.
posted by geoff. at 1:03 PM on November 6, 2004

jmd82 - if you don't mind me asking, here's something that confuses me: Observant Catholics are against abortion and the death penalty. So why is abortion - which Bush opposes - "worse" than the death penalty, which Kerry opposes? If I was in that mindset - preservation of life - I'd think they were morally equivalent. Add to that the concern about pacifism and human rights, and I would think that the balance would tip (slightly) in favor of Kerry. I guess I don't get why, with so many "moral values" out there, abortion and gays are dispositive. It doesn't seem a given to me that Bush gets the moral vote.
posted by PrinceValium at 1:06 PM on November 6, 2004

All the people that voted for Bush in my family did it for a single issue: taxes.

Some well-off family members hate to give up a cent of their money for any reason and have been doing rather well the past four years. Voting for Kerry meant they were volunteering to pay more. My brother-in-law wasn't a fan of the war, is big on fiscal responsibility (hates bush for being spendy), and is very hands-off gov't (also has issues with Bush in that regard). He's a classic small gov't republican that didn't find a lot to like in Bush aside from taxes.

I've stated before that I see the draw of Bush's tax plan, especially in an economy that isn't booming like the late 90s. I'll openly admit that the democrat candidate was a "massachusettes liberal" which I actually like to have in charge, but that could cost us a bundle personally (not saying his plans were going to raise taxes, but they certainly had the potential to).

There's a simple rule that you never raise taxes in a depressed economy, no one has the cash to spare (even if they're rich), you save it for boom times when people don't mind chipping in extra.
posted by mathowie at 1:08 PM on November 6, 2004

Abortion was and is a biggie for me. But I have to say even bigger was my conviction that Kerry had all the backbone of a squid, and I did not want him in the position of commander in chief. I would vote for Clinton twice before I would Kerry once, and I was no fan of Bill.

I will not sit here and say Bush has acted perfectly but I will say he says what he means and does what he says. I know where he stands.
posted by konolia at 1:08 PM on November 6, 2004

Here's one very thorough analysis.
posted by gd779 at 1:13 PM on November 6, 2004

I voted for Kerry because I'm so against Bush's foreign policies that I wouldn't feel right having voted for him. I also don't like his religious hypocracy and conscious cultivation of the organized religion vote.

But I'm not dissapointed that Bush won, and I generally vote republican.
Generally, no matter what the current school of liberal academic economics professors say, the economy tends to boost itself during Republican administrations and fall during Democratic ones... well, at least, it does for those who are willing to take risks, make investments, and build capital and wealth. And to those who say "Well, didn't the economy do well under Clinton?" ... no, it imploded just as he left office. The previous 8 years of economic health were mostly due to Regan and Bush Sr.'s (or rather, their cabinets for being smart enough to not get in the way of Greenspan.)
To me, Democrats have fallen into the 'Bread and circuses' trap and beleive that by providing for everyone and making everyone comfortable, they will move society forward. That disagrees with my worldview.
I also dont like Kerry. I never figured out what he truly beleives; everything that came out of his mouth sounded like it was scripted to toe to the party line and he was delivering his lines like an actor -- and not a particularly convincing one. I wasn't sure what he was actually going to do once he got into office.

What I wish had happened is that Kerry was elected president and had a republican senate and house to deal with. One of my very democratic friends said, "What, so that NOTHING gets accomplished for four years?"
... no, so that government actually performs its function and lets only the good things happen, and the ideas that only serve the needs or goals of one portion of the population (while being cloaked in "good for all") don't get through.
posted by SpecialK at 1:36 PM on November 6, 2004

my conviction that Kerry had all the backbone of a squid

As a followup question to konolia and anyone else who came to this conclusion, I'm interested in knowing:

(a) what sources did you draw from while examining this idea?

(b) what brought you to a conclusion on it?

he says what he means and does what he says.

Also interested in answers to similar questions for this.
posted by weston at 1:46 PM on November 6, 2004

Response by poster: weston: while I understand and sympathize with your questions for konolia, I'm not really interested in getting those answers here. I really don't want this thread to become a confrontation of Bush supporters, demanding answers for their votes. I just want to hear what motivated them.

I'm not trying to come down on you, konolia. I'm just trying to avoid this becoming an argument, where people feel they have to defend themselves.
posted by papercake at 1:58 PM on November 6, 2004

Response by poster: whoops -- that should have been "come down on you, weston"... damn.
posted by papercake at 1:59 PM on November 6, 2004

I'm sure someone here can enlighten me, but from what I gathered from watching the debates, both candidates seemed to have the same position on abortion. In response to the question about abortion, both candidates, as I recall, seemed to indicate that it is a dividing issue, and that attempts should be made to reduce abortion in America. There must be more to it than that if it was such a factor in the election, but it seemed strange to me that all this attention is given to it given what I thought was a universal view on it.

As for the other issues, I have to say that as a canadian, this election really opened my eyes to the number religious/conservative people there are in the United States and the impact they have in the election. Not to get into this again, but from my liberal point of view, who should win the election seemed like an absolute no-brainer.

I don't want to sound inflammatory, but the fact that some people can ignore lying to get to Iraq, damage done to international relations, huge deficit spending, and restrictive laws like the Patriot Act because of abortion and gay marriage. It just doesn't seem like the two candidates' views on those two issues differed enough to merit that.

I also can't understand being a "single-issue" voter, when there are obviously a hundred issues that are all important. You can endure killing in Iraq and restriction of freedoms as long as two men cannot marry each other? Again, it seems like issues like gay marriage are actually more important to americans than going to war under false pretenses, or their countries' reputation internationally.

I guess this is kind of "I can't believe people don't agree with me" post, but I am fairly open minded and am genuinely interested in learning what others think of this.
posted by mrgavins at 2:08 PM on November 6, 2004

For those that chose Bush because of the abortion issue, how do you reconcile that with Bush's unprovoked attack on Iraq and the 100+ thousands of people who died because of that? I know that there are more abortions per year than that, but if life is so important, why is it okay to indiscriminately kill anyone? Is it just a numbers game? I know babies are helpless, but so am I when sitting in my house with a missile heading right toward me and my family.

And, again, just to be clear, I'm not trying to start an argument, but simply trying to understand.

On preview, I should probably not post this question, but what the hell, I'm curious.
posted by fletchmuy at 2:15 PM on November 6, 2004

Response by poster: Really, no REALLY, I just want to hear the thoughts of people who voted for Bush/Cheney without them having to defend themselves. These are all fine, worthy questions, and I understand why they're being asked, but that's not why I posted.
posted by papercake at 2:21 PM on November 6, 2004

I voted for Bush primarily because the alternative was a carbon rod.
posted by shoos at 2:24 PM on November 6, 2004

Being way too close to being a theology minor, I get really angry when you have bishops, priests and others say you have to be against abortion, have to be against contraception to be Catholic.

I totally agree. Read my latest blog post to read more (in my profile).

jmd82 - if you don't mind me asking, here's something that confuses me: Observant Catholics are against abortion and the death penalty. So why is abortion - which Bush opposes - "worse" than the death penalty, which Kerry opposes?

It comes down to the level of evil. Though a more theological person (such as a Priest) could put it much more coherently, part of it is the number oif deaths. Just compare the number of deaths of abortion vs. the death penalty. I think part of it is also that the baby has no choice in their death- rather, someone on death row has made a choice to commit a henious crime (I know that this isn't always true, such as a mis-conviction, but it is in the back of people's minds I think).

There must be more to it than that if it was such a factor in the election, but it seemed strange to me that all this attention is given to it given what I thought was a universal view on it.

I think a large element is the US Supreme Court. With a slate of Justiced set to retire over the next few years, the nomination of pro-life or pro-choice justices will decide the fate of roe vs. wade for the next 20-40 years.

I also can't understand being a "single-issue" voter, when there are obviously a hundred issues that are all important.

Personally, I agree in every case except abortion. To me, it has caused thousands of millions of deaths. It is a level of evil where the amount of death outweighs that incured by others (read my reply to death penalty above). It is also derived from the idea of intrinsic versus secondary evil. I see abortion as an intrinsic evil- as in it is always evil. War in of itself is not evil, but it can cause evil. I know it is splitting hairs, but it is part of.

fletchmuy: You're right, it is partly a numbers game. But, also view it from a pro-life standpoint: it isn't just about the number of deaths for this year. It is also all the deaths from previous years and the possible deaths in the future.
posted by jmd82 at 2:25 PM on November 6, 2004

A couple of my relatives told me they were for Bush because there's a war on. Not that they necessarily think the war's a good idea, but since it is in fact going on, they believe they need to support the current guy in charge and see it through with him. However, I do not know if these relatives actually voted.
posted by JanetLand at 2:42 PM on November 6, 2004

The "red state" lifestyle perceives itself as under attack.

A lot of innocent people died in Iraq, but hey, we're fighting for our lives against terrorists. Better safe, with some Iraqis dead, than sorry, with another 9/11. Environmentalism is all well and good until it tries to tell me which car to drive. With equal rights for gays, kids will be led astray and lead a life of immorality and AIDS. Without a Christian in the White House, religion will be banned, or sacreligious things like abortion and marijuana will be sanctioned.

Really, while a lot of the Left sees the "red state" lifestyle as completely and overwhelmingly dominant in the US, and oppressive of others to boot, they themselves actually feel they are under attack. And in the broad strokes of history, they probably are. Anyone want to plot belief in creationism on a 500-year axis?
posted by scarabic at 3:06 PM on November 6, 2004

Here's why I decided to vote for Bush:

1. The Supreme Court: Bush has said that his favorite Supreme Court Justices are Scalia and Thomas. They are also my two favorites. Bush also came out against affirmative aciton. Therefore I believe any future justices he nominates will be in a similar vein.

2. I agree that social security reform is necessary, and I think his plan of privatizing social security is a good first step.

3. Iraq: I agree with the Iraq war. I still believe it is the right thing to do today.

4. Tax policy: I disagree with Kerry's tax proposal. I am also intrigued by various proposals in Congress proposed by Republicans regarding national VATs or flat taxes. Those proposals have a better chance of passing under a Bush administration.

I'm a pretty socially liberal guy. I'm all for gay marriage, and against government intrusion into our bedrooms. I'm anti-abortion, not because of religion or anything like that, but just because of my belief in the rights of an unborn child. I guess I'd probably peg myself politically as somewhere between a Republican and a Libertarian, so even if I choise not to vote for Bush, Badnarik would've been my second option long before I'd consider voting for Kerry.
posted by gyc at 3:10 PM on November 6, 2004

scarabic, who in particular are you speaking for? yourself?
posted by shoos at 3:30 PM on November 6, 2004

Thanks, papercake, for this thread, and thanks gyc, shoos, jmd82, and konolia for your input on your votes, and JanetLand and mathowie for your input on your families' votes.

To everyone who's arguing with people about their Bush votes or making guesses about why people voted for Bush--DO THAT IN ANOTHER THREAD, NOT HERE!!!!

Seriously, the point of this thread is to gather information, not to lecture people. Can everyone just keep from lecturing each other for one thread? Please?
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:41 PM on November 6, 2004

I didn't vote for Bush (or Kerry), but I'm not surprised at the number of responses to this thread which mention abortion. My parents — Christians, but fairly liberal Christians in most regards — told me when I was young that they had decided they could never vote for a pro-choice candidate. I don't think the typical Democrat really understands how big an issue this is for many people, including many people who probably lean to the left on most other issues. The pro-choice movement has succeeded in painting anyone opposed to legal abortion as a close-minded religious homophobic nutjob, and it's simply not the case; many normal, thinking people are opposed to abortion, even those who aren't religious at all. (This is not to argue that they're right, simply that there are arguments for that stance and rationale people can adhere to it). And for those who equate abortion to murder, yes, it's a bit of a numbers game; what other social institution, what war, what policy, what government folly, can compete with the sheer number of abortions perormed?
posted by IshmaelGraves at 3:43 PM on November 6, 2004

papercake, I really only mean them as followup questions, essentially asked in the same spirit that you asked your question. I don't mean to imply that there is no reason to see Kerry and Bush in the way konolia described -- I simply want to know how people arrived at that conclusion.
posted by weston at 3:49 PM on November 6, 2004

I agree. I'd be interested in the follow-up questions. Isn't it considered bad form, anyway, to try to control a thread once it's begun? I understand the need to keep it civil -- but I don't think anyone's being out of line here.
posted by Zosia Blue at 3:57 PM on November 6, 2004

Sidhedevil, I was not lecturing people, I was just giving my view point so others would have something to base their replies on.

My post was not about questioning/attacking opposing viewpoints, it was about providing mine so that others can state what they disagree with and for me to see how they think differently.

I absolutely agree that this is not the thread to debate any one of these issues, as that could turn ugly rather quickly. It is however interesting to see what issues made people choose one candidate over another, and what importance those issues had in the big picture.
posted by mrgavins at 4:01 PM on November 6, 2004

Isn't it considered bad form, anyway, to try to control a thread once it's begun?

In AskMe? No.
posted by Kwantsar at 4:02 PM on November 6, 2004

I understand the need to keep it civil -- but I don't think anyone's being out of line here.
Aye. I see threads like this as a model for what discussions on the blue should be like- a discussion of issues without going apeshit due to someone's answer.
posted by jmd82 at 4:16 PM on November 6, 2004

Thank you, papercake, for this question. I had been planning to ask "Why do you identify with the Republican Party?" because I really am going through a period of self-examination. I certainly do not believe that all Bush-supporters are evil, deluded, or stupid, so I need to understand if I am missing something.


My mother voted for Bush, "Because of the war in Iraq (fighting over there so we are not fighting here."
My fundamentalist sister-in-law voted for Bush, "Because I don't trust Kerry."
My friend Dave, "Because we need less government, not more."
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:42 PM on November 6, 2004

As a non-American, I think the follow-up questions *are* important, not because they're an attempt to derail the thread, or to argue the toss, but because, in terms of the original question, if someone voted for Bush because of the abortion issue, it's important to understand why they value American foetuses more than Iraqi children (for instance).

It's like someone answering "I voted for Bush because of his hair." Wouldn't you want to know *what* about his hair it was that swung it?
posted by benzo8 at 5:29 PM on November 6, 2004 [1 favorite]

My father, a university economics professor, voted for Bush.

He voted Bush because he believes the Middle East must feel the scourge of war, as Islam is a 1000 year old relic that is a disease to modern civilization.
posted by four panels at 5:34 PM on November 6, 2004

One of my best friends is a federal agent, and voted for Bush (or at least said he was going to) because he believes Kerry would have vitiated the Patriot Act, which he says intrudes minimally on our civil rights while giving him tools he needs to fight terrorism. He grants that Bush has been a mediocre president and even that he has made us less safe by failing to secure Afghanistan, our ports, or ex-Soviet nuclear material, and by invading Iraq so poorly that the limits of our military power are clear to countries like North Korea. But I think he just can't vote for someone who he's sure would thwart or hinder his personal work against terrorism.

Another of my old friends is a Navy commander and a full-on Clinton-hating Bushie, as is his wife, an even older friend of mine. They grew up in NYC, went to the best public high school in America, and are still smart and sensible people but after 20 years living in a political monoculture on boats and bases...

Oh, and I have another friend who just really really likes guns, and really really doesn't like the estate tax.
posted by nicwolff at 6:04 PM on November 6, 2004

My parents were, until 9/11, dedicated liberals (not only had they voted for Gore in 2000, my mom used to run state Democratic campaigns in Colorado in the '70s and '80s [Gary Hart, Dick Lamm, etc.] and my dad, who grew up with Dick Cheney, used to say "there's a reason they call that SOB 'dick'"). After that, they swung waaaaay to the right (I mean, like Ann Coulter right) and now absolutely adore Bush. My sister and I have had a hard time understanding this, and have spoken only a little about it with my folks because it's such an unbelievably tense question between us. Basically, I believe that 9/11 scared the bejezus out of them to the point that it opened the door to express their most secret, taboo, un-liberal loathings -- namely, a deep fear (and, frankly, hatred) of Islam.

Also, they are small business owners, and for years had been getting gradually more fiscally conservative over taxes, benefits, etc.... and so I think that after 9/11 happened and they lined up behind Bush (they literally repeated to me "you're either with the president or with Osama bin Laden") they were prime candidates to completely identify with his rhetoric about tax cuts, business owners, etc.

They're not particularly religious, so I don't think the abortion/gay marriage issue was decisive for them, but I also don't think they'd frankly care very much if they were both outlawed. I suspect that they feel that the issues don't impact them directly (because as far as they know, my sister and I have never had an abortion, and we're both straight), so they basically don't give a damn either way. My mom was pretty disgusted with Clinton over the whole Monica Lewinsky thing, though, so I think she was pretty primed to jump on the morality bandwagon.

Finally, I also have a hunch that a part of it is that they really relish being on the "winning" team politically. They both came of age in the early '60s, so over their political lifetimes, they could only claim JFK/LBJ, Carter, and Clinton as "their" presidents. Once Bush got to claim the mantle of being the crusader (ahem) against the terrorists following 9/11, I don't think they were capable of figuring out how to still identify as the opposition party. (And, of course, neither did the Dems...)
posted by scody at 7:45 PM on November 6, 2004

A friend in school, who happens to be an athiest, voted for Bush. When I saw him on the day after the election he had a big shit-eating grin on his face, as if to rub it in. I finally really had it out with him and asked him how an athiest could support this president. I reminded him that Bush-1 once said he didn't consider athiests to be citizens and that I was sure Bush-2 was of the same mindset. He conceded he had a lot of problems with Bush but the single overriding issue for him was national security. He felt that Bush could do a better job protecting the U.S. and he felt the war in Iraq was fully justified because Bush wanted to "fight the terrorists over there rather than here." When I went into the whole argument about their being no link or Iraq to 9/11 he said I was spewing Michael Moore propaganda. I gave up.

Speaking of econ professors, mine supported Bush because he thought he had the right economic policies. Funny thing is he knows I'm a democrat and this guy really likes me. He told me yesterday I'm his best student. I think he's trying to sway me to his side.
posted by AstroGuy at 7:51 PM on November 6, 2004

I should say, re: abortion/gay rights, that I believe my dad still retains a little more social liberalism in this regard, and probably would be at least a little put out to see Roe v. Wade overturned or the Constitution amended to ban gay marriage. Also, he wants to be on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy so he can get a makeover. Yeah, I know.
posted by scody at 7:55 PM on November 6, 2004

Response by poster: I didn't mean to be over-controlling in the thread. I was just afraid of it devolving into what's become the usual mode of political discussion on the blue:

A: I think X
B: Why X?
A: Because Y.
B: Moron.
A: Fuck you!
B: Bucket o' cocks!
C: Profit!

Not that it was becoming that. Just, you know, trying to be careful and feeling all nip-it-in-the-bud-y.

But mostly this has been very informative and worthwhile. Thanks. Carry on.
posted by papercake at 9:17 PM on November 6, 2004

I am glad that President Bush was re-elected. To some of you, that sounds blasphemous, and some of you probably think that because I support President Bush that I am some sort of hate-filled, homophobic, racist, gun-toting, truck-driving, bible-thumping redneck. But anyone who knows me realizes that's not the case.

I am not filled with hate; in fact, most people that I work with and know would probably describe me as one of the most happy-go-lucky guys around.

I am certainly not homophobic - I fully support gay rights, and am disgusted by the results of the "same-sex union" bans that passed in 10 (or 11?) states yesterday. As others have noted, it is an attempt to codify hatred/disgust/etc, cloaked in the warm glow of "traditional" marriage.

And I'm certainly not racist; racism is the most despicable form of hatred and prejudice and based entirely on fear.

And I don't own any guns; the only time that I've fired a weapon was during Basic Training in 1987.

I drive a Ford Taurus, not a pick-em-up truck.

And bible-thumping --- not a chance -- I am a lifelong militant atheist.

So why did I support Bush? Because he is vastly superior to his competitors and critics (Kerry, DNC, etc) on several critical points -- national defense and security, taxes, and American sovereignty. Those issues trump all of the other ones. I don't believe that President Bush would ever compromise on national security, nor would he ever defer to another nation or leader on any issue involving national security.

The issues that I disagree with President Bush and many Republicans about are many: the entire notion of "faith," any attempts to criminalize abortion, endorsing or promoting prayer in school (or in courthouses, etc). But those are issues that I -- and other like-minded Americans -- can fight on our own, if and when necessary. Those issues can be fought by individuals. The bigger issues of national defense and American sovereignty are not something that I personally can handle; they are issues that the federal government - the President - is all about.

President Bush will never waiver on national security, nor will he ever apologize or kowtow to the world for the innate goodness of our country, nor for acting to defend our country.

And on issues that I disagree with the Republicans on: I'll take those as they come.
posted by davidmsc at 9:52 PM on November 6, 2004

My dad, who's a physician, voted for Bush because he thinks someone has got to put a stop to the sky-rocketing costs of malpractice insurance - and needless to say, a Kerry/Edwards team did not appeal to him.
posted by invisible ink at 12:04 AM on November 7, 2004

I voted for Bush. Some things about me before I begin the "why" portion:

1. Male
2. Live in Cambridge, MA (I think I'm the lone Republican)
3. Work in Education
4. Atheist
5. Pro-Choice
6. College educated (degree in business)
7. Passport holder, and spend a significant chunk of time each year in Europe for work (2-3 months)
8. Not a Republican. I tend to lean towards Libertarian more than anything else.

Here's why I voted for Bush:

1. The Economy: Honestly, it was a wash. Money Magazine a month or two back did an analysis of both candidates economic policy, and realized something kinda interesting: When it came right down to it, when you factored in everything they were spending money on, they were both deficit spending to an equal amount. I can't find the article online, but it's worth running to the library and taking a look at it.

2. Abortion: I'm an atheist, and have no religious arguments on this issue. I think that women should be able to have an abortion if they want, and that it shouldn't have to involve a back alley and a coat hanger. Do I think either candidate is going to outlaw abortions? Nope. Do I think either is going to make any steps to protect the right to have an abortion? Nope. It's too messy of an issue, too polarizing. They would come up against such a fight that it's not worth waging. It's a wash on this one, too.

3. Gay Marriage: I have a large number of friends who are gay, a large number of them in long-term relationships, and I think they should have the right to marry just like anyone else. But, I also think this is a state issue, not a federal one. I was happy to see 11 states go to the polls about this last week, although I was very sad to see 10 of them ban it. Would Kerry have done something to protect and support the right of gays to marry? No. This isn't a "win with one candidate / lose with the other" issue. It's a wash on this one, too.

4. The Military / National Defense: I honestly don't see Kerry keeping our military strong. In my opinion, he turned his back on them once, and I can see him doing it again. I believe in the right of the US to conduct a preemptive strike against a nation that is planning on attacking us. I believe it's the job of the President to do what he can to stop an attack before it happens, rather then wait for it to happen before he deals with it. This one goes to Bush.

5. Iraq: Hell yes we should have invaded. Because of WMD? Maybe. Maybe not. Because Saddam rightfully earned the nickname Butcher of Baghdad? Because he did support terrorism (and, in my opinion, had related ties to al Queda)? Because Saddam repeatedly posed a threat to neighboring nations in a region of the world that is already unstable enough? Because the world is a better place with one more democratic nation in it, with one less dictator, with one less madman who would have eventually had WMD, no matter if he had them at the time of invasion or not? Absolutely. This one goes to Bush.

6. Education: Bush, hands down. This isn't even close. While I don't support vouchers, I don't think Kerry has solid footing in this area. The Jane Galt link above says it perfectly: "The Democrats are simply too hostage to the teacher's unions to be even marginally credible on education."

7. The Supreme Court: The next President is very likely to name a Supreme Court Justice to the bench. The people who freak out about this focus on one issue: abortion rights. There are a hell of a lot more issues that the SCOTUS will face than just abortion, and I want another Thomas or Scalia on the bench. I don't want that choice going to Kerry. This one goes to Bush.

8. Outsourcing: It's not the end of the world, it's not the collapse of our economy, and it's not a tool of the devil. It should exist. In the long run, it will help the economy, just like computers have and just like automation has (both of which faced similar arguments when they were coming of age). This one goes to Bush.

There's one more issue that came into play for me. This isn't a clear cut one, it isn't a policy issue, or something that can be easily measured. It's simply "conduct." Not of the candidate, but of the individuals supporting them. Neither party is innocent here, neither clean. We all have people conducting themselves poorly (half of you are reading this, madly waiting to say, "Yes, but about that guy that kicked the Democratic girl at the convention..."). Like I said, neither side is innocent here. But every day, especially living where I live, I've been inundated with Kerry supporters everywhere I go. I've been harassed, insulted, and told that they hope I die in a Republican-started war.

These people are a bunch of assholes, and I don't think the Democrats realize how many votes these people cost them.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 5:17 AM on November 7, 2004

I know only one person who admitted openly to voting for Bush, and she says the sole reason for casting her ballot that way was the issue of abortion. She believes that with a religious conservative in office, the Supreme Court will move closer to a position of overturning Roe v. Wade. She cited the possibility of voting Democratic because of what she called the "complete failure" of Bush's education plan, but said that in the end she had to support Bush chiefly because it could lead to the eventual criminalization of abortion.

For context, the voter in question is a first generation immigrant, thought not at all a recent one, has a child in military service deployed to Iraq, and staunchly Catholic.

I've a friend who is a fairly unconventional Christian lay preacher, a missionary, with similar strong opinions on the abortion issue. Next time I run into him I'll ask about how he voted and why.
posted by majick at 7:21 AM on November 7, 2004

I voted for Bush. The main reason was national security; I think Saddam did support terrorism and Al Qaeda (and unquestionably slaughtered many of his own and all sorts of things that are glossed over because they don't effect our security, but are nasty nonetheless) and we're just generally better off if we can have one democracy in the middle of the Arab world.

I did not want John Kerry leading our foreign policy, sitting around at summits with Germany and France (well, with Germany; France couldn't make it because their train workers all decided they were going to go on strike. In Mallorca.) I think it was a MASSIVE mistake of his to bring up Vietnam as a grand part of his history when he's in the Viet Cong's museum of heroes. I wouldn't doubt that cost him the election.

As for other issues: I agree more with Bush than Kerry on education because Democrats are always in the back pocket of the teacher's unions; I disagree with Bush on issues like gay marriage, but didn't here Kerry really supporting it either; I don't think either Bush or Kerry would have a significant effect on the economy.
posted by dagnyscott at 7:26 AM on November 7, 2004

I didn't vote for Bush, but please bear with me.

I'm more of an old-fashioned Eisenhower limited-government, fiscal-responsibility Republican, I thought the administration did a very poor job of anticipating what would be needed in post-Saddam Iraq, and I'm very much concerned about the increasing suppression of dissent, invasion of privacy and, in general, encroachment on the civil liberties of you folks with whom I disagree so strongly on so many points. Therefore, no vote of confidence for George.

Having said that, I also didn't vote for Kerry. Knowing I was in a perfectly safe Bush state (Georgia) I strapped on my tinfoil hat, turned the earflaps down, and indulged in a plague-on-both-your-houses vote for the Libertarian guy, Michael "letters of marque and reprisal" Badnarik. No doubt that was a vote cast to the winds--but while I was in the booth I also voted for a long and considered list of state and local candidates (6 Democrats, 2 Republicans, 2 Libertarians,) some nonpartisan candidates (judges, school board member,) and two state constitutional amendments, one of which was the gay marriage one.

I'm replying to papercake's question because if I lived in a state that might have gone either way I would certainly have voted for Bush, warts and all. Here's why.

1. Foreign policy. I do not believe there's any such thing as an "international community" with whom the U.S. is obliged to consult before taking action overseas. The thing so often referred to as "the international community" is a wooly and vaporous abstraction, and to imagine that it is a real thing that can somehow be dealt with as an entity is to commit the logical error of reifying an abstraction. I further believe that those who cry "consult the international community" do so for merely self-interested reasons and in fact mean "do what I/we want you to do, not what you want to do." Stripped of the cloaking abstraction, noble-sounding but without substance, the cry lacks the ethical weight to make it worth heeding.

Sub-point, the United Nations is a real enough thing but I see it as so corrupt and so flabby that consulting its wishes is foolish; and expecting it to do anything difficult (viz., Bosnia, viz., Darfur) amounts to tooth-fairy superstition.

Therefore my hypothetical vote for Bush is basically a vote for Davy Crockett: be sure you're right, then go ahead. Before somebody reminds me, I certainly do remember the bit in Jefferson's Declaration of Independence about "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind." I also remember that those guys presented their reasons for doing what they were going to do, and then did it.

2. Abortion. Let me stipulate that, in my opinion, the decision where "human" life begins is an entirely arbitrary one, purely based on personal intuition, and that no scientific evidence speaks to the point. This arbitrariness extends to all "human" life, not just prenatal life: there is no conceivable scientific proof that you are human or I am human; we simply--arbitrarily and intuitively--accept one another as human and don't press the point further.

When, in the past, we have pressed the point further we have arrived at mental territory where we have seriously asked "Are Negroes really human, or they just things that can be owned?" "Are Jews really human, or they just things that may be exterminated?" "Are women really, fully human, or are they not-quite-human creatures who need to be kept in chattel serfdom for their own good?" And the scientific evidence of the day, such as it was, was trotted out for and against these pernicious ideas.

To pull out scientific evidence and apply it to the question whether creature X is or isn't a member of the species Homo sapiens makes perfectly good sense. But applying scientific evidence to the question whether creature X is human makes no sense; to do so is to make a category error exactly as silly as trying to prove scientifically that Beethoven was greater than Vermeer. We must rely on arbitrary attitude and intuition alone. Wittgenstein: "I am not of the opinion that he is a person; my attitude toward him is an attitude toward a person."

Now then, in the voting booth I recall 1) that I, arbitrarily and intuitively, accept most unborn members of my species as human, and 2) that there isn't any scientific or logical argument that has any standing to oppose my intuition. I don't hold to any doctrinaire dogma that humanity begins at conception, but I am certain that at least by the age of viability we're dealing with a human with full human rights. I say at least because the more I see those damnable three-D pregnancy ultrasounds the more my heart goes out to the unborn, uh, individual as a human being. Let me restate that in the form of Wittgenstein's precept: I am not of the opinion that I see a person; my heart goes out to it as to a person. Scientific facts and logical arguments are entirely beside the point. They apply to facts and opinions; my having the attitude toward the unborn individual as to another person is not an opinion. It's not a fact either; it's a fiat.

Therefore, who to vote for? Here I go not by the man but by who he owes favors to. Bush is in debt to a large number of supporters who agree with me, and they will certainly try to collect; Kerry, had he been elected, would have been in debt to a large group of supporters who disagree with me, and they also would certainly try to collect. I know both Bush and Kerry say they are against abortion, but Bush is notoriously stubborn and Kerry is notoriously not stubborn. Therefore Bush is more likely to try to hedge abortion about with limits and restrictions, while Kerry is more likely to (reluctantly, with a heavy heary, putting my duty to my constituents before my personal beliefs, yadda yadda) remove restrictions.

Finally there was the anti-gay-marriage amendment, which I'll mention even though since I didn't vote for Bush it can't be said to have influenced me to vote for Bush. I voted no on the amendement, but I'm sure I'll get no points around here for that because I voted no for the wrong reasons, namely that it's too trivial an issue to merit crudding up the (already overloaded with cruddy amendments on trivial subjects) state constitution. Therefore the "no" was a small-l libertarian vote, not a vote for human rights. And let me make it worse: if I had thought there was any likelihood of some state judge legalizing gay marriage by judicial fiat I would certainly have voted for the amendment to forestall judicial coercion--in that case "yes" would also have been a libertarian vote. (I might as well add that my solution to the gay-marriage question is to get the government out of the business of licensing marriages. Let marriage be a private and religious matter and if there are churches which will marry gays, that's their business. If a couple wants some civil force to their coupling, they can go to a lawyer and draw up a private contract. Pre-nup lawyers do this all the time.)

I realize I left a lot of details uncovered, e.g. what if the mother's life is threatened? don't you believe in equal rights for all? etc. etc. I'll be glad to have shouting matches about any of these (in fact I'm sure I will) on another occasion; and there's always email. For now, here endeth the disquisition on why I woulda been a Bushie if my vote might have swung a swing state.
posted by jfuller at 9:27 AM on November 7, 2004

P.S. thanks very much for asking in the way you did, papercake. You gave us a place where we may state what persuaded us, without generating a nuclear flamefest by appearing to try to persuade anybody else.
posted by jfuller at 9:31 AM on November 7, 2004

NotMyselfRightNow, jfuller, dagnyscott, thanks for the excellent posts. I see exactly where I disagree on some issues, but seeing how people came to the decision really is educating. Excellent post papercake.
posted by mrgavins at 11:18 AM on November 7, 2004

My parents voted for Bush, mostly because Kerry didn't pass the "smell test". They didn't trust Kerry and even though they don't agree with Bush on every issue, they felt they knew what he would do.

There is a fantastic blog post here from someone who voted for Bush that is worth reading as well.
posted by freshgroundpepper at 11:22 AM on November 7, 2004

Not everyone who was challenging people on their vote was lecturing them (you know who you are), but I thought that papercake's idea of a thread where people who voted for Bush could simply state their reasons, without getting into a discussion about it was really helpful.

And, yes, even if the reason was "I like his hair". Because I want to know that someone feels that way, if they do. Once the thread devolved into a discussion, rather than a forum for statements, I worried that people who didn't want to discuss their rationales would be scared off. Fortunately, lots of people have since added really, really thoughtful statements, which is great.

Thanks, papercake! And thanks, everyone.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:33 AM on November 7, 2004

I voted for Bush because I didn't know what Kerry's position was over the Iraq war. I support the war in Iraq and don't think this is the time to cut and run or show weakness. I still hope it will turn out to have been worth it for us and for Iraqis. I could be wrong.

I'm not religious, I'm pro-choice, and I'm pro gay marriage. I voted for Gore in 2000. I'd always voted Democratic, but I've never quite believed the demonization of the Right or of religious people or of rural/red-state people.

It was touch-and-go until the moment when I filled out the ballot. It's very freaky to vote differently from every single person I know. I have a lot more in common with Kerry (and with Gore) than with Bush. If Kerry had spoken strongly in favor of some form of winning the war in Iraq, I would have voted for him. But since he didn't, and since his record is of opposing wars, I wasn't sure he'd do the right thing at this time.

I voted in Cambridge, Massachusetts, using an absentee ballot, since I now live in Paris, France. So the vote was mostly symbolic, but no less scary. It's scary admitting to having voted for "the evil guy." People in my social circles are so often very rude about what is, after all, a considered political choice at a given moment in time, no more, no less. I worry that I may have made the wrong choice, but it was the best I could do after really a lot of reflection. I also worry that people will call me names and stuff, which makes me sad. My vote makes no difference nationally; personally it's another matter.

It's even scary answering this question on MetaFilter: I don't want to be typecast, and I don't want to be insulted. People whom I respect here have said they hate each and every Bush voter. Gulp. I'd have preferred to answer anonymously. But what the heck.

I look forward to voting Democratic again some day. I think there are good ideas both on the left and on the right. I also look forward to not thinking about politics a lot of the time.
posted by Turtle at 2:18 PM on November 7, 2004

I wasn't going to talk about this, because I generally like being liked and respected around here, but fuck it, since you asked: My reasons are a bunch of little things that added up. No single thing swayed me. I was on a knife-edge ever since Kerry won the Democratic nomination. I really could have gone either way. Still, here are my considerations.

1) Iraq and Terrorism. I generally approve of our involvement in Iraq, as the Middle East is an area that badly needs to be modernized or it will continue to be a threat (to us, to other nations, to itself), and we're the only nation with both the capability and the will. Although historically we haven't actually started a war lately, preferring instead only to get involved in other people's conflicts, it's by no means a moral imperative that we only react and never act, and there are legitimate reasons (both strategic and humanitarian) for our military involvement in the region. Iraq was the obvious place to start doing that. While I'm concerned that we'll fuck it up, I think it is far, far too early to declare that a foregone conclusion. I do think it was inevitable that we would be forced to take some major action in the region eventually, and it's better to do it on our terms than on someone else's, and that Iraq was an obvious place to start. I definitely do not think it is going badly at all compared to some of the dire predictions we heard, and I think we should stay the course for now. I'm not married to Bush as the only guy who could carry this forward, but he's adequate.

2) Economy. Bush's presidency as a whole has hardly been the economic disaster the left hyperbolically claims it to be. Many of our economic woes, for example, are simply caused by long-term business cycles, the dot-com crash, and 9/11. I do know that my employment situation is stable now, for the first time in years, and I know far fewer people who are unemployed than I did a couple years ago. Things are not rosy all over, but they never are, and I've seen worse in my lifetime. (Gas lines, anyone?) I think Bush is doing more or less as well as could be expected in this department. (Yes, we'll have to pay for Iraq and probably, eventually, for more. That'll be a drag, but it's okay by me if it it turns out well.) Bush could be doing better, in other words, but it's not a strong point against him.

3) Overall stance. Bush aside, I generally prefer Republican fiscal policy to Democratic fiscal policy. Having run a small business myself, I am generally pro-business and anti-taxation.

4) Principle of least harm. While I find some of the Republicans' stances (i.e. pandering to religious fundamentalists) dismaying, cooler heads usually prevail; the Democrats are effective opposition, and when they fail, it tends to be is easier to get obviously discriminatory legislation overturned than to un-spend my tax dollars on entitlements I disapprove of. So the Republicans tend to do less lasting damage, in my eyes. This is steadily becoming less true (or perhaps I see it as less true the longer I live in Seattle or hang out on the Internet) but in any case it was a factor for 2004.

5) Party support. Because of #3 and #4, I often vote Republican simply to support the party, though I do occasionally cross party lines. (Did it this year for some state races, in fact.)

6) Weak opposition. Since I don't believe Bush is an unmitigated disaster and I tend to lean Republican, Kerry has to be better than Bush to win my vote -- he can't merely be not-Bush. Despite all the stumping he's done, and hundreds of MeFi posts about how bad Bush is, I still know very little about what Kerry would actually do as President. I can make some guesses based on the fact that he's a Democrat, but see #3. Additionally, Kerry has had no executive experience. Not only does create difficulty in gauging what he'd do, I think a delay in getting a new President up to speed could potentially be a bad thing right at the moment.

7) Sheer cussedness. I have contrarian tendencies, and Bush's opposition kept saying stupid things that made me want to vote for the man just to spite them. In particular, I was put off by the fact that lots of people were saying that if I voted for Bush it was because I was stupid or ignorant or else being duped. I know damn well I am none of these, but I was nevertheless considering voting for Bush, and this was proclaimed to be impossible, which made me realize that these people were quite simply full of shit, and that therefore whatever they were for, I was agin'.

OK, I realize contrariness is a dubious reason to vote for one candidate over another, and I would never let it be my only reason, but it was definitely a consideration this year, although at #7 it was among the least of my concerns. Of course, there's also the fact that I was exposed to a lot more whackos on the left than on the right this year, so I might have been subject to some sample bias on that count. (I hang out at MetaFilter for the links, not for the politics, but happen to get a heaping serving of liberalism here regardless, as I do at many blogs I read. I don't read any blogs just for their politics, and the whackos on the right seem to have no other interests besides politics, so I don't run across many of them.)

My choices were not influenced in any major way by "moral issues" such as abortion or gay marriage. What, specifically, has Bush done for the religious right in the past four years? Not much, really. And they voted in droves to re-elect him anyway. This time he doesn't have to throw them any bones at all, since he can't run again. Bush himself is not particularly devout and while he talks the talk, I don't think he's actually a theocrat. On the whole I didn't feel Bush enough of a threat on those issues to outweigh other concerns.

Remember, just as it is unfair to paint most states as "all red" or "all blue," so it is a mistake to count people as one color or the other. Bush is not my favorite guy and I probably could have voted for a better Democratic candidate. If I was a state, I'd be a very slightly reddish shade of purple.
posted by kindall at 4:29 PM on November 7, 2004

My father voted for GWB for tough guy reasons.

My mother almost voted for GWB because of abortion, and because she hates Bill Clinton, but voted for Ralph Nader instead because of the war.

Some kids I talked to voted for Bush because Kerry is a 'pussy', I guess just like my dad, and konolia.
posted by goneill at 5:53 PM on November 7, 2004

To follow up on the carbon rod comment: I just never got the impression that Kerry had a strong center, psychologically speaking. Kind of empty, too passive. I didn't see him as a leader, or even understandable as a person. That bothered me more than the sum of Bush's shortcomings.

Some demographics on me:
I'm a white, mid-30's male who's lived in California his whole life (all in LA, save for 5 years in Berkeley). Married to a non-citizen who isn't a particularly huge fan of the US. Voted for Gore and was staunchly anti-Bush in 2000. I'm pretty much agnostic, drive a car that gets around 30 mpg, and am a molecular virologist by trade.
posted by shoos at 6:28 PM on November 7, 2004

Specialk - the economy tends to boost itself during Republican administrations and fall during Democratic ones

A point of fact: Historical analysis of market valuation and GDP shows that both increase faster under Democratic administrations.
posted by NortonDC at 7:37 PM on November 7, 2004

Historical analysis of market valuation and GDP shows that both increase faster under Democratic administrations.

Ah, but which way does the causation go? Perhaps people tend to vote Democrats in when they're already feeling optimistic about the economy. That seems as reasonable to me as the other way 'round.
posted by kindall at 8:16 PM on November 7, 2004

I'm glad somebody asked this question.

I asked a couple of my Republican buddies the same thing, and neither one of them really gave me what I thought was a good answer (dunno if that's because of their answer or because of me, though.)

The bottom line is, that as a city-kid living in a state that went for Kerry by a decent margin, I don't get it. I understand that the abortion issue is important ot a lot of people, and I've sort of written that off as a philosophical debate that's probably going to go unresolved in my lifetime. So I guess I've either horribly underestimated the number of people that are one-issue voters on abortion, or there's something else going on.

I read this article, and I kinda wonder if there's anything to that. I guess my problem is that I can't manage to wrap my head around the fact that so many voters apparently found 'American moral values' (whatever that means) to be more important than so many other factors.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 8:26 PM on November 7, 2004

I used this thread as a basis to ask my parents why they voted for Bush, and the answers did not surprise me.

Mom voted for Bush because she is a single-issue voter (abortion) and will not vote for a pro-choice candidate, period.

Dad voted for Bush because he's a Vietnam veteran who feels like Kerry turned on him and other veterans with his opposition to the war.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:26 PM on November 7, 2004

kindall -- Ah, but which way does the causation go?

I can't answer, and neither can you. All that can be determined by that analysis is that the historical indicators tied to governing party affiliation indicate that the next four years of economic performance will be worse than if a Democratic president had been elected. It does not indicate why it will be worse, just that it will be.

This does not make it wrong to have voted for Bush, but it does indicate that economic assumptions about parties should be examined closely -- hopefully before voting, next time.
posted by NortonDC at 9:09 PM on November 7, 2004

I did not vote for Bush, but I have been trying really hard to understand why so many people did. This is what I got from the people I talked to:

1. Strong, personal dislike for Kerry.
Felt he would say anything to get elected and or was unsure what he stood for.

2. Felt democrat tactics were viscous and mean.

Especially in characterizations of southerners. Also, shows like Air America, talking about how stupid Bish is, etc.

3. Don't change horses midstream.
We're in the middle of a war. There was a feeling that Kerry was going to stop the war.

I listed the reasons in the order usually given. It was interesting to me that for the most part issues were not really a factor, or at least were not the most important factors. Also, it was interesting to me that my Republican friends believed Dems ran a much nastier campaign than Republicans. I'm not judging; I'm just trying to learn something from this.
posted by xammerboy at 9:23 PM on November 7, 2004

based on gwb's results in oklahoma, and the nut they elected to the senate - one would might imagine BIKER FOXcould be a typical bush supporter.
posted by specialk420 at 9:49 PM on November 7, 2004

While I disagree, I must say I really admire the clarity ascribed to four panel's father.
posted by Dick Paris at 10:41 AM on November 8, 2004

My doctor, who initially supported Dean, voted for Bush - as a protest vote against Edwards.
Single issue voter: Malpractice.

A medical opinion piece

Not funny for doctors
posted by ruelle at 11:38 AM on November 8, 2004

What gyc and NotMyselfRightNow said earlier. They sum up the outlook pretty well.
posted by brent at 1:08 PM on November 10, 2004

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