The State of the States:the Political Landscape (No. 2 in a series)

Some surprises for me in Texas concerning the political landscape.

You’d think that in Texas, things are pretty bleak for Obama.  Or you might think a lot of things about the States when it comes to this presidential race.  Two things surprised me.

The NAS Ft. Worth military base sells books in the main exchange, the main shopping center on a base.  It caters to mostly military personnel.  You can only get on the base with a military ID, which my dad carries.  (He’s a retired Senior Chief Petty Officer. )   So, the book section is roughly the size of a Walmart’s book section.  In this base, on the shelves were three books by Obama, one from Nancy Pelosi, one each from Hillary Clinton, Tom Brokaw, Joe Biden, a bio on Michelle Obama.  There was one small paperback for McCain, Faith of my Fathers.  No Bush books, no conservative books, nothing I expected.  I assumed Military bases would be bastions of right wing conservatives, and that their bookstore would look like a Rush Limbaugh’s list of quotes.  Where was the Coulter?  Where was Cheney?  Rove?  Any books condemning the Democrats?  Nope.  Here, in addition to the ones listed above, three books condemned the war in Iraq; one condemned a too powerful presidency.  I was amazed.  What does this mean?

“It means nothing,” my dad said.  “Liberals work on the staff, and they are usually civilian.  The military is all conservative.”

I argued that the staff would have to buy books that would sell, not books that stay on shelves.  They obviously know their market.

“Those are the books that didn’t sell.  All the conservative ones got picked up.”

I told him the bookshelf was full–these weren’t remainders.  They were the books for sale.

“Most of the clientele there are civilians.”

You can’t get on base without an ID!!   He refused to believe that military personnel might be turning away from Bush and towards Obama.  In Walmarts across America you will at least see The Faith of George Bush or several books condemning Democrats or Obama…but not one positive book about Bush.

I think conservatives are losing ground in the military.  People want change.  And a failed war, broken promises to veterans, and no exit strategy is straining an otherwise conservative base….well, it’s straining this one at least in Ft. Worth.  Who knows what other bases are like?

The second striking thing:  Wish I’d had a camera on the highway as we passed out of Ft. Worth Texas.  Some one had bought a billboard and put the American Flag and the head of an eagle on it with the words, “There’s only one God-loving American patriot running for President.”  It left you to assume who it was.  And forced you to think that only one man could qualify under that description.  I know two men who qualify.

People will buy a billboard, or rent one, and put up one lie after another.  You can’t say your opinion loudly enough down here.  The landscape is littered with homemade propaganda:  “If you have morals, vote McCain.”

It’s crazy.  But then conservatives still hold more power than they should.  Witness the latest muscle-flexing of the religious right.  The boycott on McDonald’s for supporting “the gay agenda.” The only time they seem to care about their health is when they’re trying to take away the rights of other people.  Now that McDonald’s caved in to their demands, they will go back to eating the fries….

Democrats could never do the same damage to McDonald’s.  Mickey D’s would never feel the pain of our ban.

We’re smart enough not to eat there.

4 thoughts on “The State of the States:the Political Landscape (No. 2 in a series)

  1. starsandsun October 14, 2008 / 9:59

    Hi Jerome.
    Just got your comment on my blog. Yep the book helped. But there’s a lot of things I picked up on the Help link. Read your adventures in the States. Pretty surprising for Texas I agree. But obviously your dad doesn’t… For the airlines, Air Canada is terrible too. Air North is great I heard. If you go east Canada, go with Westjet. These guys are great and they have a smile on their faces… with outstanding service.
    Hope you have a great time with your folks.

  2. David Wesley October 16, 2008 / 9:59

    Having spent a number of years in the military, I think I can provide a little insight. While it’s true the exchange is run by civilians, the vast majority of those civilians are family members of those serving in the military. It’s possible that there is a single individual responsible for ordering the books and they’re hell bent on shoving their political agenda down the throats of the customers, but my experience is that the customers wouldn’t take it lying down and the somebody would have to deal with the complaints that would pour in. It is also possible that all the conservative books had already been purchased, but I think (or hope) what you saw was a reflection of what the customers are buying, which may in fact indicate changes in political leanings of the military.

    I believe members of the military have been heavily republican over the years primarily because they have been the party that has actively supported them. And by actively, I mean putting their money where there mouth is in building infrastructure and modern weapons systems and supporting increases in pay and benefits. There have been many democrats in the past who were actively antagonistic of the military and it tended to paint a picture for the whole party. (One of the reasons I’ve been a Republican for the last 28 years.)

    So, the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines have been willing to risk their lives because a) they love their country and b) their country has demonstrated their love for them (by the support provided primarily through the republican party). But today, it would be hard to be in the military without questioning the leadership and decision making that continues to put them in harms way. It’s one thing to risk your life for your country, it’s quite another to risk your life in operations (wars) that were ill-advised to begin with and appear to be harming the USA more than helping it. I’ve listened to Obama’s message for a while now and he’s not saying we’re losing, he’s saying we never had a strategy to win, so let’s work on a proper exit. That’s a message that should resonate with the troops. By nature, they want to win, but they also want to serve honorably, which is hard to do if you’re not sure why you’re there.

    My oldest daughter is in the Navy now, out on her first deployment. I want sane, thoughtful leadership making the decisions that will put her in harm’s way, so I mailed off my absentee ballot this week and chose Obama for President. I think a lot of other registered Republicans are going to do the same.

  3. jstueart October 16, 2008 / 9:59

    Way to go, Dave! Thanks for this thoughtful reply. It’s the hardest thing to convince Republicans that military men and women might have their own minds to make their own decisions and that they don’t always fall behind a war veteran–if that veteran will not use good judgment with their lives and the lives of their families. I’ll admit, I thought that the Democrats in the military were in the minority but the books convinced me otherwise. Bookshelves never lie….

  4. Barbara Kubin September 21, 2010 / 9:59

    Hi, i´m from turkey so my english knowledge is not that impressive. Please dont blame me. I try to read online journals to improve my english and say that your blog was perfect readable for me, because the english is really clear-thinking and all the article are perfect readable. I will keep on reading it, to improve my english even more. Thanks a lot 🙂

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