October 30, 2004,
I know a wealthy couple in southern California, well-educated, with a son about ten years old. The husband has a high-paying job with a movie studio, the mother owns a successful home business, easily placing them in that $200,000-plus income bracket which Kerry promises to tax more. And yet they hate President George W. Bush with unbridled passion.
A family that does everything together, they actively encourage their son to share in this hate. Their beautiful home, in a very posh neighborhood, brims over with anti-Bush books, from Noam Chomsky's latest to Michael Moore's most vociferous. The son's room features one of those standing punching bags with Bush's image on it. Magnetically pinned to the refrigerator door, alongside the son's lovingly displayed schoolwork, are all sorts of demeaning caricatures of the president, including a target symbol with Bush's face in the middle. But on the back of their SUV, next to their shiny new "Kerry-Edwards" bumper sticker, they have a faded one that reads, "Teach Peace."
Many L.A. Republicans view placing a Bush-Cheney bumper-sticker on one's car, on the other hand, as an act of courage akin to storming the beaches at Normandy. Stories abound of cars defaced by a keying job just because the owner had the temerity to hang a Republican sign in his rear window. As Richard Rushfield, writing for Slate magazine, discovered in a sociological experiment, wearing a Bush-Cheney T-shirt in most parts of L.A. is a ticket to verbal abuse.
The rage of the American Left has spilled over the banks and threatens to drive all common decency before it. For the first time in my life, I have felt that the United States is in actual danger of degenerating into a banana republic, with both sides doomed to snipe at each other from behind ramparts, whether with legal briefs or actual guns.
Indeed guns have already been used, as yahoos have reportedly fired shots into GOP headquarters in several states. And there are disconcerting accounts of union goons and other Democratic activists intimidating voters as they attempt to exercise their rightful franchise in "early voting."
The Democratic party has announced its intent to declare victory no matter the electoral outcome, and to preemptively find voting irregularities even where none occur. Numerous improprieties in Democratic voter-registration efforts have already been uncovered. Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, said that there won't be any riots as long as the Democrats win. Regarding Sinclair Broadcasting's plans to air a documentary on Kerry's anti-war activities, a Kerry-campaign advisor snarled, "They better hope we don't win."
For another glimpse of the Left's efforts to bludgeon its way into the White House, look to Britain's Guardian, where a recent column called for the assassination of you-know-who. Granted, this abomination appeared overseas, but the Guardian is the American Left's favorite overseas paper, and there is increasing cross-pollination of sentiment between the Left here and in Europe.
Spend a few quality minutes trolling some of the more popular left-wing hate sites and you'll see more than enough of this lunatic spewing. Or simply scan the surfeit of Bush-bashing books glaring out at you from the featured display tables as you enter your local Borders or Barnes and Noble.
I fear that this out-of-control rage of the Left threatens to cow many Republicans, especially non-confrontational types, into staying away from the polls. The sad thing is, not only are the Democrats unconcerned about such unseemly behavior, but they appear to be actively encouraging it, through their proxies at the unions and at 527s.
We're already witnessing the organized bullying of voters in the hotly contested swing state of Florida. According to a disturbing report in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "With early voting taking place in busy public places like City Halls and libraries, voters are voicing complaints of being blocked by political mobs, or being singled out for their political views. Others say they have been grabbed, screamed at and cursed by political partisans of all stripes."
"All stripes," maybe (neither side has a complete monopoly on boorishness), but most appear to be drawn from the Democratic persuasion thus far. From the same article: "Permits in Palm Beach County show that the SEIU union and other Democratic groups have been holding rallies at early voting locations, where they have a captive audience of voters standing in line. Elections Supervisor Theresa LePore said the lines are long because voters are brought in by the busload."
"'Special-interest groups are trying to whip everybody into a frenzy and get everybody upset,' LePore said. 'Campaigns and their observers are confronting the workers and the voters. Things have gotten nasty and ugly.'"
"LePore said campaign workers followed voters into polling places and handed out literature next to the voting machines. Other voters standing in line were told the machines don't work and that they should vote absentee."
Republicans are reportedly gathering affidavits from voters who have been accosted, such as Howard Sherman, who couldn't get through a crowd of Kerry supporters blocking the entrance to a library that served as a polling place. As Sherman tried to slip through, a woman in a Kerry T-shirt grabbed his arm and demanded to know who he was voting for.
Actors Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman led a rally at the entrance to another polling location, prompting poll watcher Lawrence Gottfried to intervene. "I said, 'Look Mr. DeVito, I'm a big fan of yours and Rhea's, but you are blocking the entrance. You're campaigning, you've got a Kerry-Edwards button on, and it's not appropriate,'" Gottfried told the Sun-Sentinel.
The problem, from a purely legalistic standpoint, appears to be that Florida, in establishing early voting, neglected to include the usual provision banning politicking within a 50-foot radius of polling places. Naturally, Democrats are taking full "advantage" of that unfortunate loophole, intimidating voters even as they enter the sanctity of the polling booth itself.
State Senate Majority Leader Ron Klein (D., Boca Raton), a cosponsor of the early voting legislation, just threw up his hands over the whole mess.
"I wish people would use common sense in terms of how they approached these things," Klein told the newspaper. "It's a new law. Certainly there's a few things we need to go back in the legislation and fix. We are going to have to go back and put more specific rules in about how early voting should work."
Apparently, common sense doesn't hold a candle to hate.
Andrew Leigh is a screenwriter based in Los Angeles.