I was walking along the Santa Monica promenade yesterday, looking for a gift for my mother. I dutifully had my Kerry for President button on, and the crowds were thick. At one point a man and his family walked up to me and had told me that there was a Bush for President table set up, and they were calling the man a "retard" for voting for Kerry. He was hopping mad. We talked for a bit and we decided it would be a good idea for me to go over there and give them a hard time. I went up to the booth and smiled, and said "You guys are going down in a week!" Most of them smiled back, but one guy walked up to me and said the exact same thing - "Anyone who votes for Kerry is a retard". Now - this guy is in the middle of one of the most liberal bastions in the country - Santa Monica - and he's calling people retarded. When I asked him if he thought he would convert people to Bush with that kind of rhetoric, he actually said yes.
Let me tell you, I was so hopping mad that I got in his face and was calling him a fascist bastard, but a young man came by and pulled me a way saying "it's not worth it, he'll never listen to you." It took me a good 10 minutes to stop the steam from coming out of my ears. I was still mad enough to walk to the Democrat HQ (where no one had thought to put out a table to put a presence there to combat the Bush presence), lined up a couple people with a bunch of Kerry paraphanalia, and we marched out on to the Promenade to do battle.
The Bush guys had this absolutely HUGE sign (we didn't) and had claimed off a good chunk of prime real estate on the promenade. We had a LOT of traffic stop by to tell us just how mean the group was, they begged us to display a bigger sign, and were desperately grabbing bumper stickers, buttons, yard signs and window signs. Without fail - most visitors who were at that booth were shocked by the Bushies, and how mean their tone and language was. We even had two moms, with their young daughters (around 7-8 or so) - the kids were so excited, they were running around the promenade with Kerry signs, smiling, laughing - and when they came back, they told us how the Bushies were actually fighting with the girls on policy.... egads.
Finally, I went back to the booth - and, standing in my Kerry-Edwards shirt, I said to one woman jokingly, "you realize you're in enemy territory, don't you?" She was so angry with me she said, "you're in the wrong country if you're calling me the enemy". This, to a guy whose party is being labeled weak, soft, and traitorous by the right. My reply was "as usual, Republicans have absolutely NO sense of humor."
It's sad to me that the country is so divided like this - I hate to say it, but I really do attribute it to the GOP. It really started with the attacks and impeachment on Clinton - and moved forward with the aggressive policies put forward by Bush with no consideration of how 50% of the country felt, especially when he received a minority of the vote. What that tells me is that these guys feel that they can only hang onto power by fear, manipulation, dividing the country, and shading their actual policies under the rediculous guise of "compassionate conservativism." There's no effort to govern from the middle - it's just ram through ideological policies, sweep aside dissenters as soft, "liberal", un-American and ill-informed.
That's why Bush needs to go. That's why I've given money when I've never given money before, and I've never given so much time as I have in this campaign. It's time to go vote!