Cognitive Dissonance Indeed!
A week ago Brad Radcliff published an article in the DemocraticUnderground website here. The gist of the article is that Bush voters voted the way they did because they are incapable of recognizing that they have been conned by Bush/Rove. This is called "Cognitive Dissonance" and it is an attempt to explain why people who believe in a certain way, are reluctant to change their minds.
Cognitive dissonance was first investigated by Leon Festinger and associates, arising out of a participant observation study of a cult which believed that the earth was going to be destroyed by a flood, and what happened to its members, particularly the really committed ones who had given up their homes and jobs to work for the cult. When the flood did not happen. While fringe members were more inclined to recognize that they had made fools of themselves and to "put it down to experience", committed members were more likely to re-interpret the evidence to show that they were right all along (the earth was not destroyed because of the faithfulness of the cult members).
In other words, the more difficult it is to understand/rationalize one's actions, the higher level of dissonance. But Radcliff really doesn't go far enough. By stating that the Bush voters "had" to vote for Bush because otherwise they have to admit they had been conned means that you have to accept Radcliff's belief that they have been conned in the first place. Radcliff would have you believe that Bush is absolutely the worst president in the history of the United States, that he has deliberately harmed the middle class and poor by giving only the wealthy "huge" tax cuts, that the war in Iraq is a mindless exercise in getting even for daddy, and that the economy is in the pits and headed for the biggest depression ever.
Now, any rational person could agree that there may be "some truth" in Radcliff's postulating that Bush is gosh-awful bad, but you can make the same argument about any other president from G.Washington through W. Clinton. Each has his good points and bad points. What is more amusing/sad to me, is number of psychological reasons the left has come up with to explain why 51% of the voting public - voter breakdown here - including 13% of those describing themselves as "liberals" and 11% of Democrats voted for Bush. To date, there have been "hundreds" of explanations as to why Kerry lost and Bush won. But it may boil down to the voting public didn't have to go through any convoluted "cognitive dissonance" process, they just didn't trust Kerry.
We'll go one step (or maybe two, or perhaps several) further. I'll go out on a limb and state flatly that the Democrats, liberals, leftists, progressives are experiencing their own dissonance. They simply cannot believe that anyone in their right mind would vote for Bush, so they must come up with any number of theories as to why Bush won. Cognitive Dissonance is just one more "reason" to toss on the pile.
These good and well meaning folk are responding to emotional thinking. They are, indeed, experiencing their own cognitive dissonance between what they "know" to be true (Kerry=Good; Bush=Bad) and what they see as "Red America." Because the majority voted for Bush, the reasons must be one (or more) of the following:
1. Some psychological malady on the part of Red America. 2. Bush cheated via "disenfranchising" Black America, manipulating electronic voting machines, keeping good folk from voting through intimidation, etc. 3. Bush convinced Red America to vote against their best interests. 4. Bush lied. 5. Kerry was ineffective because of the Bush propaganda and he couldn't get his message out, etc., etc., ad infinitum, ad nauseum!The reality is much, much simpler. Kerry couldn't convince enough people to see things his way and the majority of voting America believed Bush to be the better man of the two. You don't need any specialized learning or insights to understand this, you just have to recognize reality and, in the words of some wag somewhere, "MoveOn."
And a Tip of the Chapeau to my daughter for the link to the DU post.