A young woman recently asked me how anyone in America could vote for McCain. 'How', she said, 'could they vote for a man who isn't very bright, makes rash, ill-considered decisions, doesn't know the difference between Shiites and Sunnis, ran a dirty campaign, reverses himself daily on issues, has severe anger management problems, and seems to feel that every international problem can be solved by nuking someone? How could they vote for a man who chose, as his heir to the presidency, an ignorant, inexperienced bimbo with no knowledge of the real world, and no policy but platitudes? Haven't people had enough of Bush and Bushisms?
'Well, Virginia,' I told her, 'first you have to realize that there are a lot of Americans out there who hate anyone who's smarter than they are. The fact that Obama started with fewer advantages than they had, and who rose to greatness through his own ability, just isn't a plus for these folks. In fact it's a drawback. They want a president they could have a beer with. Chug a case and vomit into the bushes together. They want someone they can relate to. Because those folks don't know the difference between Shiites and Sunnis either. They think Iraq is somewhere near Australia, and that Ramadan is a Palestinian sect. They say: "I want somebody who can talk to an ordinary Joe Six-Pack like me, in plain English, and not use big fancy foreign words like 'economic', and 'policy,' and 'corporate,' and 'corruption,' and 'lobbyist.'"
'It's a guy thing, Virginia. That's why it may be hard for a smart young woman like you to understand. A real red-blooded American male isn't supposed to be smart. Smart guys are geeks and nerds. A real Macho Man has to be dumb. He's proud to be dumb. It means he's not a sissy. He can do dumb things and get in fights and get beat-up and stuff. He doesn't sit around and think things through--that's the sissy way. He's a short-term guy. That's why he was all for invading Iraq. "Sounds like fun! Let's go knock some heads!" Long-term thinking is a girlie thing.'
Virginia shook her head in disbelief. 'But what about McCain's short fuse and his desire to nuke anyone who disagrees with our policies? He's as bomb-happy as a terrorist and he has a lot more bombs to throw around.'
'Well, you see, Virginia, a lot of Americans are pretty angry themselves. They've been sold a bill of goods about how if you're an American you can do anything and have anything--that if you just work hard and put your mind to it you can be a billionaire. And they worked hard and they put their minds to it and they got scammed. And then maybe they got sick, too, and went in the hospital and their policies didn't cover whatever they had and they lost their homes. And they don't want to blame the President or anyone successful because that's a club they'd like to join some day. So they blame the immigrants or they blame the Chinese or they blame the Arabs--all they know is they want to nuke somebody, and they can relate totally to McCain, who's been angry his whole life.
'And then, of course, if you're a guy, Virginia, you're mad as hell because it's not OK to push women around any more. So you have to invest your ego in something bigger, like a pro football team, or the United States. "My country can lick your country!" Every time we bomb a bunch of foreigners these guys feel more like men.
'And remember, Virginia, your all-American couch potato doesn't vote on issues. He votes like a consumer. He doesn't care whether a candidate's policies will be good for himself or the American people. He doesn't want to boggle his brain with all that political stuff. A campaign is just another 'American Idol' contest for him. I knew a guy who didn't vote for Kerry in 2004 because he said he looked like Herman Munster.
'But what I don't understand, Virginia, and maybe you can tell me, is why any of those Clinton supporters would want to vote for Palin, who's against virtually every plank in the Women's Movement platform. Don't they realize that if Palin ever got to be President, being able to say "Soccer Mom", "Doggone it!", and "God Bless America" over and over like a trained parrot wouldn't help her run the country? That she'd make such a mess of things the nation would never, ever give another woman a chance at the job?'
'You'd have to be a woman to understand this, Uncle Phil--it's just the nostalgia effect. Every little girl, at some point in her childhood, stuck a pair of glasses on her doll and said, "Which outfit are you wearing to the inauguration ball, President Barbie?"
(For a more serious analysis of modern male behavior in the Century of the Woman, see my new book, THE CHRYSALIS EFFECT: THE METAMORPHOSIS OF GLOBAL CULTURE)