Vol. 2, Issue 16, April 24, 2004
"Bush Supporters Anonymous" Try To Kick The Habit
"My name is Darla, and I have a problem."
This quiet statement from an unassuming, midwestern housewife brought a round of encouraging applause from the people seated in a circle at the Bringham County Baptist Church. It is the kind of gathering you might see for people seeking to escape addiction to alcohol or gambling; but Darla's problem is different. Darla is a Republican, and she is addicted to voting for George W. Bush.
"In November 2000, it just seemed like the right thing to do," she continues, her voice breaking. "A Republican back in the White House - who could resist? I was looking forward to an era of fiscal and moral responsibility. What happened?"
Darla is not alone. The group she belongs to, Bush Supporters Anonymous (BSA), is a new organization, just two years old; but already there are thousands of chapters around the country.
"It is hard for fiscally conservative Republicans to smile while the deficit goes through the roof," lamented Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation, who calculates that federal spending per household is at a 60-year high. "The president isn't showing leadership and conservatives are angry. Unfortunately, they don't know what to do."
The problem is that Republicans find it hard not to support Bush. The advantage of incumbency is a powerful lure that causes almost reflexive support. In addition, the main alternative, voting for Democratic candidate John Kerry, is so abhorrent to most Republicans that it is virtually unthinkable. But many are coming to see their automatic inclination to vote for Bush as a problem.
"Sometimes, when I look at a ballot with George W.'s name on it, I like to sort of pretend I'm voting for his father," said Harold, another member of Darla's BSA support group. "Is it so wrong to vote against a liberal? Why do I feel so guilty?"
Riedl notes that it is fairly unusual for a sitting president to be equated so strongly with alcoholism and that the growing legions of BSA members are desperately seeking a way to come to terms with their addiction to supporting Bush.
"Give me a conservative independent, someone, anyone reasonably sane!" pleaded Harold. "There's got to be another way! Oh, for the old days when you could be a conservative Democrat."
Bush is unconcerned about these rumblings of discontent within his party, brushing off criticism with his usual confidence.
"This is a faith-based presidency," he said during a recent press conference. "I've got absolute faith that people would rather vote for a true Texan like me than anybody from Massachusetts. And you can quote me on that."