By now you’ve probably seen JibJab’s spectacular short, “This Land” — the parody/satire flash video with John Kerry and George Bush singing. When it started spreading a couple weeks ago, I linked to it, and sure enough, as with any popular item that I pick up on, that week a slew of extra visitors came via search engines.
At first it was in the tens per day, nothing out of the norm. Then it went up to around two hundred extra per day. I figured it was pretty popular, people were searching for it from FoxNews and coming to my site. It’s still funny to see people end up here after searching for “jibjab this land,” considering JibJab is the first listing and this site is second or third. The point of this segue about stats and searches is just to point out the 1500 (1200 above norm) visitors I graciously received yesterday who were looking for that movie. Wow.
I think it’s a pretty good indicator of the national psyche, and I was thinking about writing about writing about how people are fed up with both of these guys and that’s why this is so popular. Meta-commentary, if you will, since no one else is talking about how crazy popular this is. Yet I didn’t know where to start, or how to broach such a subject on pure conjecture. Until this morning.
A while ago, a new poll from Humphrey Survey fell in my lap. It explained everything exactly as I had suspected. While reading The Upper Midwest Battleground, What caught my eye was the higher than expected numbers for people who would consider voting third party: 68.2% in Minnesota, 61.4% in Wisconsin and 69.6% in Iowa. Read that again, that’s over 2/3 of people who would dump Bush or Kerry in favor of something better. Disclaimer here, I’m in favor of Badnarik, but I won’t mention him again for the sake of fairness. Besides, he still has a lot of convincing to do and should take heed to what I’m about to outline.
The popularity of a movie that slams both candidates squarely and treats both as raw caricatures simply shows just how displeased voters are with Democrat and Republican policies of the past 30 years, but especially with the rhetoric that flies between them. We’ve gotten the raw end from quite a few liars who like to tell us it’s the other guy’s fault, and it’s finally starting to tear at the seams of this country. It may not be vocalized much on television news, but most people I know aren’t forgiving of Presidents who lie to us or try to fob their blunders off as someone else’s fault. Sure, we forgive when they screw up and admit it, but when they lie to us, we get indignant. After all, it’s a breach of public trust. And buddy, when you pass the buck enough, eventually we see it and vote accordingly.
But wait, you think this is about party lines don’t you. You’ve probably bought into the partisan hype, you’re either Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal (with us or against us). Let me put this as straight as possible, America isn’t about voting for the guy who can give tax cuts, or who’s prettier, or who speaks well. It’s about who is straight with us when they screw up, we expect fuck-ups, we relish them, but we also expect accountability. Unfortunately, recent presidents have utterly failed to act in anything that resembles this. Instead they spin and prevaricate. Reagan lied big and got away with it (Iran/Contra). Bush I lied and got nailed by Perot (taxes). Clinton lied big and squirmed his way out of it (Monica and Whitewater). And recently, Bush Jr. has lied over repeatedly and acts indignant when we ask for some truth (Enron, WMDs, 9/11 warnings). A lot of people are putting the puzzle together and realizing that neither of the large parties is looking out for anything other than their own elected hides and special interests. And that’s not the way it’s supposed to work.
So maybe this year America might be able to do something different. Maybe this is why people flock to third parties when the chips are down (as in 1992 with Perot). Perhaps the collective will of the independent majority could actually flex it’s muscles and tell these dingbats that we set the agenda, not them. Not radical or mind-bendingly stupid like voting socialist, but voting for someone who has the guts to lay down a plan and a promise. We don’t trust Bush or Kerry because their own voting history negates such hollow promises, so it’s obviously going to come from the third party. So far, I haven’t seen any of the candidates do anything that we don’t expect from politicians, but let’s hope that will change. We need a clear vision and a plan, not a philosophy and a wish.
I leave you with a quote from the survey: “Voters who are more trusting of government are generally less drawn to the third party option.”
This Land [JibJab]
Kerry/Bush Sing “Our Land” [Hammer of Truth]
Panelists Discuss New Survey of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa Voters at National Press Club [U.S. Newswire]
The Upper Midwest Battleground [Humphrey Survey]