I know this will seem mean-spirited, and I’m sure the Leslie’s are perfectly nice people, but I’m sorry. These people are none too bright.
They are precisely the people the Bush campaign built its reelection strategy on — people who would put faith-based moral values above every other consideration when it came time to vote, including the war in Iraq, terrorism, the economy and, in the Leslies’ case, a life that has been in financial peril since Sept. 11, 2001.
He is 29. She is 27. They have a 5-year-old, a 3-year-old and a 6-month-old, and they are thinking of having one more. They oppose abortion, favor a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as being between a man and a woman, and want more Supreme Court justices like Anton Scalia and Clarence Thomas. They eat at home and shop at Wal-Mart. They home-school their 5-year-old and are members of the nondenominational Church on the Rise, which is “committed to helping families hold down the family fort in the 21st Century,” according to its literature, and where the senior pastor says 90 percent of the 1,200 congregants voted for Bush.
“Religious kooks,” Cary says, imagining how some people might think of them. His own description: “We’re pretty boring people. Normal people.”
Normal people who, as this week has progressed, have found themselves increasingly happy about the state of America.
“We’re definitely going to celebrate,” Tara says of Bush’s victory, but what that means is constrained by the changes in their lives that occurred during Bush’s first administration.
On Sept. 10, 2001, Cary was earning about $55,000 a year. On Sept. 12, the decline began. No one was flying. No one was renting cars. Down went the commissions Cary gets when customers sign up for insurance coverage. “Maybe $35,000,” he says of what he earns now, and that includes income from a second job he took a year ago, delivering pizzas on Friday and Saturday nights.
Forty hours a week at the car-rental counter, 12 hours a week running pizzas, the pinch of gasoline at $2 a gallon, savings drained, the realization that he and Tara are “kind of the working poor” — and still it was moral concerns, rather than economic ones, that guided both of them on Election Day.
I don’t view them, as Cary puts it, as “normal people”.
Normal people don’t have more kids than they can afford. Normal people live in the “reality-based” world where you try to move forward instead of running to stay in one place. And normal people wouldn’t vote for a man who is intent on destroying the very safety net that they will inevitably come to need.
These aren’t adults. They’re children.