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Welcome to Red State/Blue State, a feature presented by The Anniston Star of Anniston, Ala., and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

In the December 2001 edition of the Atlantic, David Brooks wrote an essay titled "One Nation, Slightly Divisible," in which he suggested that America is divided largely into two political cultures, one "red" and one "blue." His idea is based on those electoral maps in 2000 that colored majority-Republican states in red and majority-Democratic states in blue. Brooks' witty essay pictures the red-state voter as trending rural, a salt-of-the-earth type, concerned with individual liberty and family values, whereas the "blue" voter trends urban, more of a book-reader, a Beltway-savvy intellectual, the environmentally conscious soccer mom or dad.

Cliches? Maybe. But Brooks does have his finger on two very strong currents in the American votership. It's not that Pennsylvania is a "blue state" or Alabama is a "red state." It's that our two political cultures don't talk to each other much, or even know much about each other. To bridge that gap, we've brought together two "red" voters - John Franklin and Cynthia Sneed - and two "blue" voters, Terri Falbo and Timothy Horner. Each week, they'll ponder and debate the issues arising in the election campaign. The hope is that they'll model an intelligent discussion, a great big conference room where red and blue sit down together.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Cynthia Sneed, Red Stater 

Question Number Sixteen: Whom are you voting for and why? Please be specific.

Here's why I am voting to reelect President Bush:

Jan. 30, 2004: "I think there has been an exaggeration," Sen. John Kerry said when asked whether President Bush has overstated the threat of terrorism. "They are misleading all Americans in a profound way." John Kerry.

Oct. 29, 2004: "They're barbarians, and I will stop at absolutely nothing to hunt down, capture or kill the terrorists wherever they are, whatever it takes, period." (John Kerry.) But not, evidently, in Iraq.

"I think it was the right decision to disarm Saddam Hussein, and when the President made the decision, I supported him, and I support the fact that we did disarm him." (John Kerry, CNS News, Sept. 9)

"Iraq is the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time." (John Kerry, 2004)

Nov. 12, 1997: "It was disappointing a month ago not to have the French and the Russians understanding that they shouldn't give any signals of weakening on the sanctions, and I think those signals would have helped bring about this crisis because they permitted Saddam Hussein to interpret that maybe the moment was right for him to make this challenge."

"Iraq is the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time." (John Kerry, 2004)

Feb. 23, 1998: "Saddam Hussein has already used these weapons and has made it clear that he has the intent to continue to try, to continue to do so. It is a threat even to regions near but not exactly in the Middle East." John Kerry.

"Iraq is the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time." (John Kerry, 2004)

Oct. 9, 1998: "We urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs." - Letter to President Clinton signed by John Kerry and other Democrats back when Saddam was a threat, i.e., before Kerry was running for president.

"Iraq is the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time." (John Kerry, 2004)

Sept. 6, 2002: "If Saddam Hussein is unwilling to bend to the international community's already existing order, then he will have invited enforcement, even if that enforcement is mostly at the hands of the United States, a right we retain even if the Security Council fails to act." - John Kerry, in an opinion piece in the New York Times

"Iraq is the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time." (John Kerry, 2004)

Oct. 9, 2002: "I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force - if necessary - to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security." - John Kerry, Senate speech

"Iraq is the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time." (John Kerry, 2004)

Oct. 9, 2002: "The threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real, but as I said, it is not new. It has been with us since the end of that war, and particularly in the last four years we know after Operation Desert Fox failed to force him to reaccept them, that he has continued to build those weapons. He has had a free hand for four years to reconstitute these weapons, allowing the world, during the interval, to lose the focus we had on weapons of mass destruction and the issue of proliferation."

"Iraq is the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time." (John Kerry, 2004)

Oct. 9, 2002: "The Iraqi regime's record over the decade leaves little doubt that Saddam Hussein wants to retain his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and to expand it to include nuclear weapons. We cannot allow him to prevail in that quest.

"Iraq is the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time." (John Kerry, 2004)

Oct. 9, 2002: "Regime change has been an American policy under the Clinton administration, and it is the current policy. I support the policy. But regime change in and of itself is not sufficient justification for going to war -particularly unilaterally - unless regime change is the only way to disarm Iraq of the weapons of mass destruction pursuant to the United Nations resolution." - John Kerry, Senate speech

"Iraq is the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time." (John Kerry, 2004)

Jan. 23, 2003: "Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime. ... He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation. ... And now he is miscalculating America's response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction. ... So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real. ..."

"Iraq is the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time." (John Kerry, 2004)

Blue-stater Timothy Horner responds:

I guess you only hear what you want to hear. Despite Kerry's adamant assurance that he would never surrender American security to anyone one, Joe and Cindy say he will. And in the face of a direct promise that Kerry will not raise taxes on the middle class, Joe and Cindy say he will. This is part of the neo-con package, and it reveals a desperate denial of anything Kerry says. It's all Bush has left to run on: denial. If anyone has a record of broken promises, it is Bush, not Kerry.

I also did not realize that the one who can best pretend to be one of us is the winner. Neither one of them is a regular guy, but only Bush has made a career out of pretending to be. And he is not even very good at the charade. Judging from the way he has showered privilege and tax breaks on the wealthiest Americans, I am surprised that Mr. Franklin does not see through the rouse.

But there is one statement that shows how successful Bush's propaganda has been. This administration has consistently silenced dissent and criticism of Bush's handling of the war by hiding behind the soldiers on the front line. If we criticize the war then we dishonor the soldiers. But if Vietnam did nothing else, it taught Americans not to blame the soldier for the mistakes made at the top, and yet it still lives on in Bush who is telling Americans that it is a package deal! It is truly ironic and dangerous that this administration, which seems to be so supportive of veterans, is still getting political mileage from this distasteful association.

This truly puts our troops at risk: If we cannot distinguish between the soldier and their commander and chief, then we will repeat a grave error from the Vietnam era. I have a yellow ribbon and a Kerry sticker on my truck. I can tell the difference between the war and the warrior. Can you?

Blue-stater Terri Falbo responds:

"Likeability" and personality are no reason to vote for a president. Too many confuse personality with character. A good actor can use a charming personality to mask an evil character. Just look at Scott Peterson. Instead, we need to learn to look closely at policies.

To explain her vote for President Bush, Ms. Snead points out what she obviously feels are contradictions in statements by John Kerry. However, if all facts are looked at closely, it can be seen that the statements were not contradictory. Also, we can see that the historical actions of both Bush and Richard Cheney have been worse than contradictory.

To agree that Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, a dictator, and a potential threat does not mean that there is imminent threat or that invasion, destruction, and occupation of a whole country is the answer. There are many other options that had not been exhausted.

When the administration presented evidence to the Senate Intelligence Committee, they would not reveal their sources. Had the sources been revealed, Kerry and other committee members would have been more skeptical of the "information" presented.

No one condemns anyone for "corporate experience" in general or in the abstract. It is the particular actions of particular corporations. Both Ms. Snead and Mr. Franklin conveniently ignore that Cheney's Halliburton set up subsidiaries in other countries so it could subvert U.S. sanctions to conduct trade with Hussein from 1996 to 2000. They ignore the fact that Saddam Hussein would never have had the power that he did if it were not for Regean/Cheney/Bush support all during the 1980s. They were involved in selling poison gas to Hussein even shortly after it had been revealed that gas had been used against civilians.

It is much of corporate America that has pitted itself against the middle class and poor by pushing for numerous policies that shift the wealth away from the majority into the pockets of the top 1 percent. Kerry is only a messenger. Kerry has supported many bills to improve, among other domestic needs, health care, Social Security, and employment. If his career is "lackluster," it is only because he chose to remain in the background and support these bills, rather than getting the limelight by claiming authorship.

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Bloggers from
Blue State (Pa.)

Terri Falbo

Born and raised in Southwestern Pennsylvania, Terri Falbo is a union organizer who has lived in Philadelphia for almost 30 years. She graduated from Temple University and previously worked as a construction worker for 17 years.

Tim Horner

Tim Horner grew up in Iowa, but has lived out significant chunks of his adult life in Chicago, IL and Oxford, England. He is married and has four children (14, 12, 10 and 7). Having grown up as an Evangelical in the Midwest and still a practicing Christian, he is concerned with how religion and politics mix. Because of a combination of circumstance and apathy, he has never voted in a presidential election. He currently teaches Humanities at Villanova University.
Bloggers from
Red State (Ala.)

Joe Franklin

Alabama native Joe Franklin, 58, was born in Pike County and grew up on a farm in Crenshaw County. He graduated from Troy State University in 1967. After working for 28 years with the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles as a parole and probation officer, retired to Crenshaw County, which is just south of Montgomery, where he spends his days working on the farm.

Cynthia Sneed

Gadsden resident and local college professor Cynthia Smith Sneed has a doctorate in Accounting from the University of Alabama. Her fields of academic research are in state pension and employee benefit issues. She has been published in numerous academic accounting journals and has done research for the Alabama Policy Institute. She is a member of the American Accounting Association, Governmental Finance Officers Association as well as being active in the Republican Party.

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