My 10-year-old daughter recently announced she knows that her Dad and I are Santa. I suspect she realized this a few years ago, but kept her discovery under wraps, unsure whether she really wanted to forgo the extra gifts under the tree Christmas morning. Ultimately, though, she reached a point where it was more important to be recognized as a mature ‘tween than it was to scarf up extra presents.
With this in mind, I look at George W. Bush supporters and try to understand what makes them believe in the man despite all the facts: that he took us to war under false pretenses, that his fiscal and environmental policies favor the few at the expense of the many, that he and his neocon buddies want nothing more than to destroy the social contract we Americans have spent the past century weaving, and that he could give a hoot if the rest of the world believes we are both arrogant and blind.
It makes no sense – unless you think of Bush followers as children who simply can’t give up the idea of Santa. Most of us know Santa Bush doesn’t exist. If we believed in him at all – and many of us didn’t - we’ve given up on his promises of getting something (tax cuts, better schools, democracy in Iraq) for nothing (record-setting deficits, school program cuts, tax shifts, chaos in Baghdad). But for Bush believers, it’s hard to give up the notion that he has their best interests at heart, even when he plainly doesn’t. Even for the super-rich, for whom Bush certainly is Santa, their belief comes at a price many have refused to pay: a fractured country, environmental havoc, an alarming decline in civil liberties.
If you believe the polls, just under half of our nation believes in Santa, while the other half are grown-ups. (And the rest childishly refuse to take the stand that needs to be taken this year, so I guess the kids outnumber the adults.) But tomorrow is a new day, and maybe we’ll learn that polls aside, many in our maturing country – the nation that in many ways lost its innocence three September 11ths ago – believe we must be grown ups and assume our adult role in the world. Sure, it may mean talking rather than pitching tantrums. It may mean sacrificing for the larger good, admitting our mistakes, and paying our bills as they come due. But America has the capacity for greatness and graciousness, and I think we’re up to it. We'll know tomorrow night.