Below are two excerpts from stories about people who voted for President Bush last week. One excerpt is from a satirical article in the Onion; the other is from a serious article in the Washington Post. Can you guess which is which?
This is from article "A":
"Dear Lord," Cary Leslie is saying for the sixth time since waking up at 3:45 a.m. to go to work. He has prayed for strength not to hit the snooze button on the alarm clock. He has prayed for a safe day for his wife and three children. He has prayed for patience with the foul-tempered customers he deals with at the car-rental counter. He has prayed for a job that will pay enough for a struggling family of five to keep up with the bills. He has prayed for a quick resolution to the presidential election. And now, with the election decided, he is thanking God for listening to his prayers.
Tara Leslie, Cary's wife, has been praying for President Bush, too, and now she is saying, "I think it's so important to have a society of moral absolutes."
"It's really good to know our country had a decision to make, and there are so many people who feel this way," Cary says. "It's a victory for people like us."
The Leslies: They are George W. Bush votes come to life. The millions of voters who describe themselves as "white evangelicals," 77 percent of whom voted for Bush? That's the Leslies. The voters who said "moral values" was the single issue that mattered most to them, 80 percent of whom voted for Bush? That's the Leslies, too.
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...
"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.
And this is from article "B":
[T]he Republicans found strong support in non-urban areas populated by the people who would have benefited most from the lower-income tax cuts and social-service programs championed by Kerry. Regardless of their own interests, these citizens turned out in record numbers to elect conservatives into office at all levels of the government.
"My family's been suffering ever since I lost my job at the screen-door factory, and I haven't seen a doctor for well on four years now," said father of four Buddy Kaldrin of Eerie, CO. "Shit, I don't even remember what a dentist's chair looks like... Basically, I'd give up if it weren't for God's grace. So it's good to know we have a president who cares about religion, too."
Kaldrin added: "That's why I always vote straight-ticket Republican, just like my daddy did, before he lost the farm and shot himself in the head, and just like his daddy did, before he died of black-lung disease in the company coal mines."
Kaldrin was one of many who listed moral issues among their primary reasons for voting Republican.
"Our society is falling apart -- our treasured values are under attack by terrorists," said Ellen Blaine of Givens, OH, a tiny rural farming community as likely to be attacked by terrorists as it is to be hit by a meteor. "We need someone with old-time morals in the White House. I may not have much of anything in this world, but at least I have my family."
"John Kerry is a flip-flopper," she continued. "I saw it on TV. Who knows what terrible things might've happened to my sons overseas if he'd been put in charge?"
Okay, okay, that was a little easy. Yes, article "A" was the Washington Post
's "It's a Victory for People Like Us"
(via The Road to Surfdom
), and article "B" was the Onion
's "Nation's Poor Win Election for Nation's Rich."