Here’s an interesting thought: Maybe opposition to President Bush is much more widespread than anyone suspects, because people are afraid to say what they are really thinking?
I got an inkling of this when I was speaking to a group of people who came to a Borders Bookstore in Villanova, PA last night where I was talking about my new book, “This Can’t Be Happening!” Several people there, some who identified themselves as Democrats, and several who somewhat sheepishly admitted to being Republicans, said that they felt intimidated in their own neighborhoods about expressing their opposition to the Iraq War and their dislike of President Bush.
I put this together with the ugly picture that ran in the N.Y. Times this morning of a right-wing male Bush backer yanking brutally on the hair of an anti-Bush protester.
Of course this fear that was expressed to me could just be a local phenomenon, but I suspect it is much more widespread. In fact, fear of stepping out of line, or being critical of the government, is something that the Bush administration, right-wing members of Congress, and of course Attorney General John Ashcroft, have been deliberately promoting.
In the post-9/11 era, FBI and Secret Service agents have been sicced on people who have been reported by neighbors to have posters on their walls mocking or criticizing the president, who have publicly announced plans to attend protests against the president or the war, or who have said things such as that the president is “dumb.” High school students have been suspended from school for wearing anti-government or anti-Bush T-shirts, while others have been visited by police or the FBI for making drawings or writing essays that are perceived as anti-war. Teachers have even been fired for allowing students to produce anti-war themes.
It would not be surprising if, in such an intimidating environment, in which the words “treason” or “traitor” are readily bandied about by Republicans in power, ordinary people of good will and reason might feel afraid to express themselves openly—either to neighbors or to pollsters.
If this is the case, there could be a surprise in store for Bush and the Republicans on November 2.
For the rest of this column, please go (at no charge) to This Can't Be Happening! .