After all, we’re only ordinary ideologues

By the time Bush supporters meandered out of the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, past the guy selling “Luvya Dubya” buttons for $5, only a few diehard anti-Bush protesters were left.

“No more Bush!” yelled one.

“Four more years,” mumbled a Bush supporter in a snazzy gray suit.

“Four more?” asked another supporter. “Why not 10 more?”

“No more Bush!” repeated the protester.

“Aw, shut up. No one’s listening.”

One woman gently explained the protesters’ signs to her young daughter.

“They just believe different things.”

Sure, we teach kids to get along—when they’re in kindergarten. It takes them at least until third grade to discover reality.

As for me, I was tooling down a dingy mental alley, thinking ahead to this Friday, June 25. It’d be our turn to shine, to feel heard and understood—the sense Republicans had during Bush’s visit.

Across the nation, millions will attend Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11 on opening day. In Reno, fans are urged to buy tickets early and wear blue. That’ll show them, I thought, that more than a dozen Renoites oppose Bush!

My daughter, 17, reined me in. “It’s like there’s a war on,” she said. “A civil war—both sides can’t stand each other.” She’d spent Friday afternoon with protesters and observed that, for every person who knew the issues, there were a handful of the mindlessly negative. Angry without explanation. This bugged her.

I smiled tolerantly. You’ve gotta love that teenage idealism. What my daughter failed to see is that there are two kinds of people in our nation: Us, the right-thinking, freedom-loving ones, and Them, wrong dumbheads who cower at any breach of the status quo.

Kind of sounds like our rationalization for war, eh?

In his pre-Bush talk, Sen. John McCain spoke of a “war between good and evil.” He claimed that “a long, hard struggle” is necessary in the Middle East because “depraved enemies oppose every interest and hate every value we hold dear.”

It’s as obvious as the long nose on Bush’s face that these depraved evildoers can’t be as committed to their own religion, values and families as we are to ours.

Our nation’s soul is fragmented. You’d think we could all find common ground—perhaps our shared belief in freedom of speech and of the press. But no, they gotta launch attacks.

MoveAmericaForward.org provides e-mail links to theater execs so you can complain about Fahrenheit 9/11: “Bash America filmmaker Michael Moore is about to unleash an attack on the U.S. military, the heroic men and women of the armed forces and our Commander-in-Chief. … The goal of the film is abundantly clear: To undermine the war on terrorism.”

They don’t get it. We, of course, do.

“Moore is grounded by a patriotism that rings through every frame of the film,” writes MoveOn’s Eli Pariser. “Compassion and love of country give the film its striking authenticity. It’s clear that what stings most about the President’s behavior, for the subjects of the film, is Bush’s betrayal of our country’s soul.”

In Reno Friday, Bush staffers withheld or shredded the tickets of young people who wanted to attend the President’s talk—because they looked less than supportive. No one will be denied admittance to the Moore film based on appearance or political persuasion. Come wearing your “Luvya Dubya” buttons, if you’d like.

On Friday, as my daughter and I drove away under the shadow of Air Force One, she had an idea.

“Why don’t we elect Bush and Kerry? Make ’em talk to each other. And the only things they can do are the things they agree on.”

Kids. What’re you gonna do?