Etats-Unis: Comment le lac Reagan a viré au rouge (Red states vs. blue states: How the election that wouldn’t end gave us a new political shorthand)

8 mars, 2015


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Le drapeau rouge est un pavillon de terreur qui n’a jamais fait que le tour du Champ-de-Mars, tandis que le drapeau tricolore a fait le tour du monde, avec le nom, la gloire et la liberté de la patrie! Lamartine
Dans la Rome antique, les yeux bleus étaient une disgrâce, voire, pour une femme, un signe de débauche. Au Moyen Age, la mariée était en rouge, mais aussi les prostituées. On le devine déjà : les couleurs en disent long sur nos ambivalences. Elles sont de formidables révélateurs de l’évolution de nos mentalité. Dominique Simmonet
Au XIIe siècle, la Vierge devient le principal agent de promotion du bleu Depuis que l’on dispose d’enquêtes d’opinion, depuis 1890 environ, le bleu est en effet placé au premier rang partout en Occident, en France comme en Sicile, aux Etats-Unis comme en Nouvelle-Zélande, par les hommes comme par les femmes, quel que soit leur milieu social et professionnel. C’est toute la civilisation occidentale qui donne la primauté au bleu, ce qui est différent dans les autres cultures: les Japonais, par exemple, plébiscitent le rouge. Pourtant, cela n’a pas toujours été le cas. Longtemps, le bleu a été mal aimé. Il n’est présent ni dans les grottes paléolithiques ni au néolithique, lorsque apparaissent les premières techniques de teinture. Dans l’Antiquité, il n’est pas vraiment considéré comme une couleur; seuls le blanc, le rouge et le noir ont ce statut. A l’exception de l’Egypte pharaonique, où il est censé porter bonheur dans l’au-delà, d’où ces magnifiques objets bleu-vert, fabriqués selon une recette à base de cuivre qui s’est perdue par la suite, le bleu est même l’objet d’un véritable désintérêt. (…) mais la couleur bleue est difficile à fabriquer et à maîtriser, et c’est sans doute la raison pour laquelle elle n’a pas joué de rôle dans la vie sociale, religieuse ou symbolique de l’époque. A Rome, c’est la couleur des barbares, de l’étranger (les peuples du Nord, comme les Germains, aiment le bleu). De nombreux témoignages l’affirment: avoir les yeux bleus pour une femme, c’est un signe de mauvaise vie. Pour les hommes, une marque de ridicule. On retrouve cet état d’esprit dans le vocabulaire: en latin classique, le lexique des bleus est instable, imprécis. Lorsque les langues romanes ont forgé leur vocabulaire des couleurs, elles ont dû aller chercher ailleurs, dans les mots germanique (blau) et arabe (azraq). Chez les Grecs aussi, on relève des confusions de vocabulaire entre le bleu, le gris et le vert. L’absence du bleu dans les textes anciens a d’ailleurs tellement intrigué que certains philologues du XIXe siècle ont cru sérieusement que les yeux des Grecs ne pouvaient le voir! (…) à l’exception du saphir, pierre préférée des peuples de la Bible, il y a peu de place pour le bleu. Cette situation perdure au haut Moyen Age: les couleurs liturgiques, par exemple, qui se forment à l’ère carolingienne, l’ignorent (elles se constituent autour du blanc, du rouge, du noir et du vert). Ce qui laisse des traces encore aujourd’hui: le bleu est toujours absent du culte catholique… Et puis, soudain, tout change. Les XIIe et XIIIe siècles vont réhabiliter et promouvoir le bleu. (…) Il n’y a pas à ce moment-là de progrès particulier dans la fabrication des colorants ou des pigments. Ce qui se produit, c’est un changement profond des idées religieuses. Le Dieu des chrétiens devient en effet un dieu de lumière. Et la lumière est… bleue! Pour la première fois en Occident, on peint les ciels en bleu – auparavant, ils étaient noirs, rouges, blancs ou dorés. Plus encore, on est alors en pleine expansion du culte marial. Or la Vierge habite le ciel… Dans les images, à partir du XIIe siècle, on la revêt donc d’un manteau ou d’une robe bleus. La Vierge devient le principal agent de promotion du bleu. (…) Il y a une seconde raison à ce renversement: à cette époque, on est pris d’une vraie soif de classification, on veut hiérarchiser les individus, leur donner des signes d’identité, des codes de reconnaissance. Apparaissent les noms de famille, les armoiries, les insignes de fonction… Or, avec les trois couleurs traditionnelles de base (blanc, rouge, noir), les combinaisons sont limitées. Il en faut davantage pour refléter la diversité de la société. Le bleu, mais aussi le vert et le jaune, va en profiter. On passe ainsi d’un système à trois couleurs de base à un système à six couleurs. C’est ainsi que le bleu devient en quelque sorte le contraire du rouge. Si on avait dit ça à Aristote, cela l’aurait fait sourire! Vers 1140, quand l’abbé Suger fait reconstruire l’église abbatiale de Saint-Denis, il veut mettre partout des couleurs pour dissiper les ténèbres, et notamment du bleu. On utilisera pour les vitraux un produit fort cher, le cafre (que l’on appellera bien plus tard le bleu de cobalt). De Saint-Denis ce bleu va se diffuser au Mans, puis à Vendôme et à Chartres, où il deviendra le célèbre bleu de Chartres. Omniprésent, consensuel, le bleu est devenu une couleur raisonnable (…) le bleu, divinisé, s’est répandu non seulement dans les vitraux et les oeuvres d’art, mais aussi dans toute la société: puisque la Vierge s’habille de bleu, le roi de France le fait aussi. Philippe Auguste, puis son petit-fils Saint Louis seront les premiers à l’adopter (Charlemagne ne l’aurait pas fait pour un empire!). Les seigneurs, bien sûr, s’empressent de les imiter… En trois générations, le bleu devient à la mode aristocratique. La technique suit: stimulés, sollicités, les teinturiers rivalisent en matière de nouveaux procédés et parviennent à fabriquer des bleus magnifiques. (…) Les conséquences économiques sont énormes: la demande de guède, cette plante mi-herbe, mi-arbuste que l’on utilisait dans les villages comme colorant artisanal, explose. Sa culture devient soudain industrielle, et fait la fortune de régions comme la Thuringe, la Toscane, la Picardie ou encore la région de Toulouse. On la cultive intensément pour produire ces boules appelées «coques», d’où le nom de pays de cocagne. C’est un véritable or bleu! On a calculé que 80% de la cathédrale d’Amiens, bâtie au XIIIe siècle, avait été payée par les marchands de guède! A Strasbourg, les marchands de garance, la plante qui donne le colorant rouge, étaient furieux. Ils ont même soudoyé le maître verrier chargé de représenter le diable sur les vitraux pour qu’il le colorie en bleu, afin de dévaloriser leur rival. [la guerre entre le bleu et le rouge] durera jusqu’au XVIIIe siècle. A la fin du Moyen Age, la vague moraliste, qui va provoquer la Réforme, se porte aussi sur les couleurs, en désignant des couleurs dignes et d’autres qui ne le sont pas. La palette protestante s’articule autour du blanc, du noir, du gris, du brun… et du bleu. (…) Comparez Rembrandt, peintre calviniste qui a une palette très retenue, faite de camaïeux, et Rubens, peintre catholique à la palette très colorée… Regardez les toiles de Philippe de Champaigne, qui sont colorées tant qu’il est catholique et se font plus austères, plus bleutées, quand il se rapproche des jansénistes… Ce discours moral, partiellement repris par la Contre-Réforme, promeut également le noir, le gris et le bleu dans le vêtement masculin. Il s’applique encore de nos jours. Sur ce plan, nous vivons toujours sous le régime de la Réforme. (…) Au XVIIIe siècle, il devient la couleur préférée des Européens. La technique en rajoute une couche: dans les années 1720, un pharmacien de Berlin invente par accident le fameux bleu de Prusse, qui va permettre aux peintres et aux teinturiers de diversifier la gamme des nuances foncées. De plus, on importe massivement l’indigo des Antilles et d’Amérique centrale, dont le pouvoir colorant est plus fort que l’ancien pastel et le prix de revient, plus faible que celui d’Asie, car il est fabriqué par des esclaves. Toutes les lois protectionnistes s’écroulent. L’indigo d’Amérique provoque la crise dans les anciennes régions de cocagne, Toulouse et Amiens sont ruinés, Nantes et Bordeaux s’enrichissent. Le bleu devient à la mode dans tous les domaines. Le romantisme accentue la tendance: comme leur héros, Werther de Goethe, les jeunes Européens s’habillent en bleu, et la poésie romantique allemande célèbre le culte de cette couleur si mélancolique – on en a peut-être gardé l’écho dans le vocabulaire, avec le blues… En 1850, un vêtement lui donne encore un coup de pouce: c’est le jean, inventé à San Francisco par un tailleur juif, Levi-Strauss, le pantalon idéal, avec sa grosse toile teinte à l’indigo, le premier bleu de travail. (…) Les valeurs protestantes édictent qu’un vêtement doit être sobre, digne et discret. En outre, teindre à l’indigo est facile, on peut même le faire à froid, car la couleur pénètre bien les fibres du tissu, d’où l’aspect délavé des jeans. Il faut attendre les années 1930 pour que, aux Etats-Unis, le jean devienne un vêtement de loisir, puis un signe de rébellion, dans les années 1960, mais pour un court moment seulement, car un vêtement bleu ne peut pas être vraiment rebelle. Aujourd’hui, regardez les groupes d’adolescents dans la rue, en France: ils forment une masse uniforme et… bleue. (…) En France, il fut la couleur des républicains, s’opposant au blanc des monarchistes et au noir du parti clérical. Mais, petit à petit, il a glissé vers le centre, se laissant déborder sur sa gauche par le rouge socialiste puis communiste. Il a été chassé vers la droite en quelque sorte. Après la Première Guerre mondiale, il est devenu conservateur (c’est la Chambre bleu horizon). Il l’est encore aujourd’hui. (…) En matière de couleurs, les choses changent lentement. Je suis persuadé que, dans trente ans, le bleu sera toujours le premier, la couleur préférée. Tout simplement parce que c’est une couleur consensuelle, pour les personnes physiques comme pour les personnes morales: les organismes internationaux, l’ONU, l’Unesco, le Conseil de l’Europe, l’Union européenne, tous ont choisi un emblème bleu. On le sélectionne par soustraction, après avoir éliminé les autres. C’est une couleur qui ne fait pas de vague, ne choque pas et emporte l’adhésion de tous. Par là même, elle a perdu sa force symbolique. Même la musique du mot est calme, atténuée: bleu, blue, en anglais, blu, en italien… C’est liquide et doux. On peut en faire un usage immodéré. (…) Aujourd’hui, quand les gens affirment aimer le bleu, cela signifie au fond qu’ils veulent être rangés parmi les gens sages, conservateurs, ceux qui ne veulent rien révéler d’eux-mêmes. D’une certaine manière, nous sommes revenus à une situation proche de l’Antiquité: à force d’être omniprésent et consensuel, le bleu est de nouveau une couleur discrète, la plus raisonnable de toutes les couleurs. Michel Pastoureau
Parler de «couleur rouge», c’est presque un pléonasme en effet! D’ailleurs, certains mots, tels coloratus en latin ou colorado en espagnol, signifient à la fois «rouge» et «coloré». En russe, krasnoï veut dire «rouge» mais aussi «beau» (étymologiquement, la place Rouge est la «belle place»). Dans le système symbolique de l’Antiquité, qui tournait autour de trois pôles, le blanc représentait l’incolore, le noir était grosso modo le sale, et le rouge était la couleur, la seule digne de ce nom. La suprématie du rouge s’est imposée à tout l’Occident. (…) On a évidemment mis en valeur ce qui tranchait le plus avec l’environnement. Mais il y a une autre raison: très tôt, on a maîtrisé les pigments rouges et on a pu les utiliser en peinture et en teinture. Dès – 30 000 ans, l’art paléolithique utilise le rouge, obtenu notamment à partir de la terre ocre-rouge: voyez le bestiaire de la grotte Chauvet. Au néolithique, on a exploité la garance, cette herbe aux racines tinctoriales présente sous les climats les plus variés, puis on s’est servi de certains métaux, comme l’oxyde de fer ou le sulfure de mercure… La chimie du rouge a donc été très précoce, et très efficace. D’où le succès de cette couleur. (…) Dans l’Antiquité déjà, on l’admire et on lui confie les attributs du pouvoir, c’est-à-dire ceux de la religion et de la guerre. Le dieu Mars, les centurions romains, certains prêtres… tous sont vêtus de rouge. Cette couleur va s’imposer parce qu’elle renvoie à deux éléments, omniprésents dans toute son histoire: le feu et le sang. On peut les considérer soit positivement soit négativement, ce qui nous donne quatre pôles autour desquels le christianisme primitif a formalisé une symbolique si forte qu’elle perdure aujourd’hui. Le rouge feu, c’est la vie, l’Esprit saint de la Pentecôte, les langues de feu régénératrices qui descendent sur les apôtres; mais c’est aussi la mort, l’enfer, les flammes de Satan qui consument et anéantissent. Le rouge sang, c’est celui versé par le Christ, la force du sauveur qui purifie et sanctifie; mais c’est aussi la chair souillée, les crimes (de sang), le péché et les impuretés des tabous bibliques. (…) Tout est ambivalent dans le monde des symboles, et particulièrement des couleurs! Chacune d’elles se dédouble en deux identités opposées. Ce qui est étonnant, c’est que, sur la longue durée, les deux faces tendent à se confondre. Les tableaux qui représentent la scène du baiser, par exemple, montrent souvent Judas et Jésus comme deux personnages presque identiques, avec les mêmes vêtements, les mêmes couleurs, comme s’ils étaient les deux pôles d’un aimant. Lisez de même l’Ancien Testament: le rouge y est associé tantôt à la faute et à l’interdit, tantôt à la puissance et à l’amour. La dualité symbolique est déjà en place. (…) Dans la Rome impériale, celui que l’on fabrique avec la substance colorante du murex, un coquillage rare récolté en Méditerranée, est réservé à l’empereur et aux chefs de guerre. Au Moyen Age, cette recette de la pourpre romaine s’étant perdue (les gisements de murex sur les côtes de Palestine et d’Egypte sont de plus épuisés), on se rabat sur le kermès, ces oufs de cochenilles qui parasitent les feuilles de chênes. Au Moyen-Age, le rouge est masculin, puis il devient féminin. (…) La récolte est laborieuse et la fabrication très coûteuse. Mais le rouge obtenu est splendide, lumineux, solide. Les seigneurs bénéficient donc toujours d’une couleur de luxe. Les paysans, eux, peuvent recourir à la vulgaire garance, qui donne une teinte moins éclatante. Peu importe si on ne fait pas bien la différence à l’oeil nu: l’essentiel est dans la matière et dans le prix. Socialement, il y a rouge et rouge! D’ailleurs, pour l’oeil médiéval, l’éclat d’un objet (son aspect mat ou brillant) prime sur sa coloration: un rouge franc sera perçu comme plus proche d’un bleu lumineux que d’un rouge délavé. Un rouge bien vif est toujours une marque de puissance, chez les laïcs comme chez les ecclésiastiques. A partir des XIIIe et XIVe siècles, le pape, jusque-là voué au blanc, se met au rouge. Les cardinaux, également. Cela signifie que ces considérables personnages sont prêts à verser leur sang pour le Christ… Au même moment, on peint des diables rouges sur les tableaux et, dans les romans, il y a souvent un chevalier démoniaque et rouge, des armoiries à la housse de son cheval, qui défie le héros. On s’accommode très bien de cette ambivalence. [le petit chaperon rouge] Dans toutes les versions du conte (la plus ancienne date de l’an mille), la fillette est en rouge. Est-ce parce qu’on habillait ainsi les enfants pour mieux les repérer de loin, comme des historiens l’ont affirmé? Ou parce que, comme le disent certains textes anciens, l’histoire est située le jour de la Pentecôte et de la fête de l’Esprit saint, dont la couleur liturgique est le rouge? Ou encore parce que la jeune fille allait se retrouver au lit avec le loup et que le sang allait couler, thèse fournie par des psychanalystes? Je préfère pour ma part l’explication sémiologique: un enfant rouge porte un petit pot de beurre blanc à une grand-mère habillée de noir… Nous avons là les trois couleurs de base du système ancien. On les retrouve dans d’autres contes: Blanche-Neige reçoit une pomme rouge d’une sorcière noire. Le corbeau noir lâche son fromage – blanc – dont se saisit un renard rouge… C’est toujours le même code symbolique. (…) Les codes symboliques ont des conséquences très pratiques. Prenez les teinturiers: en ville, certains d’entre eux ont une licence pour le rouge (avec l’autorisation de teindre aussi en jaune et en blanc), d’autres ont une licence pour le bleu (ils ont le droit de teindre également en vert et en noir). A Venise, Milan ou Nuremberg, les spécialistes du rouge garance ne peuvent même pas travailler le rouge kermès. On ne sort pas de sa couleur, sous peine de procès! Ceux du rouge et ceux du bleu vivent dans des rues séparées, cantonnés dans les faubourgs parce que leurs officines empuantissent tout, et ils entrent souvent en conflit violent, s’accusant réciproquement de polluer les rivières. Il faut dire que le textile est alors la seule vraie industrie de l’Europe, un enjeu majeur. Au fil des siècles, le rouge de l’interdit s’est affirmé. (…) D’autant plus qu’il est la couleur des «papistes»! Pour les réformateurs protestants, le rouge est immoral. Ils se réfèrent à un passage de l’Apocalypse où saint Jean raconte comment, sur une bête venue de la mer, chevauchait la grande prostituée de Babylone vêtue d’une robe rouge. Pour Luther, Babylone, c’est Rome! Il faut donc chasser le rouge du temple – et des habits de tout bon chrétien. Cette «fuite» du rouge n’est pas sans conséquence: à partir du XVIe siècle, les hommes ne s’habillent plus en rouge (à l’exception des cardinaux et des membres de certains ordres de chevalerie). Dans les milieux catholiques, les femmes peuvent le faire. On va assister aussi à un drôle de chassé-croisé: alors qu’au Moyen Age le bleu était plutôt féminin (à cause de la Vierge) et le rouge, masculin (signe du pouvoir et de la guerre), les choses s’inversent. Désormais, le bleu devient masculin (car plus discret), le rouge part vers le féminin. On en a gardé la trace: bleu pour les bébés garçons, rose pour les filles… Le rouge restera aussi la couleur de la robe de mariée jusqu’au XIXe siècle. (…) Surtout chez les paysans, c’est-à-dire la grande majorité de la population d’alors. Pourquoi? Parce que, le jour du mariage, on revêt son plus beau vêtement et qu’une robe belle et riche est forcément rouge (c’est dans cette couleur que les teinturiers sont les plus performants). Dans ce domaine-là, on retrouve notre ambivalence: longtemps, les prostituées ont eu l’obligation de porter une pièce de vêtement rouge, pour que, dans la rue, les choses soient bien claires (pour la même raison, on mettra une lanterne rouge à la porte des maisons closes). Le rouge décrit les deux versants de l’amour: le divin et le péché de chair. Au fil des siècles, le rouge de l’interdit s’est aussi affirmé. Il était déjà là, dans la robe des juges et dans les gants et le capuchon du bourreau, celui qui verse le sang. Dès le XVIIIe siècle, un chiffon rouge signifie danger. (…) En octobre 1789, l’Assemblée constituante décrète qu’en cas de trouble un drapeau rouge sera placé aux carrefours pour signifier l’interdiction d’attroupement et avertir que la force publique est susceptible d’intervenir. Le 17 juillet 1791, de nombreux Parisiens se rassemblent au Champ-de-Mars pour demander la destitution de Louis XVI, qui vient d’être arrêté à Varennes. Comme l’émeute menace, Bailly, le maire de Paris, fait hisser à la hâte un grand drapeau rouge. Mais les gardes nationaux tirent sans sommation: on comptera une cinquantaine de morts, dont on fera des «martyrs de la révolution». Par une étonnante inversion, c’est ce fameux drapeau rouge, «teint du sang de ces martyrs», qui devient l’emblème du peuple opprimé et de la révolution en marche. Un peu plus tard, il a même bien failli devenir celui de la France. (…) En février 1848, les insurgés le brandissent de nouveau devant l’Hôtel de Ville. Jusque-là, le drapeau tricolore était devenu le symbole de la Révolution (ces trois couleurs ne sont d’ailleurs pas, contrairement à ce que l’on prétend, une association des couleurs royales et de celles de la ville de Paris, qui étaient en réalité le rouge et le marron: elles ont été reprises de la révolution américaine). Mais, à ce moment-là, le drapeau tricolore est discrédité, car le roi Louis-Philippe s’y est rallié. L’un des manifestants demande que l’on fasse du drapeau rouge, «symbole de la misère du peuple et signe de la rupture avec le passé», l’emblème officiel de la République. C’est Lamartine, membre du gouvernement provisoire, qui va sauver nos trois couleurs: «Le drapeau rouge, clame-t-il, est un pavillon de terreur qui n’a jamais fait que le tour du Champ-de-Mars, tandis que le drapeau tricolore a fait le tour du monde, avec le nom, la gloire et la liberté de la patrie!» Le drapeau rouge aura quand même un bel avenir. La Russie soviétique l’adoptera en 1918, la Chine communiste en 1949… Nous avons gardé des restes amusants de cette histoire: dans l’armée, quand on plie le drapeau français après avoir descendu les couleurs, il est d’usage de cacher la bande rouge pour qu’elle ne soit plus visible. Comme s’il fallait se garder du vieux démon révolutionnaire. (…) Dans le domaine des symboles, rien ne disparaît jamais vraiment. Le rouge du pouvoir et de l’aristocratie (du moins en Occident, car c’est le jaune qui tient ce rôle dans les cultures asiatiques) a traversé les siècles, tout comme l’autre rouge, révolutionnaire et prolétarien. Chez nous, en outre, le rouge indique toujours la fête, Noël, le luxe, le spectacle: les théâtres et les opéras en sont ornés. Dans le vocabulaire, il nous est resté de nombreuses expressions («rouge de colère», «voir rouge») qui rappellent les vieux symboles. Et on associe toujours le rouge à l’érotisme et à la passion. (…) Plus le bleu a progressé dans notre environnement, plus le rouge a reculé. Nos objets sont rarement rouges. On n’imagine pas un ordinateur rouge par exemple (cela ne ferait pas sérieux), ni un réfrigérateur (on aurait l’impression qu’il chauffe). Mais la symbolique a perduré: les panneaux d’interdiction, les feux rouges, le téléphone rouge, l’alerte rouge, le carton rouge, la Croix-Rouge (en Italie, les croix des pharmacies sont aussi rouges) … Tout cela dérive de la même histoire, celle du feu et du sang… Michel Pastoureau
Avec le fait de jouer en rouge, tout de suite, je pense qu’on aura un sentiment de combat, d’agressivité. Wesley Fofana (joueur de rugby français)
Ce samedi au Stade de France, il faudra crier «Allez les Rouges !» pour encourager les joueurs du XV de France, contre l’Ecosse, lors du match d’ouverture du Tournoi des Six nations. Adidas, l’équipementier de l’équipe de France, a en effet décidé de faire renaître la tunique portée en 1958 contre l’Australie, puis contre l’Ecosse l’année suivante : un maillot d’un rouge ardent, «symbole d’honneur, de passion et d’émotion», précise la marque aux trois bandes. Cette tunique sera la nouvelle référence pour les matchs à l’extérieur du XV de France jusqu’à la Coupe du monde, au côté du maillot domicile, bleu incandescent, lancé en novembre dernier. A l’image de ce dernier, les bandes situées sur les épaules font écho à celles présentes sur le maillot de 1995. «L’inscription allbleus cousue à l’intérieur du col symbolise quant à elle l’unité derrière ce maillot bleu», précise l’équipementier dans un communiqué. Ces deux maillots auront nécessité plus de deux années de recherche et de développement. Adidas met en avant «une coupe adaptée à la position de jeu, une meilleure respirabilité, ainsi qu’une résistance et une flexibilité limitant les risques de déchirure». Les joueurs de Philippe Saint-André n’ont plus qu’à faire le reste pour briller sur la route menant à la Coupe du monde.  Le Parisien
Les Bleus voient rouge L’équipe de France de football a déjà perdu son âme depuis longtemps, certains joueurs refusant même de chanter « La Marseillaise » ; voilà que le rugby semble lui emboîter le pas. L’équipe de France de rugby, ou plutôt son équipementier, a choisi dorénavant la couleur rouge et non plus bleue comme maillot à l’extérieur, après avoir choisi la couleur « allbleue » pour les matchs à domicile. Le blanc a disparu. Le maillot tricolore (maillot bleu, culotte blanche et bas rouges) était porté depuis le 22 mars 1906, match disputé contre l’Angleterre. Comme moi amoureux du rugby, Roger Couderc doit se retourner dans sa tombe. On ne pourra plus dire « Allez les Bleus » au risque de soutenir l’équipe adverse comme ces Écossais le 7 février. Lui qui disait « Allez les petits », peut-être faudra-t-il aussi crier maintenant « Allez les grands » pour faire moderne. L’équipe de France de football a déjà perdu son âme depuis longtemps, certains joueurs refusant même de chanter « La Marseillaise » ; voilà que le rugby semble lui emboîter le pas, car quand on vend son maillot, on n’est pas loin de commencer à perdre son âme. Il faut innover, dit-on. Tu parles… surtout faire de l’argent par la vente d’un nouveau maillot à 79 euros pièce, tout de même. Les éléments de langage sont soignés, argument massue : il y a trois couleurs dans notre drapeau, donc le rouge est permis. Un peu court. Même les entraîneurs de notre équipe nationale reprennent cette consigne de parole, faisant semblant d’adhérer à cette nouveauté. Or, l’attachement à la nation France, aux trois couleurs, est dans les gènes du « peuple » du rugby qui, lui, n’apprécie pas. Mais qui se soucie de l’avis des supporters ? Pas la Fédération française de rugby, sans nul doute, qui a vendu le maillot. Pourtant, cela me paraît plus significatif qu’une simple innovation. Car, dans cette même veine du renoncement, on a ouvert l’équipe de France à des étrangers naturalisés, Rory Kockott et Scott Spedding, deux joueurs sud-africains naturalisés en 2014, qui évoluent en Top 14. La logique du système est poussée jusqu’au bout. Nous avons de plus en plus d’étrangers dans notre championnat national, laissant moins de chance à de jeunes joueurs français d’éclore, et voilà que maintenant on leur barre aussi la route pour le XV de France. (…) La vie, c’est aussi respecter son maillot et ses couleurs bleu, blanc et rouge. S’il s’agit d’innover pour innover, on pourrait aussi appeler la tour Eiffel tour du Champ-de-Mars, ou l’Arc de Triomphe Arc de l’Étoile (qu’on enlève donc le triomphe, c’est ringard et réac), et le palais de l’Élysée palais normal… Les touristes pourront ainsi constater notre esprit d’innovation. Philippe Franceschi
Régulièrement, les chaînes de télévision organisent une campagne publicitaire afin de se mettre en valeur. Cette année, TF1 a décidé de mettre en valeur ses animateurs phares au travers plusieurs scènes du quotidien. Mais l’originalité de cette campagne 2011 repose sur la thématique de la dualité, merveilleusement incarnée par le Rouge et le Bleu de son propre logo. Ainsi, on découvre successivement Vincent Lagaf’ opposer juilletistes et aoûtiens, Sandrine Quétier affirmer que nous sommes jamais d’accord avec d’un côté les bleus et de l’autre les rouges ou encore Christian Jeanpierre soulignant que, dès l’enfance, nous voulons être pompier ou pilote d’avion. Il convient de souligner que les protagonistes de chaque scène sont exclusivement en rouge et en bleu. Enfin, les deux spots terminent avec Laurence Ferrari et Claire Chazal, entourées de supporters bleus et rouges dans un gradin avant que le slogan de TF1, « On se retrouve tous sur TF1″, vienne « mettre tout le monde d’accord ». Fan2t
Un homme et d’une femme à la recherche de l’amour, se rencontrant dans le plus simple appareil, sur une île paradisiaque et totalement déserte, peut-on lire sur le site de l’émission. Sans vêtement ni maquillage, au coeur de ce jardin d’Eden, nos célibataires intrépides n’auront plus rien à cacher et ne pourront plus prétendre être quelqu’un d’autre… Juste la vérité nue ! D8
Ca commence à ressembler à une grande piscine. David Brinkley (1980)
One network map of the United States was entirely blue for the Republicans. On another network, the color motif was a blanket of red. Geraldine A. Ferraro (1985)
Here’s my solution to the election. Bush will be the president of the red states and Gore will be president of the blue states. It’s over, that’s all! »  David Letterman (2000)
Les commentateurs aiment à découper notre pays entre états rouges et états bleus ; les états rouges pour les Républicains, les États bleus pour les démocrates mais j’ai une nouvelle pour eux, moi aussi. Nous prions un Dieu magnifique dans les états bleus et nous n’aimons pas les agents fédéraux qui farfouillent dans nos bibliothèques dans les états rouges. On apprend le base-ball à nos enfants dans les États bleus et, oui, on a des amis homosexuels dans les états rouges. Il y a des patriotes qui se sont opposés à la guerre en Irak et il y des patriotes qui l’ont soutenue. Nous formons un seul peuple, chacun d’entre nous prêtant serment à la bannière étoilée, chacun d’entre nous défendant les États-Unis d’Amérique. Barack Obama (2004)
Vous allez dans certaines petites villes de Pennsylvanie où, comme dans beaucoup de petites villes du Middle West, les emplois ont disparu depuis maintenant 25 ans et n’ont été remplacés par rien d’autre (…) Et il n’est pas surprenant qu’ils deviennent pleins d’amertume, qu’ils s’accrochent aux armes à feu ou à la religion, ou à leur antipathie pour ceux qui ne sont pas comme eux, ou encore à un sentiment d’hostilité envers les immigrants. Obama (2008)
Nous qui vivons dans les régions côtières des villes bleues, nous lisons plus de livres et nous allons plus souvent au théâtre que ceux qui vivent au fin fond du pays. Nous sommes à la fois plus sophistiqués et plus cosmopolites – parlez-nous de nos voyages scolaires en Chine et en Provence ou, par exemple, de notre intérêt pour le bouddhisme. Mais par pitié, ne nous demandez pas à quoi ressemble la vie dans l’Amérique rouge. Nous n’en savons rien. Nous ne savons pas qui sont Tim LaHaye et Jerry B. Jenkins. […] Nous ne savons pas ce que peut bien dire James Dobson dans son émission de radio écoutée par des millions d’auditeurs. Nous ne savons rien de Reba et Travis. […] Nous sommes très peu nombreux à savoir ce qu’il se passe à Branson dans le Missouri, même si cette ville reçoit quelque sept millions de touristes par an; pas plus que nous ne pouvons nommer ne serait-ce que cinq pilotes de stock-car. […] Nous ne savons pas tirer au fusil ni même en nettoyer un, ni reconnaître le grade d’un officier rien qu’à son insigne. Quant à savoir à quoi ressemble une graine de soja poussée dans un champ… David Brooks
How, I wondered, could anyone who had just lived through the 2000 presidential election, and its endless maps of America by state and county, still associate the color “red” with the Left? Particularly when, nearly four years later, after another presidential election and after exposure to another endless succession of maps, the association of “red” and “Republican” seems to have become firmly rooted in our discourse, embraced by both parties. Now we are even treated to learned disquisitions by intrepid reporters from our major daily papers who have donned their pith helmets and ventured out into the far hinterlands, trying to find and comprehend the inner essence of that exotic thing, Red America. Someday the precise story will be told, by a historian more patient than I, of how the Republican party came to be assigned the color “red” in the mapping of the 2000 electoral results. From what little I have been able to determine, the change seems to have happened gradually, and with no visible conscious intent, and considerable inconsistency along the way. As recently as the 1980 election, the late David Brinkley, then still an anchor at NBC News, was drolly comparing the map representing Ronald Reagan’s landslide victory to a suburban swimming pool — solid blue, in other words. Time magazine somewhat more generously referred to the 1980 map as “Lake Reagan,” and stuck with a blue-Republican and red-Democratic scheme all through the 1990s. Other networks and news outlets used different color schemes during those years, sometimes replacing blue with white, and even reversing the coloration more or less at will. (I distinctly remember watching the 1980 returns on ABC, and hearing Frank Reynolds turn to Ted Koppel and say, “The country’s going Red, Ted!”) How and why most of the major media outlets (with the exception of Time) fixed upon the red-Republican and blue-Democratic schema in 2000 remains somewhat mysterious. When a New York Times graphics editor was asked for his paper’s rationale, he responded simply that “both Republican and red start with the letter R.” So chalk one up for Sesame Street. Of course, for anyone who knows even a smattering of modern European history, this is a truly an astonishing turn of events, whose significance is only barely hinted at by Frank Reynolds’s wisecrack. It’s amazing how willing the democratic Left has been to acquiesce in the loss of one of its most permanent, most universal, and most beloved symbols — the color Red — without serious protest. (…) We Americans tend to think, in our own times, of Red in this sense referring exclusively to the history of Communism, but that is a vast oversimplification. Let me be clear in what I’m saying here. I don’t want to be associated with the view that Communism was merely “liberalism in a hurry.” But by the same token, I do want to insist that the range of historical referents to Red would be better described as different expressions of an energetic and idea-driven commitment to systemic progressive reform, expressions that can and do vary widely in the extent of their liberalism or illiberalism, but that have in common a commitment to the general cause of human freedom and human liberation. Those political meanings of Red emerged fully in the French Revolution of 1848, when socialists and radical republicans adopted the red flag as a symbol of their cause, in contrast to the white flag of the Bourbon monarchists and the more moderate tricolor flag of the liberal Second Republic. From then on, the red flag became firmly associated in French political culture with the progressive socialist cause. Later the softer and more humane image of the red rose would be adopted as a symbol of the French Socialist Party (…)  Similarly, the British Labor Party used a red flag, followed by a red rose, as its symbols. The party early on adopted as its anthem the song “The Red Flag,” which describes the “scarlet standard” as “the people’s flag,” “the hope of peace,” the banner and symbol of “human right and human gain.” Similarly, the color Red (and usually also the red rose) is strongly associated with the Australian Labor Party, the Canadian Liberal Party, the German Social Democratic Party, the Dutch Socialist Party, the Party of European Socialists (located in Brussels) and the Socialist International. (…) So there is a strong and enduring historical association, at least within modern European political culture, between the color Red and the most strongly progressivist, activist, reformist movements in European political life. (…) The mutation in the political meaning assigned to the color Red in America seems to have come about largely by chance and careless inattention. Nobody — not even the devious, all-knowing, and all-powerful Karl Rove — sought to induce or manipulate this change. But I believe one can make a very strong and suggestive argument that, in fact, this shift in symbolic meaning, even if entirely unintended, is extraordinarily meaningful, and fits in utterly unexpected ways with the historical situation in which we find ourselves. Hegel spoke of the “cunning of reason” in history, a term that indicated the ways in which the concatenation of seeming coincidences and random irrational events in history ends up furthering the cause of great, consequential, and intelligible change. Just such cunning may in fact be in evidence in this instance. What I am saying, then, is that there is a sense — a limited sense, but a real sense — in which the Republican Party of George W. Bush has indeed “become Red” — if by “being Red” one means, rather than being the standard bearer for the specific agenda of socialism, instead standing for a grand commitment to the furtherance of certain high ideals and goals, an agenda of progressive reform meant not merely for the sake of the nation, but for the general good of humanity. Such are precisely the sort of larger causes that socialism nearly always has championed. But they can no longer be regarded as the exclusive property of socialism, or more generally of the Left. Bush’s administration may well represent the culmination of a change that has been in the works for a quarter-century or so — perhaps dating back to the days of Reagan, who loved to quote one of the quintessential Red thinkers, Thomas Paine — an effort to capture the mantle of progressive change for the benefit of the conservative party. (…) As a result, it entirely plausible, I think, for Republicans to assert that the conservative party in America today is the party of progress, of human liberation, of national and international purpose. And Democrats who snicker at such an assertion do so at their own risk, for it is even more plausible to state that the liberal party is the party of opposition to change — the party of entrenched interests, of public bureaucracies and public-employee unions and identity-politics lobbies, the party that opposes tax reform, opposes tort reform, opposes educational reform, opposes Social Security reform, opposes military reform, opposes the revisiting of Supreme Court rulings, opposes the projection of American power overseas, opposes the work of Christian missionaries, opposes public accountability for the work of the scientific research community, opposes anything that offends the sensibilities of the European Union and the United Nations, and so on. Indeed, there are times when it seems they are on the verge of adopting the National Review’s famous slogan, about standing athwart history and yelling “Stop.” (…) But to stress these things is to leave out the key element driving Bush’s moral agenda, which has taken on growing saliency in his administration since 9/11, but was there to see all along for those with eyes to see, going back to his days as governor of Texas. And that is its grounding in Bush’s evangelical Protestantism. It is his evangelicalism that has broadened and softened his younger tendencies toward harder-edged oil-and-gas business conservatism, fired his moral concerns, given him a sense of political mission, and given him the energy, force, and staying power to pursue it. Many of the very positions that make some of his fellow conservatives suspicious of Bush — his “compassionate conservatism,” his relatively favorable view of many Federal social and educational programs, his sensitivity to issues of racial injustice and reconciliation, his softness on immigration issues, his promotion of the faith-based initiative, his concern with issues of international religious liberty, his African AIDS initiative, and above all, his enormously ambitious, even seemingly utopian, foreign-policy objectives — are positions that are best explained by the effects of his evangelical Christian convictions, and by his willingness to allow those convictions to trump more conventional conservative positions. It is strange that, of all the things liberals loathe about Bush, his religion seems to be at the top of the list. For it is precisely the seriousness of Bush’s commitment to his evangelical faith that has made him more “liberal,” in a certain sense, than many of his party brethren. [but] the Republicans have become Red less because of their strengths than because of the Democrats’ weaknesses. Something like that analysis is put forward, in the most compelling form I’ve yet seen, by Martin Peretz in the current issue of the New Republic, in an extremely intelligent article titled “Not Much Left.” Liberals, he argues, find themselves today where conservatives were a half-century ago, without ideas, without a vision of the good society, bookless, forced to feed on stale ideas from the 60s, and therefore, dying. I think there is considerable merit in Peretz’s analysis, and I think the appalling situation currently unfolding at Harvard is a window onto why the absence of fresh ideas on the Left may be a much more difficult problem to solve than even he posits. Conservatives had the benefit, in retrospect, of being in the wilderness, and having to invent and sustain their own institutions. The Left might be far better off, in the long run, if it didn’t have the Harvards of the world in its pocket, because it might be less inclined to control discourse rather than stimulate it. (…) But conservatism will be like the salt that has lost its savor, if it abandons its most fundamental mission — which is to remind us of what Thomas Sowell called “the constrained vision” of human existence, which sees life as a struggle, with invariably mixed outcomes, full of unintended consequences and tragic dilemmas involving hopelessly fallible people, a world in which the legacy of the past is usually more reliable than the projections of the future. As the example of Niebuhr suggests, such a vision need not reject the possibility of human progress altogether — which, by the way, has never been characteristic of traditional conservatism either, from Edmund Burke on. But it does suggest that it is sometimes wise to adopt, so to speak, a darker shade of red, one that sees the hand of Providence in our reversals as well as our triumphs. To do so is as needful for American evangelicalism as for American politics. Wilfred McClay (University of Tennessee, 2005)
As we know, the color red is more “eye-catching” and perhaps it made graphic sense for the networks to color-in the vast Republican expanse of the country in red to create a more dramatic background map. However, the problem has now transformed itself into a shorthand notation whereby the color is not used solely to visually differentiate states or counties. It is on the verge of becoming a part of the political lexicon as commentators refer to the “red states” and the “blue states”. This is, to me, as a longstanding political operative, not only confusing but a disturbing trend of how the political paradigm has shifted. There are two general reasons why blue for Republican and Red for Democrat make the most sense: connotation and practice. First, there has been a generally understood meaning to the two colors inasmuch as they relate to politics. That is, the cooler color blue more closely represented the rational thinker and cold-hearted and the hotter red more closely represented the passionate and hot-blooded. This would translate into blue for Republicans and red for Democrats. Put another way, red was also the color most associated with socialism and the party of the Democrats was clearly the more socialistic of the two major parties. The second reason why blue for Republicans makes sense is that traditional political mapmakers have used blue for the modern-day Republicans, and the Federalists before that, throughout the 20th century3. Perhaps this was a holdover from the days of the Civil War when the predominantly Republican North was “Blue”. While not a unanimous practice4, there is significant printed evidence of tradition in favor of the blue for Republican and red for Democrat color scheme. Nevertheless, the networks appear to be making this change full-bore during 2004. Even some conservative commentators5 have begun to use the “red state/blue state” break as a shorthand to “Republican state/Democrat state” as part of their terminology. Moreover, some younger political observers have been exposed only to the red for Republican scheme6. Of course, while this just shrieks of inside-the-beltway elitism, it also tends to confuse the debate for many average Americans, especially those over 30. The sole premise for this short-hand is the color-coding of the maps, most of which have not been seen since the 2000 election night/recount coverage. The political parties have invested untold millions in brand recognition for their party labels. Now the media are poised to turn this around for the sake of inside Washington jargon. Clark Bensen (2004)
Without giving it a second thought, we said blue for conservatives, because that’s what the parliamentary system in London is, red for the more liberal party. Roy Wetzel (NBC)
I just decided red begins with ‘r,’ Republican begins with ‘r.’ It was a more natural association. There wasn’t much discussion about it. Archie Tse (graphics editor for the Times
For years, both parties would do red and blue maps, but they always made the other guys red. During the Cold War, who wanted to be red? Chuck Todd (NBC)
Red was a term of derision. There’s a movie named Reds. You’d see red in tabloid headlines, particularly in right wing tabloids like the Daily Mirror in New York and the New York Daily News. Mitchell Stephens (New York University)
There are two general reasons why blue for Republican and Red for Democrat make the most sense: connotation and practice. First, there has been a generally understood meaning to the two colors inasmuch as they relate to politics. That is, the cooler color blue more closely represented the rational thinker and cold-hearted and the hotter red more closely represented the passionate and hot-blooded. This would translate into blue for Republicans and red for Democrats. Put another way, red was also the color most associated with socialism and the party of the Democrats was clearly the more socialistic of the two major parties. The second reason why blue for Republicans makes sense is that traditional political mapmakers have used blue for the modern-day Republicans, and the Federalists before that, throughout the 20th century. Perhaps this was a holdover from the days of the Civil War when the predominantly Republican North was ‘Blue’. Clark Bensen (Republican operative)
Si chacun de nous obtenait la société de ses rêves, les Etats bleus pourraient autoriser le mariage homosexuel et les Etats rouges faire broder les Dix Commandements sur la toge de tous les juges. Les bleus pourraient conserver le Premier amendement et se débarrasser du Deuxième. Les rouges pourraient garder le Deuxième et se débarrasser du Premier. Steve Hartmann (CBS)
Yes, Barnicle is right when he notes that tens of millions of good people in Middle America voted Republican. But if you look closely at that map you see a more complex picture. You see the state where James Byrd was lynch-dragged behind a pickup truck until his body came apart — it’s red. You see the state where Matthew Shepard was crucified on a split-rail fence for the crime of being gay — it’s red. You see the state where right-wing extremists blew up a federal office building and murdered scores of federal employees — it’s red. The state where an Army private who was thought to be gay was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat, and the state where neo-Nazi skinheads murdered two African-Americans because of their skin color, and the state where Bob Jones University spews its anti-Catholic bigotry: they’re all red too. But that’s not the whole story, either. Cultural warriors like House impeachment managers Bill McCollum and James Rogan and ultra-conservatives like Sen. John Ashcroft were defeated. A gun control measure passed in Colorado and Oregon, and school vouchers were rejected in Michigan and California. Democrats gained seats in the House, the Senate and state legislatures — and Gore carried the popular vote. My point is that Middle America is a far more complicated place than even a gifted commentator like Mike Barnicle gives us credit for. It’s not all just red and blue — or black and white. Paul Begala
The state where left-wing extremist, Muslim terrorists blew up the World Trade Center – that’s blue. The county where a race riot following a jury verdict destroyed 2,000 Korean businesses and caused the deaths of 58 people – that’s blue. The states where Colin Ferguson and Ronald Taylor killed 8 whites and Asians because leftwing race baiters convinced them they were victims of a racial conspiracy – are blue. The counties, nationwide, where the vast majority of murderers, rapists and child molesters live and operate – those are blue, too. David Horowitz
During the 2000 election, the media began using maps showing liberal states as blue and conservative states as red. The obvious reason was to avoid the implication that liberals are related to socialists or communists, who throughout the world for over a century have been associated with the color red. Prior to 2000, the color scheme varied, with the more common − and more logical − practice being to use red for Democrats and blue for Republicans. For example, NBC’s David Brinkley referred to Ronald Reagan’s 49-state landslide victory in 1984 as a “sea of blue.” But since 2000, the current usage has become so ingrained that it would be very difficult to change. There may be a lesson here. We should be careful of the habits we develop. Changing them later can be difficult or impossible, no matter how illogical or destructive they may be. This is true for a drug habit, but it is equally − if less obviously − true for habits of thought. Refusing to associate big-government candidates and parties with socialism may seem innocent. But such thinking is hardly innocent if it encourages us to overlook the failing socialist states in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. (…) Then we have the notion that Democrats are more “compassionate” than Republicans. This is true only if we define “compassionate” as voting Democratic − a circular argument if there ever was one. In fact, conservatives on average give more to charity than liberals, both as individuals and by state. And Americans give more to charity than Europeans who live in socialist nations. (…) When we call conservative states red and liberal states blue, it is more than a mere confusion of colors. We are being manipulated to muddle our thinking until we can no longer draw logical conclusions. Socialism isn’t a novel idea worth trying. It is an old idea that has been tried in many forms and many places by many people, and to a significant extent it doesn’t work. We need to take from socialism the idea of a social safety net into which the unfortunate can fall without serious injury. But at the same time, we need to encourage individual initiative and responsibility, because they are necessary for progress – and even more important, because they are essential for human dignity. We can call red blue and blue red all day long, but the true colors remain the same. David C. Stolinsky
Newspapers, in those days, were largely black and white. But two days after voters went to the polls in 2000, both the New York Times and USA Today published their first color-coded, county-by-county maps detailing the showdown between Al Gore and George W. Bush. Both papers used red for the Republican Bush, blue for the Democrat Gore. (…) The 2000 election dragged on until mid-December, until the Supreme Court declared Bush the victor. For weeks, the maps were ubiquitous. Perhaps that’s why the 2000 colors stuck. Along with images of Florida elections officials eyeballing tiny ballot chads, the maps were there constantly, reminding us of the vast, nearly even divide between, well, red and blue voters(…)  In the beginning, blue was red and red was blue and they changed back and forth from election to election and network to network in what appears, in hindsight, to be a flight of whimsy. The notion that there were “red states” and “blue states”—and that the former were Republican and the latter Democratic—wasn’t cemented on the national psyche until the year 2000. Chalk up another one to Bush v. Gore. Not only did it give us “hanging chads” and a crash course in the Electoral College, not only did it lead to a controversial Supreme Court ruling and a heightened level of polarization that has intensified ever since, the Election That Wouldn’t End gave us a new political shorthand. (…)  Before the epic election of 2000, there was no uniformity in the maps that television stations, newspapers or magazines used to illustrate presidential elections. Pretty much everyone embraced red and blue, but which color represented which party varied, sometimes by organization, sometimes by election cycle. There are theories, some likely, some just plain weird, to explain the shifting palette. Jodi Enda (NPR)
The use of “red” and “blue” as color codes on maps of electoral results actually dates back to at least 1908, when the Washington Post printed a special supplement in which Republican states were colored red and Democratic blue The colors were apparently arbitrarily assigned in that case, although in later years both parties strove to claim blue (as in “true blue Americans”) and avoid red, with its connotations of radicalism. Finally, in 1976, the TV networks agreed to a formula to avoid any implication of favoritism in color selections. The color of the incumbent party, initially set as blue for Gerald Ford’s Republican ticket in that year, would flip every four years. Consequently, a successful challenger runs again in four years, as the incumbent, under the same color. So in 1992, the challenger Clinton was red on the maps, and in 1996, incumbent Clinton was also red. Challenger Bush, red in 2000, was red again as an incumbent in 2004. But perhaps because the pundits decreed 2000 to be a watershed election, the “red/blue” divide has assumed a broader political significance (at least to pundits), and although the formula dictates that the Republicans should be carrying the blue flag in 2008, it will be interesting to see how the networks color their maps. Word detective
Entre partisans d’une morale religieuse et tenants d’une nation laïque, les États-Unis connaissent actuellement une profonde division culturelle et idéologique. S’il faut nuancer les tableaux catastrophistes d’une Amérique déchirée en bastions rouges et bleus, la polarisation de la vie politique aux États-Unis est loin d’être un mythe et une véritable guerre culturelle a vu le jour, prônée par la droite chrétienne qui se targue d’un poids sans précédent dans la vie politique américaine. Depuis 2000, la religion joue en effet un rôle décisif dans les élections. La réélection de Bush en 2004, point culminant des tentatives de la droite chrétienne pour influencer le cours de la politique américaine, en témoigne. En 2004, des tendances importantes ont modifié de façon significative la nature de la vie politique américaine. Le choix des électeurs ne s’est plus fait en fonction de questions politiques ou socio-économiques mais bien en fonction des valeurs. Être démocrate ou républicain est devenu affaire de choix culturel voire émotionnel autour de questions comme l’avortement, le mariage gay, le rôle de la famille ou la place de la religion dans la vie publique. À l’aube de l’élection présidentielle de 2008, Hans-Georg Betz revient sur les élections de 2000 et 2004 qui ont porté George W. Bush au pouvoir. Un décryptage du conflit entre deux visions du monde irréconciliables. Autrement (2008)
Le système électoral américain explique également les stratégies de campagne qu’adoptent les candidats. Ceux-ci ont bien sûr intérêt à concentrer leurs efforts sur les Etats qui permettent de gagner le plus de grands électeurs. En théorie, il est possible d’être élu président des Etats-Unis en n’ayant la majorité que dans les onze Etats désignant le plus d’électeurs : Californie (55), Texas (34), New York (31), Floride (27), Illinois (21), Pennsylvanie (21), Ohio (20), Michigan (17), Georgie (15), New Jersey (15), caroline du Nord (15), ce qui permet d’obtenir 271 grands électeurs sur les 269 nécessaires. En outre, les candidats tendent à délaisser les Etats qui ont une longue tradition de vote en faveur de leur camp (la Californie, l’Etat de New York, et les Etats du nord-est pour les Démocrates), (le Texas et les Etats du Sud et Mid-West pour les Républicains). Ils focalisent leurs activités de campagne sur les Etats dont le vote est incertain. En 2004, ils ont ainsi consacré 54% de leurs investissements en publicité télévisée et 45% de leurs déplacements à trois Etats (Floride, Ohio, Pennsylvanie) qui ne représentent pourtant que 14% de la population totale (…). Depuis le milieu des années 1990, le nombre des Etats considérés comme incertains et où se déroule en conséquence l’essentiel de la campagne (dits battleground, toss up ou swing States) s’est réduit et est passé d’une vingtaine à une douzaine (…) Il semble donc qu’au cours des deux dernières décennies, les Etats-Unis se soient davantage polarisés avec d’un côté des Etats fortement démocrates (Blue States) et d’un autre côté des Etats fortement républicains (Red States). Ce clivage géographique (opposant les régions industrielles démocrates et les zones rurales républicaines) reflèterait les différences sociales, religieuses ou raciales des populations concernées. Cette polarisation croissante peut apparaître surprenante dans la mesure où de nombreuses études ont montré que les électeurs américains tendent à devenir plus modérés et être moins attachés aux partis républicain et démocrate. Dans Culture War ? The myth of a Polarized America (…), Morris Fiorina a d’ailleurs remis en cause l’idée d’une polarisation croissante. Je ne peux détailler toutes ses analyses ici, mais pour l’essentiel Fiorina nous dit qu’en termes de valeurs et d’attitudes politiques (mais pas religieuses) les Américains sont moins divisés qu’on ne le dit et que les clivages partisans ne s’observent véritablement que parmi les élites politiques et les citoyens engagés. Si l’on a l’impression d’une polarisation, ce serait surtout un effet du découpage des circonscriptions électorales (le gerrymandering) qui accentue artificiellement la séparation entre électorats démocrates et républicain. Incidemment, le mythe de la polarisation aurait été soutenu par les médias en ce qu’il simplifie et dramatise la couverture de la vie politique, présentée comme un affrontement entre les deux grands partis. L’ouvrage de Fiorina a suscité de vifs débats et de nombreuses études sur le même thème. Comme il arrive souvent dans les recherches en sciences politiques, certaines enquêtes ont abouti à des conclusions sensiblement différentes et confirmé au contraire la tendance à une polarisation politique croissante des Etats-Unis (en termes géographiques, sociaux, et même religieux). Thierry Vedel

Attention: un conservatisme peut en cacher un autre !

Couleur du feu et du sang, signal de danger ou d’interdiction (chiffon rouge, feux rouges, téléphone rouge, alerte rouge, carton rouge, Croix-Rouge), couleur de l’insurrection et du communisme (drapeaux soviétique et chinois) …

Couleur mariale, du roi, de la raison, de la modération, de la sobriété, de la dignité, de la discrétion, des républicains, des conservateurs, du consensus (organismes internationaux: ONU, Unesco, Conseil de l’Europe, Union européenne) …

Religion, armes à feu, chapeaux de cowboy, blancs, moindre instruction, ruralité, peine capitale, guerre d’Irak, courses de stock cars, musique country, pickups, Wall Street Journal …

Laïcité, relativisme, internationalisme, mutliculturalisme, féminisme, diplômes, urbanité, cosmopolitisme, avortement, écologie, tennis, musique classique, Toyota Prius, NYT, café latte, quiches …

En ces temps étranges où, innovation et sens des affaires obligent, il faudra désormais crier « Allez les rouges ! » pour soutenir les Bleus …

Et où, pour les mêmes raisons, les divisions entre bleus et rouges le temps d’une campagne de pub pour une chaine se voulant fédératrice en année préélectorale se voient aujourd’hui  réduites, prétendue tyrannie de la transparence oblige mais avec floutés stratégiques de rigueur pour que ça reste un « spectacle quasi-familial » s’il vous plait, à leur plus simple expression

Pendant que l’autre côté de l’Atlantique et via les réseaux sociaux, la fracture blancs-noirs qu’était censé réduire le premier président prétendument post-racial vire à une véritable guerre idéologique et culturelle des bleus et des rouges

Et qu’une génération qui, entre appel démagogique aux jeunes diplômés et aux immigrés de la part d’un président largement discrédité croyait avoir définitivement fait main basse sur le pouvoir se voit à son tour prise de doute

Qui se souvient …

Que la polarisation politique aujourd’hui apparemment si forte et si ancrée dans le langage politique américain …

Mais aussi si opposée à la tradition européenne …

D’un pays divisé entre Etats bleus supposément progressistes (en fait principalement urbains) et Etats rouges dits conservateurs (en fait principalement ruraux) …

N’a en fait pas plus de 15 ans ?

Et qui comprend …

Qu’imposé au départ par le souci peut-être de ne pas stigmatiser le même camp ou, plus vraisemblablement, par le choix largement graphique de médias américains en mal de dramatisation (et pour cause, l’écart Bush-Gore de la présidentielle de 2000 s’étant alors réduit, derrière l’effet de loupe du sytème winner take all et du vote indirect des grands électeurs, à justement quelques centaines de voix) …

Puis fixé dans les mémoires par la longue bataille juridique de ladite élection (36 jours !) …

Le bleu du « lac de Reagan« , autrement dit du libéralisme et de l’attachement aux valeurs communes (patriotisme, sécurité, famille) …

Ait pu quasiment du jour au lendemain finir par perdre toute signification idéologique …

Au point de s’inverser pour signifier son contraire et se réduire à la défense de groupes d’intérêt (minorités, jeunes, femmes, homosexuels) ?

A moins que, devant le nouveau conservatisme desdits groupes d’intérêt, le camp de la raison et de la conservation des valeurs se soit vu contraint de reprendre le rouge flambeau du véritable libéralisme et progressisme ?

Etats rouges et Etats bleus : la polarisation politique aux Etats-Unis

Thierry Vedel

31 août 2008

Le vote populaire ne dit pas qui va gagner
Cela peut apparaitre étonnant, mais par rapport à leurs homologues français, les médias américains publient assez peu de sondages sur les intentions de vote à la présidentielle (ceux qui sont accros aux sondages pourront néanmoins trouver leur bonheur dans la presse, par exemple ici sur le site du New York Times). La raison tient sans doute au système électoral américain. Un sondage national n’a qu’un intérêt relatif pour anticiper l’issue de la présidentielle. Le président américain est en effet élu non pas directement par les citoyens américains, mais par un collège de 538 « grands électeurs ». Ceux-ci désignés dans chaque Etat suivant le principe du winner-take-all (le candidat arrivé en tête rafle toutes les voix des grands électeurs). De ce fait, il peut arriver qu’un candidat ayant recueilli la majorité des suffrages au plan national (ce que les Américains appellent « le vote populaire ») ne soit pas élu car il n’a pas la majorité des voix des « grands électeurs ». Cela s’est produit quatre fois jusqu’à présent en 1824, 1876, 1888 et surtout 2000 (où Bush l’a emporté avec 5 voix d’avance chez les grands électeurs alors que Gore avait obtenu plus de 500 000 voix que lui dans « le vote populaire »).
Un champ de bataille qui se rétrécit

Le système électoral américain explique également les stratégies de campagne qu’adoptent les candidats. Ceux-ci ont bien sûr intérêt à concentrer leurs efforts sur les Etats qui permettent de gagner le plus de grands électeurs. En théorie, il est possible d’être élu président des Etats-Unis en n’ayant la majorité que dans les onze Etats désignant le plus d’électeurs : Californie (55), Texas (34), New York (31), Floride (27), Illinois (21), Pennsylvanie (21), Ohio (20), Michigan (17), Georgie (15), New Jersey (15), caroline du Nord (15), ce qui permet d’obtenir 271 grands électeurs sur les 269 nécessaires.
En outre, les candidats tendent à délaisser les Etats qui ont une longue tradition de vote en faveur de leur camp (la Californie, l’Etat de New York, et les Etats du nord-est pour les Démocrates), (le Texas et les Etats du Sud et Mid-West pour les Républicains). Ils focalisent leurs activités de campagne sur les Etats dont le vote est incertain. En 2004, ils ont ainsi consacré 54% de leurs investissements en publicité télévisée et 45% de leurs déplacements à trois Etats (Floride, Ohio, Pennsylvanie) qui ne représentent pourtant que 14% de la population totale (Source : Who picks the President ? A report by FairVote – The Center for Voting and Democracy’s). Depuis le milieu des années 1990, le nombre des Etats considérés comme incertains et où se déroule en conséquence l’essentiel de la campagne (dits battleground, toss up ou swing States) s’est réduit et est passé d’une vingtaine à une douzaine ( Source : Congressional Quarterly’s Guide to U.S. Elections, 4th edition). Carte montrant les Etats où les dépenses en publicité ont été les plus fortes lors de la campagne 2004. Source: FairVote.

La polarisation entre Etats rouges et Etats bleus : un mythe ?
Il semble donc qu’au cours des deux dernières décennies, les Etats-Unis se soient davantage polarisés avec d’un côté des Etats fortement démocrates (Blue States) et d’un autre côté des Etats fortement républicains (Red States). Ce clivage géographique (opposant les régions industrielles démocrates et les zones rurales républicaines) reflèterait les différences sociales, religieuses ou raciales des populations concernées. Cette polarisation croissante peut apparaître surprenante dans la mesure où de nombreuses études ont montré que les électeurs américains tendent à devenir plus modérés et être moins attachés aux partis républicain et démocrate. Dans Culture War ? The myth of a Polarized America (New York: Pearson Longman, 2005), Morris Fiorina a d’ailleurs remis en cause l’idée d’une polarisation croissante. Je ne peux détailler toutes ses analyses ici, mais pour l’essentiel Fiorina nous dit qu’en termes de valeurs et d’attitudes politiques (mais pas religieuses) les Américains sont moins divisés qu’on ne le dit et que les clivages partisans ne s’observent véritablement que parmi les élites politiques et les citoyens engagés. Si l’on a l’impression d’une polarisation, ce serait surtout un effet du découpage des circonscriptions électorales (le gerrymandering) qui accentue artificiellement la séparation entre électorats démocrates et républicain. Incidemment, le mythe de la polarisation aurait été soutenu par les médias en ce qu’il simplifie et dramatise la couverture de la vie politique, présentée comme un affrontement entre les deux grands partis.
L’ouvrage de Fiorina a suscité de vifs débats et de nombreuses études sur le même thème. Comme il arrive souvent dans les recherches en sciences politiques, certaines enquêtes ont abouti à des conclusions sensiblement différentes et confirmé au contraire la tendance à une polarisation politique croissante des Etats-Unis (en termes géographiques, sociaux, et même religieux). Pour un bon point sur la question, on pourra consulter le numéro spécial de The Forum, A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics, Vol. 3, Issue 2, (July 2005) dont le sommaire est consultable ICI. (Voir en particulier l’article de Alan Abramowitz et Kyle Saunders, l’un des meilleurs à mes yeux).

Voir aussi:

Seeing Red

Gary Andres

March 2, 2005

Democrats, the progressive party no more. Is President George W. Bush the new face of progressive reform in American politics and do Democrats now don the mask of the status quo? Some observers, particularly liberals, scoff at this idea, but growing evidence suggests Bush’s platform has a long pedigree in the morally based progressive tradition in American politics.

The media have largely missed this developing reversal, largely because it refuses to acknowledge Bush’s motivation to help people by dismantling the traditional welfare state, replacing it with programs that fall under the rhetorical rubric of “compassionate conservatism” and the “ownership society.” Bush’s new “progressivism,” however, also creates some tensions with elements of the conservative community–challenges the Republicans must manage if they hope to solidify their position as the majority party in America.

One person who astutely recognizes this subtle shift in the political tectonic plates is Wilfred McClay, of the University of Tennessee–Chattanooga. Last week Professor McClay gave an insightful lecture at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington D.C., titled George W. Bush’s Evangelical Conservatism: Or How The Republicans Become Red. McClay begins with a symbol: The media’s use of the color red to depict states in the Republican victory column. This hasn’t always been the case: The sea of blue on the map depicting the 1980 GOP landslide was called “Lake Reagan” by Time magazine. But since 2000, Republicans have been the crimson party.

McClay highlights the irony of the changing color scheme. “It’s amazing how willing the democratic Left has been to acquiesce in the loss of one of the most permanent, most universal, and most beloved symbols–the color Red–without serious protest.”

“Red,” he notes, has long been associated with progressive, liberal, energetic, idea-driven reform causes (as well as Communism in the former Soviet Union and China)–including the 1848 revolution in France, and a host of labor parties throughout Europe in the last 200 years.

And just as the GOP has co-opted the progressive party’s color scheme, McClay says the “conservative (Republican) party in America today is the party of progress, of human liberation, of national and international purpose.” The Democrats, on the other hand, are the political Luddites–”the party of entrenched interests, of public bureaucracies and public-employee unions and identity-politics lobbies, the party that opposes tax reform, opposes tort reform, opposes educational reform, opposes Social Security reform, opposes military reform, opposes the projection of American power overseas . . . ” Democrats, he impishly notes, have all but adopted National Review’s famous slogan from its inaugural edition about “standing athwart history yelling [stop]!’”

President Bush’s progressive domestic and international vision is tethered by twin goals–freedom and responsibility. It is a worldview McClay calls “evangelical conservatism.” “Self-government is not possible under the yoke of political or religious tyranny. But neither is it possible in a world in which the formation of character is ignored, and the linkage between our efforts and our results is erased,” he said.

The twin appendages of the “self-governing individual” (freedom) and the “self-governing soul” (responsibility) were the handmaidens of abolitionism and other progressive social reforms of the 19th century. The same intellectual lineage animates the president’s support of American power to promote freedom internationally and his compassionate-conservative ideas domestically. Rather than a new philosophy, McClay argues Bush’s approach “may represent the recovery of a well established and distinctively American approach to social and political reform.”

But McClay concludes his lecture with a warning. Even if “conservative” government pursues policies to strengthen the “self-governing individual” and the “self-governing soul,” it’s still government. And however noble these ends, they may sometimes trump more conventional conservative positions. While sympathetic to the president’s general thrust, McClay argues conservatism cannot abandon its most fundamental mission, “what Thomas Sowell called the ‘constrained vision’ of human existence, which sees life as a struggle, with invariable mixed outcomes, full of unintended consequences and tragic dilemmas involving hopelessly fallible people.”

Indeed, President Bush deserves credit as a progressive reformer. So the new color scheme is probably justified. But as McClay argues, as these ideas evolve, “a darker shade of red, one that sees the hand of Providence in our reversals as well as our triumphs,” may be in order. The president’s palate, while promising and much needed, is a work in progress.

–Gary Andres is vice chairman of research and policy at the Dutko Group Companies and a frequent NRO contributor.

Voir aussi:

Ethics & Public Policy Center

American Culture and the Presidency

Wilfred M. McClay

American Culture and the Presidency
George W. Bush’s Evangelical Conservatism:

Or, How the Republicans Became Red

February, 23, 2005

American Culture and Democracy: Fall 2004 Lecture Series

Wilfred McClay: Thank you very much, Ed, and good evening to all of you. I am glad that we were finally able to hold this lecture, after being defeated twice in our earlier attempts. The delay probably has worked to my advantage, since the more distance that’s put between me and the other speakers in this series, the less I will suffer by comparison to them. It is indeed a daunting matter to have to follow on after Justice Scalia, Richard Neuhaus, Hadley Arkes, Bill Kristol, Eric Cohen, and so on. At least this way, I don’t have to follow them in close-order drill, but more as a straggler bringing up the rear.

One other advantage of delay — though a mixed advantage to be sure — is that I was able to keep on gathering material and rethinking this talk. That has meant its becoming transmuted into something a little different from what I set out to do at first. I was initially drawn to think about the role played by the Biblical story of the Prodigal Son — which is, in my opinion, one of the deepest and most thoroughly ingrained moral patternings in our redemption-haunted culture — with particular reference to the personae and public perceptions not only of President Bush and his opponent in the 2004 presidential campaign, but of Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon, and the whole succession of modern, highly personalized American presidencies. For what it is worth, I planned to argue that John Kerry would likely lose the election because he — unlike Bush, and unlike Clinton before him — did not know how to join the story of his own life, with its twists and turns, to that deeply American, and deeply Biblical, story of the Prodigal Son — a story that, in a sense, can be said to encapsulate many of the essentials of the Christian faith, particularly in its evangelical Protestant form. Since it is no great achievement to predict an event that has already happened, I obviously won’t pursue that same line of inquiry. But the larger question of the role of certain deep stories in providing our culture with an enduring account of itself, an account that structures our political and moral imaginations, remains central to what I want to talk about tonight.

There is always a temptation to be entirely topical and present-minded in approaching such a subject, finding dramatic changes in the flow of current events. Certainly President Bush’s extraordinary Second Inaugural Address and subsequent State of the Union Address, both barely a month ago, continue to reverberate in Washington and the country, and their contents and effects form a natural part of my subject. But the matters I want to address are longer-term in their gestation and development, and in no way dependent on these two remarkable speeches and their after-effects. In fact, I’d contend that anyone who has been paying attention to the public words of George W. Bush already knew that these speeches did not contain a great deal that was entirely new. I say that not to be dismissive, but simply to emphasize the consistency in the President’s long-term direction. Take for example the National Security Strategy of the United States, promulgated in September 2002. Judging from the reporting on it, you would think there was nothing much of interest about it, aside from the section on preemptive warfare. But it is absolutely clear, from the start, in basing itself on “a distinctly American internationalism that reflects the union of our values and our national interests,” that aims to “make the world not just safer but better” by promoting political and economic freedom, and that insists “America must stand firmly for the nonnegotiable demands of human dignity.” All these rather sweeping and significant statements went largely unnoticed amid the frenzy over the document’s discussion of preemption. But they were there, and very prominently so.

What I want to look at is, specifically, how the administration of George W. Bush seems to have marked a sea change in the evolution of Republican politics, in conservatism, in the present and future alignment of our political parties and ideologies, and the role of religion in our public discourse and public action. In addition, however, I want to talk about the ways that, taking a longer-range historical view, what looks like a sea change may in fact merely be the process of this administration and the political party it leads rejoining itself, consciously or not, to certain longer traditions of American political and social reform. And I will also want to ask, in the end, whether these changes or reorientations are entirely a good thing, or whether there are aspects of them that should give pause to Americans in general, and to conservative Americans and evangelical Americans in particular.

*****

Let me ease into the subject with an anecdote, meant to illuminate the meaning of my subtitle. Toward the end of April in 2001, I found myself on a business trip to New York, and thought that I would use the occasion to have lunch with a friend, one of those people one deals with for years by phone and email without ever having met in the flesh. I should add, too, that this was and is someone with her feet planted firmly and intransigently on the political Left, with the most dismissive and contemptuous attitude imaginable toward Republicans in general and George W. Bush in particular — but an otherwise charming and intelligent person who tolerates me as a harmless eccentric. We arranged to meet for lunch at a little place off Union Square. After we’d firmed up the arrangements by phone, she concluded with the following instruction: “Now remember, it’ll be May Day, so be sure to wear a red tie.”

Not wishing to offend, I obliged. But I wondered at the request, which struck me as a bit absurd. I thought I detected in it the scent of nostalgia for a bygone era. It was as if we were still living in those heady days when a May Day visit to Union Square might mean an encounter with fiery labor organizers, or German-speaking radical anarchists, or a garment-workers’ rally — or maybe an earnest, rousing speech by Eugene Debs or Emma Goldman or Norman Thomas — instead of an encounter with a swarming beehive of commercial activity, around a Square which now offers the full array of franchise outlets that one would likely find anyplace else in America — Staples, Barnes and Noble, CVS pharmacy, and so on — all accompanied by the deafening noise of seemingly incessant construction. And I somehow doubt that “Red Emma,” were she to show up, would regard my red tie as a very impressive sign of my solidarity with the workers of the world.

I can understand a certain nostalgia for the Left’s glory days — for a time when there was still a plausible sense that it was the Left that stood for the common man and the human prospect, over against the dehumanizing forces of industrialism and finance capitalism and murderous nation-state rivalries and militarism and racial subordination and class arrogance and massive economic inequality, and all the other evils in the long parade of human folly. I’m far from immune to the pull of such concerns myself, as I think many decent people find themselves. It seems to be an especially bitter experience for those who have experienced such glory days to realize that times change and one can’t draw on their moral and intellectual capital forever, which may explain why that realization has been so slow in coming to the aging leadership of the Civil Rights Movement, or the Vietnam-era boomers who currently dominate the major media and the universities.

But how, I wondered, could anyone who had just lived through the 2000 presidential election, and its endless maps of America by state and county, still associate the color “red” with the Left? Particularly when, nearly four years later, after another presidential election and after exposure to another endless succession of maps, the association of “red” and “Republican” seems to have become firmly rooted in our discourse, embraced by both parties. Now we are even treated to learned disquisitions by intrepid reporters from our major daily papers who have donned their pith helmets and ventured out into the far hinterlands, trying to find and comprehend the inner essence of that exotic thing, Red America.

Someday the precise story will be told, by a historian more patient than I, of how the Republican party came to be assigned the color “red” in the mapping of the 2000 electoral results. From what little I have been able to determine, the change seems to have happened gradually, and with no visible conscious intent, and considerable inconsistency along the way. As recently as the 1980 election, the late David Brinkley, then still an anchor at NBC News, was drolly comparing the map representing Ronald Reagan’s landslide victory to a suburban swimming pool — solid blue, in other words. Time magazine somewhat more generously referred to the 1980 map as “Lake Reagan,” and stuck with a blue-Republican and red-Democratic scheme all through the 1990s. Other networks and news outlets used different color schemes during those years, sometimes replacing blue with white, and even reversing the coloration more or less at will. (I distinctly remember watching the 1980 returns on ABC, and hearing Frank Reynolds turn to Ted Koppel and say, “The country’s going Red, Ted!”)

How and why most of the major media outlets (with the exception of Time) fixed upon the red-Republican and blue-Democratic schema in 2000 remains somewhat mysterious. When a New York Times graphics editor was asked for his paper’s rationale, he responded simply that “both Republican and red start with the letter R.” So chalk one up for Sesame Street.

Of course, for anyone who knows even a smattering of modern European history, this is a truly an astonishing turn of events, whose significance is only barely hinted at by Frank Reynolds’s wisecrack. It’s amazing how willing the democratic Left has been to acquiesce in the loss of one of its most permanent, most universal, and most beloved symbols — the color Red — without serious protest. I am not talking here about yielding some of the more or less primordial symbolic meanings ascribed to Red, though those too would seem to be worth hanging on to. Red is the color of life, of love and fidelity, of warmth, of emotional intensity, of power and grandeur. Any political movement or party worth its salt would like to lay claim to such things. But I am thinking more specifically of the political meanings of Red, which may draw upon these more primordial meanings, but also link them to specific historical events and causes and traditions and aspirations. We Americans tend to think, in our own times, of Red in this sense referring exclusively to the history of Communism, but that is a vast oversimplification. Let me be clear in what I’m saying here. I don’t want to be associated with the view that Communism was merely “liberalism in a hurry.” But by the same token, I do want to insist that the range of historical referents to Red would be better described as different expressions of an energetic and idea-driven commitment to systemic progressive reform, expressions that can and do vary widely in the extent of their liberalism or illiberalism, but that have in common a commitment to the general cause of human freedom and human liberation.

Those political meanings of Red emerged fully in the French Revolution of 1848, when socialists and radical republicans adopted the red flag as a symbol of their cause, in contrast to the white flag of the Bourbon monarchists and the more moderate tricolor flag of the liberal Second Republic. From then on, the red flag became firmly associated in French political culture with the progressive socialist cause. Later the softer and more humane image of the red rose would be adopted as a symbol of the French Socialist Party, and was used to especially good public effect in recent memory by Francois Mitterrand. Its enduring power was manifest at Mitterrand’s funeral nine years ago, when throngs of mourners arrived at the Notre Dame Cathedral bearing red roses in their hands.

Similarly, the British Labor Party used a red flag, followed by a red rose, as its symbols. The party early on adopted as its anthem the song “The Red Flag,” which describes the “scarlet standard” as “the people’s flag,” “the hope of peace,” the banner and symbol of “human right and human gain.” Similarly, the color Red (and usually also the red rose) is strongly associated with the Australian Labor Party, the Canadian Liberal Party, the German Social Democratic Party, the Dutch Socialist Party, the Party of European Socialists (located in Brussels) and the Socialist International. Just out of curiosity, I paid a visit to the current websites of each of these organizations, and believe me, you have never seen so much red, and especially so many red roses, outside of the city of Pasadena on New Year’s Day.

So there is a strong and enduring historical association, at least within modern European political culture, between the color Red and the most strongly progressivist, activist, reformist movements in European political life. But, you may well be asking, so what? This is all very interesting, I suppose, but what earthly difference does it make, so far as the United States and the Republican Party are concerned? Isn’t it possible, for example, that American disregard for European color rules is precisely a sign of our superiority, and our exceptionalism?

A reasonable question. My answer would be this. The mutation in the political meaning assigned to the color Red in America seems to have come about largely by chance and careless inattention. Nobody — not even the devious, all-knowing, and all-powerful Karl Rove — sought to induce or manipulate this change. But I believe one can make a very strong and suggestive argument that, in fact, this shift in symbolic meaning, even if entirely unintended, is extraordinarily meaningful, and fits in utterly unexpected ways with the historical situation in which we find ourselves. Hegel spoke of the “cunning of reason” in history, a term that indicated the ways in which the concatenation of seeming coincidences and random irrational events in history ends up furthering the cause of great, consequential, and intelligible change. Just such cunning may in fact be in evidence in this instance.

What I am saying, then, is that there is a sense — a limited sense, but a real sense — in which the Republican Party of George W. Bush has indeed “become Red” — if by “being Red” one means, rather than being the standard bearer for the specific agenda of socialism, instead standing for a grand commitment to the furtherance of certain high ideals and goals, an agenda of progressive reform meant not merely for the sake of the nation, but for the general good of humanity. Such are precisely the sort of larger causes that socialism nearly always has championed. But they can no longer be regarded as the exclusive property of socialism, or more generally of the Left. Bush’s administration may well represent the culmination of a change that has been in the works for a quarter-century or so — perhaps dating back to the days of Reagan, who loved to quote one of the quintessential Red thinkers, Thomas Paine — an effort to capture the mantle of progressive change for the benefit of the conservative party. These efforts have not been a notable success in the past, and even the most plausible of them, Newt Gingrich’s notion of a “conservative opportunity society,” foundered on the rocks of its creator’s problematic persona. Yet it may be clear to future historians that events of the past quarter-century have slowly been weaving a possible new guiding narrative for the Republican party.

As a result, it entirely plausible, I think, for Republicans to assert that the conservative party in America today is the party of progress, of human liberation, of national and international purpose. And Democrats who snicker at such an assertion do so at their own risk, for it is even more plausible to state that the liberal party is the party of opposition to change — the party of entrenched interests, of public bureaucracies and public-employee unions and identity-politics lobbies, the party that opposes tax reform, opposes tort reform, opposes educational reform, opposes Social Security reform, opposes military reform, opposes the revisiting of Supreme Court rulings, opposes the projection of American power overseas, opposes the work of Christian missionaries, opposes public accountability for the work of the scientific research community, opposes anything that offends the sensibilities of the European Union and the United Nations, and so on. Indeed, there are times when it seems they are on the verge of adopting the National Review’s famous slogan, about standing athwart history and yelling “Stop.”

Now some of these things may be worth opposing, and I am not here this evening to endorse or condemn the whole slate of either party. But it seems clear that such a shift of party identities may now be upon us, and that the shift of the color Red to the Republican side may provide an interesting symbolic representation of it.

Clearly, too, as a corollary to the above, one would want to point out that Bush came to this position from a route entirely distinct from the route taken by European socialists. The influences on his thinking are various, of course. As an American, he is heir to the traditional American commitment to the concept of universal natural rights that permeates certain documents of the nation’s founding, and the struggles and travails of its subsequent history. Such sentiments are not unheard of in the party of Lincoln, and Bush, though a proud Texan, seems to have had almost no attraction to the vestiges of traditionalist Southern conservatism. And I don’t doubt for a minute that Bush has been greatly influenced by the neoconservative advisors and theorists in his administration, whose advocacy for the preemptive use of force, democratic nation-building, and the active use of American power in pursuit of a universal human-rights agenda dovetails so well with many of his own instincts (even if they also represent a departure from avowed positions of the 2000 campaign).

But to stress these things is to leave out the key element driving Bush’s moral agenda, which has taken on growing saliency in his administration since 9/11, but was there to see all along for those with eyes to see, going back to his days as governor of Texas. And that is its grounding in Bush’s evangelical Protestantism. It is his evangelicalism that has broadened and softened his younger tendencies toward harder-edged oil-and-gas business conservatism, fired his moral concerns, given him a sense of political mission, and given him the energy, force, and staying power to pursue it. Many of the very positions that make some of his fellow conservatives suspicious of Bush — his “compassionate conservatism,” his relatively favorable view of many Federal social and educational programs, his sensitivity to issues of racial injustice and reconciliation, his softness on immigration issues, his promotion of the faith-based initiative, his concern with issues of international religious liberty, his African AIDS initiative, and above all, his enormously ambitious, even seemingly utopian, foreign-policy objectives — are positions that are best explained by the effects of his evangelical Christian convictions, and by his willingness to allow those convictions to trump more conventional conservative positions. It is strange that, of all the things liberals loathe about Bush, his religion seems to be at the top of the list. For it is precisely the seriousness of Bush’s commitment to his evangelical faith that has made him more “liberal,” in a certain sense, than many of his party brethren.

It is, then, quite legitimate to ask whether Bush is even rightly understood as a conservative. Clearly, this question can involve us in an endless semantic game, and I don’t want to spend our time doing that. But the fundamental dynamic at work is, I think, pretty clear. Although many secular observers seem not to understand this, evangelicalism, by its very nature, has an uneasy relationship with conservatism. To call someone both an evangelical and a conservative, then, while it is not to utter a contradiction, is to call him something slightly more problematic than one may think. Of course this is, or should be, true of all Christians, who have transcendental loyalties that must sometimes override their political commitments, even very fundamental ones. But it is especially true of evangelicalism. As a faith that revolves around the experience of individual transformation, it inevitably exists in tension with settled ways, established social hierarchies, customary usages, and entrenched institutional forms. Because evangelicalism places such powerful emphasis upon the individual act of conversion, and insists upon the individual’s ability to have a personal and unmediated relationship to the Deity and to the Holy Scriptures, it fits well with the American tendency to treat all existing institutions, even the church itself, as if their existence and authority were provisional and subordinate, merely serving as a vehicle for the proclamation of the Gospel and the achievement of a richer and more vibrant individual faith. As such, then, evangelicalism, at least in its most high-octane form, may not always be very friendly to any settled institutional status quo. In the great revivals of earlier American history, it nearly always served to divide churches and undermine established hierarchies, a powerful force for what Nathan Hatch called “the democratization of American Christianity.”

True, evangelicalism can also be a force of moral conservatism, in insisting upon the permanence of certain moral and ethical desiderata, particularly if those are clearly stated in the Bible. But it can also be a force of profound moral radicalism, calling into question the justice and equity of the most fundamental structures of social life, and doing so from a firm vantage point outside those structures. David Chappell’s excellent recent book on the Civil Rights Movement, A Stone of Hope, very effectively made the point that it was the power of prophetic evangelical Christianity that energized the Civil Rights Movement and gave southern blacks the courage and fortitude to challenge the existing segregationist social order. And one could say similar things about many of the great nineteenth-century American movements for social reform, notably abolitionism, a rather unpopular cause in its day which would have made little headway without the fervent commitment of evangelical Protestants who believed the country was being polluted and degraded by the continued existence of slavery.

I am not claiming that Bush is a radical reformer. I don’t think anyone, other than an opponent straining for partisan advantage, would do that. But I am pointing out that the religious vision that energizes him is not always compatible with conservatism as conventionally understood, and may not, in the long run, be easily contained or constrained by it. Yes, Bush is a conservative, but he is a conservative whose conservatism has been continuously informed, leavened, challenged, reshaped, and reoriented by his religious convictions; and many of his closest aides and advisors have undergone a similar process. To capture this distinctive, I’m going to use the term “evangelical conservatism” to describe his position. I should hasten to add that there is a very great difference between “evangelical conservatism” and “conservative evangelicalism,” the latter of which refers to a theologically conservative position which may or may not translate into conservative political views. What I’m calling “evangelical conservatism” is better understood as a form of conservatism, then, and not as a form of evangelicalism — a political, rather than a theological, term.

The question remains as to whether or not Bush’s evangelical conservatism is still conservatism at all, or rather a departure from conservatism, and if so, whether it is a wise, coherent, or justifiable one. That is an interesting question. But it might be better first to ask whether what I am calling “evangelical conservatism” amount to little more than a strange little blip on the screen of American history, the latest flavor in reformism, a mere passing reflection of the idiosyncrasies of one man — or whether instead it finds echoes, in the form of antecedents and precedents, in the American past. As the historian Ronald G. Walters sadly observes in his history of reform movements in antebellum America, nothing so characterizes the history of American reform as its discontinuities, its inability to build traditions and institutions that can stretch across the generations. But this need not be the case. The historical record itself suggests that Bush’s evangelical conservatism, rather than being a radical innovation, may represent the recovery of a once well-established, and distinctively American, approach to social and political reform.

*****

The specifically evangelical tinge to Bush’s conservatism is equally visible in both his domestic and foreign policy. Indeed, one could argue that — within the limits that political prudence and expediency always place upon ideological consistency — these two aspects of policy form something of a seamless web. And the principle that unifies them is the characteristically evangelical emphasis upon the ultimate value of the self-governing individual. The administration’s zeal for the promotion of freedom, and particularly for the causes of global human rights and religious liberty, clearly owes a great deal to the moral influence of evangelical Christians (and also certain very committed secular Jews, such as Abe Rosenthal and Michael Horowitz, who have taken a powerful interest in the cause of religious liberty). And its domestic conception of the “ownership society,” which is a further elaboration of ideas that were already adumbrated in the “compassionate conservatism” that Bush advanced as governor of Texas and in his 2000 campaign, is also aimed at the formation and empowerment of self-governing individuals. Both depend upon a certain anthropology of the human person, a constrained individualism which understands human flourishing as requiring both the political and social freedom to pursue the good, and the moral discipline to live responsibly within the constraints that reflect the highest properties of human nature. Self-government is not possible under the yoke of political or religious tyranny. But neither is it possible in a world in which the formation of character is ignored, and the linkage between our efforts and our results is erased. Hence the two facets of the Bush agenda are conjoined.

Such a formulation bears a strong resemblance to the outlook of so much nineteenth-century American reform, which held up as a social ideal the freely choosing individual who was constrained (and thereby made genuinely free) by the disciplining influences of education, religion, and formative moral training. From the time of the Founding up to the end of the 19thcentury, the ultimate goal of social reform was the creation of the optimal conditions for what historian Daniel Walker Howe calls “the construction of the self.”. It was an era that still unabashedly extolled the “self-made” man, in which “self-improvement” was regarded as a moral imperative, and in which the concept of “individualism” was not understood as a synonym for narcissism or footloose irresponsibility, but rather as a highly desirable condition — a condition, though, which could NOT be properly understood or sustained apart from the existence of an objective moral order. And it was not enough for those constraints to be applied externally, like so many fences and leashes. They needed to be completely internalized as well. The responsible democratic self would need the help of institutions — family, church, neighborhood, and polity — with an interest in character formation. But the goal was not to remain in a state of tutelage, but to become transformed internally in the direction of self-sufficency, and thereby become more or less autonomous or self-constrained.

The relationship between the self-governing polity and the self-governing soul appears again and again — for example, in the thought of public-education pioneer Horace Mann, who saw the role of education as that of implanting the tools of self-regulation, so that naturally anarchic individuals would be fit for the task of self-control and self-direction. The clergyman William Ellery Channing, whose 1838 lecture “Self-Culture” became a classic brief for the endless human capacity for self-improvement, argued that God had endowed the human race with the extraordinary power “of acting on, determining, and forming ourselves.” One could argue that neither of these men was, in the strictest sense, an evangelical. But in this respect, there was little difference between them and their contemporaries, such as the arch-evangelical Charles Grandison Finney. As historian Daniel Walker Howe has put it, the essence of the evangelical commitment was that it was “undertaken voluntarily, consciously, and responsibly, by the individual for himself or herself,” by those “who have consciously decided to take charge of their own lives and identities,” and who are willing to embrace a discipline that is “at one and the same time liberating and restrictive.”

This ideal of the self-governing individual stands behind many of the great reform movements of pre-Civil War America — temperance, women’s rights, health faddism, and of course, antislavery. That ideal is at the heart of the evangelical-Protestant moral critique of slavery. Slavery was a systemic affront to the ideal of self-governance. It not only prevented slaves from being self-governing and fully realized individuals. It just as surely prevented masters from achieving that same status. It corrupted both, and in the process had a corrupting effect upon all that came into contact with them, a contention that the economically backward state of the South seem to prove. This was a critique that, of course, went back as far as Thomas Jefferson’sNotes on the State of Virginia, but it took a religious movement to provide the energy to act on it.

It would take a lecture longer than this already over-long one to trace the ways that this 19th-century Whig-evangelical model of social reform through individual transformation under the tutelage of morally authoritative institutions came to be supplanted by philosophies of reform that dealt in the behavior of social aggregates rather than the reformation of individual hearts and minds. But it is certainly seemed clear, by the end of the 1970s or so, those approaches had fallen far short of unambiguous success; and with the sweeping welfare-reform measures of a decade ago, Federal social policy has begun to reject approaches to social reform that fail to take into account the dynamics of individual character formation. This is clearly where Bush’s heart is, and in that sense, his approach picks back up where the reformers of the 19th century left off. Here too, one can see how his own perspective dovetails so nicely with that of neoconservative critics of the welfare state, but even so is different, given its roots in a certain religious anthropology.

*****

It may be that I’m failing to give adequate attention to the other side of the story here. Which is to say that the Republicans have become Red less because of their strengths than because of the Democrats’ weaknesses. Something like that analysis is put forward, in the most compelling form I’ve yet seen, by Martin Peretz in the current issue of the New Republic, in an extremely intelligent article titled “Not Much Left.” Liberals, he argues, find themselves today where conservatives were a half-century ago, without ideas, without a vision of the good society, bookless, forced to feed on stale ideas from the 60s, and therefore, dying.

I think there is considerable merit in Peretz’s analysis, and I think the appalling situation currently unfolding at Harvard is a window onto why the absence of fresh ideas on the Left may be a much more difficult problem to solve than even he posits. Conservatives had the benefit, in retrospect, of being in the wilderness, and having to invent and sustain their own institutions. The Left might be far better off, in the long run, if it didn’t have the Harvards of the world in its pocket, because it might be less inclined to control discourse rather than stimulate it.

But there’s one thing that Peretz mentions in passing that also summarizes what makes me uneasy about the Bush agenda, and it’s packed into one sentence: “The most penetrating thinker of the old liberalism, the Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, is virtually unknown in the circles within which he once spoke and listened, perhaps because he held a gloomy view of human nature.” One could say the same about the older conservatism, which also once found Niebuhr a compelling figure but now finds it easy to dismiss him.

There is not much of Niebuhr, or original sin, or any other form of Calvinist severity, in the current outlook of the Bush administration. That too is a reflection of the optimistic character of American evangelicalism, and therefore of evangelical conservatism. It certainly reflects the preference of the American electorate, which does not like to hear bad news, a fact that is surely one of the deep and eternal challenges to democratic statesmanship. And it is, by and large, an appropriate way for good leaders to behave. It is, in some respects, a political strength.

But conservatism will be like the salt that has lost its savor, if it abandons its most fundamental mission — which is to remind us of what Thomas Sowell called “the constrained vision” of human existence, which sees life as a struggle, with invariably mixed outcomes, full of unintended consequences and tragic dilemmas involving hopelessly fallible people, a world in which the legacy of the past is usually more reliable than the projections of the future. As the example of Niebuhr suggests, such a vision need not reject the possibility of human progress altogether — which, by the way, has never been characteristic of traditional conservatism either, from Edmund Burke on. But it does suggest that it is sometimes wise to adopt, so to speak, a darker shade of red, one that sees the hand of Providence in our reversals as well as our triumphs. To do so is as needful for American evangelicalism as for American politics.

 Voir de plus:

Red States, Blue States, Confusional States
David C. Stolinsky
November 13, 2014

Some states are red
Some states are blue
The blue states are redder
But what can you do?

During the 2000 election, the media began using maps showing liberal states as blue and conservative states as red. The obvious reason was to avoid the implication that liberals are related to socialists or communists, who throughout the world for over a century have been associated with the color red.

Prior to 2000, the color scheme varied, with the more common − and more logical − practice being to use red for Democrats and blue for Republicans. For example, NBC’s David Brinkley referred to Ronald Reagan’s 49-state landslide victory in 1984 as a “sea of blue.” But since 2000, the current usage has become so ingrained that it would be very difficult to change. There may be a lesson here.

We should be careful of the habits we develop. Changing them later can be difficult or impossible, no matter how illogical or destructive they may be. This is true for a drug habit, but it is equally − if less obviously − true for habits of thought. Refusing to associate big-government candidates and parties with socialism may seem innocent. But such thinking is hardly innocent if it encourages us to overlook the failing socialist states in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money.
– Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

Barack Obama proposed a variation on the theme of “one size fits all” health-care plans. We refused to see the similarities between this plan and the socialized Canadian system with its long delays, the British system with its rationing of care, and the French system with its inability to react to emergencies. So unless we amend or repeal ObamaCare, we will face similar problems. Erroneous terminology leads to erroneous thinking. We heard promises of “excellent care for everyone at less cost” and reacted with cheers and applause, rather than the hoots and whistles such baloney deserved.

Then we have the notion that Democrats are more “compassionate” than Republicans. This is true only if we define “compassionate” as voting Democratic − a circular argument if there ever was one. In fact, conservatives on average give more to charity than liberals, both as individuals and by state. And Americans give more to charity than Europeans who live in socialist nations.

I believe that socialism is deficient not only on economic grounds, but also on moral grounds. It encourages us to leave the well-being of fellow citizens and even family to the government. For example, in 2003 France was stuck by a heat wave in which over 11,000 died. Those who could do so took their usual August vacation to the seashore, leaving elderly relatives and neighbors to swelter in non-air-conditioned apartments. Even health-care personnel went on vacation, while those who remained were limited by law to a 35-hour work week. There’s “compassion” for you.

Some time ago I was talking to a colleague. I mentioned the evils of the Soviet Union. As if on cue, he said, “True communism hasn’t been tried.” Really? In 74 years of “building socialism,” the Soviet Union just couldn’t get it right? And Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia, Albania, and East Germany didn’t do it right, either? What about China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia – not to mention the liberals’ favorite, Cuba? What about the failed African regimes that rejected Western ideas of democracy and free enterprise, but unwisely chose Marxism to emulate?

In fact, true communism was tried by the Pilgrims in the Plymouth Colony in 1620. After a few years of near starvation, they gave it up and allowed private ownership of land. This experience was duplicated by communists in the Soviet Union and China, where millions died in famines. But unlike the Pilgrims, it took the Russians and Chinese many years to admit their error.

After centuries of attempts of various sorts by various peoples of various racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds, nobody could get socialism “right.” But many liberals still believe that they could get it “right,” if only we nasty old conservatives got out of the way and let them try.

As G. K. Chesterton observed, when people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing, they believe in anything. First it was global cooling and nuclear winter. Now it is global warming. First it was removing mercury from tuna fish, childhood vaccines, and even thermometers. Now it is mandating compact fluorescent bulbs that contain mercury. Yet no matter what other beliefs come and go, one liberal belief remains constant − the belief that they are smarter than all other people and can finally get socialism “right.”

But what does it mean to get socialism “right”?

● Can a system that is inefficient be made to work efficiently?

● Can a system that creates disincentives to productivity be made productive?

● Can a system that rewards conformity be made innovative?

● Can a system that discourages individual responsibility be made to encourage it?

● Can a system that enforces compliance be made to encourage political freedom?

● Can a system that punishes “incorrect” speech be made to encourage free expression?

● Can a system that takes more of our money and makes spending decisions for us be made to encourage economic freedom?

● Can a system based on Marx’s 19th-century notions cope with 21st-century problems?

● Can a system based on lies ever succeed? Note the admission that ObamaCare could not have been passed without lying to Congress and the American people.

We can’t get socialism “right” any more than we can get wife-beating “right” or perpetual motion “right.” If something is wrong, both morally and practically, we can never get it “right.” The best we can hope for is to get it less wrong − that is, to compare it with something that seems even worse.

Thus when I criticized his hero, Fidel Castro, my liberal colleague replied, “He got rid of Batista.” Yes, but so what? John Gotti got rid of Paul Castellano − did that excuse Gotti’s Mafia career? And Lenin got rid of the czar. But what if he hadn’t? Despite the oppression and inefficiency of the czarist regime, things in Russia were slowly improving. It is illogical to compare conditions in the Soviet Union before it collapsed in 1991 with conditions in the czarist Russia of 1917. Nothing in the world is the same as it was in 1917.

Similarly, apologists for Castro compare education and health care in Cuba now with conditions when Batista fell in 1959. Liberals fall into the trap of assuming that if the Left hadn’t seized power, conditions in the country in question would have remained frozen in time. This is similar to claiming that if the American Revolution hadn’t occurred, we would still be going around on horseback wearing three-cornered hats and wigs.

Things change whether our guy or the other guy is in charge. The question is how they change. Does freedom increase or decrease? Is the value of the individual enhanced or diminished? Does society come to resemble a community of human beings or an anthill? Are productivity and innovation encouraged or discouraged? Are we motivated to take care of ourselves, our family, and our neighbors, or are we tempted to slough off our responsibilities onto Big Brother?

When we call conservative states red and liberal states blue, it is more than a mere confusion of colors. We are being manipulated to muddle our thinking until we can no longer draw logical conclusions.

Socialism isn’t a novel idea worth trying. It is an old idea that has been tried in many forms and many places by many people, and to a significant extent it doesn’t work. We need to take from socialism the idea of a social safety net into which the unfortunate can fall without serious injury. But at the same time, we need to encourage individual initiative and responsibility, because they are necessary for progress – and even more important, because they are essential for human dignity.

We can call red blue and blue red all day long, but the true colors remain the same.

Voir également:

BETWEEN THE LINES
How red states turned blue and vice versa
Exclusive: Joseph Farah vows not to use media-manipulated color narrative
WND
05/09/2012

Joseph Farah is founder, editor and CEO of WND and a nationally syndicated columnist with Creators News Service.. He is the author or co-author of 13 books, including his latest, « The Tea Party Manifesto, » and his classic, « Taking America Back, » now in its third edition and 14th printing. Farah is the former editor of the legendary Sacramento Union and other major-market dailies.

It’s been four years since I made this point heading into another presidential election.

But it’s a point worth making again and again. It illustrates how the Democrats have their way with the media – every time.

Folks like me, old enough to remember when red states meant Democrat and blue states meant Republican, probably still get confused from time to time about the terminology.

All one has to do is take a trip down memory lane to look at the way the media uniformly showed the Ronald Reagan landslide of 1984. Look at the map. The blue states belonged to Reagan. The red states were those won by Walter Mondale.

Why did that perfectly sensible system suddenly change in the presidential election of 2000?

The story goes that the current use of Republican red and Democrat blue began when the late Tim Russert, a respected television interviewer, but one who worked formerly for Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, decided to use this new color scheme 12 years ago, according to the Washington Post, and it took.

I’m not surprised it did, given the political complexion of the national press corps.

The former system made more sense and was deliberately changed by media partisans who didn’t like to suggest Democrats should be associated with the color red.

I’m not making this up. In fact, even the predictably leeward-tilting Wikipedia acknowledges the newly adopted U.S. hue standard stands in stark contrast to the system of political colors in most other countries that bother to hold elections: “This unofficial system of political colors used in the United States is the reverse of that in most other long-established democracies, where blue represents right-wing and conservative parties, and red represents left-wing and social democratic parties.”

For once, Wikipedia has it right.

What’s a little more surprising, however, is how easily Republicans fell in line, apparently without realizing the reason they went from blue to red overnight. There’s even a Republican-leaning opinion site called RedState.com. How shortsighted and gullible can you get?

To understand the history behind this change, let’s take a look at what was happening on television before 1980. Again, according to the usually unreliable Wikipedia, “In 1976, John Chancellor, the anchorman for the ‘NBC Nightly News,’ asked his network’s engineers to construct a large electronic map of the USA. The map was placed in the network’s election-night news studio. If Jimmy Carter, the Democratic candidate that year, won a state, it would light up in red; if Gerald Ford, the Republican, carried a state, it would light up in blue.”

Made sense. Jimmy Carter was a progenitor of Barack Obama. And even though Gerald Ford was too dumb to understand that Eastern Europe and specifically Poland was, at the time, under Soviet domination, no one would ever accuse him of being a commie.

The next election cycle, famous for Ronald Reagan’s Republican landslide, was also memorable for David Brinkley’s observation that the election board looked like a “sea of blue.”

That made even more sense because Reagan’s convictions were decidedly and unabashedly anti-red.

There were deviations at some other networks, but the standard remained Democrat-red and Republican-blue for three more presidential elections. It was understandable. There was little confusion about it. It all made sense.

Democrats were at least soft on communism and socialism in the post JFK-LBJ world. Republicans tended to be anti-communist. It was all perfectly understandable, accurate and had both historical precedent to support it as well as contemporary parallels in other countries.

I propose to you it’s time we – real Americans, the rest of us – stopped being manipulated like this.

I would like to announce today, as I did on 2008, that my news organization, WND, will stand apart and refuse to use the “red-state-blue-state” paradigm in news coverage because it will not be a part of the obvious manipulation behind it. We won’t use the reverse, either, because it is certain only to cause confusion among our readers.

But I further propose that you start lobbying other news organizations to reconsider their use of the currently accepted “red state-blue state” labeling system based on the historical precedents you have learned about in this column and because it was launched and inspired by a former Democratic Party activist cum newsman and was adopted enthusiastically because it was so welcomed by the press’ overwhelming party of choice.

Words mean things. Symbols, too, have meaning. Why is it that I get confused about what someone means when they say, for instance, “California is a blue state and Texas is red.” I get confused because it makes no sense! I don’t think I’m alone. I would propose to you that most people my age or older feel the same way. We all know California is red and Texas is blue. That makes sense.

It’s a very simple concept. Some Democrats, perhaps those not belonging openly to the Progressive Caucus, might be a little self-conscious about being red. Republicans are not. But the fact remains that today’s Democrats are pushing a political agenda that is traditionally, historically and practically red all over.

It’s time for them – and their cheerleaders in the press – to just be honest about it.

Voir encore:

RED STATE BLUES Did I Miss That Memo?
Clark Bensen
POLIDATA/Political Data Analysis
May 27, 2004

Over the past quarter of a century I have generated hundreds, nay thousands, of colorcoded (thematic) maps illustrating political behavior for the nation. These maps have used election results as the source information and show the geographic distribution of voter preferences at various levels of political geography, state, county, town/city, precinct and congressional or legislative districts2. In every one of these maps that indicate a political dichotomy of Republican vs. Democrat, the traditional color-coding scheme has been used:

BLUE FOR REPUBLICAN, RED FOR DEMOCRAT.

When I first came to Washington following the 1980 elections to join the staff of the Republican National Committee, it was already a given that color-coded maps were generated in this fashion. In fact, having watched network news election night coverage over the years, this seemed to be a generally-accepted standard. As the elections ticked away, however, the networks started to change and one-by-one the new election night standard generally became just the reverse.

As we know, the color red is more “eye-catching” and perhaps it made graphic sense for the networks to color-in the vast Republican expanse of the country in red to create a more dramatic background map. However, the problem has now transformed itself into a shorthand notation whereby the color is not used solely to visually differentiate states or counties. It is on the verge of becoming a part of the political lexicon as commentators refer to the “red states” and the “blue states”. This is, to me, as a longstanding political operative, not only confusing but a disturbing trend of how the political paradigm has shifted.

There are two general reasons why blue for Republican and Red for Democrat make the most sense: connotation and practice. First, there has been a generally understood meaning to the two colors inasmuch as they relate to politics. That is, the cooler color blue more closely represented the rational thinker and cold-hearted and the hotter red more closely represented the passionate and hot-blooded. This would translate into blue for Republicans and red for Democrats. Put another way, red was also the color most associated with socialism and the party of the Democrats was clearly the more socialistic of the two major parties.

The second reason why blue for Republicans makes sense is that traditional political mapmakers have used blue for the modern-day Republicans, and the Federalists before that, throughout the 20th century3. Perhaps this was a holdover from the days of the Civil War when the predominantly Republican North was “Blue”.

While not a unanimous practice4, there is significant printed evidence of tradition in favor of the blue for Republican and red for Democrat color scheme.

Nevertheless, the networks appear to be making this change full-bore during 2004. Even some conservative commentators5 have begun to use the “red state/blue state” break as a shorthand to “Republican state/Democrat state” as part of their terminology. Moreover, some younger political observers have been exposed only to the red for Republican scheme6.

Of course, while this just shrieks of inside-the-beltway elitism, it also tends to confuse the debate for many average Americans, especially those over 30. The sole premise for this short-hand is the color-coding of the maps, most of which have not been seen since the 2000 election night/recount coverage. The political parties have invested untold millions in brand recognition for their party labels. Now the media are poised to turn this around for the sake of inside Washington jargon.

The key issue here is not the color chosen for the maps. The key issue is how states, or areas, are described. What is needed is a return to clarity. Texas is not a “red state”, it is (at least now) a generically Republican state. New York is not a “blue state”, it is a generically Democrat state. There are no reds or blues living in America; only Republicans, Democrats and “Others”.

1 Clark H. Bensen, B.A., J.D., consulting data analyst and attorney doing business as POLIDATA ® Polidata Data Analysis and a publisher of data volumes operating as POLIDATA ® Demographic and Political Guides. POLIDATA is a demographic and political research firm located outside Washington, D.C.

2 Numerous examples of these maps may be found online at www.polidata.org. Distillers of Official Data ™ since 1974

3 Notable examples include: a) Charles O. Paullin and John K. Wright, Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States, (Washington, D.C., Carnegie Institution of Washington and the American Geographical Society of New York, 1932); b) Kenneth C. Martis and Ruth Anderson Rowles, The Historical Atlas of Political Parties in the United States Congress, 1789-1989, (New York, MacMillan, 1989); c) See also the National Atlas of the United States at nationalatlas.gov (a web update of Gerlach, Arch C., editor, National Atlas of the United States of America, (Washington, U.S. Geological Survey, 1970)).

4 My analyst counterpart, Kim Brace, of Election Data Services, who serves the Democrat side of the aisle, has been using red for Republican for as long as Polidata has been using blue for Republican.

5 Observed in a column by Bob Novak in Spring 2004. 6 Observed in a column in GOPUSA.com in a travel letter from a current college student

Voir de plus:

When Republicans Were Blue and Democrats Were Red
The era of color-coded political parties is more recent than you might think
Jodi Enda
smithsonian.com
October 31, 2012

Television’s first dynamic, color-coded presidential map, standing two stories high in the studio best known as the home to “Saturday Night Live,” was melting.

It was early October, 1976, the month before the map was to debut—live—on election night. At the urging of anchor John Chancellor, NBC had constructed the behemoth map to illustrate, in vivid blue and red, which states supported Republican incumbent Gerald Ford and which backed Democratic challenger Jimmy Carter.

The test run didn’t go well. Although the map was buttressed by a sturdy wood frame, the front of each state was plastic.

“There were thousands of bulbs,” recalled Roy Wetzel, then the newly minted general manager of NBC’s election unit. “The thing started to melt when we turned all the lights on. We then had to bring in gigantic interior air conditioning and fans to put behind the thing to cool it.”

That solved the problem. And when election results flowed in Tuesday night, Nov. 2, Studio 8-H at 30 Rockefeller Center lit up. Light bulbs on each state changed from undecided white to Republican blue and Democratic red. NBC declared Carter the winner at 3:30 a.m. EST, when Mississippi turned red.

That’s right: In the beginning, blue was red and red was blue and they changed back and forth from election to election and network to network in what appears, in hindsight, to be a flight of whimsy. The notion that there were “red states” and “blue states”—and that the former were Republican and the latter Democratic—wasn’t cemented on the national psyche until the year 2000.

Chalk up another one to Bush v. Gore. Not only did it give us “hanging chads” and a crash course in the Electoral College, not only did it lead to a controversial Supreme Court ruling and a heightened level of polarization that has intensified ever since, the Election That Wouldn’t End gave us a new political shorthand.

Twelve years later, in the final days of a presidential race deemed too close to call, we know this much about election night Nov. 6: The West Coast, the Northeast and much of the upper Midwest will be bathed in blue. With some notable exceptions, the geographic center of the country will be awash in red. So will the South. And ultimately, it is a handful of states—which will start the evening in shades of neutral and shift, one by one, to red or blue—that will determine who wins.

If enough of those swing states turn blue, President Barack Obama remains in the White House four more years. If enough become red, Gov. Mitt Romney moves in January 20, 2013. For now, they are considered “purple.”

Here’s something else we know: All the maps—on TV stations and Web sites election night and in newspapers the next morning—will look alike. We won’t have to switch our thinking as we switch channels, wondering which candidate is blue and which is red. Before the epic election of 2000, there was no uniformity in the maps that television stations, newspapers or magazines used to illustrate presidential elections. Pretty much everyone embraced red and blue, but which color represented which party varied, sometimes by organization, sometimes by election cycle.

There are theories, some likely, some just plain weird, to explain the shifting palette.

“For years, both parties would do red and blue maps, but they always made the other guys red,” said Chuck Todd, political director and chief White House correspondent for NBC News. “During the Cold War, who wanted to be red?”

Indeed, prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union little more than two decades ago, “red was a term of derision,” noted Mitchell Stephens, a New York University professor of journalism and author of A History of News.

“There’s a movie named Reds, ” he said. “You’d see red in tabloid headlines, particularly in right wing tabloids like the Daily Mirror in New York and the New York Daily News.”

Perhaps the stigma of red in those days explains why some networks changed colors— in what appeared to be random fashion—over the years. Kevin Drum of the Washington Monthly wrote in 2004 that the networks alternated colors based on the party of the White House incumbent, but YouTube reveals that to be a myth.

Still, there were reversals and deviations. In 1976, when NBC debuted its mammoth electronic map, ABC News employed a small, rudimentary version that used yellow for Ford, blue for Carter and red for states in which votes had yet to be tallied. In 1980, NBC once again used red for Carter and blue for the Republican challenger, Ronald Reagan, and CBS followed suit. But ABC flipped the colors and promised to use orange for states won by John Anderson, the third-party candidate who received 6.6% of the popular vote. (Anderson carried no states, and orange seems to have gone by the wayside.) Four years later, ABC and CBS used red for Republicans and blue for Democrats, but the combination wouldn’t stick for another 16 years. During the four presidential elections Wetzel oversaw for NBC, from 1976 through 1988, the network never switched colors. Republicans were cool blue, Democrats hot red.

The reasoning was simple, he said: Great Britain.

“Without giving it a second thought, we said blue for conservatives, because that’s what the parliamentary system in London is, red for the more liberal party. And that settled it. We just did it,” said Wetzel, now retired.

Forget all that communist red stuff, he said. “It didn’t occur to us. When I first heard it, I thought, ‘Oh, that’s really silly.’ ”

When ABC produced its first large electronic map in 1980, it used red for Republicans and blue for Democrats, while CBS did the reverse, according to Wetzel. NBC stuck with its original color scheme, prompting anchor David Brinkley to say that Reagan’s victory looked like “a suburban swimming pool.”

Newspapers, in those days, were largely black and white. But two days after voters went to the polls in 2000, both the New York Times and USA Today published their first color-coded, county-by-county maps detailing the showdown between Al Gore and George W. Bush. Both papers used red for the Republican Bush, blue for the Democrat Gore.

Why?

“I just decided red begins with ‘r,’ Republican begins with ‘r.’ It was a more natural association,” said Archie Tse, senior graphics editor for the Times. “There wasn’t much discussion about it.”

Paul Overberg, a database editor who designed the map for USA Today, said he was following a trend: “The reason I did it was because everybody was already doing it that way at that point.”

And everybody had to continue doing it for a long time. The 2000 election dragged on until mid-December, until the Supreme Court declared Bush the victor. For weeks, the maps were ubiquitous.

Perhaps that’s why the 2000 colors stuck. Along with images of Florida elections officials eyeballing tiny ballot chads, the maps were there constantly, reminding us of the vast, nearly even divide between, well, red and blue voters.

From an aesthetic standpoint, Overberg said, the current color scheme fits with the political landscape. Republicans typically dominate in larger, less populated states in the Plains and Mountain West, meaning the center of the United States is very red. “If it had been flipped, the map would have been too dark,” he said. “The blue would have been swamping the red. Red is a lighter color.”

But not everyone liked the shift. Republican operative Clark Bensen wrote an analysis in 2004 titled “RED STATE BLUES: Did I Miss That Memo?”

“There are two general reasons why blue for Republican and Red for Democrat make the most sense: connotation and practice,” Bensen wrote. “First, there has been a generally understood meaning to the two colors inasmuch as they relate to politics. That is, the cooler color blue more closely represented the rational thinker and cold-hearted and the hotter red more closely represented the passionate and hot-blooded. This would translate into blue for Republicans and red for Democrats. Put another way, red was also the color most associated with socialism and the party of the Democrats was clearly the more socialistic of the two major parties.

“The second reason why blue for Republicans makes sense is that traditional political mapmakers have used blue for the modern-day Republicans, and the Federalists before that, throughout the 20th century. Perhaps this was a holdover from the days of the Civil War when the predominantly Republican North was ‘Blue’.”

At this point—three presidential elections after Bush v. Gore—the color arrangement seems unlikely to reverse any time soon. Not only have “red states” and “blue states” entered the lexicon, partisans on both sides have taken ownership of them. For instance, RedState is a conservative blog; Blue State Digital, which grew out of Democrat Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign, helps candidates and organizations use technology to raise money, advocate their positions and connect with constituents. In 2008, a Republican and a Democrat even joined forces to create Purple Strategies, a bipartisan public affairs firm.

Sara Quinn, a visual journalist now at the Poynter Institute in Florida, said she sees no particular advantage to either color.

“Red is usually very warm and it comes forward to the eye. Blue tends to be a recessive color, but a calming color,” she said.

Not that anyone thought of those things when assigning colors in 2000. Not that they think about it at all today.

“After that election the colors became part of the national discourse,” said Tse. “You couldn’t do it any other way.”

Voir aussi:

One State, Two State, Red State, Blue State
Tom Zeller
The New York Times
February 8, 2004

ON Dec. 19, the online magazine Slate corrected an installment of « Moneybox, » a recurring column by Daniel Gross . The article had « reversed the states’ electoral colors, » the correction stated. « It’s the blue coastal states that opposed Bush, and the red states that supported him. »

The arbitrary, it seemed, had become axiomatic. Neither Mr. Gross’s column, nor the correction, referred to a particular map. Instead, they both alluded to what has become, in the four years since the Bush-Gore showdown, something of a Platonic political tableau – one from which this simple, harmonic maxim now emanates: Democratic states are blue, and Republican states are red.

« I didn’t realize it had become so official, » said Mr. Gross, who also writes periodically for The New York Times. « I must have missed the memo. »

There wasn’t one, of course, but it is testament to the visual onslaught of the 2000 election – those endlessly repeated images of the electoral United States – that the Red State/Blue State dichotomy has become entrenched in the political lexicon.

« The red states have turned redder, » the Bush campaign manager, Ken Mehlman, said recently, « while the blue states have turned purple. »

To many, this palette represents an ignorant (or perhaps intentional) reversal of international tradition, which often associates red with left-leaning parties and blue with the right. « It’s weird, is all, » wrote a blogger at dailykos.com, a political Web journal. « I’d like some accountability if people are going to start messing with cultural symbolism willy-nilly. »

Mark Monmonier, a professor of geography at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and an expert in the use of maps as analytical and persuasive tools, found himself automatically reversing the current color code. « I remember talking in a class about the red states and blue states, » he said, « and a student actually corrected me. »

Online political discussion groups buzz with conspiracy theories about the maps, suggesting that Republican states were made red because that color typically represents the enemy on military combat maps, or because red has more negative psychological baggage (fiery, dangerous) than friendly, pacific blue.

Others have thought it simply a naïve attempt to avoid trafficking in stereotypes (Democrats are Reds, or socialists). Professor Monmonier suggested – jokingly – that the red-left, blue-right association more rightly follows the conventional ordering of visible light (red, yellow, green, blue, and so forth).

But in the United States, at least, the color coding has rarely been static.

An early marriage of red and blue with the two major parties is noted in the Texas State Historical Association’s Handbook of Texas History Online , which describes a color-coding system developed in the 1870’s to help illiterate and Spanish-speaking voters navigate English-language ballots in South Texas. Local Democratic leaders called their party the Blues; Republicans chose to be the Reds.

By late in the next century, however, few were guided by that historical tidbit – or any other convention.

« It’s beginning to look like a suburban swimming pool, » the television anchor David Brinkley noted on election night 1980, as hundreds of Republican-blue light bulbs illuminated NBC’s studio map, signaling a landslide victory for Ronald Regan over the Democratic incumbent Jimmy Carter. Other staffers, Time magazine wrote, called it « Lake Reagan. »

Mr. Carter’s bulbs were red.

Five years later, in her book « My Story, » Geraldine A. Ferraro recalled watching her 1984 vice presidential bid founder on the television screen. Mr. Reagan’s victory this time around was rendered in both flavors. « One network map of the United States was entirely blue for the Republicans, » she wrote. « On another network, the color motif was a blanket of red. »

By the 1990’s, the color scheme was becoming a bit more formalized – at least on network and cable television. But other news outlets continued to vary.

Time magazine had favored Democratic red and Republican white in the 1976 election between Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, then reversed those colors for Reagan and Carter in 1980. By 1988, the magazine was using Republican blue and Democratic red, and it stayed with that motif even through the 2000 election, which has colorized the nation’s political language in precisely the opposite way.

The Times, which published its first color presidential election map in 2000, followed the networks, although Archie Tse, a graphics editor who made the choice, provided a different rationale: « Both Republican and red start with the letter R, » he said.

The National Atlas of the United States, published online under the auspices of the United States Geological Survey at nationalatlas.gov , still resists that trend: Bush counties are blue; Gore counties red.

Does it matter? Can swaths of cartographic-crimson or seas of ballot-blue tickle the rods and cones of the voting public and trigger deep-seated associations? The field of color psychology is uncertain on the matter.

Robert F. Simons, a professor of psychology at the University of Delaware and a co-author of a recent study titled « The Emotional Significance of Color in Television Presentations, » published in the journal Media Psychology, says it is difficult to link colors directly with how much people like or dislike something.

« People still associate color with all sorts of things – red is hot, blue is cold, » Professor Simons said. « But when all is said and done, these are semantic associations that probably have little to do with color per se. »

But Leatrice Eiseman, the director of the Pantone Color Institute , says those semantic associations are fairly entrenched – at least in the West. Blue, Ms. Eiseman says, is cool and calming, and typically represents « those things in nature that are always there for us, like water and the sky, » she said. Red, in contrast is « exciting, dynamic, high-energy. »

« It can also be a symbol of danger and bloodshed, » she added, although Republicans who find themselves uncomfortable at the hot-and-twitchy end of the spectrum may take comfort at the ascension of their color on Valentine’s Day. « Red is also a very sensual color, » Ms. Eiseman said.

She suggests that maps would do better to mimic the flag, with states bearing either stars on a blue field, or red-and-white stripes. « That would provide a symbolism that is familiar to everyone, » Ms. Eiseman said.

Whatever the subliminal debris, the 2000 election, which kept the nation staring at tinted maps for weeks as the outcome remained uncertain, appears to have cemented a decision that once could be safely governed by whimsy. The Geospatial and Statistical Data Center at the University of Virginia , for example, once chose shades of green and turquoise for its election maps. « I suspect it was just what the mapmaker liked at the time, » said Michael J. Furlough, the director of the data center.

But the center’s maps for the 2000 election were made red and blue. « We made that decision so that the colors would match those that we thought viewers naturally associated with each party, » Mr. Furlough said.

« A critical part of Dean . . . truly reflects much of the culture of the Blue States of America, » wrote Andrew Sullivan in Time magazine last week. That’s probably reason enough for the publication to cede to convention and render the Democrats blue this year. The magazine’s managing editor, James Kelly, says it’s already been decided. « We’re getting with the program, » he said.

Voir encore:

Elephants Are Red, Donkeys Are Blue
Color Is Sweet, So Their States We Hue
Paul Farhi
The Washington Post
November 2, 2004

Tonight, as the results of this too-close-to-call election trickle in, voters will find out not just who they’ve chosen to lead them, but where they live — in « red » or « blue » America.

The TV networks’ electoral maps will turn red once again when President Bush wins a state, and blue when John Kerry claims one. The evening’s talk will likely break along red and blue lines. DanPeterTom will discuss which states might go red, which are trending blue, and which, depending on their ultimate chromatic disposition, could decide the election.

Red and blue, of course, have become more than just the conveniently contrasting colors of TV graphics. They’ve become shorthand for an entire sociopolitical worldview. A « red state » bespeaks not just a Republican majority but an entire geography (rectangular borders in the country’s midsection), an iconography (Bush in a cowboy hat), and a series of cultural cliches (churches and NASCAR). « Blue states » suggest something on, and of, the coastal extremes, urban and latte-drinking. Red states — to reduce the stereotypes to an even more vulgar level — are a little bit country, blues are a little more rock-and-roll.

How has it come to this? What cosmic decorator did the states’ colors, reducing a continental nation’s complicated political and cultural realities to a two-tone palette?

The answers are somewhat murky — we may have to wait for a recount to be sure — but it appears the 2000 election, NBC’s graphics department and David Letterman all played critical roles.

Before Bush’s disputed victory over Al Gore four years ago, there was no consensus on the color of liberalism or conservatism. Indeed the scheme was often reversed, reflecting traditional European associations (red being not just the color of communism but of Great Britain’s Labor Party, too).

In 1976, NBC identified states won by Gerald Ford in blue and Jimmy Carter’s states in red. On election night in 1980, ABC News showed Ronald Reagan’s march to the White House as a series of blue lights on a map, with Carter’s states in red. Time magazine assigned red to the Democrats and blue to the Republicans in its election graphics in every election from 1988 to 2000. The Washington Post’s election graphics for the 2000 election were Republican-blue, Democrat-red.

The first reference to « red states » and « blue states, » according to a database search of newspapers, magazines and TV news transcripts since 1980, occurred on NBC’s « Today » show about a week before the 2000 election. Matt Lauer and Tim Russert discussed the projected alignment of the states, using a map and a color scheme that had first shown up a few days earlier on NBC’s sister cable network, MSNBC. « So how does [Bush] get those remaining 61 electoral red states, if you will? » Russert asked at one point.

In an interview yesterday, Russert disclaimed credit for coining the red-state, blue-state distinction. « I’m sure I wasn’t the first to come up with it, » he said. « But I will take credit for the white board, » Russert’s signature, hands-on electoral vote tracker.

As the 2000 election became a 36-day recount debacle, the commentariat magically reached consensus on the proper colors. Newspapers began discussing the race in the larger, abstract context of red vs. blue. The deal may have been sealed when Letterman suggested a week after the vote that a compromise would « make George W. Bush president of the red states and Al Gore head of the blue ones. »

All of this doesn’t answer two fundamental questions: Why red? Why blue?

Stephen Hess, a professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University, points to the obvious association with the American flag. He adds that those colors look good on a TV screen, too.

Besides, other combinations wouldn’t work. We’ve already tried blue and gray, and we know how that ended up. It would be wrong, for obvious reasons, to divide the country into « black » states and « white » states. And it just wouldn’t look right to pick a more out-there palette, such as taupe-teal or puce-mauve.

Some conspiracy-mind Republicans resent being colored red because that hue tends to be associated with negative traits (fiery, bloody, hot, red-in-the-face), although red is also associated with love. Blue, meanwhile, is peaceful and tranquil, the color of sky and water, but it’s also the color of cold and depression.

The real problem may lie in the superficial caricatures that the colors conjure. Is it really accurate, after all, to describe New Mexico as a « blue » state when Gore won it by just 366 votes in 2000? In California — a state so blue that neither of the two leading candidates bothered campaigning much there this year — voters have in recent years approved initiatives repealing racial preferences and bilingual education, and have ousted a Democratic governor in favor of a Republican. Ohio — historically a red state — is close enough that Kerry might eke out a narrow victory, but it is also poised to pass overwhelmingly a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

The whole red-blue division got an eloquent rebuke at the Democratic National Convention this summer, when Senate candidate Barack Obama told the cheering crowd, « We coach Little League in blue states and we have gay friends in red states. We pray to an awesome God in blue states and we don’t like federal agents sniffing around our libraries in red states. »

Red? Blue? In roses and violets maybe, but politics and culture come in many hues, and many of them clash.

Voir de même:

Banana Republicans
MSNBC

Paul Begala

November 13, 2000

The Bushies are desperate — desperate to stop a manual recount of disputed Florida votes. And as so often happens when one is desperate, they’re saying some really stupid things. Former Secretary of State and Bush fixer James A. Baker III even went on national television to say that manual recounts are not as reliable as machine counts.

The Bush camp craves power more than it respects democracy. ‘Trusting the people’ is just a slogan to them.

WHILE BAKER has a right to his opinion, his opinion does not trump Florida election law, which calls for a manual recount if there are anomalies in the machine count.

And apparently George W. Bush does not share his lawyer’s suspicion of manual recounts, since in 1997 he signed a law saying a manual recount was preferable if a machine count yielded a result that was too close to call. Having voted in Texas — as recently as the last presidential election — I know firsthand that many Texans vote on the same controversial punch-card machines as were used in Palm Beach County.

The Bushies are so desperate to stop the manual recount they’ve devised a two-tiered strategy :

First, they’ve gone into federal court to ask that the Florida election law, which clearly allows a manual recount, is unconstitutional. This is legal lunacy and political hypocrisy. Legally, Florida’s recount law is like most states,’ in that it allows recounts in close races or where some discrepancy is shown. Before any county can grant a Gore campaign request for a recount, the county must first demonstrate — by examining 1 percent of the ballots by hand — that there is some cause for concern that the machine might have missed some ballots. Such a regime is common and fair, hardly the abridgement of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause and the First Amendment’s free speech clause, as the Bushies’ stunning legal brief argues.

DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN
Politically, this is the most blatant hypocrisy since another Bush got elected by asking us to read his lips and then raised our taxes. Bush Jr. campaigned on a commitment to return more power to states and localities. Now, where a state (run by his own brother) is exercising control of its own electoral process, Bush wants the feds to come in and take it over.

The man whose slogan was “I trust the people,” now says he trusts machines more. The man who campaigned for tort reform and against lawyers, is now trying to use lawyers to stop a legal and valid recount — apparently because he fears that if the real will of the people is known, he’d lose.

Fortunately, a federal judge has denied the request for an injunction. Score one for democracy.

But the Bushies aren’t through yet. The other prong of the Bush anti-recount strategy is even more chilling :

The Florida secretary of state — a partisan Republican who campaigned for Bush in New Hampshire and who the Tampa Tribune says spent $100,000 of taxpayers’ money on a world tour to boost her credentials for a Bush ambassadorial appointment – has ruled that the deadline for all certified county results is 5 p.m. ET Tuesday. Such a deadline would make many of the hand recounts impossible to complete. What’s the rush? The overseas absentee ballots will be coming in until Friday, so there’s no need to rush the process to a close. Besides, Florida law clearly allows for a manual recount. It seems unfair — and unconstitutional — for a state official to set such a tight time limit that the recount becomes a practical impossibility.

HEAVY-HANDED STRATEGIES
Such heavy-handed, anti-democratic strategies qualify them to be Banana Republicans. They seem to care more about their preferred outcome than an honest and fair process.

Al Gore has already demonstrated his willingness to accept an unfavorable result by conceding the election when he thought Bush had won Florida by a fairly wide margin of 50,000 votes. Gore’s campaign spokesman made it clear that if a fair and accurate count yields a Bush victory, the Democrats will recognize it. Have we ever heard a single Bush spokesman make such a comment? No. In fact, thanks to the reporting of Michael Kramer of the New York Daily News and Andy Miga of the Boston Herald, we know the Banana Republicans had a secret strategy for undermining a Gore victory if Bush had won the popular vote. Now that the result is the other way, we’ve seen no Democratic strategy for de-legitimizing Bush. In fact, Gore has made it clear that although he won the popular vote nationwide, he will respect the result of the electoral vote as determinative. I have yet to hear a single Banana Republican say the same thing. They crave power more than they respect democracy.

“Trusting the people” is just a slogan to them.
As they did during the right-wing lynch mob’s attempt to impeach our president, the American people are showing their usual good judgment. According to a Newsweek poll released Monday, 72 percent of Americans feel that making certain the count is fair and accurate is more important than getting matters resolved as quickly as possible. Almost 70 percent say that the recount and the delay are proof that the U.S. electoral system is working, not a sign of weakness. And two-thirds (66 percent) of all Americans, and a majority (54 percent) of Bush voters think Gore did the right thing in withdrawing his concession to Bush. So pay no attention to the hot-air boys who are trying to railroad this election for their man Bush. Let’s settle down, slow down and get the most accurate count possible. It’s more important to get this right than to get it right away.

PERPLEXED, BUT NOT DIVIDED
Finally, I feel compelled to respond to something that was said on MSNBC cable last week. Mike Barnicle is one of the great voices of American commentary, and last week he held up the USA Today map of how every county in America voted. There was a sea of Bush red across the South, Midwest and Rocky Mountains with Gore blue hugging the coasts. Barnicle said this was proof of a cultural divide in America: “Wal-Mart versus Martha Stewart,” he said. “Family values versus a sense of entitlement.” I’ve been thinking about that ever since. And while I appreciate a guy from the Northeast opining about the cultural superiority of the Deep South, let me offer my own perspective: I was raised in that ocean of red. I grew up in Sugar Land, Texas — a place so conservative our Congressman is Tom “the Hammer” DeLay, the leader of the right-wing forces in the GOP Congress. There is no doubt that Barnicle’s observations have merit: There are different cultural mores on the coasts than there are in the middle of the country. But I don’t think that’s the only thing going on here.

Why would my beloved South vote so heavily Republican when just a generation ago it was heavily (no, totally) Democratic? LBJ knew. When he signed the Civil Rights Act he put his head in his hands and told his press secretary, Bill Moyers, “I’ve just given the South to the Republicans for a generation.” LBJ’s pessimism was prescient.

In the next presidential election, George Wallace stormed across the South with a message that cloaked racism in anti-government, anti-federal rhetoric. Richard Nixon’s infamous “Southern Strategy” was aimed at co-opting the votes of Southern Democratic racists who were disillusioned with their party’s support of civil rights. And by 1980, Ronald Reagan could stand in Neshoba County, Miss. — where Goodman and Chaney and Schwerner were murdered by racist thugs for registering black voters — and call for “states’ rights.”

The only two men from my party who won the White House since LBJ were moderate Southerners who knew the ins and outs of racial politics: Jimmy Carter of Georgia and Bill Clinton of Arkansas. If we were in a recession or a war, you could understand the unanimous verdict of my fellow Southerners. What is it about peace and prosperity that has them so angry? Could it be that the Clinton administration was the first in history to take on the extremists at the NRA, by pushing through the Brady Law and the assault weapon ban? Could it be that this administration saved affirmative action from a right-wing assault in the courts, the ballot box and the Congress? Could it be that this administration stood courageously for the simple proposition that no American should be fired from his job because of who he fall in love with?

NO EASY ANSWERS
Vice President Gore tells reporters that democracy, not the election, is at stake.

Yes, Barnicle is right when he notes that tens of millions of good people in Middle America voted Republican. But if you look closely at that map you see a more complex picture.

You see the state where James Byrd was lynch-dragged behind a pickup truck until his body came apart — it’s red.

You see the state where Matthew Shepard was crucified on a split-rail fence for the crime of being gay — it’s red.

You see the state where right-wing extremists blew up a federal office building and murdered scores of federal employees — it’s red.

The state where an Army private who was thought to be gay was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat, and the state where neo-Nazi skinheads murdered two African-Americans because of their skin color, and the state where Bob Jones University spews its anti-Catholic bigotry : they’re all red too.

But that’s not the whole story, either. Cultural warriors like House impeachment managers Bill McCollum and James Rogan and ultra-conservatives like Sen. John Ashcroft were defeated.

A gun control measure passed in Colorado and Oregon.

School vouchers were rejected in Michigan and California.

Democrats gained seats in the House, the Senate and state legislatures

And Gore carried the popular vote.

My point is that Middle America is a far more complicated place than even a gifted commentator like Mike Barnicle gives us credit for. It’s not all just red and blue — or black and white.

Democratic strategist Paul Begala is the co-host, with Oliver North, of MSNBC’s “Equal Time.” Begala is also the author of “Is Our Children Learning? The Case Against George W. Bush.”

Florida Recount …

PAUL BEGALA

Just when the Fat Lady was two-thirds through her aria, the Florida Supreme Court has stuffed a big-ol’ sock in her mouth. The Court has ordered, finally, that the disputed ballots from Miami-Dade County — and any other undervotes from any other county — be counted.

This is only fair. And fairness should count for something. I spoke to a high school civics class this morning, and had a hard time trying to explain why, since I believe any fair and full counting will show that Gore won Florida and with it the White House, The System may not give us that full and fair counting. The best I could come up with is to remind the students of what President Kennedy said, « Life is not fair. »

JFK had been, as he memorably said of his generation, « tested in war, (and) tempered by a hard and bitter peace. » He had seen his brother killed in combat, his sister killed in a plane crash, his boat shot out from under him in the Pacific. And yet he knew others who’d emerged from the war unscathed — and others still who were never called to serve at all.

His conclusion : life is not fair.

For someone like me who has, thank God, never been asked to serve in combat, I lack JFK’s tough, but accurate, perspective. And, Lord knows, an election is not a war. No one will die. No one will be injured. No one will have their lives shattered. So, while this is definitely the biggest political story of my lifetime, Kennedy’s lesson has helped me put it into perspective.

Still, I am thrilled that the Florida Supreme Court has ordered a careful count of the disputed ballots. It would be even more fair to have, as Gore has suggested, a full recount of the entire state of Florida. But absent that, counting the disputed ballots may yield a victory for Gore — or it may yield a victory for Bush. But more fundamentally, the count will confer legitimacy. After all, when 6,000,000 votes are cast but only 537 separate the winner from the loser, and tens of thousands of ballots have never been accurately read, it seems only fair to give those ballots a look-see.

I know The System is not always fair. But it ought to be unfair to both parties in the same way. That is, if the GOP is going to tell hundreds of voters in Palm Beach County that their votes don’t count because their local canvassing board submitted the paperwork 127 minutes late (when the Supreme Court had said the Secretary of State could receive them the next morning); if we’re going to tell 20,000 citizens whose votes were invalidated by a flawed ballot, and thousands more whose votes were never counted because of flawed machines, and untold more whose votes were excluded because of a lack of translators for Haitian immigrants or because the needlessly complicated ballot confused a lot of first-time voters — if the Republicans’ answer to all of those people is, « Life is unfair, » why do they appeal to fundamental fairness to include thousands of ballots whose applications were tampered with by party operatives?

The twin-killing of the Seminole and Martin County cases makes sense when you consider the radical — and unfair — nature of the remedy. Nobody wants to throw out the votes of thousands of citizens who did nothing wrong. Nobody but the Republicans, if those votes happen to be for Al Gore. By the same token, the Florida Supreme Court ruling makes sense. If every vote counts in Seminole and Martin Counties, they ought to count in the state’s other counties as well.

Watch for the Banana Republicans to attack the Court, just as Bush lawyer (and the man who ran the Wilie Horton campaign for Poppy) James Baker called the last Supreme Court ruling with which he disagreed, « unacceptable. » The Bushies will resort to the US Supreme Court, the Florida Legislature, Tom DeLay and the right-wingers who run the GOP Congress. All Al Gore has on his side are the people, the votes and the law. It’s going to be one helluva fight.

The drumbeat from the Know-Nothing Class continues

PAUL BEGALA

Why, the pundidiots ask, won’t Al Gore simply concede defeat and let us get about the important business of sucking up to the Bushies? I can hardly blame them. The Clinton Era has been a long, lonely walk in the wilderness for most of the chattering class. The Clintons didn’t like them. Didn’t like their arrogance or their condescension. Couldn’t stand their ruthlessness. And they let it show.

Worse, the Clinton Era proved the absolute and total lack of power in the punditocracy. From inside the White House it seemed to me as if 90 percent of the talking heads were calling for Clinton’s head. And he wouldn’t offer it up. Day after day they told the American people that Clinton had to go. The American people followed it carefully, studied it judiciously and told the pundidiots to pound sand. Obviously what Clinton did in his private life was wrong, and lying about it was terribly wrong. All of that made him a bad husband, perhaps, but it didn’t change the reality that he was, in the eyes of the American people, a terrific president. And so they hung in there with him. The pundidiots acted like two-year-olds who weren’t getting enough attention, « But our opinions matter! » they screamed. « We get the best tables at the finest Georgetown restaurants. When we say he has to go, he has to go. »

But he would not go. And the American people would not let him go. And so he stayed. He survived, he succeeded, he triumphed. He is seen as more successful in his job than Eisenhower or Reagan were at this stage of their presidencies. He has become the most successful president since FDR, accomplishing more of the goals he set at the beginning of his presidency than anyone since.

And in so doing he pissed-off the pundidiots mightily.

Perhaps that’s why they’re so cranky, so angry, so nasty to Al Gore. Good Lord, the man won the election. He got more votes than the other guy. More Americans wanted him to be President than George W. Bush. I know that’s not constitutionally dispositive, but it’s pretty damned important. But only if you think the will of the people matters.

George W. Bush may capture the White House. But somewhere in the pea-brain of his is the knowledge, the fact, the certainty that most Americans did not want him in that job — that more Americans wanted the other guy. What’s worse, his supporters can draw no comfort from the argument that they won the electoral vote, since we know Bush’s only hope to « win » Florida lies in legal technicalities, deadlines and the trump card of the Tallahassee Taliban setting aside the will of the voters and giving W 25 electoral votes by legislative fiat.

Independent, nonpartisan analyses of the Florida vote conducted by both the Miami Herald and the Orlando Sentinel concluded that Gore won Florida by a comparatively comfortable margin — as much as 23,000 votes.

Not ready for prime time

PAUL BEGALA

January 8, 2001

Chavez flap is one more sign of Bushies’ arrogance.

So now we learn that Labor Secretary-designate Linda Chavez housed — and may have employed — an illegal alien. We don’t have enough information yet to discern whether this was a commendable act of charity or a criminal violation of the labor laws. And until more facts are in I’m not interested in passing judgment on Chavez.

But this revelation does allow us to make some important judgments about Team Bush :

THEY LIE : I know that sounds harsh, but what else do you call it? The New York Times reports that Bush spokesman Tucker Eskew “said Ms. Chavez was unaware of the woman’s legal status at the time she was sheltering her and only realized after she had departed from her home that she was here illegally.” But that’s not what the woman in question says. Marta Mercado told The Washington Post that she informed Chavez of her illegal status about three months after moving into her home. And Chavez’s close friend, Abigail Thernstrom, told the Times, “I’m pretty confident that Linda did know” that Mercado was not legally in this country.

Why would the Bushies lie about such a thing? For the same reason George W. Bush lied about failing to report to the Alabama National Guard and for the same reason the president-elect lied about his arrest for drunk driving. It’s the same reason the Bushies lied about Dick Cheney’s post-election heart attack. And the same reason Bush lied to a court in Texas about whether he’d discussed with state regulators a controversial investigation of a funeral home company run by a gubernatorial campaign contributor. Because that’s what they do.

CLINTON LIES V. BUSH LIES

Yes, Bill Clinton denied having an affair. I don’t excuse that, but what straying husband wants his family, much less the world, to know? And (except for Hillary) whose dadgum business is it anyway?

As they never tire of telling us, the Bushies don’t have extramarital affairs. They save their lies for public affairs.

Remember : “Read my lips.”

Remember : “I was out of the loop on Iran-Contra.”

And who can forget : “Clarence Thomas is the most qualified person in America for the Supreme Court.”

So spare us the lectures about “restoring honor and dignity” to the White House. Bush hasn’t even gotten there yet, and he’s already left a trail of mendacity from here to Waco. The only thing the Bushies ever wanted to restore was themselves — to power.

But the lack of candor from Bush and his minions is not the only lesson from this mess.

We’ve also learned — horrors :

They’re hypocrites.
When Attorney General-designate Zoe Baird was being pilloried for failing to pay Social Security taxes on an illegal immigrant she’d hired as a nanny, Linda Chavez was one of the loudest voices in the hypocrites’ choir. “I think most of the American people were upset during the Zoe Baird nomination that she’d hired an illegal alien. That was what upset them more than the fact that she did not pay Social Security taxes,” Chavez told PBS in 1993, according to the Post.

And Chavez was far from alone. During the Baird case, and all the way through impeachment, Republicans argued for a strict, unforgiving reading of the law, invoking in pompous, pious tones, “The Rule of Law.” Let’s see the same people who argued for Bill Clinton because he was reluctant to admit an affair turn around and argue for leniency in the Chavez case.

A strict reading of the law says it’s a violation to harbor someone who is illegally in this country — irrespective of whether you actually employed her (which would be another violation). But suddenly, the same people who trashed the Constitution to impeach President Clinton because they wanted to make a constitutional crisis out of an affair, are now, in the words of the Bush transition spokesman, appealing for “a common-sense standard : government should not punish you for trying to help somebody else out in life.”

Only a Bushie could produce this whiplash-inducing spin. Only a Bushie could convince himself that the rules don’t apply to him and his cronies. And only a Bushie could argue that when “they” break the rules, the act is a manifestation of their good intentions and moral superiority, while if a Democrat makes a mistake it is, literally, a federal case and proof of that person’s moral sleaziness.

ENUMERATING ACTS OF COMPASSION

Finally, we’ve learned something more surprising :

Not ready for prime time. Who would’ve thought that Cheney-Bush, Inc. would stumble so badly on something so obvious? Spokesfibber Eskew was coy when asked if Chavez’s illegal immigrant problem had surfaced in the pre-nomination vetting. “The vetters ask a range of serious questions,” he told the Post, “including things about domestic employees and paying taxes. They don’t, however, ask potential nominees to enumerate every act of compassion.”

Sounds like they missed this. They missed Dick Cheney’s EKG, which looks like 40 miles of bad Oklahoma farm road, and his congressional voting record, which looks like Jesse Helms’ greatest hits. They missed John Ashcroft’s remark that the cause of the Confederacy — slavery — was not “perverted.” If people owning people ain’t perverted, I don’t know what is.

The Bushies promised competence more than ideology. So far we’ve gotten mendacity and hypocrisy — all in service of a right-wing ideology.

No wonder they lost the election.

Voir encore:

Racial Witch-Hunt The Left is Guilty of Racial McCarthyism
David Horowitz
Front page magazine

January 22, 2001

ON DECEMBER 14TH, as the Holiday Season was getting into full swing, five young men and women, all professionals with bright careers ahead of them, were accosted at gunpoint in a townhouse belonging to one of them, sexually tortured and then shot in the head. The sadistic criminals who perpetrated this atrocity were brothers. Only one young woman survived.
ON DECEMBER 14TH, as the Holiday Season was getting into full swing, five young men and women, all professionals with bright careers ahead of them, were accosted at gunpoint in a townhouse belonging to one of them, sexually tortured and then shot in the head. The sadistic criminals who perpetrated this atrocity were brothers. Only one young woman survived. In a poignant footnote to the tragedy, she had discovered, when one of the criminals stole a diamond ring from a drawer in the apartment where her companions were killed, that her now dead boyfriend intended to propose to her. Naked and bleeding from her head wound, the young woman staggered a mile through the snow to safety.Despite the story’s horror, despite its drama, despite its “human interest” dimension, not a single national news outlet reported the case. The reason: the monsters who committed this horror were black, the victims white. The reason: The national media is infected with anti-white racism, and the infection is of epidemic proportions. The reason: The story did not fit the politically correct national melodrama of black victimhood, white oppression.

The same epidemic of politically correct, anti-white attitudes pervades local governments and law enforcement authorities. The official position over the killings in the editorial rooms of the Wichita Eagle and the local District Attorney’s office is that the December 14th hate crime was not a hate crime at all. Why? Because the victims were robbed and the motive therefore was not racial, but robbery.

Matthew Shepherd was robbed.

Neither the crime nor the silence surrounding it, are isolated incidents. Last February, 6-year-old Jake Robel was dragged five miles to his death in Missouri because a black car-jacker was deaf to a white child’s screams for help. The nation was not informed. Last April, eight-year-old Kevin Shifflett, had his throat slit by a racist in broad daylight in Alexandria, Virginia, a suburb of the nation’s capital. No one reported Kevin’s assassination as a hate crime and the crime itself was smothered in a politically correct news blackout. The reason? Kevin was white, his racist attacker black. These crimes of the last year remain invisible. But a two-year-old hate crime, familiar to every citizen through endless repetition in the news media, congressional keenings, and presidential pronouncements because it was committed against a black man, did become a central feature of the Democrats’ campaign against presidential candidate George Bush, whom they found guilty of association to the incident because it took place in Texas.Why should these facts surprise anyone, when everyone knows that it is politically correct to hate white people in America? Hatred of whites is a well-developed intellectual doctrine at our nation’s most prestigious universities and law schools – whole faculties are devoted to it. Hatred of whites is widely taught in our nation’s schools, where they are portrayed as history’s racists and oppressors. It is inscribed in our nation’s laws, which provide racial privileges and racial protections for those whose skin color is any shade but white. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party campaigns to ensure that hate crimes are identified in the public mind exclusively with straight white males. Its surrogate in this campaign is the nation’s leading so-called civil rights organization, the NAACP, which ran a multi-million dollar TV effort during the presidential race insinuating that George W. Bush hates black people and is in league with lynchers because he did not think extending a hate crimes law to include special protections for gays was a prudent idea. No Democrat has condemned this racial McCarthyism let alone the offensive outbursts of party extremists like Maxine Waters.

In a calculated cynicism, the Democratic Party has whipped up racial paranoia in the African-American community by lending credibility to the lunatic charge that there was systematic disenfranchisement of black voters in Florida by racists who remain invisible. The U.S. Civil Rights Commission has even staged a show trial to demonstrate the indemonstrable. Witness after witness appeared before the Commission to claim racial intimidation, and then was forced to admit under questioning that they had actually been able to vote. Not a shred of evidence exists that there was a conspiracy to deprive African-Americans in Florida of the right to vote. Yet the NAACP has filed lawsuits making just that accusation. And millions of black people have been persuaded by racial demagogues and their liberal abettors that such a conspiracy exists, that the election was “stolen” from them in order that Republicans could appoint racists to government.

The witch-hunting mentality that has seized the Democratic Party is on full display in a notorious Internet column written by Clinton strategist and Gore advisor Paul Begala during the Florida brawl:

Yes… tens of millions of good people in Middle America voted Republican. But if you look closely at that [electoral] map [showing counties that voted Republican in red] you see a more complex picture. You see the state where James Byrd was lynch-dragged behind a pickup truck until his body came apart – it’s red. You see the state where Matthew Shepard was crucified on a split-rail fence for the crime of being gay – it’s red. You see the state where right-wing extremists blew up a federal office building and murdered scores of federal employees – it’s red. The state where an army private who was thought to be gay was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat, and the state where neo-Nazi skin-heads murdered two African Americans because of their skin color, and the state where Bob Jones University spews its anti-Catholic bigotry: they’re all red too.
One could respond to Begala in Begala fashion: “The state where left-wing extremist, Muslim terrorists blew up the World Trade Center – that’s blue. The county where a race riot following a jury verdict destroyed 2,000 Korean businesses and caused the deaths of 58 people – that’s blue. The states where Colin Ferguson and Ronald Taylor killed 8 whites and Asians because leftwing race baiters convinced them they were victims of a racial conspiracy – are blue. The counties, nationwide, where the vast majority of murderers, rapists and child molesters live and operate – those are blue, too.”

But far more important is how Begala’s outburst reveals the casual way in which a mainstream political strategist on the left can smear an entire political party – routinely identified by his political comrades as a “white party” – as a den of racial killers.

Not since the heyday of Senator Joe McCarthy has there been a demonization of whole categories of Americans or a national witch-hunt on a scale like this.

And this witch-hunt is now the focus of the nomination process for the new president’s cabinet. Nor do Democrats betray any embarrassment at the fact that leading their attack from the left is a Senator who killed a woman while driving under the influence, left the scene of the accident, and avoided a manslaughter charge only by massing all his legendary family’s political muscle to fix the judicial process in a backwater county of his own state. Democrats had previously politicized and debased the process by which Supreme Court nominees are vetted. Now they are turning what used to be a pro forma confirmation ritual of a new Administration into an orgy of character assassination.

Consider the spectacle. George Bush has nominated the most diverse cabinet in American history. He has appointed African-Americans to the highest positions on record. He has appointed a Chinese-American and an Arab-American to cabinet positions for the first time. He has appointed Hispanic Americans and African Americans and a Japenese American, and of course women. Yet his nominations are the targets of a Democrat campaign to portray his nominees as racists, homophobes and even, in one frenzied historical leap – Torquemadas.

All this has had a predictable effect on a reliably uninformed public. Does a national icon of the popular culture, Ricky Martin, have the temerity to accept an invitation to sing at the new President’s Inauguration? In normal times, this would routinely be seen as a high honor – in this case an honor to the entire Puerto Rican community to have one of its sons assume such a nationally visible role. But in the atmosphere the left has poisoned, Ricky Martin must be prepared to have his life and career torn apart. On hearing of his decision, Martin’s childhood friend and professional partner, the man who produces and writes his songs, told the nation’s press that the singing gig was “a betrayal of everything that every Puerto Rican should stand for.” “This is a president,” according to Robi Rosa, “who would have people in his Cabinet who would obstruct the exercise of civil rights, human rights, consumer rights, the right to choose, the right to be free of gun violence and the right to a clean environment.”

This pathetic extremist screed – far from being unexpected — sounds very much like the tune the whole Democratic choir is singing. Mario Cuomo may have sung it first at the 1996 Democrat Convention: “Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, the Republicans are the real threat. They are the real threat to our women. They are the real threat to our children. They are the real threat to clean water, clean air and the rich landscape of America.” Give me a break.

What are the actual charges the Democrats have brought against Bush’s nominee for Attorney General? John Ashcroft is accused of the crime of opposing racial preferences (along with 70% of all Americans). According to the witch-hunters, this makes him a closet racist. He is accused of opposing a failed program — forced busing as a means of integration — which has been rejected even in liberal Democrat cities like Los Angeles and Boston, and even among blacks. For this he is accused of “racism.” He is accused of sympathies for the Confederacy because he didn’t condemn the Confederate flag and thought the Confederate cause may have embraced other issues besides slavery (normally the left argues it was about anything but slavery) – yet it was Democrat Senator Fritz Hollings who raised the Confederate flag over South Carolina’s capitol and Bill Clinton who signed official proclamations commemorating the Confederacy while governor of Arkansas — with no such backlash effects. Ashcroft is accused of opposing one black judicial nomination out of a total 26 such nominations because Ronnie White, the black judge in question, overturned the death penalty of a cold-blooded killer who had murdered the wife of a sheriff in front of her children at a Christmas Party, arousing the passionate interest of Missouri sheriffs. For this – for all this – a man with two decades of unimpeachable public service, a supporter of integration, a proponent of Martin Luther King’s vision — is pilloried as a “racist.”

In the atmosphere of hysteria whipped up by left-wing McCarthyites, one news channel even billed a program on the nominee for Attorney General this way: “Bush calls him a man of integrity; critics call him frightening.” Begalism uber alles.

The time has come to pose to Democrats and the left the same question the hero of America’s most famous witch-hunt finally put to the Senator himself: Have you no decency, sir (and madam)? Have you no shame?

David Horowitz is the founder of The David Horowitz Freedom Center and author of the new book, One Party Classroom.

Voir encore:

Ferguson : sur Twitter, les Etats-Unis se divisent entre «rouges» et «bleus»
Hugo Pascua

Libération

26 novembre 2014

LU SUR LE WEBLa statisticienne Emma Pierson a modélisé les discussions autour de Ferguson en analysant les tweets sur l’affaire, laissant clairement apparaître deux camps qui s’ignorent mutuellement.

Les bleus contre les rouges. Et si tout était aussi simple ? C’est la vision des émeutes de Ferguson que propose Emma Pierson, statisticienne-blogueuse diplômée de Stanford, sur le site Quartz. Une modélisation rendue possible grâce à l’analyse de près de 200 000 tweets concernant l’affaire Brown, et qui dessine deux camps très opposés dans leur façon de voir les événements.

En août Michael Brown, jeune afro-américain de 18 ans, est abattu en pleine rue de six balles par Darren Wilson, un policier blanc. Pendant plus de 10 jours de violentes émeutes raciales éclatent dans la ville de Ferguson, poussant le gouverneur du Missouri à demander l’intervention de la garde nationale. La ville reprend son calme jusqu’au 24 novembre dernier, quand le grand jury du comté de Saint Louis décide de ne pas poursuivre Darren Wilson, entraînant de nouvelles émeutes.

Emma Pierson décide d’étudier ce conflit par le prisme de Twitter, plateforme qui a joué un rôle majeur dans les événements de Ferguson. «Twitter a permis de faire circuler des informations (pas toujours exactes) en live, d’organiser les manifestations, et même de lancer des cyberattaques contre le Ku Klux Klan» explique-t-elle. Dans les jours précédents le verdict du grand jury et la seconde vague d’émeutes, celle-ci a donc récolté plus de 200 000 tweets en rapport avec Ferguson et a produit une représentation graphique.

Le résultat de l’analyse «peint réellement un sombre tableau de la division entre les gens», dit-elle. Sur l’image ci-dessus, chaque point représente un compte Twitter influent et deux points sont reliés entre eux si l’un mentionne l’autre. «En substance, l’image représente le réseau social de qui parle à qui. Et il montre deux groupes clairement divisés», poursuit la statisticienne.

Emma Pierson s’est ensuite lancée dans l’étude de chaque mouvance, établissant que l’appartenance à un groupe était fortement liée au rattachement à un parti politique. «Ceux qui se décrivent comme «conservateur» (ou en utilisant des adjectifs similaires) sont beaucoup plus susceptibles d’être dans le groupe rouge alors que ceux qui se décrivent comme «libéral» [au sens anglosaxon, plutôt de gauche, ndlr] sont beaucoup plus susceptibles d’être dans le groupe bleu». Une appartenance au groupe qui est, selon elle, aussi liée à la couleur de peau : «Les comptes Twitter contenant les qualificatifs « Afro-Américain » dans leurs profils sont quasiment systématiquement dans le groupe bleu».

«Les deux groupes s’ignorent complètement»
Le conflit actuel à Ferguson voit donc s’affronter deux groupes politiquement opposés, aux origines différentes. Et si l’on regarde la modélisation des tweets, il est frappant de voir qu’aucun tweet rouge n’est repris par le groupe bleu et inversement. «Les deux groupes s’ignorent complètement», constate Emma Pierson, «ils pensent de manière radicalement opposée». Une affirmation qui se vérifie lorsque l’on regarde les plus gros retweets de chaque clan.

Dans le groupe rouge on se sentirait bien plus en sécurité dans la rue si l’on venait à croiser Darren Wilson plutôt que Michael Brown. On pense aussi que Brown était armé au moment ou il a été abattu, justifiant ainsi le geste du policier. A l’inverse, le groupe bleu ironise sur Darren Wilson tirant 12 coups de feu pour abattre un homme désarmé. En rouge on parle de justice populaire et de chasse raciale, en bleu on parle d’abattre le système. Les premiers pensent qu’Obama ne fait qu’envenimer la situation forçant le gouverneur du Missouri à déclarer l’état d’urgence. Les autres estiment que l’état d’urgence ne doit en aucun cas être utilisé pour enfreindre les droits de l’homme.

Des divergences d’opinions qui poussent les deux mouvances à l’affrontement, «quand les deux groupes décident d’arrêter de s’ignorer c’est rarement joli» explique Emma Pierson. Pour cela il suffit de voir la façon dont le groupe rouge s’en est pris à l’un des leaders du groupe bleu, DeRay Mckesson, chef d’établissement scolaire qui a joué un rôle central dans l’organisation des manifestations. Le qualifiant de «communiste» qui diffuse la haine comme «les démocrates, les noirs», qui voit de «la valeur dans le radotage raciste», «armé de fusil et de cocktails Molotov» et qui devrait très rapidement «prendre ses médocs».

La théorie des chambres d’écho
Ce mélange d’opposition, d’affrontements sporadiques, et d’ignorance quasi constante est le reflet d’une théorie sur les réseaux sociaux bien connue, celle des «echos chambers». Une théorie qui veut qu’à mesure que le monde se détache des modes d’informations traditionnels pour se diriger vers d’autres médias, comme Twitter, le champ de vision de tout un chacun diminue.

Une étude de 2012, sur la diffusion des informations politiques via les réseaux sociaux menée par deux universitaires de Brown, démontre que les utilisateurs sont presque exclusivement confrontés à des posts alignés sur leurs propres opinions. «Deux utilisateurs de Twitter peuvent être exposés a des contenus radicalement différents autour d’une même histoire, en fonction de qui ils décident de suivre (comme c’est le cas pour Ferguson). Alors que deux personnes qui lisent le journal local, liront peut-être des histoires différentes mais à la fin de la journée ils auront été exposés au même contenu», explique Brian Knight, professeur d’économie à l’université de Brown. Cette théorie continue à faire débat, et elle été contestée tout récemment par le chercheur de l’université de New York Pablo Barbera.

«Internet nous offre un large éventail de choix quant à l’information que nous lisons, conclut Claire Cain Miller, journaliste au New York Times. Mais la responsabilité de la variété de cette information reste, semble-t-il, une affaire personnelle».

Voir aussi:

American Focus: le Kentucky, l’Etat qui vire rouge, contre les verts, tout en restant bleu

Le Kentucky, paradoxe d’un carrefour qui vire au rouge et contre les verts

tout en restant bleu

Laurent Sierro

America Polyphony

26 novembre 2014

Le « Ballot Bomb » de la jeunesse n’aura pas suffi pour les démocrates de l’Etat du Kentucky. Les 15-29 ans, devenus le groupe électoral le plus important des Etats-Unis, n’ont manifestement pas plébiscité la candidate démocrate Alison Grimes, 36 ans, adversaire malheureuse du sénateur républicain sortant Mitch McConnell, 72 ans, lors des récentes élections législatives américaines de mi-mandat. Au début de la « Bible Belt », avec une majorité de baptistes, le Kentucky est un peu un Etat intermédiaire.

Réélu donc, Mitch McConnell sera en plus désormais le chef de la majorité républicaine au Sénat. Il incarnera dans les deux prochaines années l’opposition au président Barack Obama. Et ce notamment sur un thème qui lui a permis de séduire l’électorat pauvre de l’est de son Etat: le changement climatique.

« Les gens dans cette région votaient plutôt démocrate, mais ils n’apprécient pas Barack Obama et surtout pas sa lutte contre le changement climatique », explique Al Cross, professeur à l’Université du Kentucky et spécialiste politique de l' »Etat du Bluegrass ». Il évoque d’ailleurs un Etat de plus en plus rouge aux couleurs des républicains. Une évolution également observée dans l’ouest du Kentucky.

Discours anti-Obama efficace

Comme dans d’autres Etats américains, le discours anti-Obama a été efficace. Alison Grimes a bien tenté de se distancer du président, mais trop tardivement ou alors sans effet. Son manque de dynamisme a parfois aussi été critiqué. Et au final, l’argent à disposition de Mitch McConnell a fait la différence dans la dernière semaine avant ces élections du 4 novembre, selon le directeur de campagne de la candidate démocrate.

Les dix millions de dollars de décalage au départ de la campagne avec l’un des poids lourds du Sénat depuis 30 ans ont certes pu être comblé, mais pas intégralement. Sans compter qu’il a fallu faire face à un troisième candidat libertarien et à des « Super PAC » (super comités d’action politique, groupes d’intérêt, pour aider un candidat ou un élu indépendamment de son parti), largement favorables à l’expérimenté Mitch McConnell.

Un seul gouverneur GOP en plus de 40 ans

Toutefois, la direction politique que prend l’Etat du Kentucky est en fait plus compliquée. L’identité locale est assez forte. Si Barack Obama a été largement battu ici et si les républicains remportent toutes les élections à dimension nationale (présidentielle ou représentants fédéraux), le paysage politique de l’Etat reste bleu.

Le parti démocrate a en effet conservé sa majorité qu’il possède depuis 1921 à la Chambre des représentants de l’Etat. Les républicains contrôlent en revanche le Sénat au Capitole de la capitale Frankfort. D’autre part, un seul gouverneur républicain a été élu dans le Kentucky depuis plus de 40 ans.

Paradoxe dans un Etat qui constitue le lien entre les régions du nord-est et le sud profond des Etats-Unis. Premier Etat de la conquête vers l’Ouest au 19e siècle, le Kentucky est désormais clairement à l’Est. Culturellement sudiste, il est économiquement nordiste. L’Etat n’avait pas fait Sécession lors de la Guerre civile, mais s’était tourné vers le Sud. « Nous avons rejoint les perdants après la guerre », relève le professeur Al Cross.

Aujourd’hui, très diversifié, le Kentucky est au contact de sept Etats, autant de manières différentes de s’identifier par rapport à ses voisins. Voilà un Etat probablement intéressant à suivre et sans doute important dans la perspective des futures élections nationales.

Ainsi se termine cette excellente série « American Focus » du journaliste suisse Laurent Sierro, invité sur ce blog durant plus de deux mois. Mille mercis à lui pour tous ces passionnants et éclairants reportages, décryptages et analyses de la société américaine et de ses diversités.

Pour rappel, Laurent Sierro a été Transatlantic Media Fellow au Centre d’études stratégiques et internationales (CSIS) de Washington D.C de début septembre à fin novembre 2014. Dans le cadre de ce programme pour les journalistes européens, il a approfondi pendant ces trois mois plusieurs thèmes en voyageant dans une vingtaine d’Etats américains. Il a multiplié les rencontres et les visites sur le terrain, se focalisant notamment sur trois thèmes: l’immigration, les relations entre religion et société ainsi que l’évolution du fédéralisme. Les analyses ou comptes-rendus publiés tout le long sur ce blog représentent ses conclusions et non celles du CSIS. Ils figurent tous dans la catégorie « American Focus ».

Voir par ailleurs:

Il était une fois les couleurs
1 : Le bleu – La couleur qui ne fait pas de vagues
Dominique Simonnet
L’Epress
05/07/2004

A force de les avoir sous les yeux, on finit par ne plus les voir. En somme, on ne les prend pas au sérieux. Erreur! les couleurs sont tout sauf anodines. Elles véhiculent des sens cachés, des codes, des tabous, des préjugés auxquels nous obéissons sans le savoir et qui pèsent sur nos modes, notre environnement, notre vie quotidienne, nos comportements, notre langage et même notre imaginaire. Les couleurs ne sont ni immuables ni universelles. Elles ont une histoire, mouvementée, qui remonte à la nuit des temps. C’est cette étonnante aventure que nous allons conter, au fil de l’été, avec l’historien anthropologue Michel Pastoureau, spécialiste mondial de cette question (lire absolument son passionnant Bleu, histoire d’une couleur, au Seuil, et Les Couleurs de notre temps, Bonneton). A chaque semaine, sa couleur. Et d’abord le bleu, la préférée des Occidentaux. Une chose, déjà, est sûre: avec un guide affable et érudit comme Michel Pastoureau, on verra le monde autrement!

1 Le bleu La couleur qui ne fait pas de vagues

Les historiens ont toujours dédaigné les couleurs, comme si elles n’avaient pas d’histoire, comme si elles avaient toujours été là. Toute votre oeuvre montre le contraire…
Lorsque, il y a vingt-cinq ans, j’ai commencé à travailler sur ce sujet, mes collègues ont été, c’est vrai, intrigués. Jusque-là, les historiens, y compris ceux de l’art, ne s’intéressaient pas vraiment aux couleurs. Pourquoi une telle lacune? Probablement parce qu’il n’est pas facile de les étudier! D’abord, nous les voyons telles que le temps les a transformées et non dans leur état d’origine, avec des conditions d’éclairage très différentes: la lumière électrique ne rend pas par exemple les clairs-obscurs d’un tableau, que révélaient autrefois la bougie ou la lampe à huile. Ensuite, nos ancêtres avaient d’autres conceptions et d’autres visions des couleurs que les nôtres. Ce n’est pas notre appareil sensoriel qui a changé, mais notre perception de la réalité, qui met en jeu nos connaissances, notre vocabulaire, notre imagination, et même nos sentiments, toutes choses qui ont évolué au fil du temps. Au XIIe siècle, la Vierge devient le principal agent de promotion du bleu

Il nous faut donc admettre cette évidence: les couleurs ont une histoire. Commençons donc cette semaine par la préférée des Occidentaux, le bleu.
Depuis que l’on dispose d’enquêtes d’opinion, depuis 1890 environ, le bleu est en effet placé au premier rang partout en Occident, en France comme en Sicile, aux Etats-Unis comme en Nouvelle-Zélande, par les hommes comme par les femmes, quel que soit leur milieu social et professionnel. C’est toute la civilisation occidentale qui donne la primauté au bleu, ce qui est différent dans les autres cultures: les Japonais, par exemple, plébiscitent le rouge. Pourtant, cela n’a pas toujours été le cas. Longtemps, le bleu a été mal aimé. Il n’est présent ni dans les grottes paléolithiques ni au néolithique, lorsque apparaissent les premières techniques de teinture. Dans l’Antiquité, il n’est pas vraiment considéré comme une couleur; seuls le blanc, le rouge et le noir ont ce statut. A l’exception de l’Egypte pharaonique, où il est censé porter bonheur dans l’au-delà, d’où ces magnifiques objets bleu-vert, fabriqués selon une recette à base de cuivre qui s’est perdue par la suite, le bleu est même l’objet d’un véritable désintérêt.

Il est pourtant omniprésent dans la nature, et particulièrement en Méditerranée.
Oui, mais la couleur bleue est difficile à fabriquer et à maîtriser, et c’est sans doute la raison pour laquelle elle n’a pas joué de rôle dans la vie sociale, religieuse ou symbolique de l’époque. A Rome, c’est la couleur des barbares, de l’étranger (les peuples du Nord, comme les Germains, aiment le bleu). De nombreux témoignages l’affirment: avoir les yeux bleus pour une femme, c’est un signe de mauvaise vie. Pour les hommes, une marque de ridicule. On retrouve cet état d’esprit dans le vocabulaire: en latin classique, le lexique des bleus est instable, imprécis. Lorsque les langues romanes ont forgé leur vocabulaire des couleurs, elles ont dû aller chercher ailleurs, dans les mots germanique (blau) et arabe (azraq). Chez les Grecs aussi, on relève des confusions de vocabulaire entre le bleu, le gris et le vert. L’absence du bleu dans les textes anciens a d’ailleurs tellement intrigué que certains philologues du XIXe siècle ont cru sérieusement que les yeux des Grecs ne pouvaient le voir!

Pas de bleu dans la Bible non plus?
Les textes bibliques anciens en hébreu, en araméen et en grec utilisent peu de mots pour les couleurs: ce seront les traductions en latin puis en langue moderne qui les ajouteront. Là où l’hébreu dit «riche», le latin traduira «rouge». Pour «sale», il dira «gris» ou «noir»; «éclatant» deviendra «pourpre» … Mais, à l’exception du saphir, pierre préférée des peuples de la Bible, il y a peu de place pour le bleu. Cette situation perdure au haut Moyen Age: les couleurs liturgiques, par exemple, qui se forment à l’ère carolingienne, l’ignorent (elles se constituent autour du blanc, du rouge, du noir et du vert). Ce qui laisse des traces encore aujourd’hui: le bleu est toujours absent du culte catholique… Et puis, soudain, tout change. Les XIIe et XIIIe siècles vont réhabiliter et promouvoir le bleu.

Est-ce parce qu’on a appris à mieux le fabriquer?
Non. Il n’y a pas à ce moment-là de progrès particulier dans la fabrication des colorants ou des pigments. Ce qui se produit, c’est un changement profond des idées religieuses. Le Dieu des chrétiens devient en effet un dieu de lumière. Et la lumière est… bleue! Pour la première fois en Occident, on peint les ciels en bleu – auparavant, ils étaient noirs, rouges, blancs ou dorés. Plus encore, on est alors en pleine expansion du culte marial. Or la Vierge habite le ciel… Dans les images, à partir du XIIe siècle, on la revêt donc d’un manteau ou d’une robe bleus. La Vierge devient le principal agent de promotion du bleu.

Etrange renversement! La couleur si longtemps barbare devient divine.
Oui. Il y a une seconde raison à ce renversement: à cette époque, on est pris d’une vraie soif de classification, on veut hiérarchiser les individus, leur donner des signes d’identité, des codes de reconnaissance. Apparaissent les noms de famille, les armoiries, les insignes de fonction… Or, avec les trois couleurs traditionnelles de base (blanc, rouge, noir), les combinaisons sont limitées. Il en faut davantage pour refléter la diversité de la société. Le bleu, mais aussi le vert et le jaune, va en profiter. On passe ainsi d’un système à trois couleurs de base à un système à six couleurs. C’est ainsi que le bleu devient en quelque sorte le contraire du rouge. Si on avait dit ça à Aristote, cela l’aurait fait sourire! Vers 1140, quand l’abbé Suger fait reconstruire l’église abbatiale de Saint-Denis, il veut mettre partout des couleurs pour dissiper les ténèbres, et notamment du bleu. On utilisera pour les vitraux un produit fort cher, le cafre (que l’on appellera bien plus tard le bleu de cobalt). De Saint-Denis ce bleu va se diffuser au Mans, puis à Vendôme et à Chartres, où il deviendra le célèbre bleu de Chartres. Omniprésent, consensuel, le bleu est devenu une couleur raisonnable

La couleur, et particulièrement le bleu, est donc devenue un enjeu religieux.
Tout à fait. Les hommes d’Eglise sont de grands coloristes, avant les peintres et les teinturiers. Certains d’entre eux sont aussi des hommes de science, qui dissertent sur la couleur, font des expériences d’optique, s’interrogent sur le phénomène de l’arc-en-ciel… Ils sont profondément divisés sur ces questions: il y a des prélats «chromophiles», comme Suger, qui pense que la couleur est lumière, donc relevant du divin, et qui veut en mettre partout. Et des prélats «chromophobes», comme saint Bernard, abbé de Clairvaux, qui estime, lui, que la couleur est matière, donc vile et abominable, et qu’il faut en préserver l’Eglise, car elle pollue le lien que les moines et les fidèles entretiennent avec Dieu.

La physique moderne nous dit que la lumière est à la fois une onde et une particule. On n’en était pas si loin au XIIIe siècle…
Lumière ou matière… On le pressentait, en effet. La première assertion l’a largement emporté et, du coup, le bleu, divinisé, s’est répandu non seulement dans les vitraux et les oeuvres d’art, mais aussi dans toute la société: puisque la Vierge s’habille de bleu, le roi de France le fait aussi. Philippe Auguste, puis son petit-fils Saint Louis seront les premiers à l’adopter (Charlemagne ne l’aurait pas fait pour un empire!). Les seigneurs, bien sûr, s’empressent de les imiter… En trois générations, le bleu devient à la mode aristocratique. La technique suit: stimulés, sollicités, les teinturiers rivalisent en matière de nouveaux procédés et parviennent à fabriquer des bleus magnifiques.

En somme, le bleu divin stimule l’économie.
Vous ne croyez pas si bien dire. Les conséquences économiques sont énormes: la demande de guède, cette plante mi-herbe, mi-arbuste que l’on utilisait dans les villages comme colorant artisanal, explose. Sa culture devient soudain industrielle, et fait la fortune de régions comme la Thuringe, la Toscane, la Picardie ou encore la région de Toulouse. On la cultive intensément pour produire ces boules appelées «coques», d’où le nom de pays de cocagne. C’est un véritable or bleu! On a calculé que 80% de la cathédrale d’Amiens, bâtie au XIIIe siècle, avait été payée par les marchands de guède! A Strasbourg, les marchands de garance, la plante qui donne le colorant rouge, étaient furieux. Ils ont même soudoyé le maître verrier chargé de représenter le diable sur les vitraux pour qu’il le colorie en bleu, afin de dévaloriser leur rival.

C’est carrément la guerre entre le bleu et le rouge!
Oui. Elle durera jusqu’au XVIIIe siècle. A la fin du Moyen Age, la vague moraliste, qui va provoquer la Réforme, se porte aussi sur les couleurs, en désignant des couleurs dignes et d’autres qui ne le sont pas. La palette protestante s’articule autour du blanc, du noir, du gris, du brun… et du bleu.

Sauvé de justesse!
Oui. Comparez Rembrandt, peintre calviniste qui a une palette très retenue, faite de camaïeux, et Rubens, peintre catholique à la palette très colorée… Regardez les toiles de Philippe de Champaigne, qui sont colorées tant qu’il est catholique et se font plus austères, plus bleutées, quand il se rapproche des jansénistes… Ce discours moral, partiellement repris par la Contre-Réforme, promeut également le noir, le gris et le bleu dans le vêtement masculin. Il s’applique encore de nos jours. Sur ce plan, nous vivons toujours sous le régime de la Réforme.

A partir de ce moment-là, notre bleu, si mal parti à l’origine, triomphe.
Oui. Au XVIIIe siècle, il devient la couleur préférée des Européens. La technique en rajoute une couche: dans les années 1720, un pharmacien de Berlin invente par accident le fameux bleu de Prusse, qui va permettre aux peintres et aux teinturiers de diversifier la gamme des nuances foncées. De plus, on importe massivement l’indigo des Antilles et d’Amérique centrale, dont le pouvoir colorant est plus fort que l’ancien pastel et le prix de revient, plus faible que celui d’Asie, car il est fabriqué par des esclaves. Toutes les lois protectionnistes s’écroulent. L’indigo d’Amérique provoque la crise dans les anciennes régions de cocagne, Toulouse et Amiens sont ruinés, Nantes et Bordeaux s’enrichissent. Le bleu devient à la mode dans tous les domaines. Le romantisme accentue la tendance: comme leur héros, Werther de Goethe, les jeunes Européens s’habillent en bleu, et la poésie romantique allemande célèbre le culte de cette couleur si mélancolique – on en a peut-être gardé l’écho dans le vocabulaire, avec le blues… En 1850, un vêtement lui donne encore un coup de pouce: c’est le jean, inventé à San Francisco par un tailleur juif, Levi-Strauss, le pantalon idéal, avec sa grosse toile teinte à l’indigo, le premier bleu de travail.

Il aurait très bien pu être rouge…
Impensable! Les valeurs protestantes édictent qu’un vêtement doit être sobre, digne et discret. En outre, teindre à l’indigo est facile, on peut même le faire à froid, car la couleur pénètre bien les fibres du tissu, d’où l’aspect délavé des jeans. Il faut attendre les années 1930 pour que, aux Etats-Unis, le jean devienne un vêtement de loisir, puis un signe de rébellion, dans les années 1960, mais pour un court moment seulement, car un vêtement bleu ne peut pas être vraiment rebelle. Aujourd’hui, regardez les groupes d’adolescents dans la rue, en France: ils forment une masse uniforme et… bleue.

Et on sait combien ils sont conformistes… Simultanément, le bleu a acquis une signification politique.
Qui a évolué, elle aussi. En France, il fut la couleur des républicains, s’opposant au blanc des monarchistes et au noir du parti clérical. Mais, petit à petit, il a glissé vers le centre, se laissant déborder sur sa gauche par le rouge socialiste puis communiste. Il a été chassé vers la droite en quelque sorte. Après la Première Guerre mondiale, il est devenu conservateur (c’est la Chambre bleu horizon). Il l’est encore aujourd’hui.

Après des siècles plutôt agités, le voici donc sur le trône des couleurs. Va-t-il le rester?
En matière de couleurs, les choses changent lentement. Je suis persuadé que, dans trente ans, le bleu sera toujours le premier, la couleur préférée. Tout simplement parce que c’est une couleur consensuelle, pour les personnes physiques comme pour les personnes morales: les organismes internationaux, l’ONU, l’Unesco, le Conseil de l’Europe, l’Union européenne, tous ont choisi un emblème bleu. On le sélectionne par soustraction, après avoir éliminé les autres. C’est une couleur qui ne fait pas de vague, ne choque pas et emporte l’adhésion de tous. Par là même, elle a perdu sa force symbolique. Même la musique du mot est calme, atténuée: bleu, blue, en anglais, blu, en italien… C’est liquide et doux. On peut en faire un usage immodéré.

On dirait qu’elle vous énerve un peu, cette couleur.
Non, elle n’est justement pas assez forte pour cela. Aujourd’hui, quand les gens affirment aimer le bleu, cela signifie au fond qu’ils veulent être rangés parmi les gens sages, conservateurs, ceux qui ne veulent rien révéler d’eux-mêmes. D’une certaine manière, nous sommes revenus à une situation proche de l’Antiquité: à force d’être omniprésent et consensuel, le bleu est de nouveau une couleur discrète, la plus raisonnable de toutes les couleurs.

Il était une fois les couleurs
2 : Le rouge – C’est le feu et le sang, l’amour et l’enfer
Dominique Simonnet
L’Express
12/07/2004

Avec lui, on ne fait pas vraiment dans la nuance. Contrairement à ce timoré de bleu dont nous avons raconté l’histoire ambiguë la semaine dernière, le rouge est une couleur orgueilleuse, pétrie d’ambitions et assoiffée de pouvoir, une couleur qui veut se faire voir et qui est bien décidée à en imposer à toutes les autres. En dépit de cette insolence, son passé, pourtant, n’a pas toujours été glorieux. Il y a une face cachée du rouge, un mauvais rouge (comme on dit d’un mauvais sang) qui a fait des ravages au fil du temps, un méchant héritage plein de violences et de fureurs, de crimes et de péchés. C’est cette double personnalité du rouge que décrit ici l’historien du symbolisme Michel Pastoureau, notre guide tout au long de cet été bigarré: une identité fascinante, mais brûlante comme les flammes de Satan.

2 – Le rouge – C’est le feu et le sang, l’amour et l’enfer

S’il est une couleur qui vaut d’être nommée comme telle, c’est bien elle! On dirait que le rouge représente à lui seul toutes les autres couleurs, qu’il est la couleur.
Parler de «couleur rouge», c’est presque un pléonasme en effet! D’ailleurs, certains mots, tels coloratus en latin ou colorado en espagnol, signifient à la fois «rouge» et «coloré». En russe, krasnoï veut dire «rouge» mais aussi «beau» (étymologiquement, la place Rouge est la «belle place»). Dans le système symbolique de l’Antiquité, qui tournait autour de trois pôles, le blanc représentait l’incolore, le noir était grosso modo le sale, et le rouge était la couleur, la seule digne de ce nom. La suprématie du rouge s’est imposée à tout l’Occident.

Est-ce tout simplement parce qu’il attire l’?il, d’autant qu’il est peu présent dans la nature?
On a évidemment mis en valeur ce qui tranchait le plus avec l’environnement. Mais il y a une autre raison: très tôt, on a maîtrisé les pigments rouges et on a pu les utiliser en peinture et en teinture. Dès – 30 000 ans, l’art paléolithique utilise le rouge, obtenu notamment à partir de la terre ocre-rouge: voyez le bestiaire de la grotte Chauvet. Au néolithique, on a exploité la garance, cette herbe aux racines tinctoriales présente sous les climats les plus variés, puis on s’est servi de certains métaux, comme l’oxyde de fer ou le sulfure de mercure… La chimie du rouge a donc été très précoce, et très efficace. D’où le succès de cette couleur.

J’imagine alors que, contrairement au bleu dont vous nous avez raconté l’infortune la semaine dernière, le rouge, lui, a un passé plus glorieux.
Oui. Dans l’Antiquité déjà, on l’admire et on lui confie les attributs du pouvoir, c’est-à-dire ceux de la religion et de la guerre. Le dieu Mars, les centurions romains, certains prêtres… tous sont vêtus de rouge. Cette couleur va s’imposer parce qu’elle renvoie à deux éléments, omniprésents dans toute son histoire: le feu et le sang. On peut les considérer soit positivement soit négativement, ce qui nous donne quatre pôles autour desquels le christianisme primitif a formalisé une symbolique si forte qu’elle perdure aujourd’hui. Le rouge feu, c’est la vie, l’Esprit saint de la Pentecôte, les langues de feu régénératrices qui descendent sur les apôtres; mais c’est aussi la mort, l’enfer, les flammes de Satan qui consument et anéantissent. Le rouge sang, c’est celui versé par le Christ, la force du sauveur qui purifie et sanctifie; mais c’est aussi la chair souillée, les crimes (de sang), le péché et les impuretés des tabous bibliques.

Un système plutôt ambivalent…
Tout est ambivalent dans le monde des symboles, et particulièrement des couleurs! Chacune d’elles se dédouble en deux identités opposées. Ce qui est étonnant, c’est que, sur la longue durée, les deux faces tendent à se confondre. Les tableaux qui représentent la scène du baiser, par exemple, montrent souvent Judas et Jésus comme deux personnages presque identiques, avec les mêmes vêtements, les mêmes couleurs, comme s’ils étaient les deux pôles d’un aimant. Lisez de même l’Ancien Testament: le rouge y est associé tantôt à la faute et à l’interdit, tantôt à la puissance et à l’amour. La dualité symbolique est déjà en place.

C’est surtout aux signes du pouvoir que le rouge va s’identifier.
Certains rouges! Dans la Rome impériale, celui que l’on fabrique avec la substance colorante du murex, un coquillage rare récolté en Méditerranée, est réservé à l’empereur et aux chefs de guerre. Au Moyen Age, cette recette de la pourpre romaine s’étant perdue (les gisements de murex sur les côtes de Palestine et d’Egypte sont de plus épuisés), on se rabat sur le kermès, ces ?ufs de cochenilles qui parasitent les feuilles de chênes. Au Moyen-Age, le rouge est masculin, puis il devient féminin

Il fallait le trouver!
En effet. La récolte est laborieuse et la fabrication très coûteuse. Mais le rouge obtenu est splendide, lumineux, solide. Les seigneurs bénéficient donc toujours d’une couleur de luxe. Les paysans, eux, peuvent recourir à la vulgaire garance, qui donne une teinte moins éclatante. Peu importe si on ne fait pas bien la différence à l’?il nu: l’essentiel est dans la matière et dans le prix. Socialement, il y a rouge et rouge! D’ailleurs, pour l’?il médiéval, l’éclat d’un objet (son aspect mat ou brillant) prime sur sa coloration: un rouge franc sera perçu comme plus proche d’un bleu lumineux que d’un rouge délavé. Un rouge bien vif est toujours une marque de puissance, chez les laïcs comme chez les ecclésiastiques. A partir des XIIIe et XIVe siècles, le pape, jusque-là voué au blanc, se met au rouge. Les cardinaux, également. Cela signifie que ces considérables personnages sont prêts à verser leur sang pour le Christ… Au même moment, on peint des diables rouges sur les tableaux et, dans les romans, il y a souvent un chevalier démoniaque et rouge, des armoiries à la housse de son cheval, qui défie le héros. On s’accommode très bien de cette ambivalence.

Et le Petit Chaperon… rouge qui s’aventure lui aussi dans la forêt du Moyen Age? Il entre dans ce jeu de symboles?
Bien sûr. Dans toutes les versions du conte (la plus ancienne date de l’an mille), la fillette est en rouge. Est-ce parce qu’on habillait ainsi les enfants pour mieux les repérer de loin, comme des historiens l’ont affirmé? Ou parce que, comme le disent certains textes anciens, l’histoire est située le jour de la Pentecôte et de la fête de l’Esprit saint, dont la couleur liturgique est le rouge? Ou encore parce que la jeune fille allait se retrouver au lit avec le loup et que le sang allait couler, thèse fournie par des psychanalystes? Je préfère pour ma part l’explication sémiologique: un enfant rouge porte un petit pot de beurre blanc à une grand-mère habillée de noir… Nous avons là les trois couleurs de base du système ancien. On les retrouve dans d’autres contes: Blanche-Neige reçoit une pomme rouge d’une sorcière noire. Le corbeau noir lâche son fromage – blanc – dont se saisit un renard rouge… C’est toujours le même code symbolique.

Au Moyen Age, ces codes dont vous parlez se manifestent à travers les vêtements et l’imaginaire. Pas dans la vie quotidienne, quand même!
Mais si! Les codes symboliques ont des conséquences très pratiques. Prenez les teinturiers: en ville, certains d’entre eux ont une licence pour le rouge (avec l’autorisation de teindre aussi en jaune et en blanc), d’autres ont une licence pour le bleu (ils ont le droit de teindre également en vert et en noir). A Venise, Milan ou Nuremberg, les spécialistes du rouge garance ne peuvent même pas travailler le rouge kermès. On ne sort pas de sa couleur, sous peine de procès! Ceux du rouge et ceux du bleu vivent dans des rues séparées, cantonnés dans les faubourgs parce que leurs officines empuantissent tout, et ils entrent souvent en conflit violent, s’accusant réciproquement de polluer les rivières. Il faut dire que le textile est alors la seule vraie industrie de l’Europe, un enjeu majeur. Au fil des siècles, le rouge de l’interdit s’est affirmé

Je parie que notre rouge, décidément insolent, ne va pas plaire aux collets montés de la Réforme.
D’autant plus qu’il est la couleur des «papistes»! Pour les réformateurs protestants, le rouge est immoral. Ils se réfèrent à un passage de l’Apocalypse où saint Jean raconte comment, sur une bête venue de la mer, chevauchait la grande prostituée de Babylone vêtue d’une robe rouge. Pour Luther, Babylone, c’est Rome! Il faut donc chasser le rouge du temple – et des habits de tout bon chrétien. Cette «fuite» du rouge n’est pas sans conséquence: à partir du XVIe siècle, les hommes ne s’habillent plus en rouge (à l’exception des cardinaux et des membres de certains ordres de chevalerie). Dans les milieux catholiques, les femmes peuvent le faire. On va assister aussi à un drôle de chassé-croisé: alors qu’au Moyen Age le bleu était plutôt féminin (à cause de la Vierge) et le rouge, masculin (signe du pouvoir et de la guerre), les choses s’inversent. Désormais, le bleu devient masculin (car plus discret), le rouge part vers le féminin. On en a gardé la trace: bleu pour les bébés garçons, rose pour les filles… Le rouge restera aussi la couleur de la robe de mariée jusqu’au XIXe siècle.

La mariée était en rouge!
Bien sûr! Surtout chez les paysans, c’est-à-dire la grande majorité de la population d’alors. Pourquoi? Parce que, le jour du mariage, on revêt son plus beau vêtement et qu’une robe belle et riche est forcément rouge (c’est dans cette couleur que les teinturiers sont les plus performants). Dans ce domaine-là, on retrouve notre ambivalence: longtemps, les prostituées ont eu l’obligation de porter une pièce de vêtement rouge, pour que, dans la rue, les choses soient bien claires (pour la même raison, on mettra une lanterne rouge à la porte des maisons closes). Le rouge décrit les deux versants de l’amour: le divin et le péché de chair. Au fil des siècles, le rouge de l’interdit s’est aussi affirmé. Il était déjà là, dans la robe des juges et dans les gants et le capuchon du bourreau, celui qui verse le sang. Dès le XVIIIe siècle, un chiffon rouge signifie danger.

Y a-t-il un rapport avec le drapeau rouge des communistes?
Oui. En octobre 1789, l’Assemblée constituante décrète qu’en cas de trouble un drapeau rouge sera placé aux carrefours pour signifier l’interdiction d’attroupement et avertir que la force publique est susceptible d’intervenir. Le 17 juillet 1791, de nombreux Parisiens se rassemblent au Champ-de-Mars pour demander la destitution de Louis XVI, qui vient d’être arrêté à Varennes. Comme l’émeute menace, Bailly, le maire de Paris, fait hisser à la hâte un grand drapeau rouge. Mais les gardes nationaux tirent sans sommation: on comptera une cinquantaine de morts, dont on fera des «martyrs de la révolution». Par une étonnante inversion, c’est ce fameux drapeau rouge, «teint du sang de ces martyrs», qui devient l’emblème du peuple opprimé et de la révolution en marche. Un peu plus tard, il a même bien failli devenir celui de la France.

De la France!
Mais oui! En février 1848, les insurgés le brandissent de nouveau devant l’Hôtel de Ville. Jusque-là, le drapeau tricolore était devenu le symbole de la Révolution (ces trois couleurs ne sont d’ailleurs pas, contrairement à ce que l’on prétend, une association des couleurs royales et de celles de la ville de Paris, qui étaient en réalité le rouge et le marron: elles ont été reprises de la révolution américaine). Mais, à ce moment-là, le drapeau tricolore est discrédité, car le roi Louis-Philippe s’y est rallié. L’un des manifestants demande que l’on fasse du drapeau rouge, «symbole de la misère du peuple et signe de la rupture avec le passé», l’emblème officiel de la République. C’est Lamartine, membre du gouvernement provisoire, qui va sauver nos trois couleurs: «Le drapeau rouge, clame-t-il, est un pavillon de terreur qui n’a jamais fait que le tour du Champ-de-Mars, tandis que le drapeau tricolore a fait le tour du monde, avec le nom, la gloire et la liberté de la patrie!» Le drapeau rouge aura quand même un bel avenir. La Russie soviétique l’adoptera en 1918, la Chine communiste en 1949… Nous avons gardé des restes amusants de cette histoire: dans l’armée, quand on plie le drapeau français après avoir descendu les couleurs, il est d’usage de cacher la bande rouge pour qu’elle ne soit plus visible. Comme s’il fallait se garder du vieux démon révolutionnaire.

Nous obéirions donc toujours à l’ancienne symbolique.
Dans le domaine des symboles, rien ne disparaît jamais vraiment. Le rouge du pouvoir et de l’aristocratie (du moins en Occident, car c’est le jaune qui tient ce rôle dans les cultures asiatiques) a traversé les siècles, tout comme l’autre rouge, révolutionnaire et prolétarien. Chez nous, en outre, le rouge indique toujours la fête, Noël, le luxe, le spectacle: les théâtres et les opéras en sont ornés. Dans le vocabulaire, il nous est resté de nombreuses expressions («rouge de colère», «voir rouge») qui rappellent les vieux symboles. Et on associe toujours le rouge à l’érotisme et à la passion.

Mais, dans notre vie quotidienne, il est pourtant discret.
Plus le bleu a progressé dans notre environnement, plus le rouge a reculé. Nos objets sont rarement rouges. On n’imagine pas un ordinateur rouge par exemple (cela ne ferait pas sérieux), ni un réfrigérateur (on aurait l’impression qu’il chauffe). Mais la symbolique a perduré: les panneaux d’interdiction, les feux rouges, le téléphone rouge, l’alerte rouge, le carton rouge, la Croix-Rouge (en Italie, les croix des pharmacies sont aussi rouges) … Tout cela dérive de la même histoire, celle du feu et du sang… Je vais vous raconter une anecdote personnelle. Jeune marié, j’ai un jour acheté une voiture d’occasion: un modèle pour père de famille, mais rouge! Autant dire que la couleur et le véhicule n’allaient pas ensemble. Personne n’en avait voulu, ni les conducteurs sages qui le trouvaient trop transgressif, ni les amateurs de vitesse qui le trouvaient trop sage. On m’en avait donc fait un bon rabais. Mais ma voiture n’a pas fait long feu, si je puis dire: la grille d’un parking est tombée sur le capot et l’a totalement anéantie. Je me suis dit que les symboles avaient raison: c’était vraiment une voiture dangereuse

Voir enfin:

Discours d’ouverture de la Convention nationale démocratique de 2004
Barack Obama
27 juillet 2004
Traduction Wikisource en français de Democratic National Convention/Keynote address.

Merci beaucoup. Merci beaucoup. Merci. Merci. Merci beaucoup. Merci beaucoup. Merci. Merci. Merci, Dick Durbin. Nous sommes tous fiers de vous.

Au nom de ce grand État de l’Illinois, carrefour d’une nation, terre de Lincoln, permettez moi d’exprimer ma plus profonde gratitude d’avoir le privilège de faire un discours à cette convention

Ce soir, c’est un honneur particulier pour moi parce que, soyons réaliste, ma présence ici n’était pas très probable. Mon père était un étudiant étranger, né et élevé dans un petit village du Kenya. Il a grandi en gardant des chèvres et a été à l’école dans une cabane couverte d’une tôle ondulée. Son père, mon grand-père, était cuisinier, domestique des Britanniques mais mon grand-père avait des grands rêves pour son fils. En travaillant dur et en persévérant, mon père a obtenu une bourse pour venir étudier dans un endroit magique, l’Amérique, qui brillait comme un phare de liberté et d’opportunité à tout ceux qui étaient venus auparavant.

En étudiant ici, mon père a rencontré ma mère. Elle est née dans une ville de l’autre coté de la Terre, dans le Kansas. Son père a travaillé sur des plates-formes pétrolières et dans des fermes pendant presque toute la Grande Dépression. Le lendemain de l’attaque de Pearl Harbour, mon grand-père s’est engagé, à rejoint l’armée de Patton, a marché à travers l’Europe. À la maison, ma grand-mère élevait leur enfant et est allé travailler sur une chaine d’assemblage de bombardiers. Après la guerre, il ont étudié grâce au Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, on acheté une maison grâce à la Federal Housing Administration et ont plus tard déménagé vers l’est, jusqu’à Hawaï, à la recherche d’opportunités.

Et eux aussi avaient de grands rêves pour leur fille. Un rêve commun, né sur deux continents.

Mes parents ne partageaient pas seulement un amour improbable, ils partageaient une foi durable dans les possibilités de cette nation. Ils m’ont donné un nom africain, Barack ou « le béni », croyant que dans une Amérique tolérante, votre nom n’est pas un obstacle au succès. Ils m’ont imaginé rejoindre les meilleures écoles du pays, même s’ils n’étaient pas riches, car dans une Amérique généreuse, on n’a pas besoin être riche pour exploiter son potentiel.

Tous deux sont morts maintenant et pourtant je sais que ce soir, ils me regardent avec une grande fierté.

Je suis ici aujourd’hui, reconnaissant envers la diversité de mon héritage, conscient que les rêves de mes parents se perpétuent à travers mes deux filles. Je suis ici tout en sachant que mon histoire fait partie de la grande histoire américaine, que j’ai une dette envers tous ceux qui sont venus avant moi et quand dans n’importe quel autre pays au monde, mon histoire n’aurait été possible.

Ce soir, nous nous rassemblons pour affirmer la grandeur de notre nation — pas seulement à cause de la taille de nos gratte-ciel, de la puissance de notre armée ou de la taille de notre économie. Notre fierté est basée sur une prémisse très simple, résumée dans une déclaration faite il y a plus de 200 ans : « Nous tenons pour évidentes pour elles-mêmes les vérités suivantes : tous les hommes sont créés égaux ; ils sont doués par le Créateur de certains droits inaliénables ; parmi ces droits se trouvent la vie, la liberté et la recherche du bonheur. »

C’est ça le vrai génie de l’Amérique — une foi dans des rêves simples, une insistance sur de petits miracles, que l’on peut mettre nos enfants au lit le soir tout en sachant qu’ils sont nourris, habillés et protégés du mal, que l’on puisse dire ce que l’on pense, écrire ce que l’on pense, sans entendre quelqu’un soudainement frapper à sa porte, que l’on puisse avoir une idée et bâtir sa propre entreprise sans avoir à verser des pots de vin, que l’ont peut faire son devoir électoral sans crainte de représailles et que nos voix seront comptées — du moins, la plupart du temps.

Cette année, pour cette élection, nous sommes appelés à réaffirmer nos valeurs et nos engagement, à les confronter à la dure réalité et voir si nous sommes à la hauteur de l’héritage de nos aïeux et la promesse des générations futures.

Et, mes chers compatriotes, démocrates, républicains, indépendants, je vous dis ce soir: nous avons encore beaucoup à faire.

Beaucoup à faire pour les ouvriers que j’ai rencontrés à Galeburg dans l’Illinois, qui perdent leur emploi à l’usine Maytag, délocalisée au Mexique et qui doivent se battre contre leurs propres enfants pour des emplois à 7 dollars de l’heure; beaucoup à faire pour le père que j’ai rencontré et qui avait perdu son travail et se demandait, en retenant ses larmes, comment il allait payer les 4 500 dollars par mois pour payer les médicaments de son fils sans les aides financières sur lesquelles il comptait; beaucoup à faire pour la jeune femme de la banlieue est de Saint-Louis, et des milliers comme elle, qui a les notes, la volonté et l’envie mais pas l’argent pour aller à l’université.

Mais ne vous méprenez pas ! Les personnes que j’ai rencontrées, dans des petites et des grandes villes, à des diners ou dans des parcs, n’attendent pas du gouvernement qu’il résolve tous leurs problèmes. Ils savent qu’ils devront travailler dur pour s’en sortir… et ils le veulent.

Allez dans les comtés autour du Comté de Cook à Chicago et les gens vous diront qu’ils ne veulent pas que leurs impôts soient gaspillés par l’assistance sociale ou par le Pentagone.

Allez dans n’importe quel centre ville et les habitants vous diront que le gouvernement ne peut pas tout seul apprendre à nos enfants à apprendre — ils savent que les parents doivent leur apprendre, que les enfants ne peuvent pas y arriver sauf si on a de grands espoirs pour eux , qu’on coupe la télévision et qu’on taise les rumeurs disant qu’un jeune noir avec un livre joue au blanc. Ils savent ces choses là.

Les gens n’attendent pas du gouvernement qu’il résolve tous leurs problèmes mais ils ressentent, au plus profond d’eux même, qu’avec un petit changement dans les priorités, nous pouvons être sûr que chaque enfant américain a un bon départ dans la vie et que toutes les opportunités lui restent ouvertes

Ils savent que nous pouvons faire mieux et ils veulent ce choix.

Dans cette élection, nous offrons cette possibilité. Notre partie a choisi pour nous mener un homme qui incarne le mieux ce que ce pays a à offrir. Et cet homme, c’est John Kerry. John Kerry comprend les idéaux de la communauté, de la foi et du service parce que ceux-ci ont façonné sa vie. De ses années héroïques au Viet Nam à celles de procureur et lieutenant gouverneur, durant deux décennies au Sénat des États-Unis, il s’est dévoué pour son pays. Encore et encore, nous l’avons vu prendre des décision difficiles quand des plus aisées étaient possibles.

Ses valeurs, et ce qu’il a réalisé, illustre ce qu’il y a de meilleur en nous. John Kerry croit en une Amérique où le travail est récompensé. Alors, au lieu d’offrir des réductions d’impôts aux entreprises qui délocalisent à l’étranger, il en offre à des entreprises qui créent des emplois ici.

John Kerry croit en une Amérique où tous les Américains peuvent se payer la même couverture maladie que les hommes politiques de Washington.

John Kerry croit en l’indépendance énergétique pour que nous ne soyons plus les otages des profits des compagnies pétrolières ou de sabotages de champs pétrolifères à l’étranger.

John Kerry croit en la liberté constitutionnelle qui fait que notre pays est jalousé dans le monde entier et il ne sacrifiera jamais nos libertés de base, ni n’utilisera la foi pour nous diviser.

Et John Kerry croit que dans un monde dangereux, la guerre doit parfois être une option mais ne doit jamais être la première option.

Vous savez, il y a quelques temps, j’ai rencontré un jeune homme nommé Seamus dans une réunion de vétérans à East Moine dans l’Illinois. C’était un gamin avec une belle allure, 1m80 — 1m85, les yeux clairs et un grand sourire. Il m’a dit qu’il avait rejoint les Marines et allait aller en Irak la semaine suivante. En l’écoutant parler de la raison pour laquelle il s’était enrôlé, de la foi absolue qu’il avait en notre pays et ses dirigeants, de son attachement au devoir et au service, j’ai pensé que ce jeune homme avait tout ce qu’aucun d’entre nous ne pouvait espérer pour un enfant mais je me suis alors demandé : est-ce que l’on sert Seamus aussi bien qu’il nous sert ?

J’ai pensé à ces 900 hommes et femmes — fils et filles, maris et femmes, amis et voisins, qui ne reviendront pas chez eux. J’ai pensé à ces familles que j’ai rencontrées et qui doivent se battre pour continuer à vivre sans les revenus d’un être cher ou dont un membre est revenu amputé ou paralysé mais qui n’aura pas d’aide médical à long terme parce qu’il est réserviste.

Quand on envoie nos jeunes hommes et femmes vers le danger, nous avons l’obligation solennelle de ne pas falsifier les chiffres ou cacher la vérité sur la raison pour laquelle on les envoie. Nous avons l’obligation de nous occuper de leur famille lorsqu’ils sont absents, de prendre soin des soldats lorsqu’ils sont de retour et de ne jamais aller à la guerre sans avoir suffisamment de troupes pour la gagner, assurer la paix et gagner le respect du monde.

Maintenant, laissez moi mettre les choses au clair. Nous avons de vrais ennemis dans le monde. Nous devons les trouver. Nous devons les poursuivre et nous devons les vaincre.

John Kerry le sait. Et tout comme le lieutenant Kerry n’a pas hésité à risquer sa vie pour protéger les hommes qui ont servi avec lui au Viet Nam. Le président Kerry n’hésitera pas un instant à utiliser notre puissance militaire pour garder l’Amérique saine et sauve.

John Kerry croit en l’Amérique et il sait que ça n’est pas suffisant pou certains d’entre nous de simplement prospérer. A coté de notre célèbre individualisme, il y a un autre ingrédient dans la saga de l’Amérique: une croyance que l’on est tous unis pour former un seul peuple.

S’il y a un enfant du sud de Chicago qui ne sait pas lire, ça me regarde, même si ce n’est pas mon enfant. S’il y a une personne âgée quelque part qui ne peut pas payer ses médicaments et qui doit se choisir entre se loger ou se soigner, ça affecte ma vie même si ce n’est pas un de mes grands parents. S’il y a un famille américaine d’origine arabe rassemblée sans bénéficier d’un avocat ou d’un procès en bonne et due forme, ça menace mes libertés publiques.

C’est cette croyance fondamentale — je suis le gardien de mon frère, je suis le gardien de ma sœur — qui fait que notre pays fonctionne. C’est ce qui nous permet de poursuivre nos rêves individuels tout en formant une seule famille américaine.

E pluribus unum. « Out of many, one. » E pluribus Unum; « De la diversité, un seul ».

Maintenant, alors même que nous parlons, il y a ceux qui se préparent à nous diviser : les diffuseurs de publicité négative, qui adopte la politique du n’importe quoi. Alors ce soir, je leur dis, il n’y a pas une Amérique libérale et une Amérique conservatrice — il y a les États-Unis d’Amérique. Il n’y a pas une Amérique noire, une Amérique blanche, une Amérique latino et une Amérique asiatique, il y a les États-Unis d’Amérique.

Les érudits aiment à découper notre pays entre états rouges et états bleus ; les états rouges pour les Républicains, les États bleus pour les démocrates mais j’ai une nouvelle pour eux, moi aussi. Nous prions un Dieu magnifique dans les états bleus et nous n’aimons pas les agents fédéraux qui farfouillent dans nos bibliothèques dans les états rouges. On apprend le base-ball à nos enfants dans les États bleus et, oui, on a des amis homos dans les états rouges. Il y a des patriotes qui se sont opposés à la guerre en Irak et il y des patriotes qui l’ont soutenue.

Nous formons un seul peuple, chacun d’entre nous prêtant serment à la bannière étoilée, chacun d’entre nous défendant les États-Unis d’Amérique.

Au final, c’est à ça que revient cette élection. Participons-nous à une politique du cynisme ou participons-nous à une politique de l’espoir.

John Kerry nous demande d’espérer. John Edwards nous demande d’espérer.

Je ne suis pas en train de parler d’un optimisme aveugle ici, l’ignorance pleine de bonne volonté qui pense que le chômage disparaitra si on y pense pas ou que la crise de l’assurance médicale se résoudra d’elle même si nous l’ignorons. Ce n’est pas de ça que je parle. Je parle de quelque chose de plus important.

C’est l’espoir des esclaves s’asseyant autour d’un feu et chantant des chansons à propos de la liberté. L’espoir d’émigrants partant pour des contrées lointaines. L’espoir d’un jeune lieutenant de la Navy patrouillant dans le Delta du Mékong. L’espoir du fils d’un meunier qui ose envers et contre tout. L’espoir d’un gamin maigre avec un nom bizarre qui pense que l’Amérique a une place pour lui, aussi.

L’espoir. L’espoir face à la difficulté ! L’espoir face à l’incertitude ! L’audace de l’espoir. Au final, c’est le plus grand don que Dieu nous a fait, le fondement de cette nation. Une croyance en des choses invisibles. Une croyance en des jours meilleurs devant nous.

Je crois qu’on peut donner à nos classes moyennes un peu de soulagement et offrir aux familles qui travaillent de nombreuses opportunités. Je crois qu’on peut offrir un emploi aux chômeurs, un toit aux sans domicile fixe et sauver de la violence et du désespoir les jeunes des villes à travers l’Amérique. Je crois que le bon vent nous pousse et que l’on se trouve à un carrefour de notre histoire. Nous pouvons faire les bons choix et affronter les défis qui nous attendent.

Amérique ! Ce soir, si tu ressens la même énergie que moi, si tu sens la même urgence que moi, si tu sens la même passion que moi, si tu sens la même espérance que moi — et si nous faisons ce que nous avons à faire, alors je n’ai pas de doute qu’à travers le pays, de la Floride à l’Orégon, de l’Etat de Washington au Maine, le peuple se lèvera en novembre et John Kerry sera président, et John Edwards sera vice-président et ce pays réclamera son dû et un jour meilleur suivra ce long processus politique.

Merci beaucoup à vous tous. Que Dieu vous bénisse. Merci.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A19751-2004Jul27.html

washingtonpost.com
Transcript: Illinois Senate Candidate Barack Obama

FDCH E-Media
Tuesday, July 27, 2004; 11:09 PM

Candidate for U.S. Senate in Illinois, Barack Obama, delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Boston Tuesday night. Here is a transcript of his remarks.

OBAMA: Thank you so much. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you so much.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you, Dick Durbin. You make us all proud.

On behalf of the great state of Illinois…

(APPLAUSE)

… crossroads of a nation, land of Lincoln, let me express my deep gratitude for the privilege of addressing this convention. Tonight is a particular honor for me because, let’s face it, my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely.

My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small village in Kenya. He grew up herding goats, went to school in a tin- roof shack. His father, my grandfather, was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.

OBAMA: But my grandfather had larger dreams for his son. Through hard work and perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place, America, that’s shown as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before him.

(APPLAUSE)

While studying here my father met my mother. She was born in a town on the other side of the world, in Kansas.

(APPLAUSE)

Her father worked on oil rigs and farms through most of the Depression. The day after Pearl Harbor, my grandfather signed up for duty, joined Patton’s army, marched across Europe. Back home my grandmother raised a baby and went to work on a bomber assembly line. After the war, they studied on the GI Bill, bought a house through FHA and later moved west, all the way to Hawaii, in search of opportunity.

(APPLAUSE)

And they too had big dreams for their daughter, a common dream born of two continents.

OBAMA: My parents shared not only an improbable love; they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name, Barack, or « blessed, » believing that in a tolerant America, your name is no barrier to success.

(APPLAUSE)

They imagined me going to the best schools in the land, even though they weren’t rich, because in a generous America you don’t have to be rich to achieve your potential.

(APPLAUSE)

They’re both passed away now. And yet I know that, on this night, they look down on me with great pride.

And I stand here today grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents’ dreams live on in my two precious daughters.

I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy; our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago: « We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…

(APPLAUSE)

… that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. »

That is the true genius of America, a faith…

(APPLAUSE)

… a faith in simple dreams, an insistence on small miracles; that we can tuck in our children at night and know that they are fed and clothed and safe from harm; that we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door; that we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe; that we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution; and that our votes will be counted — or at least, most of the time.

(APPLAUSE)

This year, in this election, we are called to reaffirm our values and our commitments, to hold them against a hard reality and see how we are measuring up, to the legacy of our forbearers and the promise of future generations.

OBAMA: And fellow Americans, Democrats, Republicans, independents, I say to you, tonight, we have more work to do…

(APPLAUSE)

… more work to do, for the workers I met in Galesburg, Illinois, who are losing their union jobs at the Maytag plant that’s moving to Mexico, and now they’re having to compete with their own children for jobs that pay 7 bucks an hour; more to do for the father I met who was losing his job and chocking back the tears wondering how he would pay $4,500 a months for the drugs his son needs without the health benefits that he counted on; more to do for the young woman in East St. Louis, and thousands more like her who have the grades, have the drive, have the will, but doesn’t have the money to go to college.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the people I meet in small towns and big cities and diners and office parks, they don’t expect government to solves all of their problems. They know they have to work hard to get a head. And they want to.

Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you: They don’t want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or by the Pentagon.

(APPLAUSE)

Go into any inner-city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can’t teach kids to learn.

OBAMA: They know that parents have to teach, that children can’t achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. They know those things.

(APPLAUSE)

People don’t expect — people don’t expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we can do better. And they want that choice.

In this election, we offer that choice. Our party has chosen a man to lead us who embodies the best this country has to offer. And that man is John Kerry.

(APPLAUSE)

John Kerry understands the ideals of community, faith and service because they’ve defined his life. From his heroic service to Vietnam to his years as prosecutor and lieutenant governor, through two decades in the United States Senate, he has devoted himself to this country. Again and again, we’ve seen him make tough choices when easier ones were available. His values and his record affirm what is best in us.

John Kerry believes in an America where hard work is rewarded. So instead of offering tax breaks to companies shipping jobs overseas, he offers them to companies creating jobs here at home.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: John Kerry believes in an America where all Americans can afford the same health coverage our politicians in Washington have for themselves.

(APPLAUSE)

John Kerry believes in energy independence, so we aren’t held hostage to the profits of oil companies or the sabotage of foreign oil fields.

(APPLAUSE)

John Kerry believes in the constitutional freedoms that have made our country the envy of the world, and he will never sacrifice our basic liberties nor use faith as a wedge to divide us.

(APPLAUSE)

And John Kerry believes that in a dangerous world, war must be an option sometimes, but it should never be the first option.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, a while back, I met a young man named Seamus (ph) in a VFW hall in East Moline, Illinois. He was a good-looking kid, 6’2″, 6’3″, clear eyed, with an easy smile. He told me he’d joined the Marines and was heading to Iraq the following week.

OBAMA: And as I listened to him explain why he had enlisted — the absolute faith he had in our country and its leaders, his devotion to duty and service — I thought, this young man was all that any of us might ever hope for in a child. But then I asked myself: Are we serving Seamus (ph) as well as he’s serving us?

I thought of the 900 men and women, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors who won’t be returning to their own hometowns. I thought of the families I had met who were struggling to get by without a loved one’s full income or whose loved ones had returned with a limb missing or nerves shattered, but still lacked long-term health benefits because they were Reservists.

(APPLAUSE)

When we send our young men and women into harm’s way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they are going, to care for their families while they’re gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return and to never, ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace and earn the respect of the world.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Now, let me be clear. Let me be clear. We have real enemies in the world. These enemies must be found. They must be pursued. And they must be defeated.

John Kerry knows this. And just as Lieutenant Kerry did not hesitate to risk his life to protect the men who served with him in Vietnam, President Kerry will not hesitate one moment to use our military might to keep America safe and secure.

(APPLAUSE)

John Kerry believes in America. And he knows that it’s not enough for just some of us to prosper. For alongside our famous individualism, there’s another ingredient in the American saga, a belief that we are all connected as one people.

If there’s a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child.

(APPLAUSE)

If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for their prescription and having to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandparent.

(APPLAUSE)

If there’s an Arab-American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.

(APPLAUSE)

It is that fundamental belief — it is that fundamental belief — I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sisters’ keeper — that makes this country work.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family: « E pluribus unum, » out of many, one.

Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes.

Well, I say to them tonight, there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America; there’s the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

The pundits, the pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue States: red states for Republicans, blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states.

We coach little league in the blue states and, yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the red states.

(APPLAUSE)

There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq, and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq.

We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: In the end, that’s what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism, or do we participate in a politics of hope?

John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope. I’m not talking about blind optimism here, the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don’t think about it, or health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it.

That’s not what I’m talking. I’m talking about something more substantial. It’s the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a millworker’s son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Hope in the face of difficulty, hope in the face of uncertainty, the audacity of hope: In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation, a belief in things not seen, a belief that there are better days ahead.

I believe that we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity.

I believe we can provide jobs for the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair.

I believe that we have a righteous wind at our backs, and that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices and meet the challenges that face us.

America, tonight, if you feel the same energy that I do, if you feel the same urgency that I do, if you feel the same passion that I do, if you feel the same hopefulness that I do, if we do what we must do, then I have no doubt that all across the country, from Florida to Oregon, from Washington to Maine, the people will rise up in November, and John Kerry will be sworn in as president. And John Edwards will be sworn in as vice president. And this country will reclaim it’s promise. And out of this long political darkness a brighter day will come.

Thank you very much, everybody.

God bless you.

Thank you.

Voir par ailleurs:

Les Bleus voient rouge
L’équipe de France de football a déjà perdu son âme depuis longtemps, certains joueurs refusant même de chanter « La Marseillaise » ; voilà que le rugby semble lui emboîter le pas.
Philippe Franceschi
Consultant en sécurité

Boulevard voltaire

L’équipe de France de rugby, ou plutôt son équipementier, a choisi dorénavant la couleur rouge et non plus bleue comme maillot à l’extérieur, après avoir choisi la couleur « allbleue » pour les matchs à domicile. Le blanc a disparu. Le maillot tricolore (maillot bleu, culotte blanche et bas rouges) était porté depuis le 22 mars 1906, match disputé contre l’Angleterre. Comme moi amoureux du rugby, Roger Couderc doit se retourner dans sa tombe. On ne pourra plus dire « Allez les Bleus » au risque de soutenir l’équipe adverse comme ces Écossais le 7 février. Lui qui disait « Allez les petits », peut-être faudra-t-il aussi crier maintenant « Allez les grands » pour faire moderne.

L’équipe de France de football a déjà perdu son âme depuis longtemps, certains joueurs refusant même de chanter « La Marseillaise » ; voilà que le rugby semble lui emboîter le pas, car quand on vend son maillot, on n’est pas loin de commencer à perdre son âme.

Il faut innover, dit-on. Tu parles… surtout faire de l’argent par la vente d’un nouveau maillot à 79 euros pièce, tout de même. Les éléments de langage sont soignés, argument massue : il y a trois couleurs dans notre drapeau, donc le rouge est permis. Un peu court. Même les entraîneurs de notre équipe nationale reprennent cette consigne de parole, faisant semblant d’adhérer à cette nouveauté. Or, l’attachement à la nation France, aux trois couleurs, est dans les gènes du « peuple » du rugby qui, lui, n’apprécie pas. Mais qui se soucie de l’avis des supporters ? Pas la Fédération française de rugby, sans nul doute, qui a vendu le maillot.

Pourtant, cela me paraît plus significatif qu’une simple innovation. Car, dans cette même veine du renoncement, on a ouvert l’équipe de France à des étrangers naturalisés, Rory Kockott et Scott Spedding, deux joueurs sud-africains naturalisés en 2014, qui évoluent en Top 14. La logique du système est poussée jusqu’au bout. Nous avons de plus en plus d’étrangers dans notre championnat national, laissant moins de chance à de jeunes joueurs français d’éclore, et voilà que maintenant on leur barre aussi la route pour le XV de France. Je n’aime pas cette mondialisation de l’Ovalie. Mais où sont les nouveaux Lux, Trillo, Maso, Dourthe, grands joueurs français des années 1970 formés par de petits clubs, et qui avaient pourtant le « french flair » que nous envient tant les Anglo-Saxons? École du rugby, école de la vie, notre rugby, sport viril mais correct, se veut promouvoir une action éducatrice et d’épanouissement de l’enfant au travers du respect des valeurs du sport, dans les opérations « Rugby Cup des Quartiers ». La vie, c’est aussi respecter son maillot et ses couleurs bleu, blanc et rouge. S’il s’agit d’innover pour innover, on pourrait aussi appeler la tour Eiffel tour du Champ-de-Mars, ou l’Arc de Triomphe Arc de l’Étoile (qu’on enlève donc le triomphe, c’est ringard et réac), et le palais de l’Élysée palais normal… Les touristes pourront ainsi constater notre esprit d’innovation.

Rugby : contre l’Ecosse, il faudra crier « Allez les Rouges ! »
Adrien Pécout
Le Monde
06.02.2015

Les supporteurs du XV de France vont devoir réviser leurs classiques. Haranguer les Tricolores à grand renfort d’« Allez les Bleus ! » sonnera un peu faux, samedi 7 février, au Stade de France. Car pour la première fois depuis plus d’un demi-siècle, les Français affronteront l’Ecosse, en ouverture du Tournoi des six nations, vêtus d’un maillot qui ne sera ni bleu ni blanc, comme cela leur arrive parfois, mais rouge.

Et il va falloir s’y habituer. Les hommes de Philippe Saint-André arboreront cette tenue pour tous leurs matchs à l’extérieur jusqu’à la fin de l’année 2015, y compris durant la prochaine Coupe du monde (septembre-octobre). Mais ce sera donc également le cas dès ce week-end, à Saint-Denis. Contre l’Ecosse, la France ne pourra pas revêtir le maillot bleu qu’elle utilise d’ordinaire à domicile, ce privilège étant traditionnellement accordé à l’équipe visiteuse.

L’équipementier du XV de France, Adidas, avait émis l’idée de virer au rouge dès 2013. Un sacrilège ? A la Fédération française de rugby, on indique que ce changement de couleur a fait débat, puis a été soumis à l’approbation du président Pierre Camou, du sélectionneur Philippe Saint-André et de plusieurs membres du bureau fédéral.

Loin de s’en émouvoir, les joueurs jurent apprécier la nouveauté. Surtout quand leur équipementier les sollicite pour une vidéo de promotion… Au micro, le centre Wesley Fofana déclare : « Avec le fait de jouer en rouge, tout de suite, je pense qu’on aura un sentiment de combat, d’agressivité. » Le talonneur Benjamin Kayser, lui, voit en cette nouvelle couleur rien de moins que « la passion, la victoire et le feu ».

EN 1959, UNE VICTOIRE 9-0 CONTRE L’ÉCOSSE… EN ROUGE

Là-dessus, difficile de lui donner tort. Le 10 janvier 1959, à Colombes, la France avait déjà joué en rouge : à la clé, une victoire 9-0, déjà contre l’Ecosse. Cette année-là, lancés par cette victoire inaugurale, les Bleus remporteront dans la foulée leur premier Tournoi des cinq nations sans être ex æquo avec un autre pays.

« Contre l’Ecosse, si je me souviens, on avait appris seulement le jour du match, une fois dans les vestiaires, qu’on porterait des maillots rouges », raconte au Monde Michel Celaya, le capitaine des Bleus et troisième-ligne de Biarritz à l’époque. Aujourd’hui octogénaire, l’ancien joueur ignore les raisons qui avaient conduit les Bleus à devenir rouges.

« Et je ne sais pas non plus pourquoi, ensuite, cette tenue rouge n’a pas été conservée plus longtemps. Pour moi, le principal, c’était le coq qu’on avait sur le maillot et sur les blazers d’après-match. Et de toute façon, sur le terrain, nous, les troisièmes-lignes, on n’avait pas le temps de s’attarder sur le maillot, on était concentrés sur les guiboles adverses ! »

En marge du match, Michel Celaya et ses compères François Moncla et Jean Barthe avaient tout de même tenu à immortaliser l’événement : « Cette couleur rouge, quand même, ça nous étonnait. On avait demandé à des journalistes de venir nous prendre en photo avec », ajoute l’international (50 sélections entre 1953 et 1961).

Selon des témoignages oraux rapportés à la Fédération française de rugby, la France aurait également revêtu un maillot rouge en 1958 lors d’une tournée contre l’Australie, pour un match également synonyme de victoire (19-0). Elle le portera donc de nouveau jusqu’à la fin de l’année 2015, date à laquelle Adidas choisira ou non de rétablir le maillot blanc pour les matchs à l’extérieur.

« Pour moi qui suis du Sud, ça ne me déplairait pas que le rouge reste la couleur de notre deuxième maillot, s’amuse Celaya, Biarrot de naissance. Pour plaisanter, je dirais que ça nous fait ressembler à des toréadors. Quand des taureaux vous foncent desssus, vous ne portez pas une cape blanche, vous portez une cape rouge. »


Diversité: L’enfer, c’est les autres, mais j’ai besoin des oeufs ! (Hell is other people, but I need the eggs ! – How diversity is eating away at trust)

1 décembre, 2013
https://i1.wp.com/consumertraveler.com/wp-content/uploads/In-God-.jpghttps://i1.wp.com/edge.liveleak.com/80281E/ll_a_s/2013/Oct/23/LiveLeak-dot-com-f83_1382554898-USHasSpent37TrillionOnWelfareOverPast5Yearsprev.jpgMais, quand le Fils de l’homme viendra, trouvera-t-il la foi sur la terre? Jésus (Luc 18: 8)
Ne croyez pas que je sois venu apporter la paix sur la terre; je ne suis pas venu apporter la paix, mais l’épée. Car je suis venu mettre la division entre l’homme et son père, entre la fille et sa mère, entre la belle-fille et sa belle-mère; et l’homme aura pour ennemis les gens de sa maison. Jésus (Matthieu 10: 34-36)
Je pensais à cette vieille blague, vous savez, ce-ce-ce type va chez un psychiatre et dit : « Doc, euh, mon frère est fou. Il se prend pour un poulet. » Et, euh, le docteur dit : « Et bien, pourquoi ne le faites-vous pas enfermer ? » Et le type dit : « J’aimerais bien, mais j’ai besoin des œufs. » Et bien, je crois que c’est ce que je ressens au sujet des relations. Vous savez, elles sont totalement irrationnelles et folles et absurdes et… mais, euh, je crois qu’on continue parce que, euh, la plupart d’entre nous ont besoin des œufs…  Woody Allen
Nous venons de terminer le cinquième exercice depuis que le président Obama a pris ses fonctions. Durant ces cinq années, le gouvernement fédéral a dépensé un total de 3,7  mille milliard de dollars pour environ 80 programmes sous condition de ressources différents contre la pauvreté et de protection sociale. La caractéristique commune des programmes d’aide sous condition de ressources est qu’ils sont gradués par apport au revenu d’une personne et que, contrairement aux programmes tels que la sécurité sociale ou l’assurance-maladie, ils sont un avantage gratuit sans aucune contribution du bénéficiaire. La somme énorme dépensée pourl’assistance sous condition de ressources est près de cinq fois supérieure au montant combiné consacré à la NASA et à l’éducation et à tous les projets de transport de compétence fédérale au cours de cette époque. (3,7 mille milliards de dollars n’est pas encore la totalité du montant dépensé pour le soutien fédéral de la pauvreté, les États membres contribuant pour plus de 200 milliards de dollars chaque année à ce lien fédéral, principalement sous forme de soins de santé gratuits à faible revenu.) Parce que le budget de l’aide sociale est tellement fragmenté — les coupons alimentaires ne sont qu’un des 15 programmes fédéraux qui fournissent une aide alimentaire, cela rend le contrôle efficace presque impossible, tout en masquant l’étendue tant aux contribuables qu’aux législateurs. Par exemple, il est plus facile pour les législateurs opposés aux réformes de s’opposer à des économies de coupons alimentaires en occultant le fait qu’un ménage qui reçoit des coupons alimentaires a souvent simultanément  droit à une myriade de programmes d’aide fédéraux y compris l’assistance de trésorerie, les logements subventionnés, les soins médicaux gratuits, la garde d’enfants gratuite et l’assistance énergétique à la maison. Commission sénatoriale du Budget
« Il est temps que l’Amérique comprenne que beaucoup des plus grandes disparités de la nation, de l’éducation à la pauvreté et à l’espérance de vie sont de plus en plus liées à la position de classe économique, » a déclaré William Julius Wilson, professeur de Harvard spécialiste des questions raciales et de la pauvreté. Il note par ailleurs que, malgré la persistance des difficultés économiques, les minorités sont plus optimistes quant à l’avenir après l’élection d’Obama, ce qui n’est pas les blancs qui se débattait. « Il y a la possibilité réelle que l’aliénation blanche va augmenter si des mesures ne sont pas prises pour mettre en évidence et lutter contre l’inégalité sur un large front, » a dit Ted Wilson. Parfois appelé « les pauvres invisibles » par les démographes, les blancs à faible revenu sont généralement dispersés dans les banlieues, mais aussi les petites villes rurales, où plus de 60% des pauvres sont blancs. Concentrés dans les Appalaches à l’est, ils sont également nombreux dans le Midwest industriel et  à travers le cœur de l’Amérique, du Missouri, de l’Arkansas et de l’Oklahoma jusqu’aux grandes plaines. Plus de 19 millions de blancs sont tombésen dessous du seuil de pauvreté de 23 021 $ pour une famille de quatre, représentant plus de 41 % de la nation démunis, près du double le nombre de pauvres noirs. CS monitor
« L’enfer c’est les autres » a été toujours mal compris. On a cru que je voulais dire par là que nos rapports avec les autres étaient toujours empoisonnés, que c’était toujours des rapports infernaux. Or, c’est tout autre chose que je veux dire. Je veux dire que si les rapports avec autrui sont tordus, viciés, alors l’autre ne peut être que l’enfer. Pourquoi ? Parce que les autres sont, au fond, ce qu’il y a de plus important en nous-mêmes, pour notre propre connaissance de nous-mêmes. Quand nous pensons sur nous, quand nous essayons de nous connaître, au fond nous usons des connaissances que les autres ont déjà sur nous, nous nous jugeons avec les moyens que les autres ont, nous ont donné, de nous juger. Quoi que je dise sur moi, toujours le jugement d’autrui entre dedans. Quoi que je sente de moi, le jugement d’autrui entre dedans. Ce qui veut dire que, si mes rapports sont mauvais, je me mets dans la totale dépendance d’autrui et alors, en effet, je suis en enfer. Et il existe une quantité de gens dans le monde qui sont en enfer parce qu’ils dépendent trop du jugement d’autrui. Mais cela ne veut nullement dire qu’on ne puisse avoir d’autres rapports avec les autres, ça marque simplement l’importance capitale de tous les autres pour chacun de nous. Sartre
Chacun se croit seul en enfer et c’est cela l’enfer. René Girard
De toutes les menaces qui pèsent sur nous, la plus redoutable, nous le savons, la seule réelle, c’est nous-mêmes. René Girard
Ce ne sont pas les différences qui provoquent les conflits mais leur effacement. René Girard
Aucun nombre de bombes atomiques ne pourra endiguer le raz de marée constitué par les millions d’êtres humains qui partiront un jour de la partie méridionale et pauvre du monde, pour faire irruption dans les espaces relativement ouverts du riche hémisphère septentrional, en quête de survie. Boumediene (mars 1974)
Un jour, des millions d’hommes quitteront le sud pour aller dans le nord. Et ils n’iront pas là-bas en tant qu’amis. Parce qu’ils iront là-bas pour le conquérir. Et ils le conquerront avec leurs fils. Le ventre de nos femmes nous donnera la victoire. Houari Boumediene (ONU, 10.04.74)
Nous avons 50 millions de musulmans en Europe. Il y a des signes qui attestent qu’Allah nous accordera une grande victoire en Europe, sans épée, sans conquête. Les 50 millions de musulmans d’Europe feront de cette dernière un continent musulman. Allah mobilise la Turquie, nation musulmane, et va permettre son entrée dans l’Union Européenne. Il y aura alors 100 millions de musulmans en Europe. L’Albanie est dans l’Union européenne, c’est un pays musulman. La Bosnie est dans l’Union européenne, c’est un pays musulman. 50% de ses citoyens sont musulmans. L’Europe est dans une fâcheuse posture. Et il en est de même de l’Amérique. Elles [les nations occidentales] devraient accepter de devenir musulmanes avec le temps ou bien de déclarer la guerre aux musulmans. Kadhafi (10.04.06) 
Et si Raspail, avec « Le Camp des Saints », n’était ni un prophète ni un romancier visionnaire, mais simplement un implacable historien de notre futur? Jean Cau
Le 17 février 2001, un cargo vétuste s’échouait volontairement sur les rochers côtiers, non loin de Saint-Raphaël. À son bord, un millier d’immigrants kurdes, dont près de la moitié étaient des enfants. « Cette pointe rocheuse faisait partie de mon paysage. Certes, ils n’étaient pas un million, ainsi que je les avais imaginés, à bord d’une armada hors d’âge, mais ils n’en avaient pas moins débarqué chez moi, en plein décor du Camp des saints, pour y jouer l’acte I. Le rapport radio de l’hélicoptère de la gendarmerie diffusé par l’AFP semble extrait, mot pour mot, des trois premiers paragraphes du livre. La presse souligna la coïncidence, laquelle apparut, à certains, et à moi, comme ne relevant pas du seul hasard. Jean Raspail
Qu’est-ce que Big Other ? C’est le produit de la mauvaise conscience occidentale soigneusement entretenue, avec piqûres de rappel à la repentance pour nos fautes et nos crimes supposés –  et de l’humanisme de l’altérité, cette sacralisation de l’Autre, particulièrement quand il s’oppose à notre culture et à nos traditions. Perversion de la charité chrétienne, Big Other a le monopole du Vrai et du Bien et ne tolère pas de voix discordante. Jean Raspail
Ce qui m’a frappé, c’est le contraste entre les opinions exprimées à titre privé et celles tenues publiquement. Double langage et double conscience… À mes yeux, il n’y a pire lâcheté que celle devant la faiblesse, que la peur d’opposer la légitimité de la force à l’illégitimité de la violence. Jean Raspail
La véritable cible du roman, ce ne sont pas les hordes d’immigrants sauvages du tiers-monde, mais les élites, politiques, religieuses, médiatiques, intellectuelles, du pays qui, par lâcheté devant la faiblesse, trahissent leurs racines, leurs traditions et les valeurs de leur civilisation. En fourriers d’une apocalypse dont ils seront les premières victimes. Chantre des causes dé sespérées et des peuples en voie de disparition, comme son œuvre ultérieure en témoigne, Jean Raspail a, dans ce grand livre d’anticipation, incité non pas à la haine et à la discrimination, mais à la lucidité et au courage. Dans deux générations, on saura si la réalité avait imité la fiction. Bruno de Cessole
Délinquants itinérants issus des gens du voyage ou «petites mains» pilotées à distance par des mafias des pays de l’Est, ces bandes de cambrioleurs ignorant les frontières n’hésitent plus à couvrir des centaines de kilomètres lors de raids nocturnes pour repérer puis investir des demeures isolées. En quelques années, les «voleurs dans la loi» géorgiens sont devenus les «aristocrates» de la discipline. Organisés de façon quasi militaire et placés sous la férule de lieutenants, ces «Rappetout» venus du froid écument avec méthode les territoires les plus «giboyeux» du pays, notamment dans le Grand Ouest, les régions Rhône-Alpes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur ou encore Languedoc-Roussillon. Selon une estimation récente, la valeur marchande de leur colossal butin frise les 200.000 euros par semaine. Continuant à se propager dans les grandes villes, le fléau gangrène à une vitesse étourdissante les campagnes et les petites agglomérations: entre 2007 et 2012, le nombre de villas et résidences «visitées» en zone gendarmerie a bondi de 65 %. Soit 35.361 faits constatés de plus en cinq ans. En plein cœur du département de la Marne, où les cambriolages ont flambé de 47 % en un an, des clans albanais retranchés près de Tirana ont dépêché des «soldats» pour piller des maisons de campagne situées dans des villages jusque-là préservés tels que Livry-Louvercy, aux Petites-Loges ou encore à Gueux. Le Figaro
Le tout virtuel ne marche pas. Si les solutions pour travailler à distance existent, rien ne remplace le contact humain nécessaire au bon fonctionnement d’une entreprise. A la longue, communiquer uniquement par mail ou par téléphone devient pénible. Gauthier Toulemonde
En présence de la diversité, nous nous replions sur nous-mêmes. Nous agissons comme des tortues. L’effet de la diversité est pire que ce qui avait été imaginé. Et ce n’est pas seulement que nous ne faisons plus confiance à ceux qui ne sont pas comme nous. Dans les communautés diverses, nous ne faisons plus confiance à ceux qui nous ressemblent. Robert Putnam
Page appelle ça le « paradoxe de diversité. » Il pense que les effets à la fois positifs et négatifs de la diversité peuvent coexister dans les communautés, mais qu’il doit y avoir une limite. » Si l’investissement civique tombe trop bas, il est facile d’imaginer que les effets positifs de la diversité puissent tout aussi bien commencer à s’affaiblir. Michael Jonas
Americans don’t trust each other anymore. We’re not talking about the loss of faith in big institutions such as the government, the church or Wall Street, which fluctuates with events. For four decades, a gut-level ingredient of democracy — trust in the other fellow — has been quietly draining away. These days, only one-third of Americans say most people can be trusted. Half felt that way in 1972, when the General Social Survey first asked the question. Forty years later, a record high of nearly two-thirds say “you can’t be too careful” in dealing with people. (…) Does it matter that Americans are suspicious of one another? Yes, say worried political and social scientists. What’s known as “social trust” brings good things. A society where it’s easier to compromise or make a deal. Where people are willing to work with those who are different from them for the common good. Where trust appears to promote economic growth. Distrust, on the other hand, seems to encourage corruption. At the least, it diverts energy to counting change, drawing up 100-page legal contracts and building gated communities. Even the rancor and gridlock in politics might stem from the effects of an increasingly distrustful citizenry, said April K. Clark, a Purdue University political scientist and public opinion researcher. “It’s like the rules of the game,” Clark said. “When trust is low, the way we react and behave with each other becomes less civil.” (…) There’s no single explanation for Americans’ loss of trust. The best-known analysis comes from “Bowling Alone” author Robert Putnam’s nearly two decades of studying the United States’ declining “social capital,” including trust. Putnam says Americans have abandoned their bowling leagues and Elks lodges to stay home and watch TV. Less socializing and fewer community meetings make people less trustful than the “long civic generation” that came of age during the Depression and World War II. Connie Cass

A l’heure où même les plus démagogiques de nos dirigeants atteignent des sommets d’impopularité …

Et où, attirés par le grand festin de l’Etat-tout-Providence, les réfugiés économiques du Tiers-Monde comme les nouveaux barbares de l’est déferlent par vagues entières sur nos côtes et nos villes …

Pendant que, par manque de contact humain, un chef d’entreprise français, pourtant armé des dernières technologies numériques et d’un sacré sens de l’auto-promotion, se voit contraint après 40 jours à peine de mettre un terme à son expérience de Robinson virtuel …

Comment ne pas voir avec les résultats d’une grande enquête américaine sur les modes de vie …

Que contre les prédictions les plus naïves ou les plus roublardes de nos hérauts de la diversité …

Mais conformément aux prévisions des plus lucides de nos sociologues ou, accessoirement, de nos propres Evangiles …

Ce n’est pas nécessairement, derrière les spectaculaires et indéniables prodiges de nos nouvelles technologies, à plus de paix et d’harmonie que va aboutir le formidable rassemblement de population – proprement inouï dans l’Histoire de l’humanité – que nous connaissons actuellement …

Mais bien, très probablement, à des niveaux de conflit dont nous n’avons pas encore idée ?

In God we trust, maybe, but not each other

Connie Cass

WASHINGTON (AP) — You can take our word for it. Americans don’t trust each other anymore.

We’re not talking about the loss of faith in big institutions such as the government, the church or Wall Street, which fluctuates with events. For four decades, a gut-level ingredient of democracy — trust in the other fellow — has been quietly draining away.

These days, only one-third of Americans say most people can be trusted. Half felt that way in 1972, when the General Social Survey first asked the question.

Forty years later, a record high of nearly two-thirds say “you can’t be too careful” in dealing with people.

An AP-GfK poll conducted last month found that Americans are suspicious of each other in everyday encounters. Less than one-third expressed a lot of trust in clerks who swipe their credit cards, drivers on the road, or people they meet when traveling.

“I’m leery of everybody,” said Bart Murawski, 27, of Albany, N.Y. “Caution is always a factor.”

Does it matter that Americans are suspicious of one another? Yes, say worried political and social scientists.

What’s known as “social trust” brings good things.

A society where it’s easier to compromise or make a deal. Where people are willing to work with those who are different from them for the common good. Where trust appears to promote economic growth.

Distrust, on the other hand, seems to encourage corruption. At the least, it diverts energy to counting change, drawing up 100-page legal contracts and building gated communities.

Even the rancor and gridlock in politics might stem from the effects of an increasingly distrustful citizenry, said April K. Clark, a Purdue University political scientist and public opinion researcher.

“It’s like the rules of the game,” Clark said. “When trust is low, the way we react and behave with each other becomes less civil.”

There’s no easy fix.

In fact, some studies suggest it’s too late for most Americans alive today to become more trusting. That research says the basis for a person’s lifetime trust levels is set by his or her mid-twenties and unlikely to change, other than in some unifying crucible such as a world war.

People do get a little more trusting as they age. But beginning with the baby boomers, each generation has started off adulthood less trusting than those who came before them.

The best hope for creating a more trusting nation may be figuring out how to inspire today’s youth, perhaps united by their high-tech gadgets, to trust the way previous generations did in simpler times.

There are still trusters around to set an example.

Pennsylvania farmer Dennis Hess is one. He runs an unattended farm stand on the honor system.

Customers pick out their produce, tally their bills and drop the money into a slot, making change from an unlocked cashbox. Both regulars and tourists en route to nearby Lititz, Pa., stop for asparagus in spring, corn in summer and, as the weather turns cold, long-neck pumpkins for Thanksgiving pies.

“When people from New York or New Jersey come up,” said Hess, 60, “they are amazed that this kind of thing is done anymore.”

Hess has updated the old ways with technology. He added a video camera a few years back, to help catch people who drive off without paying or raid the cashbox. But he says there isn’t enough theft to undermine his trust in human nature.

“I’ll say 99 and a half percent of the people are honest,” said Hess, who’s operated the produce stand for two decades.

There’s no single explanation for Americans’ loss of trust.

The best-known analysis comes from “Bowling Alone” author Robert Putnam’s nearly two decades of studying the United States’ declining “social capital,” including trust.

Putnam says Americans have abandoned their bowling leagues and Elks lodges to stay home and watch TV. Less socializing and fewer community meetings make people less trustful than the “long civic generation” that came of age during the Depression and World War II.

University of Maryland Professor Eric Uslaner, who studies politics and trust, puts the blame elsewhere: economic inequality.

Trust has declined as the gap between the nation’s rich and poor gapes ever wider, Uslaner says, and more and more Americans feel shut out. They’ve lost their sense of a shared fate. Tellingly, trust rises with wealth.

“People who believe the world is a good place and it’s going to get better and you can help make it better, they will be trusting,” Uslaner said. “If you believe it’s dark and driven by outside forces you can’t control, you will be a mistruster.”

African-Americans consistently have expressed far less faith in “most people” than the white majority does. Racism, discrimination and a high rate of poverty destroy trust.

Nearly 8 in 10 African-Americans, in the 2012 survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago with principal funding from the National Science Foundation, felt that “you can’t be too careful.” That figure has held remarkably steady across the 25 GSS surveys since 1972.

The decline in the nation’s overall trust quotient was driven by changing attitudes among whites.

It’s possible that people today are indeed less deserving of trust than Americans in the past, perhaps because of a decline in moral values.

“I think people are acting more on their greed,” said Murawski, a computer specialist who says he has witnessed scams and rip-offs. “Everybody wants a comfortable lifestyle, but what are you going to do for it? Where do you draw the line?”

Ethical behavior such as lying and cheating are difficult to document over the decades. It’s worth noting that the early, most trusting years of the GSS poll coincided with Watergate and the Vietnam War. Trust dropped off in the more stable 1980s.

Crime rates fell in the 1990s and 2000s, and still Americans grew less trusting. Many social scientists blame 24-hour news coverage of distant violence for skewing people’s perceptions of crime.

Can anything bring trust back?

Uslaner and Clark don’t see much hope anytime soon.

Thomas Sander, executive director of the Saguaro Seminar launched by Putnam, believes the trust deficit is “eminently fixable” if Americans strive to rebuild community and civic life, perhaps by harnessing technology.

After all, the Internet can widen the circle of acquaintances who might help you find a job. Email makes it easier for clubs to plan face-to-face meetings. Googling someone turns up information that used to come via the community grapevine.

But hackers and viruses and hateful posts eat away at trust. And sitting home watching YouTube means less time out meeting others.

“A lot of it depends on whether we can find ways to get people using technology to connect and be more civically involved,” Sander said.

“The fate of Americans’ trust,” he said, “is in our own hands.”

___

Associated Press Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta and AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.

___

Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

General Social Survey: http://www3.norc.org/GSS+Website

Voir aussi:

L’exil du patron Robinson sur une île déserte touche à sa fin

Isabelle de Foucaud

le Figaro

18/11/2013

Gauthier Toulemonde est parti 40 jours sur une île de l’archipel indonésien pour démontrer que le télétravail n’est plus une utopie avec les technologies de communication.

Gauthier Toulemonde, qui a décidé de passer 40 jours sur une île au large de l’Indonésie pour tester des conditions «extrêmes» de télétravail, a pu gérer son entreprise sans encombre. Il sera de retour en France d’ici à la fin de la semaine.

Gauthier Toulemonde prépare ses valises avec le sentiment du devoir accompli. Il doit quitter mardi son île déserte de l’archipel indonésien, longue de 700 mètres, large de 500 et située à cinq heures de bateau du village le plus proche, sur laquelle il vient de passer 40 jours dans des conditions extrêmes. «J’appréhende le retour à la vie moderne après cette longue période de solitude. Je ne sais plus ce que c’est de prendre le métro ou d’être coincé dans les embouteillages», confie-t-il au figaro.fr par téléphone satellitaire ce lundi, à la veille de son départ.

A 54 ans, l’entrepreneur de Saint-André-lez-Lille (Nord), qui a partagé son expérience sur un blog, ne voulait pas seulement réaliser un «rêve d’enfant» en montant cette expédition à la Robinson Crusoé. Certes, il a passé ce séjour dans l’isolement total, mais ultra connecté. Un ordinateur, une tablette numérique et deux téléphones satellitaires alimentés par des panneaux solaires étaient du voyage. «Mon but était de démontrer que je pouvais continuer à gérer mon entreprise à distance, grâce aux nouvelles technologies», explique Gauthier Toulemonde , propriétaire de la société Timbropresse qui publie le mensuel Timbres magazine, et par ailleurs rédacteur en chef de L’Activité immobilière.

Un pari réussi. «Nous avons bouclé, avec mon équipe à distance, chaque magazine dans les délais et avec les mêmes contenus et paginations que d’habitude», se réjouit-il, en assurant avoir assumé sans encombre l’ensemble de ses responsabilités. Choix des sujets, attribution aux journalistes et pigistes, réalisation d’interviews et lancement des pages en production … «Les communications étaient réduites a minima et je privilégiais les échanges par mail plutôt que par téléphone satellitaire, ces appels étant beaucoup plus coûteux.» Le patron Robinson est parti avec un budget de «moins de 10.000 euros», sans sponsor, et s’est fixé comme limite stricte 20 euros de frais Internet par jour.

Les limites du «tout virtuel»

Autre complication: le décalage horaire de six heures (en plus) qui a considérablement rallongé les journées de Gauthier Toulemonde afin qu’il puisse «croiser» un minimum sa dizaine de salariés en France. «Lorsque je prenais du retard sur la rédaction d’un article, en revanche, ce décalage devenait un sérieux avantage pour moi en me donnant un peu plus de temps.»

Si les solutions pour travailler à distance existent et fonctionnent, rien ne remplace le contact humain nécessaire au bon fonctionnement d’une entreprise

Des délais souvent bienvenus alors que ce chef d’entreprise – parti quand même avec des rations de survie de pâtes et de riz – devait en plus assurer sa subsistance en pêchant, chassant ou cueillant des végétaux dès 5 heures du matin. Le tout dans un environnement dominé par des rats, serpents et varans. «Ma plus grande crainte était de perdre ma connexion», confie cependant l’aventurier. Parti en pleine saison des pluies, il a subi des intempéries qui l’ont parfois fait vivre pendant quelques jours sur ses réserves d’énergie.

Ces frayeurs ont-elles refroidi l’enthousiasme de l’entrepreneur pour le télétravail? «Le tout virtuel ne marche pas. Si les solutions pour travailler à distance existent, rien ne remplace le contact humain nécessaire au bon fonctionnement d’une entreprise», conclut Gauthier Toulemonde, en confiant au passage qu’«à la longue, communiquer uniquement par mail ou par téléphone devient pénible».

Voir encore:

Real-life Robinson Crusoe who decided to run his Paris business from a remote Indonesian island goes home after being put off by the snakes, spiders and sky-high phone bills

Gauthier Toulemonde, 54, moved to a 700×500-metre island for 40 days

He scavenged for vegetables and fish, and ‘detoxed from modern life’

Only companion was a ‘rented’ dog that scared off wildlife for him

Says lack of human contact and fear of losing web signal was unbearable

Mia De Graaf

The Daily Mail

 30 November 2013

A French businessman who realised his childhood dream to relocate to a desert island has been driven home by wild Indonesian creatures and unaffordable phone bills.

Gauthier Toulemonde, 54, had been getting increasingly frustrated with his stagnant life commuting from Lille to Paris every day to his office job as a publicist.

Last Christmas, the sorry sight of distinctly un-merry Parisians lugging presents through the station compelled him to finally take a leap.

Deserted: Gauthier Toulemonde, 54, relocated his work as a publicist to one of Indonesia’s 17,000 islands

Deserted: Gauthier Toulemonde, 54, relocated his work as a publicist to one of Indonesia’s 17,000 islands

Moving to one of Indonesia’s 17,000 islands like Robinson Crusoe moved to Trinidad, Mr Toulemonde ‘detoxed from modern life’ by scavenging for food, being in touch with nature, and having little to no contact with other human beings.

His only companion was Gecko, a dog borrowed from a Chinese woman, to scare off the wildlife.

He told The Guardian he wanted to be the first ‘Web Robinson’ to persuade French people to abandon the tiring, demoralising commute and work remotely.

He added: ‘I found myself in Gare Saint Lazare in Paris just before Christmas watching the continuous stream of people passing by.

Idyllic: He was bound by Indonesian law to keep the exact location of the 700×500-metre island a secret

Idyllic: He was bound by Indonesian law to keep the exact location of the 700×500-metre island a secret

‘Web Robinson': Toulemonde filmed his experiment testing if it was possible to work this far from the office

‘Web Robinson': Toulemonde filmed his experiment testing if it was possible to work this far from the office

‘They had this sad look on their faces, even though they were carrying Christmas presents. It had long seemed to me absurd this travelling back and forth to offices.

‘My idea of going away had been growing for a while, but it was on that day, I decided to leave.’

It took him six months – and numerous run-ins with the Indonesian government – to find the perfect uninhabited island for a six-week trial run. Although he managed to persuade officials to let him go, he was ordered by law not to reveal the exact location of the hideaway, that is just 700-by-500 metres.

Finally, in October he set off – with just a tent, four solar panels, a phone, a laptop, rice and pasta for supplies.

Guard dog: Gecko, a dog he borrowed from a Chinese woman, helped scare off the wildlife

Guard dog: Gecko, a dog he borrowed from a Chinese woman, helped scare off the wildlife

Isolated: Toulemonde was banned from revealing the exact location of the uninhabited island

Isolated: Toulemonde was banned from stating the exact location of the uninhabited island in the Indian Ocean

Every day he woke at 5am and went to bed at midnight.

He would scavenge for vegetables on the island and fish in the sea before simply reclining to ‘detox from modern life’.

‘Those days, for me it was like being in quarantine,’ he told Le Figaro.

‘I used the time as a detox from modern life.’

He told Paris Match: ‘What gave me most joy was living – stripped bare – in the closest possible contact with nature. Every day was magical.’

However, it was not stress-free: his company had to publish two editions of Stamps Magazine.

Snakes: Toulemonde was surrounded by Indonesia’s wildlife ranging from small snakes to giant pythons

Snakes: Toulemonde was surrounded by Indonesia’s wildlife ranging from small snakes to giant pythons

Rats: He said living on the island with pests such as rats for any more than 40 days would be too much to handle

Rats: He said living on the island with pests such as rats for any more than 40 days would be too much to handle

Diary: He wrote a blog and made videos tracking his progress. He admitted he won’t go out again

Diary: He wrote a blog and made videos tracking his progress. He admitted he won’t go out again

He allowed himself 20 euros a day for internet to email his employees – and abandoned extortionate phone calls early on.

But after completing his trial, Mr Toulemonde has conceded that he cannot do it forever.

Although he claims the ‘telecommuting’ experiment was a success, he told French broadcasters My TF1 News that the snakes and rats were intolerable – and fear of losing Internet connection was even worse.

The biggest challenge was lack of human contact.

He said: ‘Telecommuting really works but doing everything virtually has its limits. Working from distance might be doable, but nothing can replace human contact.’

Voir par ailleurs:

Exclusive: Signs of declining economic security

Hope Yen

Jul. 28, 2013

ECONOMIC INSECURITY

Chart shows cumulative economic insecurity by age; 2c x 4 inches; 96.3 mm x 101 mm;

WASHINGTON (AP) — Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.

Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor and loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend.

The findings come as President Barack Obama tries to renew his administration’s emphasis on the economy, saying in recent speeches that his highest priority is to « rebuild ladders of opportunity » and reverse income inequality.

Hardship is particularly on the rise among whites, based on several measures. Pessimism among that racial group about their families’ economic futures has climbed to the highest point since at least 1987. In the most recent AP-GfK poll, 63 percent of whites called the economy « poor. »

« I think it’s going to get worse, » said Irene Salyers, 52, of Buchanan County, Va., a declining coal region in Appalachia. Married and divorced three times, Salyers now helps run a fruit and vegetable stand with her boyfriend, but it doesn’t generate much income. They live mostly off government disability checks.

« If you do try to go apply for a job, they’re not hiring people, and they’re not paying that much to even go to work, » she said. Children, she said, have « nothing better to do than to get on drugs. »

While racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to live in poverty, race disparities in the poverty rate have narrowed substantially since the 1970s, census data show. Economic insecurity among whites also is more pervasive than is shown in government data, engulfing more than 76 percent of white adults by the time they turn 60, according to a new economic gauge being published next year by the Oxford University Press.

The gauge defines « economic insecurity » as experiencing unemployment at some point in their working lives, or a year or more of reliance on government aid such as food stamps or income below 150 percent of the poverty line. Measured across all races, the risk of economic insecurity rises to 79 percent.

« It’s time that America comes to understand that many of the nation’s biggest disparities, from education and life expectancy to poverty, are increasingly due to economic class position, » said William Julius Wilson, a Harvard professor who specializes in race and poverty.

He noted that despite continuing economic difficulties, minorities have more optimism about the future after Obama’s election, while struggling whites do not.

« There is the real possibility that white alienation will increase if steps are not taken to highlight and address inequality on a broad front, » Wilson said.

___

Sometimes termed « the invisible poor » by demographers, lower-income whites are generally dispersed in suburbs as well as small rural towns, where more than 60 percent of the poor are white. Concentrated in Appalachia in the East, they are also numerous in the industrial Midwest and spread across America’s heartland, from Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma up through the Great Plains.

More than 19 million whites fall below the poverty line of $23,021 for a family of four, accounting for more than 41 percent of the nation’s destitute, nearly double the number of poor blacks.

Still, while census figures provide an official measure of poverty, they’re only a temporary snapshot. The numbers don’t capture the makeup of those who cycle in and out of poverty at different points in their lives. They may be suburbanites, for example, or the working poor or the laid off.

In 2011 that snapshot showed 12.6 percent of adults in their prime working-age years of 25-60 lived in poverty. But measured in terms of a person’s lifetime risk, a much higher number — 4 in 10 adults — falls into poverty for at least a year of their lives.

The risks of poverty also have been increasing in recent decades, particularly among people ages 35-55, coinciding with widening income inequality. For instance, people ages 35-45 had a 17 percent risk of encountering poverty during the 1969-1989 time period; that risk increased to 23 percent during the 1989-2009 period. For those ages 45-55, the risk of poverty jumped from 11.8 percent to 17.7 percent.

By race, nonwhites still have a higher risk of being economically insecure, at 90 percent. But compared with the official poverty rate, some of the biggest jumps under the newer measure are among whites, with more than 76 percent enduring periods of joblessness, life on welfare or near-poverty.

By 2030, based on the current trend of widening income inequality, close to 85 percent of all working-age adults in the U.S. will experience bouts of economic insecurity.

« Poverty is no longer an issue of ‘them’, it’s an issue of ‘us’, » says Mark Rank, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis who calculated the numbers. « Only when poverty is thought of as a mainstream event, rather than a fringe experience that just affects blacks and Hispanics, can we really begin to build broader support for programs that lift people in need. »

Rank’s analysis is supplemented with figures provided by Tom Hirschl, a professor at Cornell University; John Iceland, a sociology professor at Penn State University; the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute; the Census Bureau; and the Population Reference Bureau.

Among the findings:

—For the first time since 1975, the number of white single-mother households who were living in poverty with children surpassed or equaled black ones in the past decade, spurred by job losses and faster rates of out-of-wedlock births among whites. White single-mother families in poverty stood at nearly 1.5 million in 2011, comparable to the number for blacks. Hispanic single-mother families in poverty trailed at 1.2 million.

—The share of children living in high-poverty neighborhoods — those with poverty rates of 30 percent or more — has increased to 1 in 10, putting them at higher risk of teen pregnancy or dropping out of school. Non-Hispanic whites accounted for 17 percent of the child population in such neighborhoods, up from 13 percent in 2000, even though the overall proportion of white children in the U.S. has been declining.

The share of black children in high-poverty neighborhoods dropped sharply, from 43 percent to 37 percent, while the share of Latino children ticked higher, from 38 to 39 percent.

___

Going back to the 1980s, never have whites been so pessimistic about their futures, according to the General Social Survey, which is conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago. Just 45 percent say their family will have a good chance of improving their economic position based on the way things are in America.

The divide is especially evident among those whites who self-identify as working class: 49 percent say they think their children will do better than them, compared with 67 percent of non-whites who consider themselves working class.

In November, Obama won the votes of just 36 percent of those noncollege whites, the worst performance of any Democratic nominee among that group since 1984.

Some Democratic analysts have urged renewed efforts to bring working-class whites into the political fold, calling them a potential « decisive swing voter group » if minority and youth turnout level off in future elections.

« They don’t trust big government, but it doesn’t mean they want no government, » says Republican pollster Ed Goeas, who agrees that working-class whites will remain an important electoral group. « They feel that politicians are giving attention to other people and not them. »

___

AP Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta, News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius and AP writer Debra McCown in Buchanan County, Va., contributed to this report.

Voir aussi:

Report: U.S. Spent $3.7 Trillion on Welfare Over Last 5 Years

Dutch King: Say Goodbye to Welfare State

AMSTERDAM September 17, 2013 (AP)

Toby Sterling Associated Press

King Willem-Alexander delivered a message to the Dutch people from the government Tuesday in a nationally televised address: the welfare state of the 20th century is gone.

In its place a « participation society » is emerging, in which people must take responsibility for their own future and create their own social and financial safety nets, with less help from the national government.

The king traveled past waving fans in an ornate horse-drawn carriage to the 13th-century Hall of Knights in The Hague for the monarch’s traditional annual address on the day the government presents its budget for the coming year. It was Willem-Alexander’s first appearance on the national stage since former Queen Beatrix abdicated in April and he ascended to the throne.

« The shift to a ‘participation society’ is especially visible in social security and long-term care, » the king said, reading out to lawmakers a speech written for him by Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government.

« The classic welfare state of the second half of the 20th century in these areas in particular brought forth arrangements that are unsustainable in their current form. »

Rutte may be hoping that the pomp and ceremony surrounding the king and his popular wife, Queen Maxima, will provide a diversion from the gloomy reality of a budget full of unpopular new spending cuts he revealed later in the day.

A series of recent polls have shown that confidence in Rutte’s government is at record low levels, and that most Dutch people — along with labor unions, employers’ associations and many economists — believe the Cabinet’s austerity policies are at least partially to blame as the Dutch economy has worsened even as recoveries are underway in neighboring Germany, France and Britain.

After several consecutive years of government spending cuts, the Dutch economy is expected to have shrunk by more than 1 percent in 2013, and the agency is forecasting growth of just 0.5 percent next year.

« The necessary reforms take time and demand perseverance, » the king said. But they will « lay the basis for creating jobs and restoring confidence. »

Willem-Alexander said that nowadays, people expect and « want to make their own choices, to arrange their own lives, and take care of each other. »

The ‘participation society’ has been on its way for some time: benefits such as unemployment compensation and subsidies on health care have been regularly pruned for the past decade. The retirement age has been raised to 67.

The king said Tuesday some costs for the care of the elderly, for youth services, and for job retraining after layoffs will now be pushed back to the local level, in order to make them better tailored to local circumstances.

The monarchy was not immune to cost-cutting and Willem-Alexander’s salary will be cut from around 825,000 euros ($1.1 million) this year to 817,000 euros in 2014. Maintaining the Royal House — castles, parades and all — costs the government around 40 million euros annually.

A review of the government’s budget by the country’s independent analysis agency showed that the deficit will widen in 2014 to 3.3 percent of GDP despite the new spending cuts intended to reduce it.

Eurozone rules specify that countries must keep their deficit below 3 percent, and Rutte has been among the most prominent of European leaders, along with Germany’s Angela Merkel, in insisting that Southern European countries attempt to meet that target.

Among other measures, the government announced 2,300 new military job cuts. That follows a 2011 decision to cut 12,000 jobs — one out of every six defense employees — between 2012 and 2015.

However, the government said Tuesday it has decided once and for all not to abandon the U.S.-led « Joint Strike Fighter » program to develop new military aircraft. The program has suffered cost overruns and created divisions within Rutte’s governing coalition.

A debate over the budget later this week will be crucial for the future of the coalition, as it does not command a majority in the upper house, and it must seek help from opposition parties to have the budget approved.

Challenged as to whether his Cabinet may be facing a crisis, Rutte insisted in an interview with national broadcaster NOS on Tuesday that he ultimately will find support for the budget.

« At crucial moments, the opposition is willing to do its share, » he said.

Geert Wilders, whose far right Freedom Party currently tops popularity polls, called Rutte’s budget the equivalent of « kicking the country while it’s down. »

——–

History suggests that era of entitlements is nearly over

Michael Barone

The Examiner

January 11, 2013

It’s often good fun and sometimes revealing to divide American history into distinct periods of uniform length. In working on my forthcoming book on American migrations, internal and immigrant, it occurred to me that you could do this using the American-sounding interval of 76 years, just a few years more than the biblical lifespan of three score and ten.

It was 76 years from Washington’s First Inaugural in 1789 to Lincoln’s Second Inaugural in 1865. It was 76 years from the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse in 1865 to the attack at Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Going backward, it was 76 years from the First Inaugural in 1789 to the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, which settled one of the British-French colonial wars. And going 76 years back from Utrecht takes you to 1637, when the Virginia and Massachusetts Bay colonies were just getting organized.

As for our times, we are now 71 years away from Pearl Harbor. The current 76-year interval ends in December 2017.

Each of these 76-year periods can be depicted as a distinct unit. In the Colonial years up to 1713, very small numbers of colonists established separate cultures that have persisted to our times.

The story is brilliantly told in David Hackett Fischer’s « Albion’s Seed. » For a more downbeat version, read the recent « The Barbarous Years » by the nonagenarian Bernard Bailyn.

From 1713 to 1789, the Colonies were peopled by much larger numbers of motley and often involuntary settlers — slaves, indentured servants, the unruly Scots-Irish on the Appalachian frontier.

For how this society became dissatisfied with the Colonial status quo, read Bailyn’s « The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. »

From 1789 to 1865, Americans sought their manifest destiny by expanding across the continent. They made great technological advances but were faced with the irreconcilable issue of slavery in the territories.

For dueling accounts of the period, read the pro-Andrew Jackson Democrat Sean Wilentz’s « The Rise of American Democracy » and the pro-Henry Clay Whig Daniel Walker Howe’s « What Hath God Wrought. » Both are sparklingly written and full of offbeat insights and brilliant apercus.

The 1865-to-1941 period saw a vast efflorescence of market capitalism, European immigration and rising standards of living. For descriptions of how economic change reshaped the nation and its government, read Morton Keller’s « Affairs of State » and « Regulating a New Society. »

The 70-plus years since 1941 have seen a vast increase in the welfare safety net and governance by cooperation among big units — big government, big business, big labor — that began in the New Deal and gained steam in and after World War II. I immodestly offer my own « Our Country: The Shaping of America from Roosevelt to Reagan. »

The original arrangements in each 76-year period became unworkable and unraveled toward its end. Eighteenth-century Americans rejected the Colonial status quo and launched a revolution, then established a constitutional republic.

Nineteenth-century Americans went to war over expansion of slavery. Early-20th-century Americans grappled with the collapse of the private-sector economy in the Depression of the 1930s.

We are seeing something like this again today. The welfare state arrangements that once seemed solid are on the path to unsustainability.

Entitlement programs — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid — are threatening to gobble up the whole government and much of the private sector, as well.

Lifetime employment by one big company represented by one big union is a thing of the past. People who counted on corporate or public-sector pensions are seeing them default.

Looking back, we are as far away in time today from victory in World War II in 1945 as Americans were at the time of the Dred Scott decision from the First Inaugural.

We are as far away in time today from passage of the Social Security in 1935 as Americans then were from the launching of post-Civil War Reconstruction.

Nevertheless our current president and most politicians of his party seem determined to continue the current welfare state arrangements — historian Walter Russell Mead calls this the blue-state model — into the indefinite future.

Some leaders of the other party are advancing ideas for adapting a system that worked reasonably well in an industrial age dominated by seemingly eternal big units into something that can prove workable in an information age experiencing continual change and upheaval wrought by innovations in the market economy.

The current 76-year period is nearing its end. What will come next?

Michael Barone,The Examiner’s senior political analyst, can be contacted at mbarone@washingtonexaminer.com

———-

America’s Fourth Revolution: The Coming Collapse of the Entitlement Society-and How We Will Survive It

James Piereson

The United States has been shaped by three far-reaching political revolutions: Jefferson’s “revolution of 1800,” the Civil War, and the New Deal. Each of these upheavals concluded with lasting institutional and cultural adjustments that set the stage for new phases of political and economic development. Are we on the verge of a new upheaval, a “fourth revolution” that will reshape U.S. politics for decades to come? There are signs to suggest that we are.

America’s Fourth Revolution describes the political upheaval that will overtake the United States over the next decade as a consequence of economic stagnation, the growth of government, and the exhaustion of post-war arrangements that formerly underpinned American prosperity and power. The inter-connected challenges of public debt, the retirement of the « baby boom » generation, and slow economic growth have reached a point where they can no longer be addressed by incremental adjustments in taxes and spending, but will require profound changes in the role of government in American life. At the same time, the widening gulf between the two political parties and the entrenched power of interest groups will make it difficult to negotiate the changes needed to renew the system.

America’s Fourth Revolution places this impending upheaval in historical context by reminding readers that Americans have faced and overcome similar challenges in the past and that they seem to resolve their deepest problems in relatively brief but intense periods of political conflict. In contrast to other books which claim that the United States is in decline, America’s Fourth Revolution argues that Americans will struggle over the next decade to form a governing coalition that will guide the nation on a path of renewed dynamism and prosperity.

Voir enfin:

L’enfer c’est les autres

1964 et 1970

L’existentialisme athée

par Jean-Paul Sartre

Extrait du CD « Huis clos » et de « L’Existentialisme est un humanisme »

* * *

L’enfer, c’est les autres [1]

Quand on écrit une pièce, il y a toujours des causes occasionnelles et des soucis profonds. La cause occasionnelle c’est que, au moment où j’ai écrit Huis clos, vers 1943 et début 44, j’avais trois amis et je voulais qu’ils jouent une pièce, une pièce de moi, sans avantager aucun d’eux. C’est-à-dire, je voulais qu’ils restent ensemble tout le temps sur la scène. Parce que je me disais que s’il y en a un qui s’en va, il pensera que les autres ont un meilleur rôle au moment où il s’en va. Je voulais donc les garder ensemble. Et je me suis dit, comment peut-on mettre ensemble trois personnes sans jamais en faire sortir l’une d’elles et les garder sur la scène jusqu’au bout, comme pour l’éternité. C’est là que m’est venue l’idée de les mettre en enfer et de les faire chacun le bourreau des deux autres. Telle est la cause occasionnelle. Par la suite, d’ailleurs, je dois dire, ces trois amis n’ont pas joué la pièce, et comme vous le savez, c’est Michel Vitold, Tania Balachova et Gaby Sylvia qui l’ont jouée.

Mais il y avait à ce moment-là des soucis plus généraux et j’ai voulu exprimer autre chose dans la pièce que, simplement, ce que l’occasion me donnait. J’ai voulu dire « l’enfer c’est les autres ». Mais « l’enfer c’est les autres » a été toujours mal compris. On a cru que je voulais dire par là que nos rapports avec les autres étaient toujours empoisonnés, que c’était toujours des rapports infernaux. Or, c’est tout autre chose que je veux dire. Je veux dire que si les rapports avec autrui sont tordus, viciés, alors l’autre ne peut être que l’enfer. Pourquoi ? Parce que les autres sont, au fond, ce qu’il y a de plus important en nous-mêmes, pour notre propre connaissance de nous-mêmes. Quand nous pensons sur nous, quand nous essayons de nous connaître, au fond nous usons des connaissances que les autres ont déjà sur nous, nous nous jugeons avec les moyens que les autres ont, nous ont donné, de nous juger. Quoi que je dise sur moi, toujours le jugement d’autrui entre dedans. Quoi que je sente de moi, le jugement d’autrui entre dedans. Ce qui veut dire que, si mes rapports sont mauvais, je me mets dans la totale dépendance d’autrui et alors, en effet, je suis en enfer. Et il existe une quantité de gens dans le monde qui sont en enfer parce qu’ils dépendent trop du jugement d’autrui. Mais cela ne veut nullement dire qu’on ne puisse avoir d’autres rapports avec les autres, ça marque simplement l’importance capitale de tous les autres pour chacun de nous.

Deuxième chose que je voudrais dire, c’est que ces gens ne sont pas semblables à nous. Les trois personnes que vous entendrez dans Huis clos ne nous ressemblent pas en ceci que nous sommes tous vivants et qu’ils sont morts. Bien entendu, ici, « morts » symbolise quelque chose. Ce que j’ai voulu indiquer, c’est précisément que beaucoup de gens sont encroûtés dans une série d’habitudes, de coutumes, qu’ils ont sur eux des jugements dont ils souffrent mais qu’ils ne cherchent même pas à changer. Et que ces gens-là sont comme morts, en ce sens qu’ils ne peuvent pas briser le cadre de leurs soucis, de leurs préoccupations et de leurs coutumes et qu’ils restent ainsi victimes souvent des jugements que l’on a portés sur eux.

À partir de là, il est bien évident qu’ils sont lâches ou méchants. Par exemple, s’ils ont commencé à être lâches, rien ne vient changer le fait qu’ils étaient lâches. C’est pour cela qu’ils sont morts, c’est pour cela, c’est une manière de dire que c’est une « mort vivante » que d’être entouré par le souci perpétuel de jugements et d’actions que l’on ne veut pas changer.

De sorte que, en vérité, comme nous sommes vivants, j’ai voulu montrer, par l’absurde, l’importance, chez nous, de la liberté, c’est-à-dire l’importance de changer les actes par d’autres actes. Quel que soit le cercle d’enfer dans lequel nous vivons, je pense que nous sommes libres de le briser. Et si les gens ne le brisent pas, c’est encore librement qu’ils y restent. De sorte qu’ils se mettent librement en enfer.

Vous voyez donc que « rapport avec les autres », « encroûtement » et « liberté », liberté comme l’autre face à peine suggérée, ce sont les trois thèmes de la pièce.

Je voudrais qu’on se le rappelle quand vous entendrez dire… « L’enfer c’est les autres ».

Je tiens à ajouter, en terminant, qu’il m’est arrivé en 1944, à la première représentation, un très rare bonheur, très rare pour les auteurs dramatiques : c’est que les personnages ont été incarnés de telle manière par les trois acteurs, et aussi par Chauffard, le valet d’enfer, qui l’a toujours jouée depuis, que je ne puis plus me représenter mes propres imaginations autrement que sous les traits de Michel Vitold, Gaby Sylvia, de Tania Balachova et de Chauffard. Depuis, la pièce a été rejouée par d’autres acteurs, et je tiens en particulier à dire que j’ai vu Christiane Lenier, quand elle l’a jouée, et que j’ai admiré quelle excellente Inès elle a été.

L’existence précède l’essence [2]

Est-ce qu’au fond, ce qui fait peur, dans la doctrine que je vais essayer de vous exposer, ce n’est pas le fait qu’elle laisse une possibilité de choix à l’homme ? Pour le savoir, il faut que nous revoyions la question sur un plan strictement philosophique.

Qu’est-ce qu’on appelle existentialisme ? La plupart des gens qui utilisent ce mot seraient bien embarrassés pour le justifier, puisque aujourd’hui [1945], que c’est devenu une mode, on déclare volontiers qu’un musicien ou qu’un peintre est existentialiste. Un échotier de Clartés signe l’Existentialiste ; et au fond le mot a pris aujourd’hui une telle largeur et une telle extension qu’il ne signifie plus rien du tout. Il semble que, faute de doctrine d’avant-garde analogue au surréalisme, les gens avides de scandale et de mouvement s’adressent à cette philosophie, qui ne peut d’ailleurs rien leur apporter dans ce domaine ; en réalité c’est la doctrine la moins scandaleuse, la plus austère ; elle est strictement destinée aux techniciens et aux philosophes. Pourtant, elle peut se définir facilement. Ce qui rend les choses compliquées, c’est qu’il y a deux espèces d’existentialistes : les premiers, qui sont chrétiens, et parmi lesquels je rangerai Jaspers et Gabriel Marcel, de confession catholique ; et, d’autre part, les existentialistes athées parmi lesquels il faut ranger Heidegger, et aussi les existentialistes français et moi-même. Ce qu’ils ont en commun, c’est simplement le fait qu’ils estiment que l’existence précède l’essence, ou, si vous voulez, qu’il faut partir de la subjectivité. Que faut-il au juste entendre par là ? Lorsqu’on considère un objet fabriqué, comme par exemple un livre ou un coupe-papier, cet objet a été fabriqué par un artisan qui s’est inspiré d’un concept ; il s’est référé au concept de coupe-papier, et également à une technique de production préalable qui fait partie du concept, et qui est au fond une recette. Ainsi, le coupe-papier est à la fois un objet qui se produit d’une certaine manière et qui, d’autre part, a une utilité définie, et on ne peut pas supposer un homme qui produirait un coupe-papier sans savoir à quoi l’objet va servir. Nous dirons donc que, pour le coupe-papier, l’essence — c’est-à-dire l’ensemble des recettes et des qualités qui permettent de le produire et de le définir — précède l’existence ; et ainsi la présence, en face de moi, de tel coupe-papier ou de tel livre est déterminée. Nous avons donc là une vision technique du monde, dans laquelle on peut dire que la production précède l’existence.

Lorsque nous concevons un Dieu créateur, ce Dieu est assimilé la plupart du temps à un artisan supérieur ; et quelle que soit la doctrine que nous considérions, qu’il s’agisse d’une doctrine comme celle de Descartes ou de la doctrine de Leibniz, nous admettons toujours que la volonté suit plus ou moins l’entendement, ou tout au moins l’accompagne, et que Dieu, lorsqu’il crée, sait précisément ce qu’il crée. Ainsi, le concept d’homme, dans l’esprit de Dieu, est assimilable au concept de coupe-papier dans l’esprit de l’industriel ; et Dieu produit l’homme suivant des techniques et une conception, exactement comme l’artisan fabrique un coupe-papier suivant une définition et une technique. Ainsi l’homme individuel réalise un certain concept qui est dans l’entendement divin. Au XVIIIe siècle, dans l’athéisme des philosophes, la notion de Dieu est supprimée, mais non pas pour autant l’idée que l’essence précède l’existence. Cette idée, nous la retrouvons un peu partout : nous la retrouvons chez Diderot, chez Voltaire, et même chez Kant. L’homme est possesseur d’une nature humaine ; cette nature humaine, qui est le concept humain, se retrouve chez tous les hommes, ce qui signifie que chaque homme est un exemple particulier d’un concept universel, l’homme ; chez Kant, il résulte de cette universalité que l’homme des bois, l’homme de la nature, comme le bourgeois sont astreints à la même définition et possèdent les mêmes qualités de base. Ainsi, là encore, l’essence d’homme précède cette existence historique que nous rencontrons dans la nature.

L’existentialisme athée, que je représente, est plus cohérent. Il déclare que si Dieu n’existe pas, il y a au moins un être chez qui l’existence précède l’essence, un être qui existe avant de pouvoir être défini par aucun concept et que cet être c’est l’homme ou, comme dit Heidegger, la réalité humaine. Qu’est-ce que signifie ici que l’existence précède l’essence ? Cela signifie que l’homme existe d’abord, se rencontre, surgit dans le monde, et qu’il se définit après.

L’homme, tel que le conçoit l’existentialiste, s’il n’est pas définissable, c’est qu’il n’est d’abord rien. Il ne sera qu’ensuite, et il sera tel qu’il se sera fait. Ainsi, il n’y a pas de nature humaine, puisqu’il n’y a pas de Dieu pour la concevoir. L’homme est seulement, non seulement tel qu’il se conçoit, mais tel qu’il se veut, et comme il se conçoit après l’existence, comme il se veut après cet élan vers l’existence ; l’homme n’est rien d’autre que ce qu’il se fait. Tel est le premier principe de l’existentialisme.

C’est aussi ce qu’on appelle la subjectivité, et que l’on nous reproche sous ce nom même. Mais que voulons-nous dire par là, sinon que l’homme a une plus grande dignité que la pierre ou que la table ? Car nous voulons dire que l’homme existe d’abord, c’est-à-dire que l’homme est d’abord ce qui se jette vers un avenir, et ce qui est conscient de se projeter dans l’avenir. L’homme est d’abord un projet qui se vit subjectivement, au lieu d’être une mousse, une pourriture ou un chou-fleur ; rien n’existe préalablement à ce projet ; rien n’est au ciel intelligible, et l’homme sera d’abord ce qu’il aura projeté d’être. Non pas ce qu’il voudra être. Car ce que nous entendons ordinairement par vouloir, c’est une décision consciente, et qui est pour la plupart d’entre nous postérieure à ce qu’il s’est fait lui-même. Je peux vouloir adhérer à un parti, écrire un livre, me marier, tout cela n’est qu’une manifestation d’un choix plus originel, plus spontané que ce qu’on appelle volonté. Mais si vraiment l’existence précède l’essence, l’homme est responsable de ce qu’il est. Ainsi, la première démarche de l’existentialisme est de mettre tout homme en possession de ce qu’il est et de faire reposer sur lui la responsabilité totale de son existence.

Ma volonté engage l’humanité entière [3]

Ainsi, notre responsabilité est beaucoup plus grande que nous ne pourrions le supposer, car elle engage l’humanité entière. Si je suis ouvrier, et si je choisis d’adhérer à un syndicat chrétien plutôt que d’être communiste, si, par cette adhésion, je veux indiquer que la résignation est au fond la solution qui convient à l’homme, que le royaume de l’homme n’est pas sur la terre, je n’engage pas seulement mon cas : je veux être résigné pour tous, par conséquent ma démarche a engagé l’humanité tout entière. Et si je veux, fait plus individuel, me marier, avoir des enfants, même si ce mariage dépend uniquement de ma situation, ou de ma passion, ou de mon désir, par là j’engage non seulement moi-même, mais l’humanité tout entière sur la voie de la monogamie. Ainsi je suis responsable pour moi-même et pour tous, et je crée une certaine image de l’homme que je choisis ; en me choisissant, je choisis l’homme.

L’angoisse et la mauvaise foi [4]

Ceci nous permet de comprendre ce que recouvrent des mots un peu grandiloquents comme angoisse, délaissement, désespoir. Comme vous allez voir, c’est extrêmement simple. D’abord, qu’entend-on par angoisse ? L’existentialiste déclare volontiers que l’homme est angoisse. Cela signifie ceci : l’homme qui s’engage et qui se rend compte qu’il est non seulement celui qu’il choisit d’être, mais encore un législateur choisissant en même temps que soi l’humanité entière, ne saurait échapper au sentiment de sa totale et profonde responsabilité. Certes, beaucoup de gens ne sont pas anxieux ; mais nous prétendons qu’ils se masquent leur angoisse, qu’ils la fuient ; certainement, beaucoup de gens croient en agissant n’engager qu’eux-mêmes, et lorsqu’on leur dit : « mais si tout le monde faisait comme ça ? » ils haussent les épaules et répondent : « tout le monde ne fait pas comme ça. » Mais en vérité, on doit toujours se demander : qu’arriverait-il si tout le monde en faisait autant ? Et on n’échappe à cette pensée inquiétante que par une sorte de mauvaise foi. Celui qui ment et qui s’excuse en déclarant : tout le monde ne fait pas comme ça, est quelqu’un qui est mal à l’aise avec sa conscience, car le fait de mentir implique une valeur universelle attribuée au mensonge. Même lorsqu’elle se masque l’angoisse apparaît. C’est cette angoisse que Kierkegaard appelait l’angoisse d’Abraham.

Vous connaissez l’histoire : Un ange a ordonné à Abraham de sacrifier son fils : tout va bien si c’est vraiment un ange qui est venu et qui a dit : tu es Abraham, tu sacrifieras ton fils. Mais chacun peut se demander, d’abord, est-ce que c’est bien un ange, et est-ce que je suis bien Abraham ? Qu’est-ce qui me le prouve ? Il y avait une folle qui avait des hallucinations : on lui parlait par téléphone et on lui donnait des ordres. Le médecin lui demanda : « Mais qui est-ce qui vous parle ? » Elle répondit : « Il dit que c’est Dieu. » Et qu’est-ce qui lui prouvait, en effet, que c’était Dieu ? Si un ange vient à moi, qu’est-ce qui prouve que c’est un ange ? Et si j’entends des voix, qu’est-ce qui prouve qu’elles viennent du ciel et non de l’enfer, ou d’un subconscient, ou d’un état pathologique ? Qui prouve qu’elles s’adressent à moi ? Qui prouve que je suis bien désigné pour imposer ma conception de l’homme et mon choix à l’humanité ? Je ne trouverai jamais aucune preuve, aucun signe pour m’en convaincre. Si une voix s’adresse à moi, c’est toujours moi qui déciderai que cette voix est la voix de l’ange ; si je considère que tel acte est bon, c’est moi qui choisirai de dire que cet acte est bon plutôt que mauvais. Rien ne me désigne pour être Abraham, et pourtant je suis obligé à chaque instant de faire des actes exemplaires. Tout se passe comme si, pour tout homme, toute l’humanité avait les yeux fixés sur ce qu’il fait et se réglait sur ce qu’il fait. Et chaque homme doit se dire : suis-je bien celui qui a le droit d’agir de telle sorte que l’humanité se règle sur mes actes ? Et s’il ne se dit pas cela, c’est qu’il se masque l’angoisse. Il ne s’agit pas là d’une angoisse qui conduirait au quiétisme, à l’inaction. Il s’agit d’une angoisse simple, que tous ceux qui ont eu des responsabilités connaissent. Lorsque, par exemple, un chef militaire prend la responsabilité d’une attaque et envoie un certain nombre d’hommes à la mort, il choisit de le faire, et au fond il choisit seul. Sans doute il y a des ordres qui viennent d’en haut, mais ils sont trop larges et une interprétation s’impose, qui vient de lui, et de cette interprétation dépend la vie de dix ou quatorze ou vingt hommes. Il ne peut pas ne pas avoir, dans la décision qu’il prend, une certaine angoisse.

Tous les chefs connaissent cette angoisse. Cela ne les empêche pas d’agir, au contraire, c’est la condition même de leur action ; car cela suppose qu’ils envisagent une pluralité de possibilités, et lorsqu’ils en choisissent une, ils se rendent compte qu’elle n’a de valeur que parce qu’elle est choisie. Et cette sorte d’angoisse, qui est celle que décrit l’existentialisme, nous verrons qu’elle s’explique en outre par une responsabilité directe vis-à-vis des autres hommes qu’elle engage. Elle n’est pas un rideau qui nous séparerait de l’action, mais elle fait partie de l’action même.

L’homme est condamné à être libre [5]

Et lorsqu’on parle de délaissement, expression chère à Heidegger, nous voulons dire seulement que Dieu n’existe pas, et qu’il faut en tirer jusqu’au bout les conséquences. L’existentialiste est très opposé à un certain type de morale laïque qui voudrait supprimer Dieu avec le moins de frais possible.

Lorsque, vers 1880, des professeurs français essayèrent de constituer une morale laïque, ils dirent à peu près ceci : Dieu est une hypothèse inutile et coûteuse, nous la supprimons, mais il est nécessaire cependant, pour qu’il y ait une morale, une société, un monde policé, que certaines valeurs soient prises au sérieux et considérées comme existant a priori ; il faut qu’il soit obligatoire a priori d’être honnête, de ne pas mentir, de ne pas battre sa femme, de faire des enfants, etc., etc.. Nous allons donc faire un petit travail qui permettra de montrer que ces valeurs existent tout de même, inscrites dans un ciel intelligible, bien que, par ailleurs, Dieu n’existe pas. Autrement dit, et c’est, je crois, la tendance de tout ce qu’on appelle en France le radicalisme, rien ne sera changé si Dieu n’existe pas ; nous retrouverons les mêmes normes d’honnêteté, de progrès, d’humanisme, et nous aurons fait de Dieu une hypothèse périmée qui mourra tranquillement et d’elle-même.

L’existentialiste, au contraire, pense qu’il est très gênant que Dieu n’existe pas, car avec lui disparaît toute possibilité de trouver des valeurs dans un ciel intelligible ; il ne peut plus y avoir de bien a priori, puisqu’il n’y a pas de conscience infinie et parfaite pour le penser ; il n’est écrit nulle part que le bien existe, qu’il faut être honnête, qu’il ne faut pas mentir, puisque précisément nous sommes sur un plan où il y a seulement des hommes. Dostoïevsky avait écrit : « Si Dieu n’existait pas, tout serait permis. » C’est là le point de départ de l’existentialisme. En effet, tout est permis si Dieu n’existe pas, et par conséquent l’homme est délaissé, parce qu’il ne trouve ni en lui, ni hors de lui une possibilité de s’accrocher. Il ne trouve d’abord pas d’excuses. Si, en effet, l’existence précède l’essence, on ne pourra jamais expliquer par référence à une nature humaine donnée et figée ; autrement dit, il n’y a pas de déterminisme, l’homme est libre, l’homme est liberté. Si, d’autre part, Dieu n’existe pas, nous ne trouvons pas en face de nous des valeurs ou des ordres qui légitimeront notre conduite. Ainsi, nous n’avons ni derrière nous, ni devant nous, dans le domaine lumineux des valeurs, des justifications ou des excuses. Nous sommes seuls, sans excuses. C’est ce que j’exprimerai en disant que l’homme est condamné à être libre. Condamné, parce qu’il ne s’est pas créé lui-même, et par ailleurs cependant libre, parce qu’une fois jeté dans le monde, il est responsable de tout ce qu’il fait.

L’existentialiste ne croit pas à la puissance de la passion. Il ne pensera jamais qu’une belle passion est un torrent dévastateur qui conduit fatalement l’homme à certains actes, et qui, par conséquent, est une excuse. Il pense que l’homme est responsable de sa passion. L’existentialiste ne pensera pas non plus que l’homme peut trouver un secours dans un signe donné, sur terre, qui l’orientera ; car il pense que l’homme déchiffre lui-même le signe comme il lui plaît. Il pense donc que l’homme, sans aucun appui et sans aucun secours, est condamné à chaque instant à inventer l’homme.

Le désespoir [6]

Quant au désespoir, cette expression a un sens extrêmement simple. Elle veut dire que nous nous bornerons à compter sur ce qui dépend de notre volonté, ou sur l’ensemble des probabilités qui rendent notre action possible.

Quand on veut quelque chose, il y a toujours des éléments probables. Je puis compter sur la venue d’un ami. Cet ami vient en chemin de fer ou en tramway ; cela suppose que le chemin de fer arrivera à l’heure dite, ou que le tramway ne déraillera pas. Je reste dans le domaine des possibilités ; mais il ne s’agit de compter sur les possibles que dans la mesure stricte où notre action comporte l’ensemble de ces possibles. À partir du moment où les possibilités que je considère ne sont pas rigoureusement engagées par mon action, je dois m’en désintéresser, parce qu’aucun Dieu, aucun dessein ne peut adapter le monde et ses possibles à ma volonté. Au fond, quand Descartes disait : « Se vaincre plutôt soi-même que le monde », il voulait dire la même chose : agir sans espoir.

[1] Extrait audio et texte de Jean-Paul Sartre, Huis clos, Groupe Frémeaux Colombini SAS © 2010 (La Librairie Sonore en accord avec Moshé Naïm Emen © 1964 et Gallimard © 2004, ancien exploitant).

[2] Jean-Paul Sartre, L’Existentialisme est un humanisme, Éditions Nagel © 1970, pages 15 à 24.

Extrait audio de Luc Ferry, Mythologie, Frémeaux & Associés © 2010, CD2-[8], L’invention de la liberté, 0:07 à 3:34.

[3] Ibid. pages 26 et 27.

[4] Ibid. pages 27 à 33.

[5] Ibid. pages 33 à 38.

[6] Ibid. pages 49 à 51.

Philo5…

… à quelle source choisissez-vous d’alimenter votre esprit?


Présidentielle américaine/2012: Mais qui a encore besoin d’électeurs quand on a Nate Silver? (Did Voter of the year Nate Silver help Obama’s reelection?)

11 novembre, 2012
Soudain, Norman se sentit fier. Tout s’imposait à lui, avec force. Il était fier. Dans ce monde imparfait, les citoyens souverains de la première et de la plus grande Démocratie Electronique avaient, par l’intermédiaire de Norman Muller (par lui), exercé une fois de plus leur libre et inaliénable droit de vote. Le Votant (Isaac Asimov, 1955)
Le fait même de poser une question peut inventer un résultat car elle fait appel à l’imaginaire du sondé qui n’y avait pas encore réfléchi. Alain Garrigou
D’après les journaux, les sondages montrent que la plupart des gens croient les journaux qui déclarent que la plupart des gens croient les sondages qui montrent que la plupart des gens ont lu les journaux qui conviennent que les sondages montrent qu’il va gagner. Mark Steyn
Le premier ordinateur est livré à l’United States Census Bureau le 30 mars 1951 et mis en service le 14 juin. Le cinquième (construit pour l’Atomic Energy Commission) a été utilisé par CBS pour prédire l’issue de l’élection présidentielle de 1952 (alors que les sondages réalisés « humainement » donnaient Eisenhower perdant). À partir d’un échantillon d’un pour cent des votants il prédit qu’Eisenhower aurait été élu président, chose que personne n’aurait pu croire, mais UNIVAC avait vu juste. Wikipedia
UNIVAC I came to the public’s attention in 1952, when CBS used one to predict the outcome of the presidential election. The computer correctly predicted the Eisenhower victory, but CBS did not release that information until after the election because the race was thought to be close. CNN
What accounts for the persistent and often wide ranging divergence between polls? The most common answer is that there are fundamental variations in the pool of respondents sampled. For example, polls typically target a particular population: adults at large, registered voters, likely voters, actual voters, and all these categories can be infinitely subdivided and, in labyrinthine ways, overlap. Further muddying already turbid waters, each one of these populations tends to be more or less Republican or Democrat so every poll relies upon some algorithmic method to account for these variations and extrapolate results calibrated in light of them. These methods are themselves borne out of a multiplicity of veiled political assumptions driving the purportedly objective analysis in one direction or another, potentially tincturing the purity of mathematical data with ideological agenda. Math doesn’t lie but those who make decisions about what to count and how to count it surely do. Another problem is that voter self-identification, a crucial ingredient in any poll, is both fluid and deceptive. Consider that while approximately 35% of all voters classify themselves as “independents”, only 10% of these actually have no party affiliation. In other words, in any given year, voters registered with a certain party might be inspired to vote independently or even switch sides without surrendering their party membership. These episodic fits of quasi-independence can create the illusion that there are grand tectonic shifts in the ideological makeup of the voting public. It’s worth noting that the vast majority of so-called independents pretty reliably vote with their party of registration. The problem of self-identification is symptomatic of the larger difficulty that polling, for all its mathematical pretensions, depends on the human formulation of questions to be interpreted and then answered by other human beings. Just as the questions posed can be loaded with hidden premises and implicit political judgments, the responses solicited can be more or less honest, clear, and well-considered. It seems methodologically cheap to proudly claim scientific exactitude after counting the yeas and nays generated by the hidden complexity of these exchanges. Measuring what are basically anecdotal reports with number doesn’t magically transform a species of hearsay into irrefragable evidence any more than it would my mother’s homespun grapevine of gossip. The ambiguous contours of human language resist the charms of arithmetic. The ultimate value of any polling is always a matter to be contextually determined, especially in light of our peculiar electoral college which isolates the impact of a voting population within its state. So the oft cited fact that 35% of voters consider themselves independent might seem like a count of great magnitude but most of those reside in states, like California and New York, whose distribution of its electoral college votes is a foregone conclusion. When true independent voters in actual swing states are specifically considered, then only 3-5% of the voting population is, in any meaningful sense, genuinely undecided. Despite their incessant production, it is far from clear how informative we can consider polls that generally track the popular vote since, in and of itself, the popular vote decides nothing. Ivan Kenneally

Attention: un bruit peut en cacher un autre !

Mais qui parlera de l’influence médiatique et donc proprement électorale de nos Nate Silver?

Alors qu’au lendemain de la relativement courte réélection du Père Noël de Chicago, où, entre la désaffection apparemment inattendue d’une partie d’électeurs républicains et d’hispaniques et sans compter la « surprise d’octobre » de l’ouragan Sandy, les Américains ont « une fois de plus exercé leur libre et inaliénable droit de vote », la planète progressiste se félicite de la leçon que viennent d’asséner aux sondeurs et stratèges du GOP les ordinateurs du petit génie de la statistique Nate Silver et son blog du NYT (comme d’ailleurs ceux de Sam Wang ou d’Intrade) …

Comment ne pas repenser (merci Dr Goulu) à cette nouvelle de politique-fiction de 1955 d’Isaac Asimov (« Franchise », « droit de vote » mais traduit par « Le Votant » en français) sur la « démocratie électronique » dans laquelle les États-Unis de 2008 (première année du premier succès de Nate!) se sont déchargés du devoir électoral sur un ordinateur géant (MULTIVAC) permettant de réduire toute la consultation électorale au questionnaire d’un seul électeur, simple employé de magasin de son état?

Mais aussi à l’histoire réelle qui l’avait inspirée, à savoir la prédiction il y a exactement 60 ans par le premier superordinateur (UNIVAC I) qu’avait livré la firme Remington Rand au Bureau du recensement américain et qui, à partir d’un échantillon d’un pour cent de la population et contre les sondages humains, avait prédit pour CBS le succès du républicain Eisenhower contre le démocrate Stevenson?

Information que CBS avait d’ailleurs, contrairement au NYT de 2012, gardé cachée pour ne pas interférer dans une élection elle aussi annoncée très serrée ?

5 leçons scientifiques du succès de Nate Silver

Tom Roud

Café sciences

Le 07/11/2012

La communauté scientifico-geek s’est trouvée un nouveau héros au cours de cette élection présidentielle américaine: Nate Silver, l’auteur du formidable blog 538, qui, à l’heure où je vous parle, a fait un sans faute au niveau de la prédiction des résultats état par état (la Floride restant indéterminée, ce qu’il avait d’ailleurs aussi prévu).

On peut tirer 5 leçons de ce succès de Silver:

ce n’est pas la première fois que Silver réussit à prédire le résultat d’une élection présidentielle état par état. C’est en réalité la seconde fois après 2008. On dit parfois en science qu’un seul résultat spectaculaire ne vaut rien sans sa confirmation, l’élection de 2012 confirme à mon sens qu’il ne s’agit pas d’un coup de chance, et donc que ses modèles sont capables de correctement capturer une réalité.

pour qu’un modèle marche, il faut se baser sur des données multiples, bonnes et moins bonnes. Dans le cas présent, tous les sondages accumulés. Le modèle de Silver pondère parfaitement tous ces sondages, et surtout permet de nuancer tous les « outliers ». Par exemple, le 18 Octobre, un sondage Gallup très commenté politiquement donnait Romney 7 points devant Obama. Silver a tout de suite dit qu’il s’agissait de bruit (« polls that look like outliers normally prove to be so »). Une approche raisonnée identifie les tendances, là où le commentaire politique se focalise sur le bruit.

Inspiré de http://xkcd.com/904. Oui, je sais, c’est du Comic Sans.

un modèle hyper simple peut pourtant être étonnamment prédictif. Les modèles de Silver reposent sur l’idée que les populations socio-économiquement similaires votent de la même façon. En couplant cette idée avec les données de la démographie et les sondages disponibles, Silver a pu « projeter » les résultats des états même en l’absence de sondage sur ceux-ci. Comme disait quelqu’un sur ma TL ce matin, le modèle tient sur une feuille Excel. Les modèles les plus simples ne sont donc pas les moins efficaces, un principe de parcimonie scientifique souvent absent de nombreuses modélisations (oui, je pense à toi, « systems biology »)

le corollaire, c’est qu’un système complexe est modélisable tant qu’on identifie correctement des « causes premières ». Nul ne peut contester que les déterminants du vote sont multiples, et que la nature humaine est complexe; pourtant, le modèle de Silver prouve qu’ on peut manifestement arriver à comprendre et prédire relativement finement des comportements. Une leçon à retenir à chaque fois qu’on vous dira que nul ne peut modéliser un système complexe multifactoriels (comme au hasard le climat)

enfin, la science, ce sont des prédictions. Silver s’est mouillé (allant jusque parier avec un éditorialiste critiquant son modèle), a été critiqué pour cela y compris dans son propre journal. C’est la grosse différence entre une approche quantitative et le reste: on sort des prédictions, on les valide ou on les réfute, et on améliore ainsi le modèle au cours du temps. Processus totalement inconnu des nombreux éditorialistes.

Grâce soit donc rendue au premier psychohistorien !

Voir aussi:

US elections 2012

The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver – review

Nate Silver made headlines predicting Obama’s win. Ruth Scurr learns how he did it

Ruth Scurr

The Guardian

9 November 2012

Obama aside, the indubitable hero of the 2012 US presidential election was the statistician and political forecaster Nate Silver. His blog, FiveThirtyEight.com, syndicated by the New York Times since 2010, correctly predicted the results of the election in 50 out of 50 states. When the worldwide media was universally proclaiming the race too close to call and the pundits were deriding mathematical models, FiveThirtyEight.com steadily argued that the odds made clear that Obama would win. On election day, Silver’s final forecast was that Obama had a 90.9% chance of winning.

The Signal and the Noise: The Art and Science of Prediction

Nate Silver

the Guardian

Reflecting on the electoral impact of Hurricane Sandy, Silver was the voice of sanity in the last few days of the race. On 5 November he suggested that « historical memory » might consider Sandy pivotal, but in fact Obama had been rebounding slowly but surely in the polls since his lows in early October. Listing eight alternative explanations for Obama’s gains after the storm hit – including recent encouraging economic news – Silver concluded that the gains were « over-determined »: a lot of variables might have contributed to the one result.

As the votes were counted and the states declared themselves, vindicating the FiveThirtyEight.com predictions in every single case, Silver’s newly published book became an overnight bestseller.

The first thing to note about The Signal and the Noise is that it is modest – not lacking in confidence or pointlessly self-effacing, but calm and honest about the limits to what the author or anyone else can know about what is going to happen next. Across a wide range of subjects about which people make professional predictions – the housing market, the stock market, elections, baseball, the weather, earthquakes, terrorist attacks – Silver argues for a sharper recognition of « the difference between what we know and what we think we know » and recommends a strategy for closing the gap.

Recognition of the gap is not new: there are plenty of political theorists and scientists droning on about it already, in the manner of the automated voice on the tube when train and platform don’t quite meet. Strategies for closing, or at least narrowing, the gap between what we know and what we think we know in specific contexts, are rarer, specialised, and probably pretty hard for anyone outside a small circle of experts to understand.

What Silver has to offer is a lucid explanation of how to think probabilistically. In a promising start, he claims that his model – based on a theorem inspired by Thomas Bayes, the 18th-century English mathematician – has more in common with how soldiers and doctors think than with the cognitive habits of TV pundits. « Much of the most thoughtful work I have found on the use and abuse of statistical models, and on the proper role of prediction, comes from people in the medical profession, » Silver reports. You can quite easily get away with a stupid model if you are a political scientist, but in medicine as in war, « stupid models kill people. It has a sobering effect ».

Silver is not a medical doctor, even if a version of the Hippocratic oath – Primum non nocere (First, do no harm) – is the guiding principle of his probabilistic thinking: « If you can’t make a good prediction, it is very often harmful to pretend that you can. » After graduating from Chicago with a degree in economics in 2000, he worked as a transfer-pricing consultant for the accounting firm KPMG: « The pay was honest and I felt secure, » but he soon became bored. In his spare time, on long flights and in airports, he started compiling spreadsheets of baseball statistics that later became the basis for a predictive system called Pecota.

Silver delivers a candid account of the hits and misses of Pecota, the lessons learned and the system’s limitations: « It’s hard to have an idea that nobody else has thought of. It’s even harder to have a good idea – and when you do, it will soon be duplicated. »

After his interest in baseball peaked, he moved on to predicting electoral politics. The idea for FiveThirtyEight (named after the 538 votes in the electoral college) arrived while Silver was waiting for a delayed flight at New Orleans airport in 2008. Initially, he made predictions about the electoral winners simply by taking an average of the polls after weighting them according to past accuracy. The model gradually became more intricate: his method centres on crunching the data from as many previous examples as possible; imagine a really enormous spreadsheet. He accurately forecast the outcome of 49 out of 50 states in the 2008 presidential election and the winner of all 35 senate races.

Challenged by the economist Justin Wolfers and his star student David Rothschild as to why he continues to make forecasts through FiveThirtyEight despite fierce competition from larger prediction websites such as Intrade (which covers « everything from who will win the Academy Award for Best Picture to the chance of an Israeli air strike on Iran ») Silver replies: « I find making the forecasts intellectually interesting – and they help to produce traffic for my blog. » His unabashed honesty seems the open secret of his success.

Bayes, who lends his name to Silver’s theorem, was « probably born in 1701 – although it might have been 1702″. Silver is a statistician, not a historian, so he reports the fact of the uncertainty without elaboration. As a Nonconformist, Bayes could not go to Oxford or Cambridge, but was eventually elected a fellow of the Royal Society. His most famous work, « An Essay toward Solving a Problem in the Doctrine of Chances », was published posthumously in 1763. Silver summarises it as: « a statement – expressed both mathematically and philosophically – about how we learn about the universe: that we learn about it through approximation, getting closer and closer to the truth as we gather more evidence. »

The attraction of Bayes’s theorem, as Silver presents it, is that it concerns conditional probability: the probability that a theory or hypothesis is true if some event has happened. He applies the theorem to 9/11. Prior to the first plane striking the twin towers, the initial estimate of how likely it was that terrorists would crash planes into Manhattan skyscrapers is given as 0.005%. After the first plane hit, the revised probability of a terror attack comes out at 38%. Following the second plane hitting the revised estimate that it was a deliberate act jumps to 99.99%. « One accident on a bright sunny day in New York was unlikely enough, but a second one was almost a literal impossibility, as we all horribly deduced. »

Fastidiously aware of the gap between what we know and what we think we know, Silver proceeds wryly to delineate the limits of what he has achieved with this application of Bayes theorem to 9/11: « It’s not that much of an accomplishment, however, to describe history in statistical terms. »

Silver ends by advocating a balance between curiosity and scepticism when it comes to making predictions: « The more eagerly we commit to scrutinising and testing our theories, the more readily we accept that our knowledge of the world is uncertain, the more willingly we acknowledge that perfect prediction is impossible, the less we will live in fear of our failures, and the more freedom we will have to let our minds flow freely. By knowing more about what we don’t know, we may get a few more predictions right. »

More modesty and effort, in other words, would improve the predictive performance of everyone from the TV pundits to the political scientists, and members of the public trying to understand what is likely to happen next. Just do not expect, Silver warns, to fit a decent prediction on a bumper sticker. « Prediction is difficult for us for the same reason that it is so important: it is where objective and subjective reality intersect. » You would probably need to be a stat geek to drive around with that on the back of your car, but it might just fit if the lettering were small.

• Ruth Scurr’s Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution is published by Vintage.

 Voir également:

FiveThirtyEight – Nate Silver\’s Political Calculus

Methodology

Our Senate forecasts proceed in seven distinct stages, each of which is described in detail below. For more detail on some of the terms below please see our FiveThirtyEight glossary.

Stage 1. Weighted Polling Average

Polls released into the public domain are collected together and averaged, with the components weighted on three factors:

* Recency. More recent polls receive a higher weight. The formula for discounting older polling is based on an exponential decay formula, with the premium on newness increasing the closer the forecast is made to the election. In addition, when the same polling firm has released multiple polls of a particular race, polls other than its most recent one receive an additional discount. (We do not, however, simply discard an older poll simply because a firm has come out with a newer one in the same race.)

* Sample size. Polls with larger sample sizes receive higher weights. (Note: no sample size can make up for poor methodology. Our model accounts for diminishing returns as sample size increases, especially for less reliable pollsters.)

* Pollster rating. Lastly, each survey is rated based on the past accuracy of “horse race” polls commissioned by the polling firm in elections from 1998 to the present. The procedure for calculating the pollster ratings is described at length here, and the most recent set of pollster ratings can be found here. All else being equal, polling organizations that, like The New York Times, have staff that belong to The American Association for Public Opinion Research (A.A.P.O.R.), or that have committed to the disclosure and transparency standards advanced by the National Council on Public Polls, receive higher ratings, as we have found that membership in one of these organizations is a positive predictor of the accuracy of a firm’s polling on a going-forward basis

The procedure for combining these three factors is modestly complex, and is described in more detail here. But, in general, the weight assigned to a poll is designed to be proportional to the predictive power that it should have in anticipating the results of upcoming elections. Note that it is quite common for a particular survey from a mediocre pollster to receive a higher weight than one from a strong pollster, if its poll happens to be significantly more recent or if it uses a significantly larger sample size.

Certain types of polls are not assigned a weight at all, but are instead dropped from consideration entirely, and not used in FiveThirtyEight’s forecasts nor listed in its polling database. from the firms Strategic Vision and Research 2000, which have been accused – with compelling statistical evidence in each case – of having fabricated some or all of their polling, are excluded. So are interactive (Internet) polls conducted by the firm Zogby, which are associated with by far the worst pollster rating, and which probably should not be considered scientific polls, as their sample consists of volunteers who sign up to take their polls, rather than a randomly-derived sample. (Traditional telephone polls conducted by Zogby are included in the averages, as are Internet polls from firms other than Zogby.)

Polls are also excluded from the Senate model if they are deemed to meet FiveThirtyEight’s definition of being “partisan.” FiveThirtyEight’s definition of a partisan poll is quite narrow, and is limited to polls conducted on behalf of political candidates, campaign committees, political parties, registered PACs, or registered 527 groups. We do not exclude polls simply because the pollster happens to be a Democrat or a Republican, because the pollster has conducted polling for Democratic or Republican candidate in the past, or because the media organization it is polling for is deemed to be liberal or conservative. The designation is based on who the poll was conducted for, and not who conducted it. Note, however, that there are other protections in place (see Stage 2) if a polling firm produces consistently biased results.

Stage 2. Adjusted Polling Average

After the weighted polling average is calculated, it is subject to three additional types of adjustments.

* The trendline adjustment. An estimate of the overall momentum in the national political environment is determined based on a detailed evaluation of trends within generic congressional ballot polling. (The procedure, which was adopted from our Presidential forecasting model, is described at more length here.) The idea behind the adjustment is that, to the extent that out-of-date polls are used at all in the model (because of a lack of more recent polling, for example), we do not simply assume that they reflect the present state of the race. For example, if the Democrats have lost 5 points on the generic ballot since the last time a state was polled, the model assumes, in the absence of other evidence, that they have lost 5 points in that state as well. In practice, the trendline adjustment is designed to be fairly gentle, and so it has relatively little effect unless there has been especially sharp change in the national environment or if the polling in a particular state is especially out-of-date.

* The house effects adjustment. Sometimes, polls from a particular polling firm tend consistently to be more favorable toward one or the other political party. Polls from the firm Rasmussen Reports, for example, have shown results that are about 2 points more favorable to the Republican candidate than average during this election cycle. It is not necessarily correct to equate a house effect with “bias” – there have been certain past elections in which pollsters with large house effects proved to be more accurate than pollsters without them – and systematic differences in polling may result from a whole host of methodological factors unrelated to political bias. This nevertheless may be quite useful to account for: Rasmussen showing a Republican with a 1-point lead in a particular state might be equivalent to a Democratic-leaning pollster showing a 4-point lead for the Democrat in the same state. The procedure for calculating the house effects adjustment is described in more detail here. A key aspect of the house effects adjustment is that a firm is not rewarded by the model simply because it happens to produce more polling than others; the adjustment is calibrated based on what the highest-quality polling firms are saying about the race.

* The likely voter adjustment. Throughout the course of an election year, polls may be conducted among a variety of population samples. Some survey all American adults, some survey only registered voters, and others are based on responses from respondents deemed to be “likely voters,” as determined based on past voting behavior or present voting intentions. Sometimes, there are predictable differences between likely voter and registered voter polls. In 2010, for instance, polls of likely voters are about 4 points more favorable to the Republican candidate, on average, than those of registered voters, perhaps reflecting enthusiasm among Republican voters. And surveys conducted among likely voters are about 7 points more favorable to the Republican than those conducted among all adults, whether registered to vote or not.

By the end of the election cycle, the majority of pollsters employ a likely voter model of some kind. Additionally, there is evidence that likely voter polls are more accurate, especially in Congressional elections. Therefore, polls of registered voters (or adults) are adjusted to be equivalent to likely voter polls; the magnitude of the adjustment is based on a regression analysis of the differences between registered voter polls and likely voter polls throughout the polling database, holding other factors like the identity of the pollster constant.

Step 3: FiveThirtyEight Regression

In spite of the several steps that we undertake to improve the reliability of the polling data, sometimes there just isn’t very much good polling in a race, or all of the polling may tend to be biased in one direction or another. (As often as not, when one poll winds up on the wrong side of a race, so do most of the others). In addition, we have found that electoral forecasts can be improved when polling is supplemented by other types of information about the candidates and the contest. Therefore, we augment the polling average by using a linear regression analysis that attempts to predict the candidates’ standing according to several non-poll factors:

A state’s Partisan Voting Index

The composition of party identification in the state’s electorate (as determined through Gallup polling)

The sum of individual contributions received by each candidate as of the last F.E.C. reporting period (this variable is omitted if one or both candidates are new to the race and have yet to complete an FEC filing period)

Incumbency status

For incumbent Senators, an average of recent approval and favorability ratings

A variable representing stature, based on the highest elected office that the candidate has held. It takes on the value of 3 for candidates who have been Senators or Governors in the past; 2 for U.S. Representatives, statewide officeholders like Attorneys General, and mayors of cities of at least 300,000 persons; 1 for state senators, state representatives, and other material elected officeholders (like county commissioners or mayors of small cities), and 0 for candidates who have not held a material elected office before.

Variables are dropped from the analysis if they are not statistically significant at the 90 percent confidence threshold.

Step 4: FiveThirtyEight Snapshot

This is the most straightforward step: the adjusted polling average and the regression are combined into a ‘snapshot’ that provides the most comprehensive evaluation of the candidates’ electoral standing at the present time. This is accomplished by treating the regression result as though it were a poll: in fact, it is assigned a poll weight equal to a poll of average quality (typically around 0.60) and re-combined with the other polls of the state.

If there are several good polls in race, the regression result will be just one of many such “polls”, and will have relatively little impact on the forecast. But in cases where there are just one or two polls, it can be more influential. The regression analysis can also be used to provide a crude forecast of races in which there is no polling at all, although with a high margin of error.

Step 5. Election Day projection

It is not necessarily the case, however, that the current standing of the candidates – as captured by the snapshot — represents the most accurate forecast of where they will finish on Election Day. (This is one of the areas in which we’ve done a significant amount of work in transitioning FiveThirtyEight’s forecast model to The Times.) For instance, large polling leads have a systematic tendency to diminish in races with a large number of undecided voters, especially early in an election cycle. A lead of 48 percent to 25 percent with a high number of undecided voters, for example, will more often than not decrease as Election Day approaches. Under other circumstances (such an incumbent who is leading a race in which there are few undecided voters), a candidate’s lead might actually be expected to expand slightly.

Separate equations are used for incumbent and open-seat races, the formula for the former being somewhat more aggressive. There are certain circumstances in which an incumbent might actually be a slight underdog to retain a seat despite of having a narrow polling lead — for instance, if there are a large number of undecided voters — although this tendency can sometimes be overstated.

Implicit in this process is distributing the undecided vote; thus, the combined result for the Democratic and the Republican candidate will usually reflect close to 100 percent of the vote, although a small reservoir is reserved for independent candidates in races where they are on the ballot. In races featuring three or more viable candidates (that is, three candidates with a tangible chance of winning the lection), however, such as the Florida Senate election in 2010, there is little empirical basis on which to make a “creative” vote allocation, and so the undecided voters are simply divided evenly among the three candidates.

Step 6. Error analysis

Just as important as estimating the most likely finish of the two candidates is determining the degree of uncertainty intrinsic to the forecast.

For a variety of reasons, the magnitude of error associated with elections outcomes is higher than what pollsters usually report. For instance, in polls of Senate elections since 1998 conducted in the final three weeks of the campaign, the average error in predicting the margin between the two candidates has been about 5 points, which would translate into a roughly 6-point margin of error. This may be twice as high as the 3- or 4-percent margins of error that pollsters typically report, which reflects only sample variance, but not other ambiguities inherent to polling. Combining polls together may diminish this margin of error, but their errors are sometimes correlated, and they are nevertheless not as accurate as their margins-of-error would imply.

Instead of relying on any sort of theoretical calculation of the margin of error, therefore, we instead model it directly based on the past performance of our forecasting model in Senatorial elections since 1998. Our analysis has found that certain factors are predictably associated with a greater degree of uncertainty. For instance:

The error is higher in races with fewer polls

The error is higher in races where the polls disagree with one another.

The error is higher when there are a larger number of undecided voters.

The error is higher when the margin between the two candidates is lopsided.

The error is higher the further one is from Election Day.

Depending on the mixture of these circumstances, a lead that is quite safe under certain conditions may be quite vulnerable in others. Our goal is simply to model the error explicitly, rather than to take a one-size-fits-all approach.

Step 7. Simulation.

Knowing the mean forecast for the margin between the two candidates, and the standard error associated with it, suffices mathematically to provide a probabilistic assessment of the outcome of any one given race. For instance, a candidate with a 7-point lead, in a race where the standard error on the forecast estimate is 5 points, will win her race 92 percent of the time.

However, this is not the only piece of information that we are interested in. Instead, we might want to know how the results of particular Senate contests are related to one another, in order to determine for example the likelihood of a party gaining a majority, or a supermajority.

Therefore, the error associated with a forecast is decomposed into local and national components by means of a sum-of-squares formula. For Congressional elections, the ‘national’ component of the error is derived from a historical analysis of generic ballot polls: how accurately the generic ballot forecasts election outcomes, and how much the generic ballot changes between Election Day and the period before Election Day. The local component of the error is then assumed to be the residual of the national error from the sum-of-squares formula, i.e.:

The local and national components of the error calculation are then randomly generated (according to a normal distribution) over the course of 100,000 simulation runs. In each simulation run, the degree of national movement is assumed to be the same for all candidates: for instance, all the Republican candidates might receive a 3-point bonus in one simulation, or all the Democrats a 4-point bonus in another. The local error component, meanwhile, is calculated separately for each individual candidate or state. In this way, we avoid the misleading assumption that the results of each election are uncorrelated with one another.

A final step in calculating the error is in randomly assigning a small percentage of the vote to minor-party candidates, which is assumed to follow a gamma distribution.

A separate process is followed where three or more candidates are deemed by FiveThirtyEight to be viable in a particular race, which simulates exchanges of voting preferences between each pairing of candidates. This process is structured such that the margins of error associated with multi-candidate races are assumed to be quite high, as there is evidence that such races are quite volatile.

Voir encore:

50th anniversary of the UNIVAC I

CNN

BLUE BELL, Pennsylvania (CNN) — Fifty years ago — on June 14, 1951 — the U.S. Census Bureau officially put into service what it calls the world’s first commercial computer, known as UNIVAC I.

UNIVAC stands for Universal Automatic Computer. The first model was built by the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corp., which was purchased by Remington Rand shortly before the UNIVAC went on sale.

Rights to the UNIVAC name are currently held by Unisys.

Unisys spokesmen Guy Isnous and Ron Smith say other early users of UNIVACs included the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Army, the Atomic Energy Commission, General Electric, Metropolitan Life, US Steel, and DuPont.

The UNIVAC was not the first computer ever built. A host of companies, including Eckert-Mauchly, Remington Rand, IBM, and others, all were developing computers for commercial applications at the same time.

Perhaps the most famous computer of the era was the ENIAC, a computer developed for the U.S. military during World War II. Other computers developed in the 1940s were mostly used by academia.

But the UNIVAC I was the first computer to be widely used for commercial purposes — 46 machines were built, for about $1 million each.

Compared to other computers of the era, the UNIVAC I machines were small — about the size of a one-car garage. Each contained about 5,000 vacuum tubes, all of which had to be easily accessible for replacement because they burned out frequently.

Keeping all those vacuum tubes cool was also a major design challenge. The machines were riddled with pipes that circulated cold water to keep the temperature down.

Each unit was so bulky and needed so much maintenance that some of the companies that bought them never moved them to their own facility, instead leaving them on-site at Remington Rand.

UNIVAC I came to the public’s attention in 1952, when CBS used one to predict the outcome of the presidential election. The computer correctly predicted the Eisenhower victory, but CBS did not release that information until after the election because the race was thought to be close.

Voir enfin:

Polling Opinion: More Sorcery Than Science

Ivan Kenneally

November 5, 2012

At first glance, political opinion polls seems like the nadir of modern liberal democracy. In their special alchemy they congeal a sensitivity to the will of the people and an emphasis on mathematical exactitude. The poll is the culmination of the peculiar modern marriage of science and popular sovereignty, the technocratic and the democratic. To borrow from Hamilton, and by borrow I mean disfigure, the poll is the ultimate success of our “grand experiment in self-governance.”

Of course, on another interpretation, they are completely useless.

As the estimable Jay Cost points out in the Weekly Standard, the polls this year simply don’t seem to add up, collectively defeated by the strident arithmetic that underwrites their purported value. Depending on what pollster you ask, Romney is poised for an explosive landslide of a victory, or about to win a historically close election, or is about to lose decisively, in a fit of humiliation. If you ask Paul Krugman, and I don’t advise that you should unless you’ve been inoculated against shrill, he will call you stupid for suggesting Romney has any chance at victory.

What all these positions have in common is an appeal to the unassailability of mathematics, that last frontier that resists our postmodern inclinations to promiscuously construct and deconstruct the truth like a pile of lego pieces.

What accounts for the persistent and often wide ranging divergence between polls? The most common answer is that there are fundamental variations in the pool of respondents sampled. For example, polls typically target a particular population: adults at large, registered voters, likely voters, actual voters, and all these categories can be infinitely subdivided and, in labyrinthine ways, overlap. Further muddying already turbid waters, each one of these populations tends to be more or less Republican or Democrat so every poll relies upon some algorithmic method to account for these variations and extrapolate results calibrated in light of them. These methods are themselves borne out of a multiplicity of veiled political assumptions driving the purportedly objective analysis in one direction or another, potentially tincturing the purity of mathematical data with ideological agenda. Math doesn’t lie but those who make decisions about what to count and how to count it surely do.

Another problem is that voter self-identification, a crucial ingredient in any poll, is both fluid and deceptive. Consider that while approximately 35% of all voters classify themselves as “independents”, only 10% of these actually have no party affiliation. In other words, in any given year, voters registered with a certain party might be inspired to vote independently or even switch sides without surrendering their party membership. These episodic fits of quasi-independence can create the illusion that there are grand tectonic shifts in the ideological makeup of the voting public. It’s worth noting that the vast majority of so-called independents pretty reliably vote with their party of registration.

The problem of self-identification is symptomatic of the larger difficulty that polling, for all its mathematical pretensions, depends on the human formulation of questions to be interpreted and then answered by other human beings. Just as the questions posed can be loaded with hidden premises and implicit political judgments, the responses solicited can be more or less honest, clear, and well-considered. It seems methodologically cheap to proudly claim scientific exactitude after counting the yeas and nays generated by the hidden complexity of these exchanges. Measuring what are basically anecdotal reports with number doesn’t magically transform a species of hearsay into irrefragable evidence any more than it would my mother’s homespun grapevine of gossip. The ambiguous contours of human language resist the charms of arithmetic.

The ultimate value of any polling is always a matter to be contextually determined, especially in light of our peculiar electoral college which isolates the impact of a voting population within its state. So the oft cited fact that 35% of voters consider themselves independent might seem like a count of great magnitude but most of those reside in states, like California and New York, whose distribution of its electoral college votes is a foregone conclusion. When true independent voters in actual swing states are specifically considered, then only 3-5% of the voting population is, in any meaningful sense, genuinely undecided. Despite their incessant production, it is far from clear how informative we can consider polls that generally track the popular vote since, in and of itself, the popular vote decides nothing.

So the mathematical scaffolding of polls all presume non-mathematical foundations, stated and unstated assumptions, partisan inclinations and non-partisan miscalculations. When the vertiginous maelstrom of numbers fails in its most fundamental task, alighting disorder with order, bringing sense to a wilderness of senselessness, then where can we turn for guidance? I can’t just wait for the results Tuesday night–the modern in my marrow craves not just certainty but prediction, absolute knowledge as prologue. There’s no technocratic frisson in finding anything out after the fact, without the prescience of science, which appeals just as much to our desire to be clever as it does to our craving for knowledge.

I will suggest what no political scientist in America is suggesting: set aside the numbing numbers and the conflicting claims to polling precision and follow me follow Aristotle. We must survey what is available to us in ordinary experience, what we can confirm as a matter of pre-scientific perception, the ancient realism that appealed not to computational models, but the evidence I can see with my own eyes.

What do I see with these eyes? A president running as a challenger, pretending he wasn’t in charge the last four years of blight and disappointment. I see a less than commanding Commander in Chief trying to slither past a gathering scandal that calls into suspicion his character and competence to protect his country. I see a wheezing economy, so infirm our president celebrated a palsied jobs report as evidence of our march to prosperity. I see transparent class warfare that insidiously assumes our embattled middle class resents the rich more than they resent their own shrinking economic opportunity and that women feel flattered and emboldened when condescendingly drawn into a magically conjured cultural war.

I see enthusiastic crowds form around the man they think will deliver them from four years of gruesome ineffectiveness and a defeated left, dispirited and weary, unlikely to convert but less likely to surge. I see ads about Big Bird and and a terror of confronting big issues and a president who seems as bored by his performance as we are. Obama does not look like a winner, not to these eyes.

So in an election year hyper-charged with ideological heat, and polling data potentially varnished by self-fulfilling prophecy and partisan wishful thinking, I tend to rely upon an old school conception of realism: what I can see and what I can modestly infer from what I see. Today, as I write this, I see a Romney victory, however narrowly achieved. This would also be a big victory for the common sense of ordinary political perception over the tortured numbers games that aim to capture it precisely, or to mold it presumptuously.


Présidentielle américaine 2012: Dewey va-t-il à nouveau battre Truman? (Will Dewey defeat Truman all over again?)

3 octobre, 2012
Exceptio probat regulam. Proverbe latin
Tough sh…t, Rollins, I’m glad it cost you plenty. It’s my in-kind contribution to the Mondale campaign. Ben Bradlee (the Washington Post)
They were pounding on me for positive information. You know, where is some good news we can share with people? We were monitoring all these polls and I was sending the ones that were most favorable because [campaign aides] wanted to share them with reporters. We were not finding very much good news and I was trying to give them what I could find. (…) I didn’t necessarily take any of these as for—as you would say, for the truth of the matter. I took them more as something that could be used as propaganda for the campaign. Harrison Hickman
In May, the pollster for Al Gore’s presidential bid in 2000 and John Edwards’s in 2004 and 2008, Harrison Hickman, took the stand in the federal criminal case against Edwards over alleged campaign finance violations stemming from payments to support Edwards’s mistress. Under oath, Hickman admitted that in the final weeks of Edwards’s 2008 bid, Hickman cherry-picked public polls to make the candidate seem viable, promoted surveys that Hickman considered unreliable, and sent e-mails to campaign aides, Edwards supporters and reporters which argued that the former senator was still in the hunt —even though Hickman had already told Edwards privately that he had no real chance of winning the Democratic nomination. (…) In short, to many journalists, what Hickman admitted doing in late 2007 and 2008 was no more a sign of bad character than an actor spinning a yarn on stage during a play or a lawyer mounting an implausible defense for a clearly guilty client. Josh Gernstein
President Barack Obama leads Republican nominee Mitt Romney 49 percent to 45 percent in the battleground state of Iowa, a new Des Moines Register Iowa Poll has found. (…) But 10 percent say they could still be persuaded to vote for another candidate, the poll found. Des Moines Register (Sep. 29, 2012)
Election Could Mirror 1980 Race (…) Barack Obama, like Carter, can run neither on his dismal four-year stewardship of the economy nor on his collapsing Middle East policy. Victor Davis Hanson
Barring any debate debacle, Romney will win by 4 or 5 points and will win Florida, Ohio, Nevada, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Dick Morris (former strategist for Bill Clinton)
I would just caution, the fundamentals of this election call for a close election. I really think the election is going to tighten. Yes, President Obama is ahead, and probably has the best chance to win, but this is going to be a tighter race than the polls show right now. (…) I’ll tell you, it’s caused me to question some of the polls because based on everything I know about Virginia and everything I’m seeing, I think the real margin is actually quite close (…) I would give President Obama, spot him two or three points, you know he won by six last time in Virginia. Think of the conditions in the country. It’s almost impossible to imagine him winning by the same margin in Virginia or nationally so my projection is he gets considerably fewer electoral votes than he got last time. He got 365. I’ll be surprised if he gets above 320 or so, maximum under the best conditions. Larry Sabato
The reality is that 2012 is a horse race and will remain so. An incumbent below 50% is in grave danger. On Election Day he’ll usually receive less than his final poll number. That’s because his detractors are more likely to turn out, and undecideds are more resistant to voting for him. (…) Both candidates have advantages as the race enters its final month. Mr. Obama is slightly ahead (but short of 50%). Late-deciding independents will probably break more for Mr. Romney. Clear-eyed operatives in Boston and Chicago know this and are only playing head games with their opposition when they assert otherwise. Team Obama’s relentless efforts to denigrate Mr. Romney as a sure loser appear to have convinced the Republican candidate that he must run as the underdog. This will make the naturally cautious Mr. Romney more aggressive, energized and specific about his agenda in the campaign’s closing weeks than he might have been. It will also make his victory more likely. America likes come-from-behind winners. Karl Rove

Pour ceux qui auraient oublié que les exceptions servent aussi à confirmer les règles …

Alors qu’à quelques heures du premier des trois débats télévisés qui vont opposer les deux candidats à la Maison-Blanche mais encore à cinq semaines de l’élection elle-même et certes dans la lignée de 17 des 20 dernières élections depuis 1932, les médias multiplient les sondages annonçant comme quasi-assurée la réélection d’un président sortant notoirement non réputé pour sa modestie

Mais que, s’appuyant sur le problème du suréchantillonage des électeurs démocrates comme sur celui du retard du candidat démocrate dans les intentions de vote des indépendants qui avaient assuré sa victoire en 2008,  tant l’ancien stratège de Clinton Bill Morris que le meilleur analyste des présidentielles américaines Larry Sabato voient, à l’instar des élections françaises du printemps dernier, un résultat des plus serrés voire une victoire du Républicain …

Retour, avec une tribune de l’ancien conseiller de Reagan Jeffrey Lord dans The American Spectator (merci james), sur l’une des trois exceptions des 80 dernières années, à savoir, entre celles de Hoover en 32 et de Bush père en 92, la non-réelection de Carter en 80 …

Et notamment sur la manière dont les médias, comme l’avait alors explicitement avoué le patron du puissant Washington Post Ben Bradlee, avaient systématiquement mis en avant, avec les résultats que l’on sait, une lecture des sondages favorables au candidat démocrate …

How Carter Beat Reagan

Washington Post admits polling was « in-kind contribution »; New York Times agenda polling.

Jeffrey Lord

The American Spectator

on 9.25.12

Dick Morris is right.

Here’s his column on « Why the Polls Understate the Romney Vote. »

Here’s something Dick Morris doesn’t mention. And he’s charitable.

Remember when Jimmy Carter beat Ronald Reagan in 1980?

That’s right. Jimmy Carter beat Ronald Reagan in 1980.

In a series of nine stories in 1980 on « Crucial States » — battleground states as they are known today — the New York Times repeatedly told readers then-President Carter was in a close and decidedly winnable race with the former California governor. And used polling data from the New York Times/CBS polls to back up its stories.

Four years later, it was the Washington Post that played the polling game — and when called out by Reagan campaign manager Ed Rollins a famous Post executive called his paper’s polling an « in-kind contribution to the Mondale campaign. » Mondale, of course, being then-President Reagan’s 1984 opponent and Carter’s vice president.

All of which will doubtless serve as a reminder of just how blatantly polling data is manipulated by liberal media — used essentially as a political weapon to support the liberal of the moment, whether Jimmy Carter in 1980, Walter Mondale in 1984 — or Barack Obama in 2012.

First the Times in 1980 and how it played the polling game.

The states involved, and the datelines for the stories:

· California — October 6, 1980

· Texas — October 8, 1980

· Pennsylvania — October 10, 1980

· Illinois — October 13, 1980

· Ohio — October 15, 1980

· New Jersey — October 16, 1980

· Florida — October 19, 1980

· New York — October 21, 1980

· Michigan — October 23, 1980

Of these nine only one was depicted as « likely » for Reagan: Reagan’s own California. A second — New Jersey — was presented as a state that « appears to support » Reagan.

The Times led their readers to believe that each of the remaining seven states were « close » — or the Times had Carter leading outright.

In every single case the Times was proven grossly wrong on election day. Reagan in fact carried every one of the nine states.

Here is how the Times played the game with the seven of the nine states in question.

• Texas: In a story datelined October 8 from Houston, the Times headlined:

Texas Looming as a Close Battle Between President and Reagan

The Reagan-Carter race in Texas, the paper claimed, had « suddenly tightened and now shapes up as a close, bruising battle to the finish. » The paper said « a New York Times/CBS News Poll, the second of seven in crucial big states, showing the Reagan-Carter race now a virtual dead heat despite a string of earlier polls on both sides that had shown the state leaning toward Mr. Reagan. »

The narrative? It was like the famous scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy and her friends stare in astonishment as dog Toto pulls back the curtain in the wizard’s lair to reveal merely a man bellowing through a microphone. Causing the startled « wizard » caught in the act to frantically start yelling, « Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! » In the case of the Times in its look at Texas in October of 1980 the paper dismissed « a string of earlier polls on both sides » that repeatedly showed Texas going for Reagan. Instead, the Times presented this data:

A survey of 1,050 registered voters, weighted to form a probable electorate, gave Mr. Carter 40 percent support, Mr. Reagan 39 percent, John. B. Anderson, the independent candidate, 3 percent, and 18 percent were undecided. The survey, conducted by telephone from Oct. 1 to Oct. 6, has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

In other words, the race in Texas is close, assures the Times, with Carter actually in the lead.

What happened? Reagan beat Carter by over 13 points. It wasn’t even close to close.

• Pennsylvania: The next « Crucial States » story focused on Pennsylvania on October 10. Here the headline read:

Undecided Voters May Prove Key

Reagan, said the Times, « appears to have failed thus far to establish many positive reasons for voting for him. »

Once again the paper played the polling data card, this time saying Reagan had a mere 2 point lead. But the Reagan lead was quickly disputed in series of clever ways. Fundraising for Reagan wasn’t as good as expected, said the Times, and besides the budget for a Reagan telephone bank being shaved « from $700,000 to $400,000. » The Times/CBS poll showed that Carter was ahead of Reagan 36-32 among union households in a heavily labor state. To make matters worse for Reagan the GOP Senate candidate Arlen Specter was being « swamped » in the polls by his Democratic rival, the former Pittsburgh Mayor Pete Flaherty — with Specter losing to Flaherty 47-36. Not to mention Reagan was being trounced in Philadelphia 52-15 percent. Towards the very end of the story was this interesting line — a line that should have some relevance to the Romney campaign as President Obama struggles with the consequences of the killing of the American Ambassador in Libya. Reads the sentence:

One negative reason [meaning an anti-Carter vote] that did not turn up in the telephone poll but came up repeatedly in door-to-door interviews was the hostage situation in Iran.

What happened? The race wasn’t close, with Reagan beating Carter in Pennsylvania not by barely 2 points but rather trouncing him by over 7 points. And Arlen Specter beat Pete Flaherty.

• Illinois: The Times headline here in a story October 13?

Poll Finds Illinois Too Close to Call: Both Camps Note Gains by Carter

The narrative for Illinois? Carter is gaining, so much so that:

…uncertainty about Ronald Reagan’s leadership, especially among suburban voters, [has] apparently set back Mr. Reagan’s hope for a victory in Illinois and left his campaign scrambling to regain lost momentum, according to advisers in both camps.

Then came the usual New York Times/CBS polling data that proclaimed a Reagan one-point lead of 34% to Carter’s 33% as a sure sign that « Carter Gains and Reagan Slips in Close Illinois Race » — as an inside page headline proclaimed.

What happened? Reagan beat Carter by almost 8 points, 49.65% to 41.72%. Again, there was no « close » race as the Times had claimed.

• Ohio: The headline in this « Crucial States » profile once again conforms to the Times pattern of declaring Reagan and Carter to be in a « close » race.

Ohio Race Expected to Be Close As Labor Mobilizes for President

The narrative for Ohio? Ohio, the paper explained, had been « long viewed by Ronald Reagan’s campaign as its best opportunity to capture a major Northern state » but « such a victory …is not yet in hand. » Then came the inevitable New York Times/CBS polling data. Reagan was ahead by a bare 2 points, 36% to 34%. Two-thirds of the undecided were women and Reagan was doing « much worse among women voters than men. » Carter on the other hand had the great news that « 35 percent of the undecided came from labor union households, a group that divides nearly 2-1 for Mr. Carter among those who have made up their minds. »

What happened? Reagan beat Carter by over 10 points in Ohio. Yet another « crucial state » race wasn’t even close to being close as the paper had insisted.

• Florida: For once, the problem was impossible to hide. The Times headline for its October 19 story headlined:

Carter Is in Trouble With Voters In Two Major Sections of Florida

There was no New York Times/CBS poll here. But what was published was « the most recent Florida Newspapers Poll » that showed Reagan with only a 2 point lead over Carter: 42 for Reagan, 40 for Carter, with 7 for Anderson. The election, said the Times confidently, « was widely expected to be close. » Surprise!

What happened? Reagan beat Carter in Florida by over 17 points.

• New York: The Times headline for its home state in a story dated October 21?

President is in the Lead, Especially in the City — Anderson Slide Noted

The Times waxed enthusiastic about New York. Reagan was « being hindered by doubts within his own party. » And it trotted out its favorite New York Times/CBS Poll to show definitively that Reagan was getting clobbered in New York. The poll, said the Times, « showed Mr. Carter leading in the state with 38%, to 29% for Mr. Reagan…. » Which is to say, Carter was running away with New York state, leading Reagan by 9 points. The headline on the inside of the paper:

Reagan Far from Goal in New York; Carter in Lead

Why was this so? Why was Reagan doing so badly in New York? The paper turned to a Carter campaign aide in the state who explained that New Yorkers aren’t « willing to vote for a Goldwater. » Then they found one « frustrated Republican county chairman » who said the problem with Reagan was that New Yorkers « don’t like what they think they know about him. » Then there was the usual yada-yada: Reagan was failing miserably with women (losing 41-23 said the poll) and losing in New York City, not to mention that « labor is hard at work » for Carter.

What happened? Reagan beat Carter in New York by over 2 points.

• Michigan: The last of the profiles in the Times « Crucial States » series was Michigan, published on October 23. The ambiguous headline:

Party Defections May Tip Scales in Michigan Vot

The Michigan story begins with the tale of Reagan being endorsed by Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous aide the Reverend Ralph Abernathy. But the Times immediately saw a problem in this backing of Reagan from a prominent « black civil rights leader. » The problem? Black backlash. Said the paper:

Mr. Reagan was barely out of town [Detroit] before the backlash set in.

« The Abernathy Betrayal, » screamed the headline over the chief article in The Michigan Chronicle, a black newspaper. And yesterday the 400-member Council of Black Pastors, in the greater Detroit area, broke its precedent of refraining from Presidential endorsements and declared its support for President Carter a direct reaction to the Abernathy endorsement.

In other words, Reagan was damned because he didn’t get black support — and damned especially when he did. Grudgingly, the paper admitted that « although the race was close » in Michigan, « Mr. Reagan was ahead. » But once again, the Times insisted that a key state race was close. Close, you see, close. Did they mention it was close?

What happened? Reagan carried Michigan by over 6 points, 48.999 to Carter’s 42.50. Yet again — it wasn’t close.

That same day, October 23, the paper ran a second polling story on the general status of the presidential election, its theme self-evident:

Poll Shows President Has Pulled To Even Position With Reagan.

The story by Times reporter Hedrick Smith began this way:

In an election campaign reminiscent of the tight, seesaw contest of 1960, President Carter has pulled to an essentially even position with Ronald Reagan over the last month by attracting some wavering Democrats and gaining on his rival among independents, according to a new nationwide survey by The New York Times and CBS News.

The survey, readers were assured, was « weighted to project a probable electorate » and had Carter leading Reagan 39-38.

As if the point hadn’t been driven home enough, seven days later on October 30, the Times decided to sum up the entire race in the light of the just completed Reagan-Carter debate. Can you guess what they said? That’s right:

Carter and Reagan Voicing Confidence on Debate Showing: Performances Rated Close

And inside the paper the continuation of the story proclaimed — guess what?

Outcome of Debate Rated as Close.

On November 4 — the day before the election — the Times proclaimed… proclaimed…

Yup:

Race is Viewed as Very Close

The final results?

Ronald Reagan clobbered Jimmy Carter winning 51.7% to Carter’s 41% — a 10 point-plus victory in the popular vote. Third place Congressman John Anderson managed a mere 6.6%.

In the Electoral College? Reagan carried 44 states for a total of 489 votes. Carter won 6 states plus the District of Columbia for 49 electoral votes.

To say the least, the race wasn’t « close. » To compare it to 1960 as a « tight, seesaw contest » was in fact not simply ridiculously untrue but bizarre.

So what do we have here?

What we have is the liberal « paper of record » systematically presenting the 1980 Reagan-Carter election in 9 « Crucial States » as somehow « close » in five of the nine — Texas, Illinois, Ohio, Florida and Michigan. New York was in the bag for Carter. Only in his own California and New Jersey was Reagan clearly leading.

The actual results had only New York « close » — with Reagan winning by 2. Reagan carried every other « close » state by a minimum of 6 points and as much 17 — Florida. Florida, in fact, went for Reagan by a point more than California and about 4 more than New Jersey.

How could the New York Times — its much ballyhooed polling data and all of its resulting stories proclaiming everything to be « close » — been so massively, continuously wrong? In the case of its « Crucial States » — nine out of nine times?

The obvious answer is called to mind by a polling story from four years later involving Ronald Reagan and his next opponent, Jimmy Carter’s vice president Walter Mondale.

By 1984, Reagan was an extremely popular incumbent president. He was running well everywhere against Mondale. But suddenly, up popped a curious Washington Post poll that indicated Reagan’s 1980 margin of over 16% in California had dropped precipitously to single digits. Nancy Reagan was alarmed, calling campaign manager Ed Rollins (full disclosure, my former boss) and saying, « You have to do something. »

Rollins disagreed, as he later wrote in his memoirs Bare Knuckles and Back Rooms: My Life in American Politics.

A Californian himself Rollins was certain Reagan was just fine in California. The Reagan campaign’s own polls (run by Reagan’s longtime pollster Dick Wirthlin) showed Reagan with a « rock-solid » lead. After all, said Rollins, « Californians knew Ronald Reagan, and either loved him or hated him. He’d been on the ballot there six times and never lost. » The Post poll data made no sense. But Mrs. Reagan was insistent, so Rollins ordered up another (expensive) poll from Dick Wirthlin. Rollins also dispatched longtime Reagan aide and former White House political director Lyn Nofziger, a Californian as well, back to the Reagan home precincts. More phone banks were ordered up. In all, a million dollars of campaign money that could have been spent on Minnesota — Mondale’s home state where the ex-Minnesota Senator was, remarkably, struggling — was spent on California because of the Washington Post poll.

A few weeks later, the Washington Post ran a story that confirmed Rollins’ initial beliefs. The Post confessed that… well… oops… it had made a mistake with those California polling numbers. Shortly afterward came the November election, with California once again giving Reagan a more than 16 point victory. In fact, Reagan carried 49 states, winning the greatest landslide victory in presidential history while losing Minnesota in — yes — a close race. Mondale had 49.72% to Reagan’s 49.54%, a difference of .18% that might have been changed by all that money that went into California. Making Reagan the first president in history to win all fifty states.

After the election, Ed Rollins ran into the Washington Post’s blunt-speaking editor Ben Bradlee and « harassed » Bradlee « about his paper’s lousy polling methodology. »

Bradlee’s « unrepentant » response?

« Tough sh…t, Rollins, I’m glad it cost you plenty. It’s my in-kind contribution to the Mondale campaign. »

Got that?

So the questions for 2012.

How corrupt are all these polls showing Obama leading or in a « close race »?

Are they to Obama what that California poll of the Washington Post was for Walter Mondale — an « in-kind contribution »?

Is that in fact what was going on with the New York Times in 1980? An « in-kind contribution » to the Carter campaign from the Times?

What can explain all these polls today — like the ones discussed here at NBC where the Obama media cheerleaders make their TV home? Polls that the Obama media groupies insist show Obama 1 point up in Florida or 4 points in North Carolina or 5 points in Pennsylvania. And so on and so on.

How does one explain a president who, like Jimmy Carter in 1980, is increasingly seen as a disaster in both economic and foreign policy? How does a President Obama, with a Gallup job approval rating currently at 49% — down a full 20% from 2009 — mysteriously win the day in all these polls?

How does this happen?

Can you say « in-kind contribution »?

About the Author

Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author. He writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com.

 Voir aussi:

Number-Cruncher on Polls’ History of Underestimating the GOP

Jim Geraghty

The National review on line

September 28, 2012

One of my regulars, the accounting-minded poll watcher nicknamed “Number-Cruncher” writes in, describing what he thinks honest pollsters should be saying right now:

“For the past two election cycles the partisan divide in this country has been volatile. In 2008, we could have modeled the turnout in race similar to 2004 and Obama still would have beaten McCain by 1 or 2 points. We knew that there was no way the divide was going to end up even, so even moving to a 1996 model of +3 Democrat advantage would give Obama a 4 point win. Democrats ended up with a +7 partisan ID advantage, given an almost perfect storm for the Democrats.

The 2008 cycle was an interesting race for pollsters, in that while the partisan divide clearly favored the Democrats, we didn’t have to worry too much about overestimating or underestimating too much because we knew the main result: an Obama win.”

Looking back through recent presidential cycles, we see Republicans over-performing their standing in the final polls – sometimes by a little, sometimes by a lot.

In 1992, Gallup’s final poll had Clinton winning by 12 percentage points, he won by 5.6 percentage points. In late October 1992, Pew had Clinton up 10.

In 1996, some reputable pollsters had Clinton winning by 18 percentage points late, and Pew had Clinton up by 19 in November; on Election Day, he won by 8.5 percentage points… In 2004, pollsters were spread out, but most underestimated Bush’s margin. (2000 may have been a unique set of circumstances with the last-minute DUI revelation dropping Bush’s performance lower than his standing in the final polls; alternatively, some may argue that the Osama bin Laden tape the Friday before the election in 2004 altered the dynamic in those final days.) In 2008, Marist had Obama up 9, as did CBS/New York Times and Washington Post/ABC News, while Reuters and Gallup both had Obama up 11.

Now, if this was just random chance of mistakes, you would see pollsters being wrong in both directions and by about the same margin in each direction at the same rate – sometimes overestimating how well the Democrats do some years, sometimes overestimating how well the Republicans do. But the problem seems pretty systemic – sometimes underestimating the GOP by a little, sometimes by a lot.

This is an international polling problem. Look at the polling for the most recent presidential race in France, if you read the tracking polls you would have thought Sarkozy would lose by 20….then the last round of polls showed it in single digits, and Sarkozy ultimately lost by about 3 points.”

Going back to the topic of volatility, in 2008, Gallup provided a model called the “expanded” likely voter model; they knew turnout was likely to be different from past cycles, but they knew that the different turnout was almost certainly going to help Obama. So they used this poll (they ran four different polls Adults, Registered Voters, Likely Voters and New Voters). In the end it wasn’t necessary because the regular bias of registered voters was enough to offset the “new voters”…. but that’s for another day.

Here is what people should know is bothering pollsters, and if you’re a Republican you can feel comfortable that what you are reading is based on guess work assumptions:

In 2010, we saw the country move back to 2004 levels, but we also saw a bubbling of the Tea Party, who are among the most enthusiastic of voters. Also 2010 was a midterm, where the overall turnout of registered voters is considerably lower, and the GOP base turns out better in non-presidential years than the Democrats’ base. So we process this data.

We saw in 1994 the GOP do very well, but in 1996 Clinton won easily. But sometimes a party’s momentum from the midterms carries on to the following year; we saw the Democrats add to their 2006 gains in 2008. So will 2012 be a receding of the tide of the midterms (like 1996) or an acceleration (like 2008)?

Of course in 1996, the economy was soaring and right now, we’re crawling… so you make the judgment on where this should be.

Even using logical deductions, it is difficult to get a read on what the 2012 partisan divide will be because we’ve seen it change so quickly. From 1994 through 2004, the partisan divide was fairly stable, moving no more than 2 points from cycle to cycle.

Personally I think its safe to say that 2008 is not going to happen in 2012, any pollster hanging their hat on 2008 sampling cannot be reasonably relied on…

Number-Cruncher and I part company a bit on this point:

Given the intensity of the Tea Party, it would not be all that surprising if the Tea Party/GOP combination out polls Democrats by a margin greater than 2004, which would turn every pollster except Rasmussen upside down, with Rasmussen being turned on his side.. Simply put, we just do not know.

The problem is that “not GOP, but Tea Party” isn’t listed as an option in most polls, so we don’t know how many Tea Partiers are choosing to identify themselves as independents. It is quite possible that in the polls where we see Romney winning independents, his lead in this demographic is driven by Tea Partiers who refuse to self-identify as GOP. In short, you know how we’ll know the combined demographics of the GOP andTea Party makes up a larger share of the electorate than self-identified Democrats? When Romney wins the election.

He concludes:

One other point to keep in mind, is that Rasmussen has been consistently polling party preference ID, among adults (not likely voters). His latest result was +4.3 Republican and while that is a bit of an outlier, he has consistently been polling Republicans ahead of Democrats by about a 1 to three point margin. Also consider this: In 2008 when the electorate was breaking towards Obama and the Democrats, Rasmussen predicted a +7.8 percent Party Advantage, the exits revealed essentially the same result. . In 2004, Rasmussen revealed a Partisan ID trend favoring Democrats by 1.8% percent. If Rasmussen goes or comes close to three for three on the partisan ID prediction (he was within two points both times), then Romney likely has a 2 to 3 point lead in his polling (Note if you subscribe to the pay side of Rasmussen’s data you know his is polling more Democrats than the Partisan ID study). Simply put, if Rasmussen is correct, then Romney will has an electorate which is MORE favorable than 2004. If this is the case with swing states, the Electoral College will break significantly towards Romney.

I still think a D+3 or D+4 electorate is the most likely scenario, but Rasmussen’s measurements do provide one piece of evidence for a scenario that’s considerably better for the GOP.

Voir également:

Battleground Poll: Race still tight

James Hohmann

Politico

October 1, 2012

The presidential race is tight enough nationally that a strong performance in Wednesday’s debate by Mitt Romney could put him in the lead.

A new POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Poll of likely voters shows President Barack Obama ahead 49 percent to 47 percent, a point closer than a week ago and still within the margin of error. A tracking poll will be performed each week, and the results released each Monday, through Election Day.

Romney now leads by 4 points among independents, up slightly from a week ago. The Republican must overperform with that group to make up for the near monolithic support of African-Americans for Obama, as well as the huge Democratic advantage among Latinos and women

The head-to-head numbers mostly held steady through the past two weeks.

“The basic underpinnings of this race are just not changing, and that’s what’s going to keep this a very close race,” said Republican pollster Ed Goeas of the Tarrance Group, who helped conduct the bipartisan poll.

A solid 46 percent say they will vote to reelect Obama and 42 percent say firmly they’ll vote to replace him. Just 9 percent say they’ll consider someone else.

“We’ve never had a debate where the electorate was this polarized,” said Celinda Lake, the Democratic pollster who helped conduct the poll. “There’s a real question about how many voters are left to move in the debate.”

Obama’s overall job approval stands at 49 percent, with an identical number of respondents disapproving. The president’s personal favorability slipped to 50 percent, with 47 percent viewing him unfavorably.

Romney remains slightly underwater on likability, with 46 percent viewing him favorably and 48 percent viewing him unfavorably. He has a problem with women, among whom Obama leads by 12 points, 54 percent to 42 percent. Asked about Romney as a person, 51 percent of women say they don’t have a good impression.

“For Romney, it’s a double goal that he has: He’s got to get that likability up, particularly among women,” said Lake. “And he’s got to draw a sharp contrast on what he’d do on the economy. That’s very difficult to do simultaneously. … It’s hard to maintain likability when you’re being an attack dog.”

Romney has not benefited from revelations about the Obama administration bungling its initial response to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya. Obama actually expanded his lead over Romney last week on who is better able to handle foreign policy, from 9 points to 12 points.

Democratic intensity has slipped slightly to 75 percent. A week before last, still in the afterglow of their convention, 81 percent of Democrats called themselves “extremely likely” to vote. Republican enthusiasm, meanwhile, held steady around 80 percent.

Regardless of whom they’re supporting, twice as many voters (61 percent) expect the president to prevail in November as expect him to lose.

“Democrats should be careful not to take this for granted,” said Lake. “Inevitability cannot diminish our focus on getting our voters out because the Republicans will be focused on getting their voters out.”

Pocketbook issues remain overwhelmingly the top concern of voters, and half of Wednesday’s 90-minute debate will focus on the economy.

Romney has reopened a slight advantage on which of the two candidates is bestequipped to handle the economy — 49 percent to 47 percent — and to create jobs – 48 percent to 47 percent. A slight majority, 52 percent, disapprove of Obama’s handling of the economy.

Romney narrowed his gap on the question of who fights harder for the middle class. During the media firestorm over his “47 percent” comments, the poll showed him trailing by 19 points on the question. Now he’s down only 13 points — 54 to 41 percent. This double-digit deficit remains a problem, though, because three in four likely voters consider themselves part of the middle class.

Lake said Obama has persuaded most middle-class voters that he’s fighting for them, but he hasn’t convinced them that he has a plan to help them if he gets reelected.

“Now we’ve got to prove we can do something about their lives,” she said.

Of the 11 issues on which the candidates were pitted against one another, Romney’s clearest edge came on the federal budget and spending: Fifty-six percent disapprove of Obama’s handling of the issue — 47 percent strongly so. By a 7-point margin, voters believe Romney is best equipped to tackle the debt.

Obama holds a 3-point edge on which candidate has a better tax plan. This is traditionally a Republican issue, and the lead is notable for someone who makes raising taxes on the wealthy a centerpiece of his campaign.

One of six debate segments will focus on health care. Obama leads Romney by 8 points on who is best for health care generally and Medicare specifically.

Another segment is about governing. Obama leads Romney on the questions of who shares your values (48 percent to 45 percent) and who is the stronger leader (50 percent to 43 percent). But Romney has an advantage (47 percent to 45 percent) on who can “get things done.”

Goeas said to watch these three indicators as a gauge for the gut reaction of voters to the debate.

Obama is trailing slightly with independents. In 2008, the Democrat carried them by 7 percent — the same margin as his overall victory. But right now, he’s softer on the individual issues than is reflected in the head-to-head matchup, which shows him behind by 4 points with independents.

Romney has a 14-point edge on jobs and an 11-point edge on the economy among independent voters. More than 60 percent disapprove of Obama’s handling of the economy and spending. Romney even has a slight advantage on taxes. He ties the president on who is the stronger leader and leads by 9 points on who has the best ability to get things done.

Among all likely voters, 56 percent say the country is on the wrong track. This number has fallen because 72 percent of Democrats and 73 percent of African-Americans now say the country is on the right track. Yet two in three independents still think the country’s on the wrong track.

“He has to be careful of accepting and affirming the praise of the Democrats who think the country’s going in the right direction and assuring people he can change the direction with four more years,” said Goeas. “He doesn’t want to do anything to dampen enthusiasm he’s getting from Democrats, but he can’t afford to be removed completely because the overwhelming majority thinks we’re on the wrong track.”

The POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground poll, conducted by the Tarrance Group and Lake Research Partners, surveyed 1,000 registered likely voters from Sept. 24 to Sept. 27 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Voir encore:

A pollster under oath

Josh Gerstein

Politico

10/2/12

When a pollster or strategist for a struggling political campaign presents what seems like a sugar-coated view of his candidate’s chances, do you ever think: I wish I could give that adviser some truth serum, or maybe put him under oath?

Well, truth serum may be pushing it, but the put-him-under-oath part has actually happened. And when a pollster is required to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, under penalty of perjury, what emerges is quite a bit different than what you hear in the waning days of a presidential campaign.

In May, the pollster for Al Gore’s presidential bid in 2000 and John Edwards’s in 2004 and 2008, Harrison Hickman, took the stand in the federal criminal case against Edwards over alleged campaign finance violations stemming from payments to support Edwards’s mistress.

Under oath, Hickman admitted that in the final weeks of Edwards’s 2008 bid, Hickman cherry-picked public polls to make the candidate seem viable, promoted surveys that Hickman considered unreliable, and sent e-mails to campaign aides, Edwards supporters and reporters which argued that the former senator was still in the hunt —even though Hickman had already told Edwards privately that he had no real chance of winning the Democratic nomination.

« They were pounding on me for positive information. You know, where is some good news we can share with people? We were monitoring all these polls and I was sending the ones that were most favorable because [campaign aides] wanted to share them with reporters, » Hickman testified on May 14 at the trial in Greensboro, N.C. « We were not finding very much good news and I was trying to give them what I could find. »

Hickman testified that when circulating the polls, he didn’t much care if they were accurate. « I didn’t necessarily take any of these as for—as you would say, for the truth of the matter. I took them more as something that could be used as propaganda for the campaign, » the veteran pollster said.

Edwards’s viability from late 2007 through January 2008 was a hotly disputed issue at his trial because federal prosecutors were seeking to prove that nearly $1 million in expenses Edwards backers paid for his mistress in and around that time frame amounted to donations to advance his bid for the presidency. Edwards’s defense contended that his inner circle viewed his prospects of winning the presidency as zero or close to it, once Sen. Barack Obama’s juggernaut gathered steam, so the payments must have been made out of personal affection for Edwards or for some other reason unrelated to the presidential campaign.

However, Hickman’s testimony also opened a rare window into the way major presidential campaigns try to use polling numbers to spin the press and laid bare the fact that top campaign operatives sometimes propound a version of the truth starkly at odds with what they themselves believe.

Hickman, called by the former senator’s defense, testified that he told Edwards in « early to middle of November 2007, » that the campaign wasn’t going to succeed.

« I told him that the odds were overwhelming that we were not going—that he was not going to be the nominee for president. I mean, we talked about a variety of things might change, do differently, and all that, but none of them translated into winning the nomination, » the pollster told Edwards attorney Alan Duncan.

However, under cross-examination by lead prosecutor David Harbach, Hickman acknowledged sending a series of emails in November and December, and even into January, endorsing or promoting polls that made Edwards look good. Asked about what appeared to be a New York Times/CBS poll released in mid-November showing an effective « three-way tie » in Iowa with Hillary Clinton at 25 percent, Edwards at 23 percent and Obama at 22 percent, Hickman acknowledged he circulated it but insisted he didn’t think it was correct.

« The business I’m in is a business any fool can get into, and a lot can happen. I’m sure there was a poll like that, » the folksy Hickman told jurors when first asked about a poll showing the race tied. « I kept up with every poll that was done, including our own, and there may have been a few that showed them a tie, but… that’s not really what my analysis is. Campaigns are about trajectory, and… there could have been a point at which it was a tie in the sense that we were coming down, and Obama was going up, and Clinton was going up. »

Hickman also indicated that senior campaign staffers knew many of the polls were poorly done and of little value. « We didn’t take these dog and cat and baby-sitter polls seriously, » he said.

Hickman acknowledged that on January 2, 2008, a day before the Iowa caucuses, he sent out a summary of nine post-Christmas Iowa polls showing Edwards in contention in the Hawkeye State. However, he testified two-thirds of them were from firms he considered « ones we typically would not put a lot of credence in. » Hickman put Mason-Dixon, Strategic Vision, Insider Advantage, Zogby and Research 2000 in the « less reputable » group. He also told the court that ARG polls « have a miserable track record. »

Hickman said he considered the Des Moines Register polls, CNN and Los Angeles Times polls more accurate. (A full transcript of his testimony is posted here.)

The prosecutor was clearly trying to suggest that Edwards was more viable than Hickman, a longtime friend of the ex-senator, admitted in his initial testimony. Harbach may have even been trying to suggest that Hickman’s basic credibility was impugned by the heavy spin he acknowledged offering late in the 2008 primary campaign. However, the line of questioning was baffling to reporters in the courtroom who seemed not at all surprised that a campaign would insist on its viability until moments before the candidate dropped out or lost.

In short, to many journalists, what Hickman admitted doing in late 2007 and 2008 was no more a sign of bad character than an actor spinning a yarn on stage during a play or a lawyer mounting an implausible defense for a clearly guilty client.

When the defense got to question Hickman again, he was unapologetic about what he termed an effort to « keep up morale » among Edwards backers and aides.

« They were being inundated with bad news. I didn’t have to give them bad news. I was trying to pick out morsels, you know, acorns. Out of a big stack of acorns, I was trying to pick out a few good ones that they could pass along to other people, you know, to keep them working, » Hickman testified. « I mean, I wasn’t going to say, you know, all hope is lost, you know, take a couple of weeks off. I mean, that was not the object of it. I mean, the object was to keep going as hard as we could. And we all worked as hard as we could. I mean, the working hard and promoting the candidacy are independent, in my mind, to the evaluation of what the likely outcome is. »

Asked if what he did to that end in the 2008 race was at all unusual when compared with other contests, Hickman told Duncan: « No. No. I did — you know, I did what I was supposed to do…. I did my job the way I’ve always done my job. »

While the discussion of polling and the legitimate bounds of spin did offer an unusual behind-the-scenes look at a major presidential campaign, it’s not at all clear that it had any impact on the outcome of the case against Edwards. Indeed, U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Eagles at one point admonished Hickman and Duncan that the grad-school polling seminar seemed pretty tangential to anything jurors were being asked to consider.

« I don’t think we need quite this much detail about particular polls, » the judge said.

« That’s fine, your honor, » Duncan replied.

« I’m sorry, » Hickman quickly chimed in.

After nine days of deliberation, the jury revealed on May 31 that it had acquitted Edwards on one felony count and was hopelessly deadlocked on five others. The Justice Department quickly announced that it would not retry the case.

Voir encore:

The greatest political showdown on earth

It’s make-or-break time in the world’s most important, and expensive, election. On the eve of tomorrow’s televised debate between the presidential candidates (the first of three), Rupert Cornwell looks forward to a momentous month

Rupert Cornwell

The Independent

2 October 2012

The largest, the longest, the costliest and the cruellest exercise in democracy on the planet is approaching its climax. Thirty-six days from today (barring a repeat of the Florida deadheat a dozen years ago) a new American president will have been elected – in the event of a victory by Mitt Romney, the 45th in a line stretching back to 1789 and George Washington.

The winner will be the last man standing after a contest that formally began with Iowa’s caucuses last January, and continued through a four-month primary season and the late summer party nominating conventions. Now come four presidential and vice-presidential debates, capped by a final draining sprint to the finishing line on 6 November. In reality, though, the process has been under way almost from the instant Barack Obama was sworn into office on the freezing Washington morning of 20 January 2009, promising a new beginning for his country in the midst of its worst economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression.

The final match-up is the one that all along has seemed likely, between the Democratic incumbent seeking his second permitted term, and a Republican challenger who if truth be told never stopped campaigning for the White House even after he had lost his party’s 2008 nomination to John McCain. By the time it’s all over, some $3bn may have been spent on the presidential election alone, in money raised by the candidates, their respective parties and outside groups (not least the infamous Super PACs, empowered by a Supreme Court ruling that enables super rich donors to contribute as much as they like).

Throw in the similar sum likely to be spent on the down-the-card contests, for all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 33 Senate seats (one third of the total), as well as a dozen governors’ races, and the total outlay for Election 2012 may reach an unprecedented $6bn, equivalent to roughly $50 for every likely voter.

Right now, despite economic indicators that in previous elections would have consigned him to defeat, Mr Obama remains the favourite. Recent history suggests that incumbents who seek a second term usually succeed, and at the time of writing Intrade, the usually reliable political prediction market, gives him a 75 per cent chance of victory.

Since Herbert Hoover lost to Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, only two incumbents have been defeated: Jimmy Carter in 1980, when the opponent was Ronald Reagan, who arguably caught America’s Zeitgeist more perfectly than any candidate before or since; and George H.W. Bush, whose misfortune in 1992 was to find himself up against the most gifted politician of his age in Bill Clinton, at a moment when Republicans had already held the Presidency for 12 years. The same rule of thumb operates in the US as in most other genuine democracies. When one party has been in power for a decade the electoral mantra is: throw the bums out.

But even if Romney is manifestly neither a Reagan nor a Clinton, a second Obama term is far from set in stone. The mood of the country is sour; 35 per cent of Americans say the country is on the wrong track, a distinct improvement from a year ago to be sure, but hardly a resounding endorsement of the status quo. The worst of the Great Recession may be over, but the recovery struggles to gather steam. Since FDR, moreover, no president has been re-elected when the US unemployment rate was over 8 per cent. At the end of August it stood at 8.1 per cent.

Further complicating matters is the electoral system itself. Presidents are not elected by direct popular vote (if they were, the 43rd president would have been Al Gore, not George W. Bush) but by the sum of 51 separate elections in the constituent states and the District of Columbia. Each of these in turn sends voters to a 538-vote electoral college, all committed to the winner of the popular vote in their state – except in the cases of Maine and Nebraska, which allocate electoral college votes to the winner of each congressional district.

The number of electoral votes is in proportion to a state’s population. Thus the most populous, California, has 55, while the least populous, Wyoming, has just three. To win the presidency a candidate needs to win a majority, ie 270, of these super-electors. It is thus possible, though unlikely, that either Obama or Romney will suffer Gore’s fate.

At the very least, electoral college landsides, as defined by one candidate winning 400 or more of the 538 votes, are no more. Once they were common; of the 10 elections between 1952 and 1988, seven saw margins of that size or larger – the biggest in 1984, when Ronald Reagan trounced Walter Mondale by 525 to 13, with the latter winning only DC and his home state of Minnesota

But in an ever more polarised America, those days are over. In both 1992 and 1996, Bill Clinton failed to crack the 400 mark, while George W. Bush’s two subsequent victories were squeakers. The 365 electoral votes amasssed by Obama in 2008 – a year when everything, from financial crisis and a desperately unpopular outgoing Republican president to Obama’s personal charisma, favoured Democrats – may be close to the realistic maximum for either party. Certainly, it would be astonishing if Obama matched that score, five weeks hence.

In practice, this election will be fought and won in a dozen or so battleground states, most notably Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin and Colorado, where the result is not a foregone conclusion. Right now Romney is trailing in almost every one of them, which explains why he is a 3 to 1 outsider in the race. His own shortcomings as a candidate, and his failure to provide a vision of where he wants to take the country, are one reason. No less important, Americans seem to accept that Obama, though shorn of his aura of 2008, could not have been expected to correct in a mere four years the profound economic problems laid bare by the financial crisis. He has not succeeded – but nor has he yet conclusively failed. A majority of likely voters appears ready to give him a chance to finish the job.

Such calculations of course could be turned on their head, by events abroad (a European financial collapse and Wall Street meltdown, say, or an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear installations) or at home, most obviously a really strong performance by Romney in the three presidential debates, the first and most important of which takes place tomorrow. In addition, some scandal or huge faux pas could undo Obama.

But such scenarios are increasingly hard to imagine. The President is a cautious, disciplined politician. And even a stellar debate performance is no guarantee of victory, as John Kerry found out in 2004. Separately, Obama is more trusted than Romney on national security, and a foreign crisis could actually help him. Time is also running out. Early voting in some states has already started, and in others will do so in a week or two. Polls suggest that at this late stage, in today’s polarised political climate, fewer people than ever (maybe 5 to 7 per cent of voters) are genuinely undecided.

And while Romney may be a lacklustre candidate, his cause has not been helped by his party. Not only do Republicans sometimes seem to inhabit an alternative universe, on tax policy, abortion and other social issues. Collectively, they are growing steadily whiter, older, more male and more conservative, when the country at large is becoming younger, more diverse and socially more liberal. Especially telling is Obama’s huge lead (almost 20 per cent in swing state Virginia) among women.

These trends could also determine the outcome of the Congressional elections. Until recently it had seemed that, even if re-elected, Obama would have to work with a Republican-controlled Congress, with his opponents retaining the House and making the net gain of four seats to secure a majority in the Senate. Again, however, this may no longer apply.

In several close-fought Senate races, the Democratic candidate is now ahead. And so unpopular is the Republican majority in the House, with its intransigent Tea Party bloc increasingly held responsible by voters for the gridlock in Washington, that there, too, Democrats conceivably could snatch back control.

Back in the dark days of late 2010, after his « shellacking » in that year’s mid-terms, Barack Obama’s fortunes reached a nadir. Some even privately wondered then whether he had lost the stomach for the fight, whether he would even run for a second term. Those doubts have been laid to rest. Election night on 6 November will be exciting. But day by day it looks less likely that come mid-January, the removal vans will be pulling up at the White House.

Voir enfin:

Can We Believe the Presidential Polls?

Last week’s CBS/New York Times poll had Obama ahead by nine points in Florida. That’s not very likely.

 Karl Rove

The WSJ

October 3, 2012

I’ve seen a movie like this one before. I was in my 20s and director of the Texas Victory Committee for Reagan-Bush. Our headquarters was in an old mortuary in Austin. That seemed an appropriate venue when, on Oct. 8, 1980, the New York Times released its poll on the presidential race in Texas, one of 10 battlegrounds. (Yes, the Lone Star State was then a battleground.)

According to the Times, the contest was « a virtual dead heat, » with President Jimmy Carter ahead despite earlier surveys showing Ronald Reagan winning. A large Hispanic turnout for Mr. Carter—and the fact that Texas was « far more Democratic than the nation » (only 16% of Texans identified themselves as Republicans then)—meant that Mr. Reagan « must do better among independents » to carry the state. Our hurriedly called strategy session at the mortuary had more than the normal complement of hand-wringers.

Then came more hard punches. On Oct. 13, Gallup put the race nationally at Carter 44%, Reagan 40%. The bottom appeared to fall out two weeks later when a new national Gallup poll had Carter 47%, Reagan 39%.

Reagan trailed in October but won in a walk.

That produced more than a few empty chairs in phone banks across Texas. But most volunteers, grim and stoic, hung on, determined to stay until the bitter end. Only Election Day was not so bitter. Reagan carried all 10 of the Times’ battleground states and defeated Mr. Carter by nearly 10 points.

Every election is different and this year won’t replicate 1980. But context might be helpful to edgy supporters of Mitt Romney.

In the past 30 days, there were 91 national polls (including each Gallup and Rasmussen daily tracking survey). Mr. Obama was at or above the magic number of 50% in just 20. His average was 47.9%. Mr. Romney’s was 45.5%.

There were 40 national polls over the same period in 2004. President George W. Bush was 50% or higher in 18. His average was 49%; Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry was at 43.8%. An Oct. 4, 2004, story in the New York Times declared the Bush/Kerry race « a dead heat » and asked « whether Mr. Bush can regain the advantage. »

Mr. Bush was hitting the vital 50% mark in almost half the polls (unlike Mr. Obama) and had a lead over Mr. Kerry twice as large as the one Mr. Obama now holds over Mr. Romney. So why was the 2004 race « a dead heat » while many commentators today say Mr. Obama is the clear favorite?

The reality is that 2012 is a horse race and will remain so. An incumbent below 50% is in grave danger. On Election Day he’ll usually receive less than his final poll number. That’s because his detractors are more likely to turn out, and undecideds are more resistant to voting for him.

Then there is the tsunami of state-level polls. Last week, there were 46 polls in 22 states; the week before, 52 polls in 18 states; and the week before that, 41 polls in 20 states. They’re endowed by the media with a scientific precision they simply don’t have.

Take last week’s CBS/New York Times Florida survey, which had Mr. Obama leading Mr. Romney by nine points. The poll sampled more Democrats than Republicans—nine percentage points more. Yet the Democratic advantage in the 2008 presidential exit polls was three percentage points. Does it seem probable that Florida Democrats will turn out in higher numbers in 2012, especially when their registration edge over Republicans dropped by 22% in the past four years?

On Aug. 2, radio talk-show host Hugh Hewitt asked Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University polling organization—which runs the CBS/NYT battleground state polls, including last week’s Florida poll—if he expected a Democratic advantage in the Sunshine State three times what it was last time. Mr. Brown responded that « I think it is probably unlikely, » but defended his polling organization’s record.

Both candidates have advantages as the race enters its final month. Mr. Obama is slightly ahead (but short of 50%). Late-deciding independents will probably break more for Mr. Romney. Clear-eyed operatives in Boston and Chicago know this and are only playing head games with their opposition when they assert otherwise.

Team Obama’s relentless efforts to denigrate Mr. Romney as a sure loser appear to have convinced the Republican candidate that he must run as the underdog. This will make the naturally cautious Mr. Romney more aggressive, energized and specific about his agenda in the campaign’s closing weeks than he might have been. It will also make his victory more likely. America likes come-from-behind winners.

Mr. Rove, a former deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, helped organize the political action committee American Crossroads.


Présidence Obama: Obama ou l’anti-Reagan (Looking back at the illusion of Obama’s popularity)

16 novembre, 2010
Reagan, je l’ai trouvé comme il est : habité de certitudes. Américain typique, il n’est pas très exportable. Mitterrand (sommet d’Ottawa, 1981)
Son étroitesse d’esprit est évidente. Cette homme n’a que quelques disques qui tournent et retournent dans sa tête. Mitterrand (sommet de Williamsburg, 1983)
L’égalité sera acquise quand on élira un Président noir incompétent. Pape Diouf (président de l’Olympique de Marseille et ancien journaliste)
Imaginez que vous soyez un électeur. Il y a le type X et le type Y. Vous êtes totalement d’accord avec le type X mais vous ne pensez pas qu’il puisse gérer quoi que ce soit. Quant au type Y, vous divergez de point de vue sur la moitié des dossiers mais vous le pensez qualifié. Pour qui voteriez-vous ? Bill Clinton (Aout 2008)
I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director. Obama
C’est un homme de promesse perpétuelle. Il y avait une plaisanterie cruelle qui disait que le Brésil est le pays de l’avenir et qu’il le sera toujours; Obama est le Brésil des politiciens d’aujourd’hui. Il n’a évidemment rien accompli. Et dans le contexte américain, être le héros de cinq gauchistes norvégiens n’est pas exactement positif du point de vue politique (…) Ce qui rendait Obama unique, c’est qu’il était le politicien charismatique par excellence – le plus total inconnu à jamais accéder à la présidence aux Etats-Unis. Personne ne savait qui il était, il sortait de nulle part, il avait cette figure incroyable qui l’a catapulté au-dessus de la mêlée, il a annihilé Hillary, pris le contrôle du parti Démocrate et est devenu président. C’est vraiment sans précédent : un jeune inconnu sans histoire, dossiers, associés bien connus, auto-créé. Charles Krauthammer
I fear two things with Obama. One is if the GOP fails to elect a House majority in 2010 to keep Obama within the bounds of sanity. A GOP majority is essential for the safety of the country and the world. But even if Obama is defeated in 2012, he will just turn into an angrier version of Al Gore and Jimmy Carter. He will haunt the political future of this country as long as he is alive, because that famished ego never gets enough. Malignant narcissism often gets worse over time. And on the Left and among blacks, Obama will still have love and adoration enough to keep him supplied. He is an easy target for flattery by the Saudis, even the Iranians — in fact, by all the real enemies we have. So even if the voters throw out this very dangerous cult-like administration, you can expect Obama to be popping up in our politics for years to come. He will haunt the Democrats, which might be a good thing. But he will haunt the United States as well, even if he is defeated in 2012. James Lewis
Les marchés boursiers ne sont pas les seuls, pour reprendre la célèbre formule d’Alan Greenspan, à faire preuve « d’exubérance irrationnelle ». Pierre Delhommais
Le mythe R. Reagan, « grand communicateur », a valeur d’exemple : loin de ne reposer que sur les vertus du président des États-Unis élu en 1980, la construction de cette réputation repose sur un savoureux paradoxe puisqu’elle s’est imposée au moment même où sa cote de popularité ne parvenait pas à décoller. En contrepartie, l’état-major de Reagan a fortement investi dans les relations avec la presse ainsi qu’en direction du Congrès en mobilisant systématiquement les courants d’opinion conservateurs invités à relayer publiquement les positions du président sur ses thèmes de prédilection. De sorte que la popularité de Reagan, que les journalistes ont attribuée volontiers à ses qualités personnelles et à ses dons oratoires, semble avoir été le résultat d’un intense et efficace travail de coulisses. Acrimed

Attention: une illusion peut en cacher une autre!

A l’heure ou, avec la correction électorale en début du mois de leur « exubérance irrationnelle », nos Obamalatres des medias en sont a appeler celle-ci a renoncer a une seconde candidature en 2012 voire a ouvertement regretter son prédécesseur …

Et ou, avec cette fois la planche a billets et a l’instar d’une France qui s’enfonce chaque jour un peu plus dans le chomage, le président en question semble bien parti pour confirmer par son incompétence l’aquisition définitive de l’égaliteépour les noirs …

Comment ne pas repenser a l’effondrement d’une autre « illusion » elle aussi en son temps, si l’on en croit nos politologues, largement créée et entretenue par les medias ?

A savoir celle de la popularité d’un autre « grand communicateur »

Dont la carriere, apres avoir vu son progressisme braqué par la realité, avait elle aussi été lancée par un brillant discours pour l’investiture du candidat (perdant) de son parti …

Et qui avait lui aussi du son élection plus au rejet de son prédécesseur ou de sa politique qu’a son propre programme …

Mais a la différence toutefois (ce que semblent étrangement oublier nos dits politologues) qu’avec le retour de la croissance et la victoire de la Guerre froide, celui-ci avait vu ses idées largement validées

1964 Republican Convention

The following speech was given by President Reagan when he nominated Barry Goldwater at the 1964 Republican Convention in Cow Palace.

I am going to talk of controversial things. I make no apology for this.

It’s time we asked ourselves if we still know the freedoms intended for us by the Founding Fathers. James Madison said, « We base all our experiments on the capacity of mankind for self government. »

This idea that government was beholden to the people, that it had no other source of power is still the newest, most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man. This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.

You and I are told we must choose between a left and right, but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to man’s age-old dream-the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. Regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would sacrifice freedom for security have embarked on this downward path. Plutarch warned, « The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations and benefits. »

The Founding Fathers knew a government can’t control the economy without controlling people. And they knew when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. So we have come to a time for choosing.

Public servants say, always with the best of intentions, « What greater service we could render if only we had a little more money and a little more power. » But the truth is that outside of its legitimate function, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector.

Yet any time you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we’re denounced as being opposed to their humanitarian goals. It seems impossible to legitimately debate their solutions with the assumption that all of us share the desire to help the less fortunate. They tell us we’re always « against, » never « for » anything.

We are for a provision that destitution should not follow unemployment by reason of old age, and to that end we have accepted Social Security as a step toward meeting the problem. However, we are against those entrusted with this program when they practice deception regarding its fiscal shortcomings, when they charge that any criticism of the program means that we want to end payments….

We are for aiding our allies by sharing our material blessings with nations which share our fundamental beliefs, but we are against doling out money government to government, creating bureaucracy, if not socialism, all over the world

We need true tax reform that will at least make a start toward restoring for our children the American Dream that wealth is denied to no one, that each individual has the right to fly as high as his strength and ability will take him…. But we can not have such reform while our tax policy is engineered by people who view the tax as a means of achieving changes in our social structure….

Have we the courage and the will to face up to the immorality and discrimination of the progressive tax, and demand a return to traditional proportionate taxation? . . . Today in our country the tax collector’s share is 37 cents of every dollar earned. Freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp.

Are you willing to spend time studying the issues, making yourself aware, and then conveying that information to family and friends? Will you resist the temptation to get a government handout for your community? Realize that the doctor’s fight against socialized medicine is your fight. We can’t socialize the doctors without socializing the patients. Recognize that government invasion of public power is eventually an assault upon your own business. If some among you fear taking a stand because you are afraid of reprisals from customers, clients, or even government, recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping he’ll eat you last.

If all of this seems like a great deal of trouble, think what’s at stake. We are faced with the most evil enemy mankind has known in his long climb from the swamp to the stars. There can be no security anywhere in the free world if there is no fiscal and economic stability within the United States. Those who ask us to trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state are architects of a policy of accommodation.

They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong. There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right. Winston Churchill said that « the destiny of man is not measured by material computation. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we are spirits-not animals. » And he said, « There is something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty. »

You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.

Voir aussi:

Ronald Reagan

A Time for Choosing (aka « The Speech »)

Air date 27 October 1964, Los Angeles, C

Program Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, we take pride in presenting a thoughtful address by Ronald Reagan. Mr. Reagan:

Reagan: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you and good evening. The sponsor has been identified, but unlike most television programs, the performer hasn’t been provided with a script. As a matter of fact, I have been permitted to choose my own words and discuss my own ideas regarding the choice that we face in the next few weeks

I have spent most of my life as a Democrat. I recently have seen fit to follow another course. I believe that the issues confronting us cross party lines. Now, one side in this campaign has been telling us that the issues of this election are the maintenance of peace and prosperity. The line has been used, « We’ve never had it so good. »

But I have an uncomfortable feeling that this prosperity isn’t something on which we can base our hopes for the future. No nation in history has ever survived a tax burden that reached a third of its national income. Today, 37 cents out of every dollar earned in this country is the tax collector’s share, and yet our government continues to spend 17 million dollars a day more than the government takes in. We haven’t balanced our budget 28 out of the last 34 years. We’ve raised our debt limit three times in the last twelve months, and now our national debt is one and a half times bigger than all the combined debts of all the nations of the world. We have 15 billion dollars in gold in our treasury; we don’t own an ounce. Foreign dollar claims are 27.3 billion dollars. And we’ve just had announced that the dollar of 1939 will now purchase 45 cents in its total value.

As for the peace that we would preserve, I wonder who among us would like to approach the wife or mother whose husband or son has died in South Vietnam and ask them if they think this is a peace that should be maintained indefinitely. Do they mean peace, or do they mean we just want to be left in peace? There can be no real peace while one American is dying some place in the world for the rest of us. We’re at war with the most dangerous enemy that has ever faced mankind in his long climb from the swamp to the stars, and it’s been said if we lose that war, and in so doing lose this way of freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening. Well I think it’s time we ask ourselves if we still know the freedoms that were intended for us by the Founding Fathers.

Not too long ago, two friends of mine were talking to a Cuban refugee, a businessman who had escaped from Castro, and in the midst of his story one of my friends turned to the other and said, « We don’t know how lucky we are. » And the Cuban stopped and said, « How lucky you are? I had someplace to escape to. » And in that sentence he told us the entire story. If we lose freedom here, there’s no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth.

And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except the sovereign people, is still the newest and the most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man.

This is the issue of this election: whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.

You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I’d like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There’s only an up or down: [up] man’s old — old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.

In this vote-harvesting time, they use terms like the « Great Society, » or as we were told a few days ago by the President, we must accept a greater government activity in the affairs of the people. But they’ve been a little more explicit in the past and among themselves; and all of the things I now will quote have appeared in print. These are not Republican accusations. For example, they have voices that say, « The cold war will end through our acceptance of a not undemocratic socialism. » Another voice says, « The profit motive has become outmoded. It must be replaced by the incentives of the welfare state. » Or, « Our traditional system of individual freedom is incapable of solving the complex problems of the 20th century. » Senator Fulbright has said at Stanford University that the Constitution is outmoded. He referred to the President as « our moral teacher and our leader, » and he says he is « hobbled in his task by the restrictions of power imposed on him by this antiquated document. » He must « be freed, » so that he « can do for us » what he knows « is best. » And Senator Clark of Pennsylvania, another articulate spokesman, defines liberalism as « meeting the material needs of the masses through the full power of centralized government. »

Well, I, for one, resent it when a representative of the people refers to you and me, the free men and women of this country, as « the masses. » This is a term we haven’t applied to ourselves in America. But beyond that, « the full power of centralized government » — this was the very thing the Founding Fathers sought to minimize. They knew that governments don’t control things. A government can’t control the economy without controlling people. And they know when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. They also knew, those Founding Fathers, that outside of its legitimate functions, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector of the economy.

Now, we have no better example of this than government’s involvement in the farm economy over the last 30 years. Since 1955, the cost of this program has nearly doubled. One-fourth of farming in America is responsible for 85% of the farm surplus. Three-fourths of farming is out on the free market and has known a 21% increase in the per capita consumption of all its produce. You see, that one-fourth of farming — that’s regulated and controlled by the federal government. In the last three years we’ve spent 43 dollars in the feed grain program for every dollar bushel of corn we don’t grow.

Senator Humphrey last week charged that Barry Goldwater, as President, would seek to eliminate farmers. He should do his homework a little better, because he’ll find out that we’ve had a decline of 5 million in the farm population under these government programs. He’ll also find that the Democratic administration has sought to get from Congress [an] extension of the farm program to include that three-fourths that is now free. He’ll find that they’ve also asked for the right to imprison farmers who wouldn’t keep books as prescribed by the federal government. The Secretary of Agriculture asked for the right to seize farms through condemnation and resell them to other individuals. And contained in that same program was a provision that would have allowed the federal government to remove 2 million farmers from the soil.

At the same time, there’s been an increase in the Department of Agriculture employees. There’s now one for every 30 farms in the United States, and still they can’t tell us how 66 shiploads of grain headed for Austria disappeared without a trace and Billie Sol Estes never left shore.

Every responsible farmer and farm organization has repeatedly asked the government to free the farm economy, but how — who are farmers to know what’s best for them? The wheat farmers voted against a wheat program. The government passed it anyway. Now the price of bread goes up; the price of wheat to the farmer goes down.

Meanwhile, back in the city, under urban renewal the assault on freedom carries on. Private property rights [are] so diluted that public interest is almost anything a few government planners decide it should be. In a program that takes from the needy and gives to the greedy, we see such spectacles as in Cleveland, Ohio, a million-and-a-half-dollar building completed only three years ago must be destroyed to make way for what government officials call a « more compatible use of the land. » The President tells us he’s now going to start building public housing units in the thousands, where heretofore we’ve only built them in the hundreds. But FHA [Federal Housing Authority] and the Veterans Administration tell us they have 120,000 housing units they’ve taken back through mortgage foreclosure. For three decades, we’ve sought to solve the problems of unemployment through government planning, and the more the plans fail, the more the planners plan. The latest is the Area Redevelopment Agency.

They’ve just declared Rice County, Kansas, a depressed area. Rice County, Kansas, has two hundred oil wells, and the 14,000 people there have over 30 million dollars on deposit in personal savings in their banks. And when the government tells you you’re depressed, lie down and be depressed.

We have so many people who can’t see a fat man standing beside a thin one without coming to the conclusion the fat man got that way by taking advantage of the thin one. So they’re going to solve all the problems of human misery through government and government planning. Well, now, if government planning and welfare had the answer — and they’ve had almost 30 years of it — shouldn’t we expect government to read the score to us once in a while? Shouldn’t they be telling us about the decline each year in the number of people needing help? The reduction in the need for public housing?

But the reverse is true. Each year the need grows greater; the program grows greater. We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry each night. Well that was probably true. They were all on a diet. But now we’re told that 9.3 million families in this country are poverty-stricken on the basis of earning less than 3,000 dollars a year. Welfare spending [is] 10 times greater than in the dark depths of the Depression. We’re spending 45 billion dollars on welfare. Now do a little arithmetic, and you’ll find that if we divided the 45 billion dollars up equally among those 9 million poor families, we’d be able to give each family 4,600 dollars a year. And this added to their present income should eliminate poverty. Direct aid to the poor, however, is only running only about 600 dollars per family. It would seem that someplace there must be some overhead.

Now — so now we declare « war on poverty, » or « You, too, can be a Bobby Baker. » Now do they honestly expect us to believe that if we add 1 billion dollars to the 45 billion we’re spending, one more program to the 30-odd we have — and remember, this new program doesn’t replace any, it just duplicates existing programs — do they believe that poverty is suddenly going to disappear by magic? Well, in all fairness I should explain there is one part of the new program that isn’t duplicated. This is the youth feature. We’re now going to solve the dropout problem, juvenile delinquency, by reinstituting something like the old CCC camps [Civilian Conservation Corps], and we’re going to put our young people in these camps. But again we do some arithmetic, and we find that we’re going to spend each year just on room and board for each young person we help 4,700 dollars a year. We can send them to Harvard for 2,700! Course, don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting Harvard is the answer to juvenile delinquency.

But seriously, what are we doing to those we seek to help? Not too long ago, a judge called me here in Los Angeles. He told me of a young woman who’d come before him for a divorce. She had six children, was pregnant with her seventh. Under his questioning, she revealed her husband was a laborer earning 250 dollars a month. She wanted a divorce to get an 80 dollar raise. She’s eligible for 330 dollars a month in the Aid to Dependent Children Program. She got the idea from two women in her neighborhood who’d already done that very thing.

Yet anytime you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we’re denounced as being against their humanitarian goals. They say we’re always « against » things — we’re never « for » anything.

Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.

Now — we’re for a provision that destitution should not follow unemployment by reason of old age, and to that end we’ve accepted Social Security as a step toward meeting the problem.

But we’re against those entrusted with this program when they practice deception regarding its fiscal shortcomings, when they charge that any criticism of the program means that we want to end payments to those people who depend on them for a livelihood. They’ve called it « insurance » to us in a hundred million pieces of literature. But then they appeared before the Supreme Court and they testified it was a welfare program. They only use the term « insurance » to sell it to the people. And they said Social Security dues are a tax for the general use of the government, and the government has used that tax. There is no fund, because Robert Byers, the actuarial head, appeared before a congressional committee and admitted that Social Security as of this moment is 298 billion dollars in the hole. But he said there should be no cause for worry because as long as they have the power to tax, they could always take away from the people whatever they needed to bail them out of trouble. And they’re doing just that.

A young man, 21 years of age, working at an average salary — his Social Security contribution would, in the open market, buy him an insurance policy that would guarantee 220 dollars a month at age 65. The government promises 127. He could live it up until he’s 31 and then take out a policy that would pay more than Social Security. Now are we so lacking in business sense that we can’t put this program on a sound basis, so that people who do require those payments will find they can get them when they’re due — that the cupboard isn’t bare?

Barry Goldwater thinks we can.

At the same time, can’t we introduce voluntary features that would permit a citizen who can do better on his own to be excused upon presentation of evidence that he had made provision for the non-earning years? Should we not allow a widow with children to work, and not lose the benefits supposedly paid for by her deceased husband? Shouldn’t you and I be allowed to declare who our beneficiaries will be under this program, which we cannot do? I think we’re for telling our senior citizens that no one in this country should be denied medical care because of a lack of funds. But I think we’re against forcing all citizens, regardless of need, into a compulsory government program, especially when we have such examples, as was announced last week, when France admitted that their Medicare program is now bankrupt. They’ve come to the end of the road.

In addition, was Barry Goldwater so irresponsible when he suggested that our government give up its program of deliberate, planned inflation, so that when you do get your Social Security pension, a dollar will buy a dollar’s worth, and not 45 cents worth?

I think we’re for an international organization, where the nations of the world can seek peace. But I think we’re against subordinating American interests to an organization that has become so structurally unsound that today you can muster a two-thirds vote on the floor of the General Assembly among nations that represent less than 10 percent of the world’s population. I think we’re against the hypocrisy of assailing our allies because here and there they cling to a colony, while we engage in a conspiracy of silence and never open our mouths about the millions of people enslaved in the Soviet colonies in the satellite nations.

I think we’re for aiding our allies by sharing of our material blessings with those nations which share in our fundamental beliefs, but we’re against doling out money government to government, creating bureaucracy, if not socialism, all over the world. We set out to help 19 countries. We’re helping 107. We’ve spent 146 billion dollars. With that money, we bought a 2 million dollar yacht for Haile Selassie. We bought dress suits for Greek undertakers, extra wives for Kenya[n] government officials. We bought a thousand TV sets for a place where they have no electricity. In the last six years, 52 nations have bought 7 billion dollars worth of our gold, and all 52 are receiving foreign aid from this country.

No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. So, governments’ programs, once launched, never disappear.

Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.

Federal employees — federal employees number two and a half million; and federal, state, and local, one out of six of the nation’s work force employed by government. These proliferating bureaus with their thousands of regulations have cost us many of our constitutional safeguards. How many of us realize that today federal agents can invade a man’s property without a warrant? They can impose a fine without a formal hearing, let alone a trial by jury? And they can seize and sell his property at auction to enforce the payment of that fine. In Chico County, Arkansas, James Wier over-planted his rice allotment. The government obtained a 17,000 dollar judgment. And a U.S. marshal sold his 960-acre farm at auction. The government said it was necessary as a warning to others to make the system work.

Last February 19th at the University of Minnesota, Norman Thomas, six-times candidate for President on the Socialist Party ticket, said, « If Barry Goldwater became President, he would stop the advance of socialism in the United States. » I think that’s exactly what he will do.

But as a former Democrat, I can tell you Norman Thomas isn’t the only man who has drawn this parallel to socialism with the present administration, because back in 1936, Mr. Democrat himself, Al Smith, the great American, came before the American people and charged that the leadership of his Party was taking the Party of Jefferson, Jackson, and Cleveland down the road under the banners of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin. And he walked away from his Party, and he never returned til the day he died — because to this day, the leadership of that Party has been taking that Party, that honorable Party, down the road in the image of the labor Socialist Party of England.

Now it doesn’t require expropriation or confiscation of private property or business to impose socialism on a people. What does it mean whether you hold the deed to the — or the title to your business or property if the government holds the power of life and death over that business or property? And such machinery already exists. The government can find some charge to bring against any concern it chooses to prosecute. Every businessman has his own tale of harassment. Somewhere a perversion has taken place. Our natural, unalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment.

Our Democratic opponents seem unwilling to debate these issues. They want to make you and I believe that this is a contest between two men — that we’re to choose just between two personalities.

Well what of this man that they would destroy — and in destroying, they would destroy that which he represents, the ideas that you and I hold dear? Is he the brash and shallow and trigger-happy man they say he is? Well I’ve been privileged to know him « when. » I knew him long before he ever dreamed of trying for high office, and I can tell you personally I’ve never known a man in my life I believed so incapable of doing a dishonest or dishonorable thing.

This is a man who, in his own business before he entered politics, instituted a profit-sharing plan before unions had ever thought of it. He put in health and medical insurance for all his employees. He took 50 percent of the profits before taxes and set up a retirement program, a pension plan for all his employees. He sent monthly checks for life to an employee who was ill and couldn’t work. He provides nursing care for the children of mothers who work in the stores. When Mexico was ravaged by the floods in the Rio Grande, he climbed in his airplane and flew medicine and supplies down there.

An ex-GI told me how he met him. It was the week before Christmas during the Korean War, and he was at the Los Angeles airport trying to get a ride home to Arizona for Christmas. And he said that [there were] a lot of servicemen there and no seats available on the planes. And then a voice came over the loudspeaker and said, « Any men in uniform wanting a ride to Arizona, go to runway such-and-such, » and they went down there, and there was a fellow named Barry Goldwater sitting in his plane. Every day in those weeks before Christmas, all day long, he’d load up the plane, fly it to Arizona, fly them to their homes, fly back over to get another load.

During the hectic split-second timing of a campaign, this is a man who took time out to sit beside an old friend who was dying of cancer. His campaign managers were understandably impatient, but he said, « There aren’t many left who care what happens to her. I’d like her to know I care. » This is a man who said to his 19-year-old son, « There is no foundation like the rock of honesty and fairness, and when you begin to build your life on that rock, with the cement of the faith in God that you have, then you have a real start. » This is not a man who could carelessly send other people’s sons to war. And that is the issue of this campaign that makes all the other problems I’ve discussed academic, unless we realize we’re in a war that must be won.

Those who would trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state have told us they have a utopian solution of peace without victory. They call their policy « accommodation. » And they say if we’ll only avoid any direct confrontation with the enemy, he’ll forget his evil ways and learn to love us. All who oppose them are indicted as warmongers. They say we offer simple answers to complex problems. Well, perhaps there is a simple answer — not an easy answer — but simple: If you and I have the courage to tell our elected officials that we want our national policy based on what we know in our hearts is morally right.

We cannot buy our security, our freedom from the threat of the bomb by committing an immorality so great as saying to a billion human beings now enslaved behind the Iron Curtain, « Give up your dreams of freedom because to save our own skins, we’re willing to make a deal with your slave masters. » Alexander Hamilton said, « A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one. » Now let’s set the record straight. There’s no argument over the choice between peace and war, but there’s only one guaranteed way you can have peace — and you can have it in the next second — surrender.

Admittedly, there’s a risk in any course we follow other than this, but every lesson of history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement, and this is the specter our well-meaning liberal friends refuse to face — that their policy of accommodation is appeasement, and it gives no choice between peace and war, only between fight or surrender. If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand — the ultimatum. And what then — when Nikita Khrushchev has told his people he knows what our answer will be? He has told them that we’re retreating under the pressure of the Cold War, and someday when the time comes to deliver the final ultimatum, our surrender will be voluntary, because by that time we will have been weakened from within spiritually, morally, and economically. He believes this because from our side he’s heard voices pleading for « peace at any price » or « better Red than dead, » or as one commentator put it, he’d rather « live on his knees than die on his feet. » And therein lies the road to war, because those voices don’t speak for the rest of us.

You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for, when did this begin — just in the face of this enemy? Or should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard ’round the world? The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn’t die in vain. Where, then, is the road to peace? Well it’s a simple answer after all.

You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, « There is a price we will not pay. » « There is a point beyond which they must not advance. » And this — this is the meaning in the phrase of Barry Goldwater’s « peace through strength. » Winston Churchill said, « The destiny of man is not measured by material computations. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we’re spirits — not animals. » And he said, « There’s something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty. »

You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.

We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.

We will keep in mind and remember that Barry Goldwater has faith in us. He has faith that you and I have the ability and the dignity and the right to make our own decisions and determine our own destiny.

Thank you very much.

Voir aussi:

OBAMA

July 27, 2004

Keynote Address

2004 Democratic National Convention

On behalf of the great state of Illinois, crossroads of a nation, land of Lincoln, let me express my deep gratitude for the privilege of addressing this convention. Tonight is a particular honor for me because, let’s face it, my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely. My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small village in Kenya. He grew up herding goats, went to school in a tin-roof shack. His father, my grandfather, was a cook, a domestic servant.

But my grandfather had larger dreams for his son. Through hard work and perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place: America, which stood as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before. While studying here, my father met my mother. She was born in a town on the other side of the world, in Kansas. Her father worked on oil rigs and farms through most of the Depression. The day after Pearl Harbor he signed up for duty, joined Patton’s army and marched across Europe. Back home, my grandmother raised their baby and went to work on a bomber assembly line. After the war, they studied on the GI Bill, bought a house through FHA, and moved west in search of opportunity.

And they, too, had big dreams for their daughter, a common dream, born of two continents. My parents shared not only an improbable love; they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name, Barack, or « blessed, » believing that in a tolerant America your name is no barrier to success. They imagined me going to the best schools in the land, even though they weren’t rich, because in a generous America you don’t have to be rich to achieve your potential. They are both passed away now. Yet, I know that, on this night, they look down on me with pride.

I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents’ dreams live on in my precious daughters. I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that, in no other country on earth, is my story even possible. Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation, not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy. Our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago, « We hold these truths to he self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. »

That is the true genius of America, a faith in the simple dreams of its people, the insistence on small miracles. That we can tuck in our children at night and know they are fed and clothed and safe from harm. That we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door. That we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe or hiring somebody’s son. That we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution, and that our votes will he counted ? or at least, most of the time.

This year, in this election, we are called to reaffirm our values and commitments, to hold them against a hard reality and see how we are measuring up, to the legacy of our forbearers, and the promise of future generations. And fellow Americans ? Democrats, Republicans, Independents ? I say to you tonight: we have more work to do. More to do for the workers I met in Galesburg, Illinois, who are losing their union jobs at the Maytag plant that’s moving to Mexico, and now are having to compete with their own children for jobs that pay seven bucks an hour. More to do for the father I met who was losing his job and choking back tears, wondering how he would pay $4,500 a month for the drugs his son needs without the health benefits he counted on. More to do for the young woman in East St. Louis, and thousands more like her, who has the grades, has the drive, has the will, but doesn’t have the money to go to college.

Don’t get me wrong. The people I meet in small towns and big cities, in diners and office parks, they don’t expect government to solve all their problems. They know they have to work hard to get ahead and they want to. Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you they don’t want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or the Pentagon. Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can’t teach kids to learn. They know that parents have to parent, that children can’t achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. No, people don’t expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we can do better. And they want that choice.

In this election, we offer that choice. Our party has chosen a man to lead us who embodies the best this country has to offer. That man is John Kerry. John Kerry understands the ideals of community, faith, and sacrifice, because they’ve defined his life. From his heroic service in Vietnam to his years as prosecutor and lieutenant governor, through two decades in the United States Senate, he has devoted himself to this country. Again and again, we’ve seen him make tough choices when easier ones were available. His values and his record affirm what is best in us.

John Kerry believes in an America where hard work is rewarded. So instead of offering tax breaks to companies shipping jobs overseas, he’ll offer them to companies creating jobs here at home. John Kerry believes in an America where all Americans can afford the same health coverage our politicians in Washington have for themselves. John Kerry believes in energy independence, so we aren’t held hostage to the profits of oil companies or the sabotage of foreign oil fields. John Kerry believes in the constitutional freedoms that have made our country the envy of the world, and he will never sacrifice our basic liberties nor use faith as a wedge to divide us. And John Kerry believes that in a dangerous world, war must be an option, but it should never he the first option.

A while back, I met a young man named Shamus at the VFW Hall in East Moline, Illinois. He was a good-looking kid, six-two or six-three, clear-eyed, with an easy smile. He told me he’d joined the Marines and was heading to Iraq the following week. As I listened to him explain why he’d enlisted, his absolute faith in our country and its leaders, his devotion to duty and service, I thought this young man was all any of us might hope for in a child. But then I asked myself: Are we serving Shamus as well as he was serving us? I thought of more than 900 service men and women, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors, who will not be returning to their hometowns. I thought of families I had met who were struggling to get by without a loved one’s full income, or whose loved ones had returned with a limb missing or with nerves shattered, but who still lacked long-term health benefits because they were reservists. When we send our young men and women into harm’s way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they’re going, to care for their families while they’re gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return, and to never ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace, and earn the respect of the world.

Now let me be clear. We have real enemies in the world. These enemies must be found. They must be pursued and they must be defeated. John Kerry knows this. And just as Lieutenant Kerry did not hesitate to risk his life to protect the men who served with him in Vietnam, President Kerry will not hesitate one moment to use our military might to keep America safe and secure. John Kerry believes in America. And he knows it’s not enough for just some of us to prosper. For alongside our famous individualism, there’s another ingredient in the American saga.

A belief that we are connected as one people. If there’s a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child. If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandmother. If there’s an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. It’s that fundamental belief ? I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper ? that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. « E pluribus unum. » Out of many, one.

Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America there’s the United States of America. There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

In the end, that’s what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope? John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope. I’m not talking about blind optimism here ? the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don’t talk about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. No, I’m talking about something more substantial. It’s the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a millworker’s son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. The audacity of hope!

In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation; the belief in things not seen; the belief that there are better days ahead. I believe we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity. I believe we can provide jobs to the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair. I believe that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices, and meet the challenges that face us. America!

Tonight, if you feel the same energy I do, the same urgency I do, the same passion I do, the same hopefulness I do ? if we do what we must do, then I have no doubt that all across the country, from Florida to Oregon, from Washington to Maine, the people will rise up in November, and John Kerry will be sworn in as president, and John Edwards will be sworn in as vice president, and this country will reclaim its promise, and out of this long political darkness a brighter day will come. Thank you and God bless you.

Voir egalement:

American Narcissus

The vanity of Barack Obama

Jonathan V. Last

November 22, 2010, Vol. 16, No. 10

Why has Barack Obama failed so spectacularly? Is he too dogmatically liberal or too pragmatic? Is he a socialist, or an anticolonialist, or a philosopher-president? Or is it possible that Obama’s failures stem from something simpler: vanity. Politicians as a class are particularly susceptible to mirror-gazing. But Obama’s vanity is overwhelming. It defines him, his politics, and his presidency.

It’s revealed in lots of little stories. There was the time he bragged about how one of his campaign volunteers, who had tragically died of breast cancer, “insisted she’s going to be buried in an Obama T-shirt.” There was the Nobel acceptance speech where he conceded, “I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war” (the emphasis is mine). There was the moment during the 2008 campaign when Obama appeared with a seal that was a mash-up of the Great Seal of the United States and his own campaign logo (with its motto Vero Possumus, “Yes we Can” in Latin). Just a few weeks ago, Obama was giving a speech when the actual presidential seal fell from the rostrum. “That’s all right,” he quipped. “All of you know who I am.” Oh yes, Mr. President, we certainly do.

My favorite is this line from page 160 of The Audacity of Hope:

I find comfort in the fact that the longer I’m in politics the less nourishing popularity becomes, that a striving for power and rank and fame seems to betray a poverty of ambition, and that I am answerable mainly to the steady gaze of my own conscience.

So popularity and fame once nourished him, but now his ambition is richer and he’s answerable not, like some presidents, to the Almighty, but to the gaze of his personal conscience. Which is steady. The fact that this sentence appears in the second memoir of a man not yet 50 years old—and who had been in national politics for all of two years—is merely icing.

People have been noticing Obama’s vanity for a long time. In 2008, one of his Harvard Law classmates, the entertainment lawyer Jackie Fuchs, explained what Obama was like during his school days: “One of our classmates once famously noted that you could judge just how pretentious someone’s remarks in class were by how high they ranked on the ‘Obamanometer,’ a term that lasted far longer than our time at law school. Obama didn’t just share in class—he pontificated. He knew better than everyone else in the room, including the teachers. ”

The story of Obama’s writing career is an object lesson in how our president’s view of himself shapes his interactions with the world around him. In 1990, Obama was wrapping up his second year at Harvard Law when the New York Times ran a profile of him on the occasion of his becoming the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review. A book agent in New York named Jane Dystel read the story and called up the young man, asking if he’d be interested in writing a book. Like any 29-year-old, he wasn’t about to turn down money. He promptly accepted a deal with Simon & Schuster’s Poseidon imprint—reportedly in the low six-figures—to write a book about race relations.

Obama missed his deadline. No matter. His agent quickly secured him another contract, this time with Times Books. And a $40,000 advance. Not bad for an unknown author who had already blown one deal, writing about a noncommercial subject.

By this point Obama had left law school, and academia was courting him. The University of Chicago Law School approached him; although they didn’t have any specific needs, they wanted to be in the Barack Obama business. As Douglas Baird, the head of Chicago’s appointments committee, would later explain, “You look at his background—Harvard Law Review president, magna cum laude, and he’s African American. This is a no-brainer hiring decision at the entry level of any law school in the country.” Chicago invited Obama to come in and teach just about anything he wanted. But Obama wasn’t interested in a professor’s life. Instead, he told them that he was writing a book—about voting rights. The university made him a fellow, giving him an office and a paycheck to keep him going while he worked on this important project.

In case you’re keeping score at home, there was some confusion as to what book young Obama was writing. His publisher thought he was writing about race relations. His employer thought he was writing about voting rights law. But Obama seems to have never seriously considered either subject. Instead, he decided that his subject would be himself. The 32-year-old was writing a memoir.

Obama came clean to the university first. He waited until his fellowship was halfway over—perhaps he was concerned that his employers might not like the bait-and-switch. He needn’t have worried. Baird still hoped that Obama would eventually join the university’s faculty (he had already begun teaching a small classload as a “senior lecturer”). “It was a good deal for us,” Baird explained, “because he was a good teaching prospect and we wanted him around.”

And it all worked out in the end. The book Obama eventually finished was Dreams from My Father. It didn’t do well initially, but nine years later, after his speech at the 2004 Democratic convention made him a star, it sold like gangbusters. Obama got rich. And famous. The book became the springboard for his career in national politics.

Only it didn’t quite work out for everybody. Obama left the University of Chicago, never succumbing to their offers of a permanent position in their hallowed halls. Simon & Schuster, which had taken a chance on an unproven young writer, got burned for a few thousand bucks. And Jane Dystel, who’d plucked him out of the pages of the New York Times and got him the deal to write the book that sped his political rise? As soon as Obama was ready to negotiate the contract for his second book—the big-money payday—he dumped her and replaced her with super-agent Robert Barnett.

We risk reading too much into these vignettes—after all, our president is a mansion with many rooms and it would be foolish to reduce him to pure ego. Yet the vignettes are so numerous. For instance, a few years ago Obama’s high school basketball coach told ABC News how, as a teenager, Obama always badgered him for more playing time, even though he wasn’t the best player on the team—or even as good as he thought he was. Everyone who has ever played team sports has encountered the kid with an inflated sense of self. That’s common. What’s rare is the kid who feels entitled enough to nag the coach about his minutes. Obama was that kid. His enthusiasm about his abilities and his playing time extended into his political life. In 2004, Obama explained to author David Mendell how he saw his future as a national political figure: “I’m LeBron, baby. I can play on this level. I got some game.” After just a couple of months in the Senate, Obama jumped the Democratic line and started asking voters to make him president.

Yet you don’t have to delve deep into armchair psychology to see how Obama’s vanity has shaped his presidency. In January 2009 he met with congressional leaders to discuss the stimulus package. The meeting was supposed to foster bipartisanship. Senator Jon Kyl questioned the plan’s mixture of spending and tax cuts. Obama’s response to him was, “I won.” A year later Obama held another meeting to foster bipartisanship for his health care reform plan. There was some technical back-and-forth about Republicans not having the chance to properly respond within the constraints of the format because President Obama had done some pontificating, as is his wont. Obama explained, “There was an imbalance on the opening statements because”—here he paused, self-satisfiedly—“I’m the president. And so I made, uh, I don’t count my time in terms of dividing it evenly.”

There are lots of times when you get the sense that Obama views the powers of the presidency as little more than a shadow of his own person. When he journeyed to Copenhagen in October 2009 to pitch Chicago’s bid for the Olympics, his speech to the IOC was about—you guessed it: “Nearly one year ago, on a clear November night,” he told the committee, “people from every corner of the world gathered in the city of Chicago or in front of their televisions to watch the results of .  .  . ” and away he went. A short while later he was back in Copenhagen for the climate change summit. When things looked darkest, he personally commandeered the meeting to broker a “deal.” Which turned out to be worthless. In January 2010, Obama met with nervous Democratic congressmen to assure them that he wasn’t driving the party off a cliff. Confronted with worries that 2010 could be a worse off-year election than 1994, Obama explained to the professional politicians, “Well, the big difference here and in ’94 was you’ve got me.”

In the midst of the BP oil spill last summer, Obama explained, “My job right now is just to make sure that everybody in the Gulf understands this is what I wake up to in the morning and this is what I go to bed at night thinking about: the spill.” Read that again: The president thinks that the job of the president is to make certain the citizens correctly understand what’s on the president’s mind.

Obama’s vanity is even more jarring when paraded in the foreign arena. In April, Poland suffered a national tragedy when its president, first lady, and a good portion of the government were killed in a plane crash. Obama decided not to go to the funeral. He played golf instead. Though maybe it’s best that he didn’t make the trip. When he journeyed to Great Britain to meet with the queen he gave her an amazing gift: an iPod loaded with recordings of his speeches and pictures from his inauguration.

On November 9, 2009, Europe celebrated the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was kind of a big deal. They may not mention the Cold War in schools much these days, but it pitted the Western liberal order against a totalitarian ideology in a global struggle. In this the United States was the guarantor of liberty and peace for the West; had we faltered, no corner of the world would have been safe from Soviet domination.

President Obama has a somewhat different reading. He explains: “The Cold War reached a conclusion because of the actions of many nations over many years, and because the people of Russia and Eastern Europe stood up and decided that its end would be peaceful.” Pretty magnanimous of the Soviets to let the long twilight struggle end peacefully like that, especially after all we did to provoke them.

So Obama doesn’t know much about the Cold War. Which is probably why he didn’t think the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall was all that important. When the leaders of Europe got together to commemorate it, he decided not to go to that, either. But he did find time to record a video message, which he graciously allowed the Europeans to air during the ceremony.

In his video, Obama ruminated for a few minutes on the grand events of the 20th century, the Cold War itself, and the great lesson we all should take from this historic passing: “Few would have foreseen .  .  . that a united Germany would be led by a woman from Brandenburg or that their American ally would be led by a man of African descent. But human destiny is what human beings make of it.” The fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War, and the freedom of all humanity—it’s great stuff. Right up there with the election of Barack Obama.

All presidents are hostage to self-confidence. But not since Babe Ruth grabbed a bat and wagged his fat finger at Wrigley’s center-field wall has an American politician called his shot like Barack Obama. He announced his candidacy in Springfield, Illinois, on the steps where Abraham Lincoln gave his “house divided” speech. He mentioned Lincoln continually during the 2008 campaign. After he vanquished John McCain he passed out copies of Team of Rivals, a book about Lincoln’s cabinet, to his senior staff. At his inauguration, he chose to be sworn into office using Lincoln’s Bible. At the inaugural luncheon following the ceremony, he requested that the food—each dish of which was selected as a “tribute” to Lincoln—be served on replicas of Lincoln’s china. At some point in January 2009 you wanted to grab Obama by the lapels and tell him—We get it! You’re the Rail Splitter! If we promise to play along, will you keep the log cabin out of the Rose Garden?

It’s troubling that a fellow whose electoral rationale was that he edited the Harvard Law Review and wrote a couple of memoirs was comparing himself to the man who saved the Union. But it tells you all you need to know about what Obama thinks of his political gifts and why he’s unperturbed about having led his party into political disaster in the midterms. He assumes that he’ll be able to reverse the political tide once he becomes the issue, in the presidential race in 2012. As he said to Harry Reid after the majority leader congratulated him on one particularly fine oration, “I have a gift, Harry.”

But Obama’s faith in his abilities extends beyond mere vote-getting. Buried in a 2008 New Yorker piece by Ryan Lizza about the Obama campaign was this gob-smacking passage:

Obama said that he liked being surrounded by people who expressed strong opinions, but he also said, “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.” After Obama’s first debate with McCain, on September 26th, [campaign political director Patrick] Gaspard sent him an e-mail. “You are more clutch than Michael Jordan,” he wrote. Obama replied, “Just give me the ball.”

In fairness to Obama, maybe he is a better speechwriter than his speechwriters. After all, his speechwriter was a 27-year-old, and the most affecting part of Obama’s big 2008 stump speech was recycled from Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, with whom he shared a campaign strategist. But it’s instructive that Obama thinks he knows “more about policies on any particular issue” than his policy directors. The rate of growth of the mohair subsidy? The replacement schedule for servers at the NORAD command center? The relationship between annual rainfall in northeast Nevada and water prices in Las Vegas?

What Scott Fitzgerald once said about Hollywood is true of the American government: It can be understood only dimly and in flashes; there are no more than a handful of men who have ever been able to keep the entire equation in their heads. Barack Obama had worked in the federal government for all of four years. He was not one of those men. More important, however, is that as president he shouldn’t be the chief wonk, speechwriter, and political director.

David Remnick delivers a number of insights about Obama in his book The Bridge. For instance, Valerie Jarrett—think of her as the president’s Karen Hughes—tells Remnick that Obama is often bored with the world around him. “I think that he has never really been challenged intellectually,” Jarrett says. “So what I sensed in him was not just a restless spirit but somebody with such extraordinary talents that they had to be really taxed in order for him to be happy.” Jarrett concludes, “He’s been bored to death his whole life.”

With one or two possible exceptions, that is. Remnick reports that “Jarrett was quite sure that one of the few things that truly engaged him fully before going to the White House was writing Dreams from My Father.” So the only job Barack Obama ever had that didn’t bore him was writing about Barack Obama. But wait, there’s more.

David Axelrod—he’s Obama’s Karl Rove—told Remnick that “Barack hated being a senator.” Remnick went on:

Washington was a grander stage than Springfield, but the frustrations of being a rookie in a minority party were familiar. Obama could barely conceal his frustration with the torpid pace of the Senate. His aides could sense his frustration and so could his colleagues. “He was so bored being a senator,” one Senate aide said.

Obama’s friend and law firm colleague Judd Miner agreed. “The reality,” Miner told Remnick, “was that during his first two years in the U.S. Senate, I think, he was struggling; it wasn’t nearly as stimulating as he expected.” But even during his long, desolate exile as a senator, Obama was able to find a task that satisfied him. Here’s Remnick again: “The one project that did engage Obama fully was work on The Audacity of Hope. He procrastinated for a long time and then, facing his deadline, wrote nearly a chapter a week.” Your tax dollars at work.

Looking at this American Narcissus, it’s easy to be hammered into a stupor by the accumulated acts of vanity. Oh look, we think to ourselves, there’s our new president accepting his Nobel Peace Prize. There’s the president likening his election to the West’s victory in the Cold War. There’s the commander in chief bragging about his March Madness picks.

Yet it’s important to remember that our presidents aren’t always this way. When he accepted command of the Revolutionary forces, George Washington said,

I feel great distress, from a consciousness that my abilities and military experience may not be equal to the extensive and important Trust. .  .  . I beg it may be remembered, by every Gentleman in the room, that I, this day, declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the Command I am honored with.

Accepting the presidency, Washington was even more reticent. Being chosen to be president, he said, “could not but overwhelm with despondence one who, inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpracticed in the duties of civil administration, ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies.”

In his biography of John Quincy Adams, Robert Remini noted that Adams was not an especially popular fellow. Yet on one of the rare occasions when he was met with adoring fans, “he told crowds that gathered to see and hear him to go home and attend to their private duties.”

And Obama? In light of the present state of his presidency, let’s look back at his most famous oration:

The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth. This was the moment—this was the time—when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves and our highest ideals.

The speech was given on June 3, 2008, and the epoch-making historical event to which “this moment” refers throughout is Barack Obama’s victory over Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries.

A senior writer at The Weekly Standard, Jonathan V. Last covered the Obama campaign in 2008.

Voir enfin:

Le mythe de la popularite de Ronald Reagan


Ramadan: Retour sur la charia incomprise (Using the wrong size of stone is against the law)

11 août, 2010
Anti-stoning ad
Comme ils continuaient à l’interroger, il se releva et leur dit: Que celui de vous qui est sans péché jette le premier la pierre contre elle. Et (…) quand ils entendirent cela, accusés par leur conscience, ils se retirèrent un à un, depuis les plus âgés jusqu’aux derniers. Jean 8:7-9
Jésus s’appuie sur ce qu’il y a de plus humain dans la Loi, l’obligation faite aux deux premiers accusateurs de jeter les deux premières pierres; il s’agit pour lui de transformer le mimétisme ritualisé pour une violence limitée en un mimétisme inverse. Si ceux qui doivent jeter  « la première pierre » renoncent à leur geste, alors une réaction mimétique inverse s’enclenche, pour le pardon, pour l’amour. Mais il est périlleux de priver la violence mimétique de tout exutoire. Jésus sait bien qu’à dénoncer radicalement le mauvais mimétisme, il s’expose à devenir lui-même la cible des violences collectives. René Girard
D’abord, vous êtes enterré. Le Code Pénal Islamique dit qu’un homme déclaré coupable d’adultère est enterré jusqu’à la taille; une femme, jusqu’à la poitrine. Si la condamnation est basée sur la confession du prisonnier, selon la loi, c’est le juge présidant le tribunal qui jette la première pierre. Si la condamnation est basée sur le rapport de témoins, ce sont les témoins eux-mêmes qui lancent les premiers, puis le juge, puis les autres – en général d’autres officiels des forces de justice et de sécurité. Les pierres doivent être de taille moyenne selon le code pénal : pas trop grandes pour qu’une ou deux ne suffisent pas à tuer une personne, mais pas trop petites qu’on puisse les appeler des cailloux. En d’autres termes, à peu près la taille d’une mandarine. Toute la procédure prend moins d’une heure.
Un mince espoir pour les lapidés réside dans le fait que ceux qui arrivent à s’échapper de leur trou voient leur peine commuée. Mais cette règle s’applique uniquement pour ceux qui ont confessé leur crime. (Si vous êtes condamné à la lapidation sur la base de témoignages, s’extirper du trou ne sert à rien.) De toute manière, il est très difficile d’échapper à la punition: les prisonniers sont d’abord mis dans un sac en toile blanche avec leurs mains attachées. Christopher Beam
Parce qu’il s’agit d’une injonction divine, la rigueur de cette loi est éprouvante pour les musulmans eux-mêmes. Elle constitue une punition, mais aussi une forme de purification. Il est interdit d’insulter le coupable. Après sa mort, on prie pour lui. Ce que fit le Prophète pour une femme qui s’était livrée après avoir accouché d’un enfant adultérin, et dont le repentir avait été sincère. Hani Ramadan

A l’heure où nos amis musulmans s’apprêtent à fêter pendant tout un mois la fameuse bataille de Badr et la réception du Coran en une sorte, comme à peu près tout le reste, de resucée musulmane de Yom Kippour et Shavouot combinés …

Et pour ceux qui, au moment où comme chaque année nos journaux se dévouent d’un seul homme pour apporter leur petite pierre à l’halalisation de nos concitoyens, s’inquiéteraient encore du sort de cette mère iranienne condamnée à une prochaine lapidation pour « adultère »

Retour sur la célèbre tribune (en une du Monde s’il vous plait!) du frère de Tariq au nom prédestiné (un certain Hani Ramadan, lui aussi petit-fils du fondateur des Frères musulmans) qui avait, à la veille déjà d’une lapidation annoncée mais au Nigéria comme on s’en souvient, dissipé l’incompréhension dont souffre chez nous la charia et rassuré tout le monde.

Rappelant, contre ceux qui prétendent « résumer toute la médecine aux seules amputations chirurgicales », qu’il est « exclu de couper la main du voleur dans un Etat qui ne donne pas à ce dernier les moyens de vivre dignement ».

Et surtout qu' »injonction divine, la rigueur de cette loi est éprouvante pour les musulmans eux-mêmes » qui ont d’ailleurs l’interdiction d’insulter le coupable et l’obligation de prier pour lui  après sa mort

Sans compter, ce que rappelle dument le site Slate, que, ni trop grosses ou trop petites pour qu’elles ne tuent pas trop vite ou trop lentement pour des suppliciés enserrés les mains attachées dans un sac en toile blanche et enterrés jusqu’à la taille ou la poitrine pour les femmes, la taille des pierres est fort heureusement rigoureusement réglementée

La charia incomprise

Hani Ramadan

Le Monde

10.09.02

En Occident, qui voit dans l’application de la charia un retour à des règles moyenâgeuses, les condamnations à mort de Safiya et Amina au Nigeria ont soulevé un tollé. Doit-on comprendre que les musulmans, convaincus du bien-fondé des règles divines, sont des barbares, des coupeurs de mains sanguinaires et des assassins ?

Avant tout, il n’est pas inutile de rappeler que beaucoup, parmi ceux qui crient au scandale, ne réagissent pas devant des crimes d’une autre nature. Dans les capitales occidentales, on n’est guère ému par les rapports qui font état de l’extermination des Tchétchènes, avec son cortège de meurtres et de mutilations.

Personne ne se soucie du sort des enfants handicapés à vie en Palestine, fruit de la terreur et de la lâcheté de la communauté internationale, parce qu’il est plus facile de s’ingérer dans les affaires du Nigeria que dans celles des pays qui exercent au grand jour un terrorisme d’Etat inqualifiable.

A cela s’ajoute une vision caricaturale de la civilisation musulmane. Réduire la richesse de la loi islamique – reconnue par les plus grands spécialistes du droit comparé – aux seuls châtiments corporels, c’est un peu comme si l’on prétendait résumer toute la médecine aux seules amputations chirurgicales. La science médicale comprend une variété de disciplines, allant de la prévention aux traitements les moins éprouvants. Il en va de même pour la charia. Les peines concernant le vol et l’adultère ne peuvent être appliquées que dans une société où sont protégées les normes et les valeurs islamiques. Il est exclu de couper la main du voleur dans un Etat qui ne donne pas à ce dernier les moyens de vivre dignement.

La lapidation prévue en cas d’adultère n’est envisageable que si quatre personnes ont été des témoins oculaires du délit. Ce qui est pratiquement irréalisable, à moins que le musulman choisisse d’avouer sa faute. Avant l’exécution de la sentence, les juristes précisent qu’il lui est toujours possible de revenir sur son aveu.

Une grossesse illégitime peut également entraîner une mise en accusation. Mais en affirmant avoir été contrainte ou victime d’un viol, ou en soutenant que l’enfant est bien légitime, la femme échappera à toute sanction. Dans ce dernier cas, si son époux rejette la paternité du nouveau-né, les conjoints seront définitivement séparés, et elle conservera la garde de sa progéniture.

On le voit : ces peines ont donc surtout une valeur dissuasive. Le prophète Mahomet lui-même faisait tout pour en repousser l’application. Ainsi, lorsque Mâ’iz se présenta au Messager de Dieu en lui demandant de le purifier parce qu’il avait commis l’adultère, ce dernier se détourna de lui. Mais Mâ’iz confessa son erreur à quatre reprises. Dès lors, le Prophète ne pouvait qu’ordonner sa lapidation.

Parce qu’il s’agit d’une injonction divine, la rigueur de cette loi est éprouvante pour les musulmans eux-mêmes. Elle constitue une punition, mais aussi une forme de purification. Il est interdit d’insulter le coupable. Après sa mort, on prie pour lui. Ce que fit le Prophète pour une femme qui s’était livrée après avoir accouché d’un enfant adultérin, et dont le repentir avait été sincère.

La volonté de Dieu, pour les croyants, s’exprime à deux niveaux : dans le livre de la Révélation et dans celui de la Création. Les doctrines juive, chrétienne et musulmane affirment unanimement que Dieu seul est le créateur de toute chose. Or nous demandons : qui a créé le virus du sida ? Observez que la personne qui respecte strictement les commandements divins est à l’abri de cette infection, qui ne peut atteindre, à moins d’une erreur de transfusion sanguine, un individu qui n’entretient aucun rapport extraconjugal, qui n’a pas de pratique homosexuelle et qui évite la consommation de drogue. Par rapport à ces principes de base, seuls s’exposent à la contamination ceux qui ont un comportement déviant.

Avant de juger cette conception moralisatrice et complètement dépassée, je propose simplement que l’on fasse un effort de réflexion : la mort lente d’un malade atteint du sida est-elle moins significative que celle d’une personne lapidée ? Pour le musulman, les signes divins que l’intelligence humaine perçoit se découvrent aussi bien dans l’univers que dans la loi.

Soyons encore plus explicite, au risque de heurter cette fois la sensibilité des partisans invétérés des Lumières. Dans une tradition authentique, le prophète Mahomet annonçait : « La turpitude n’apparaît jamais au sein d’un peuple, pratiquée ouvertement aux yeux de tous, sans que ne se propagent parmi eux les épidémies et les maux qui n’existaient pas chez leurs prédécesseurs. » Qui pourrait nier que les temps modernes, conjuguant le déballage de la débauche sur grand écran et la hantise obsédante d’une contagion mortelle, offrent la parfaite illustration de cette parole ?

En clair, que ceux qui nient qu’un Dieu d’amour ait ordonné ou maintenu la lapidation de l’homme et de la femme adultères se souviennent que le virus du sida n’est pas issu du néant.

Remarquons cependant que l’éthique musulmane nous prescrit de soutenir le malade du sida dans l’épreuve qu’il subit, et qu’il est essentiel de l’accompagner et de le réconforter avec compassion. Remarquons encore que l’islam a encouragé la recherche médicale, le Prophète ayant indiqué qu’à toute maladie, si l’on excepte la vieillesse, correspondait un remède. Il reste que l’épidémie du sida devrait à notre sens, pour être conjurée, nous conduire à une réflexion morale sur le sens de nos responsabilités et sur la nécessité de revenir aux normes susceptibles de préserver notre spiritualité.

Les musulmans sont convaincus de la nécessité, en tout temps et tout lieu, de revenir à la loi divine. Ils voient dans la rigueur de celle-ci le signe de la miséricorde divine. Cette conviction n’est pas nourrie par un fanatisme aveugle, mais par un réalisme correspondant à la nature des choses de la vie. Vivre en paix et en conformité avec l’être et le devoir, tel est le principe de leur engagement, parce que, comme le souligne le Coran, « c’est certes à Dieu qu’appartiennent la création et le commandement ». (7, 54)

Les musulmans savent que la nature leur est soumise autant qu’ils se soumettent à Dieu, mais qu’elle se rebelle en revanche contre eux s’ils enfreignent les lois du Tout-Puissant. Ils ont la certitude que l’homme ne peut se suffire à lui-même, et que la libération des moeurs est à l’origine d’une incommensurable détresse qui touche des millions d’individus. Qui donc aurait le droit de le leur reprocher ?

Voir aussi:

Comment se passe une lapidation en Iran

De la taille des pierres à qui peut jeter la première.

Christopher Beam

Traduit par Holly Pouquet

Slate

Vendredi 6 août 2010

Le Brésil a offert l’asile à Sakineh Ashtiani, une Iranienne reconnue coupable d’adultère en 2006 et condamnée à la peine de mort par lapidation. Il y a quelques semaines, la peine a été temporairement suspendue par les officiels iraniens, mais Ashtiani reste quand même sous le coup de la peine de mort.  Au fait, comment une lapidation se déroule-t-elle?

D’abord, vous êtes enterré. Le Code Pénal Islamique dit qu’un homme déclaré coupable d’adultère est enterré jusqu’à la taille; une femme, jusqu’à la poitrine.  Si la condamnation est basée sur la confession du prisonnier, selon la loi, c’est le juge présidant le tribunal qui jette la première pierre. Si la condamnation est basée sur le rapport de témoins, ce sont les témoins eux-mêmes qui lancent les premiers, puis le juge, puis les autres – en général d’autres officiels des forces de justice et de sécurité. Les pierres doivent être de taille moyenne selon le code pénal : pas trop grandes pour qu’une ou deux ne suffisent pas à tuer une personne, mais pas trop petites qu’on puisse les appeler des cailloux. En d’autres termes, à peu près la taille d’une mandarine. Toute la procédure prend moins d’une heure.

Un mince espoir pour les lapidés réside dans le fait que ceux qui arrivent à s’échapper de leur trou voient leur peine commuée. Mais cette règle s’applique uniquement pour ceux qui ont confessé leur crime. (Si vous êtes condamné à la lapidation sur la base de témoignages, s’extirper du trou ne sert à rien.) De toute manière, il est très difficile d’échapper à la punition: les prisonniers sont d’abord mis dans un sac en toile blanche avec leurs mains attachées.

Les lapidations en Iran étaient publiques par le passé. Entre 1993 et 2000, tout le monde pouvait venir et lancer les pierres. Mais à la suite de cela, un tollé public s’est élevé contre cette pratique et les lapidations sont devenues des affaires privées. Elle ont lieu souvent maintenant à l’intérieur d’un cimetière. En 2002, le principal chef de l’institution judiciaire a même prononcé un moratoire contre les exécutions par lapidation. Mais il s’agissait plus d’une indication qu’un changement de loi, et la pratique de la lapidation s’est poursuivie pendant que les officiels niaient son existence. A l’été 2009, une commission parlementaire a recommandé qu’on abroge la loi autorisant la lapidation, mais le parlement ne l’a pas encore formellement révoquée.  (Vous pouvez regarder le film NSFW montrant une lapidation publique en 1994 ici.)

La loi iranienne décrit trois cas pour lesquels un coupable présumé d’adultère peut être condamné à la lapidation: l’auteur présumé fait lui-même une confession, des témoins attestent de sa culpabilité, ou bien encore le juge prononce la condamnation sur la seule base de sa «connaissance». (Cette dernière est aussi arbitraire que cela en a l’air).  Quand il s’agit de témoignages, un seul ne suffit pas: la cour a besoin de quatre hommes, ou trois hommes et deux femmes.  Si deux hommes et quatre femmes témoignent, l’adultère présumé est seulement passible du fouet.

L’Explication remercie Hadi Ghaemi de l’International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.


Education: L’ingratitude des peuples est décidément sans limites (What’s the matter with France?)

20 décembre, 2009
Betrayed againIl n’est pas surprenant qu’ils deviennent pleins d’amertume, qu’ils s’accrochent aux armes à feu ou à la religion, ou à leur antipathie pour ceux qui ne sont pas comme eux, ou encore à un sentiment d’hostilité envers les immigrants. Barack Obama
Par principe, nous sommes favorables au débat. A sa liberté, à sa pluralité, à son utilité. C’est pourquoi nous refusons le « grand débat sur l’identité nationale » organisé par le pouvoir: parce qu’il n’est ni libre, ni pluraliste, ni utile. Pétition de Médiapart
Moins les personnes interrogées sont diplômées, plus elles souhaitent scolariser leur enfant dans le privé. Ceux qui ont un diplôme supérieur à bac + 2 sont 40 % à émettre ce souhait, les « niveau bac » et titulaires de BEP/CAP sont 55 % et les sans-diplôme sont 59 % à vouloir que leurs enfants soient scolarisés dans le privé. Sondage CSA

C’est chez les enfants d’ouvriers et d’employés que cette demande est le plus forte, car ils n’ont pas d’alternative. Les cadres et professions libérales peuvent se débrouiller pour mettre leurs enfants dans le bon lycée public, offrir des cours particuliers pour compléter, ou accompagner eux-mêmes leurs enfants. Julien Goarant (responsable d’études de CSA)

L’ingratitude des peuples est décidément sans limites.

A l’heure où notre Zorro planétaire nous fait son Sarko mais voit coup sur coup repoussés ses efforts pour offrir les JO à sa bonne ville de Chicago, des centaines de milliards aux kleptocrates africains ou d’ailleurs ou, pour la Noël, son historique « option publique » pour la santé de ses compatriotes …

Et où notre Sarko national nous fait son Obama, mais voit lui aussi dénoncés ses ouvertures aux régimes « voyous » (missions Lang à Cuba et en Corée du nord, accords UMP/PC chinois), ses milliards de dettes nouvelles (pardon: investissements pour l’avenir!), sa certes très soviétique campagne de vaccination qui voit la grippe A « continuer de progresser chez nous (à la nuage de Tchernobyl) tandis qu’elle se stabilise ailleurs », son débat (au sein de son propre parti!) sur l’identité nationale (comme les leçons de savoir-vivre de ses ministres aux encapuchonnés dont le chômage trône à 42%!) ou ses « méthodes fascisantes » et « pratiques coloniales » de renvois des clandestins, sans parler dela mise hors de cause des maitres du délit d’initiés d’EADS et à nouveau de l’amateur de Patek Philippe à 40 000 euros du PS Julien Dray ou de son rapprochement avec le délinquant multirécidiviste qui (au plus haut, il est vrai, dans les sondages à l’heure d’une nouvelle mise en examen) a squatté l’Elysée pendant 10 ans …

Consternation à présent, au pays dont le monde entier envie le modèle si patriarcalement français (21% de fonctionnaires, un policier pour 250 habitants contre 1 pour 380 au Royaume-Uni), avec ce sondage CSA/La Croix révélant, en ce 50e anniversaire de la Loi Debré, la préférence du bon peuple… pour l’école privée!

L’enseignement privé séduirait une famille sur deux en France
Le Monde avec AFP
16.12.09

D’après un sondage CSA pour l’Association des parents d’élèves de l’enseignement libre (APEL) et le quotidien La Croix, 55 % des Français (47 % de parents d’élèves interrogés) souhaiteraient scolariser leurs enfants dans le privé, soit une famille sur deux. Ce désir est partagé par 74 % des sympathisants de droite et 44 % des sympathisants de gauche. « C’est chez les enfants d’ouvriers et d’employés que cette demande est le plus forte, car ils n’ont pas d’alternative. Les cadres et professions libérales peuvent se débrouiller pour mettre leurs enfants dans le bon lycée public, offrir des cours particuliers pour compléter, ou accompagner eux-mêmes leurs enfants », a commenté, mardi 15 décembre, Julien Goarant, responsable d’études de CSA. « Ces catégories, plus que les milieux favorisés, nourrissent leurs enfants de l’idée que l’école va permettre l’ascenseur social », a-t-il expliqué. C’est dans la fourchette de revenus comprise entre 1 000 et 2 000 euros par mois que l’école privée, qui scolarise un enfant sur cinq, est le plus souhaitée, a relevé M. Goarant.

Moins les personnes interrogées sont diplômées, plus elles souhaitent scolariser leur enfant dans le privé. Ceux qui ont un diplôme supérieur à bac + 2 sont 40 % à émettre ce souhait, les « niveau bac » et titulaires de BEP/CAP sont 55 % et les sans-diplôme sont 59 % à vouloir que leurs enfants soient scolarisés dans le privé, relève le CSA. « L’école privée peut donc apparaître, aux yeux des personnes les moins diplômées, comme la possibilité de réduire les inégalités culturelles dont sont victimes leurs enfants et donc comme une meilleure chance d’ascenseur social pour ces derniers », commente CSA.
Quatre Français sur cinq (84 %) pensent que c’est une bonne chose de pouvoir scolariser ses enfants soit dans le public, soit dans le privé. Le clivage politique traditionnel sur cette question s’estompe, puisque cet avis est partagé par 79 % des sympathisants de gauche et par 93 % de ceux de droite.

Le 31 décembre célébrera le 50e anniversaire de la loi Debré, qui régit les rapports entre l’Etat et les établissements privés.

Voir aussi:

Les Français veulent un enseignement libre et accessible à tous
Christine Legrand
La Croix
Le 16.12.2009

Aujourd’hui, la moitié des parents souhaiterait scolariser ses enfants dans le privé, dont ils ont une image très positive, même s’ils ne le trouvent pas encore accessible à tous, en particulier au niveau financier. Tels sont les résultats de notre sondage exclusif CSA/Apel/ »La Croix »

C’est un véritable plébiscite : 84 % des Français (et 88 % des parents d’enfants scolarisés) estiment que la liberté donnée aux parents par la loi Debré de pouvoir choisir entre l’enseignement public et l’enseignement privé pour scolariser leurs enfants est une « bonne chose » (lire le sondage). Certes, ils sont encore un peu plus nombreux à l’affirmer parmi les sympathisants de droite (93 %) que parmi les sympathisants de gauche (79 %), mais les clivages politiques qui étaient autrefois très marqués dans ce domaine se sont estompés.

Une famille sur deux souhaiterait scolariser ses enfants dans le privé
Les Français sont un peu moins nombreux à vouloir eux-mêmes profiter de cette loi pour inscrire leurs propres enfants dans une école privée. Mais le résultat est tout de même étonnant : 55 % des Français (et 47 % des parents d’enfants scolarisés) souhaiteraient aujourd’hui le faire. Sur les quelque 12 millions d’enfants scolarisés en France, l’enseignement catholique n’en accueille pour l’instant que 2 millions, soit environ un sixième ! Ce souhait reste politiquement plus clivé : les sympathisants de droite sont nettement plus nombreux (74 %) que ceux de gauche (44 %) à l’exprimer.

Mais ce désir est également plus fréquent chez les non-diplômés (59 %) que parmi ceux qui ont fait des études longues. L’école privée apparaîtrait donc, aux yeux de ces parents, comme un moyen de réduire les inégalités culturelles dont sont victimes leurs enfants et de leur servir d’ascenseur social. Ce qui signifie aussi, en creux, que l’école publique ne remplit pas suffisamment ce rôle.

Les atouts de l’enseignement privé
Les Français estiment à une très large majorité que les écoles privées assurent un enseignement de qualité (84 %). Ils en confirment aussi les autres atouts : l’importance accordée à la dimension éducative, au suivi personnalisé des élèves, à l’implication des parents dans la scolarité de leurs enfants… La grande majorité des personnes interrogées estime aussi que, comme les y oblige la loi Debré, les établissements sous contrat suivent les programmes de l’éducation nationale et qu’ils sont ouverts aux élèves non croyants comme aux adeptes de toutes religions : tout en conservant leur « caractère propre », ils se doivent en effet d’accueillir « tous les enfants sans distinction d’origines, d’opinions ou de croyances ».

Une majorité de Français moins importante (58 %) estime qu’ils sont ouverts aux élèves en difficulté scolaire. Ce résultat traduit une réalité assez diversifiée de l’enseignement privé : si beaucoup d’établissements accueillent des élèves en difficulté – certains se sont même « spécialisés » dans le rattrapage d’élèves en échec dans le système public –, d’autres sont plus sélectifs.

Un certain élitisme social
L’enseignement privé est également perçu comme étant socialement plutôt élitiste. Seule une minorité de Français (37 % en moyenne, et 27 % des moins de 30 ans) estime en effet qu’il « fait le nécessaire pour être accessible financièrement au plus grand nombre ». Et moins d’un tiers d’entre eux (30 %) pense qu’il « est accessible aux populations défavorisées » (et seulement 17 % des moins de 30 ans).

Si l’acte d’enseignement, selon la loi Debré, doit être gratuit et son financement pris en charge par l’État dans les établissements sous contrat, une participation est demandée aux familles pour couvrir les autres frais (coût du « caractère propre », du culte, etc.), sous forme de « forfait » : selon le secrétariat général de l’enseignement catholique, son montant moyen est de 350 € par an et par élève pour le primaire, 450 € pour le collège et 600 € pour le lycée, auxquels il faut ajouter le prix de la cantine (un repas coûte en moyenne deux fois plus cher que dans l’enseignement public, en raison de subventions inégales des collectivités locales) et les frais de transport. Ce qui représente un coût non négligeable pour certaines familles.

Deux systèmes concurrents
L’enseignement privé peut être ainsi considéré comme complémentaire de l’enseignement public, constituant une alternative, voire un recours possible pour les familles. Mais ce sentiment n’est partagé que par 30 % des Français. Le sentiment dominant est que les deux systèmes entrent plutôt en concurrence : 45 % des Français le pensent. Ce sentiment est encore plus net chez les jeunes (55 % des moins de 30 ans le disent). Un résultat qui confirme une tendance constatée – et souvent dénoncée – par de nombreux spécialistes de l’éducation aujourd’hui : le système scolaire tend à devenir un « marché » de plus en plus « concurrentiel », au risque de s’éloigner de l’esprit la loi Debré, qui garantit le pluralisme scolaire, au sein d’un même « service public » d’enseignement.

Un renforcement des aides de l’État
Pour autant, la grande majorité des Français (67 %) estime que l’État devrait aider l’enseignement privé à ouvrir d’autres établissements ou de nouvelles classes, afin que tous les parents qui le souhaitent puissent y scolariser leurs enfants. Ce souhait est encore plus fort chez les moins de 30 ans (80 %) et les sympathisants de droite (79 %).

Plus particulièrement, les trois quarts des Français pensent que l’enseignement privé devrait pouvoir ouvrir plus facilement des établissements dans les zones d’éducation prioritaire. Ce désir est également formulé depuis longtemps par l’enseignement catholique, parce qu’il considère qu’aller vers les populations les plus défavorisées fait partie de sa mission. Mais aussi parce qu’il a fait preuve de son savoir-faire dans ce domaine. Cela supposerait néanmoins qu’il puisse être, surtout dans ces zones sensibles, davantage accessible à tous.

Voir enfin:

Reportage
L’université Paris-XIII-Villetaneuse, victime d’intrusions et de violences répétées
Maryline Baumard
Le Monde
16.12.09

Il gèle à Villetaneuse et la violence jette un froid. Surtout lorsqu’elle s’abat en plein cours, dans un amphithéâtre d’université. Lundi 14 décembre, il est un peu plus de 15 heures lorsque trois individus s’introduisent dans un amphi de Paris-XIII-Villetaneuse et commencent à chahuter. Un étudiant demande le calme. Invectives. Bagarres. Le bras que lève le jeune homme pour se protéger le visage est lacéré de plusieurs coups de couteau. L’étudiant en droit a été opéré mardi. Et, dans les couloirs, l’émotion qui a saisi une partie des 20 000 étudiants de cette université de Seine-Saint-Denis n’est pas retombée. Les pétitions courent.

Les coups de couteau ont réveillé d’autres souvenirs. Parfois assez récents. « Jeudi dernier, je traverse le campus. En passant à l’endroit des deals (une passerelle difficile à surveiller, lieu de tous les commerces), un groupe d’individus à qui je refuse une cigarette, me traite de « gros pédé ». L’un d’eux ajoute que je peux bien le dénoncer à l’administration, il s’en « bat les couilles » puisqu’il n’est pas étudiant. » Thomas Ribémont, maître de conférences en sciences politiques en est à sa troisième agression verbale depuis son arrivée sur ce campus en 2007.

Coincée entre deux cités, l’université de Villetaneuse est un lieu de squat pour les jeunes des quartiers voisins. Faute d’y étudier peut-être, ils y zonent. Le raconter contribue à stigmatiser l’université, se taire, c’est laisser la violence s’installer. Le choix est cornélien, et chacun le résout à sa façon.

« Oui, c’est l’omerta. Depuis pas mal de temps déjà, on fait comme si rien ne se passe. Je vote à gauche. Je n’aime pas le discours sécuritaire, mais je souhaiterais plus de présence policière », regrette Michel Renault, secrétaire pédagogique de l’institut d’études judiciaires. Une enseignante a demandé à ne pas assurer de cours en fin de journée pour éviter d’emprunter de nuit le bus qui mène à la gare.

En matière de violence, le seuil de tolérance des étudiants, souvent venus des cités, semble se situer un cran au-dessus de leurs enseignants. A l’instar de Faihina Saidani, étudiante en L3 information et communication, ils sont nombreux à se sentir bien « dans cet espace mélangé, où chacun trouve sa place, avec ses différences » et à estimer qu’il « faut arrêter de stigmatiser la banlieue en laissant penser qu’on est plus en danger ici qu’ailleurs ». Soulaiman Khan, en deuxième année d’informatique, travaille souvent jusqu’à 23 heures, et il aime « cette université où les enseignants ont une vraie proximité avec nous. Où on peut se faire aider dès qu’on a besoin ».

Un des points forts de l’établissement – qui propose des formations de pointe, notamment dans les métiers de l’édition – est de diplômer et d’insérer des jeunes issus pour moitié de Seine-Saint-Denis et pour un quart du Val-d’Oise. Avec ses 41 % d’enfants d’ouvriers ou d’employés, Paris-XIII est loin des campus favorisés. Pour Thomas Ribémont, cela rend attachante cette « fac ascenseur social ». « On a tellement envie que ces jeunes s’en sortent. Et eux s’en donnent vraiment les moyens. C’est pour cela qu’il faut qu’on leur offre un bon climat de travail. »

Depuis septembre, une vingtaine de plaintes ont été déposées pour des faits qui se sont déroulés sur le campus. Selon une main courante électronique, mise en place par le président de l’université, Jean-Loup Salzmann, 83 incidents ont été signalés : 10 agressions, 7 dégradations de biens publics, 7 dégradations de véhicules, 14 vols de biens privés et 45 perturbations de cours. « Et tous les incidents ne remontent pas. Ce n’est pas dans la culture universitaire », tempère un professeur.

Comme dit le même enseignant en guise de boutade, « on a tous lu Michel Foucault, alors, demander plus de surveillance ne va pas de soi pour nous ». C’est aussi ce qu’observe M. Salzmann, qui a fait voter le principe d’une carte professionnelle pour les personnels pouvant être contrôlés – projet qui s’est enlisé -, ou repensé l’éclairage des allées. L’idée du président serait de fermer ce campus trop ouvert et de filtrer les entrées. Une réunion aura lieu sur ce sujet à la préfecture, vendredi 18 décembre.

En attendant, « nous avons dévolu trois fonctionnaires à la sécurité, opté pour les services d’une entreprise de sécurité », rappelle celui qui dépense autant sur ce poste « que dans le budget de fonctionnement des laboratoires de recherche ». Et ça ne suffit pas.

Comme l’explique Marcel Dupas, de l’entreprise de surveillance, « nous faisons le maximum, mais compte tenu de la configuration du lieu, il faudrait plus de personnel. Et puis nos agents ne sont pas armés et n’ont pas un rôle répressif ». Mardi, les policiers avaient interpellé un des trois agresseurs présumés ainsi qu’un dealer.

Si 11 milliards d’euros du grand emprunt iront à l’université et si l’on ne parle que de campus d’excellence, un sentiment d’abandon règne à Villetaneuse. « L’Etat doit aussi assumer ses universités de banlieue, peste une enseignante venue de Paris. Avec l’autonomie, l’image est extrêmement importante. »


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