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Dave Bogdan

54, night security guard

City:Can you describe why you didn't vote for Kerry?

Bogdan: Boy. Well, there's no substance there. The guy was saying anything to get elected. He certainly wasn't connected to the things I believe in.

City: What are some of the things you believe in?

Bogdan: A strong defense would be one. 9/11 changed a lot of minds. But I had very strong feelings on defense 20 years before that.

I was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. What changed me was the last year of the Carter presidency. I supported Jimmy Carter all through his presidency. Then when the hostage crisis came up, I sort of realized that my feelings didn't change until about one year into the Reagan presidency. When Reagan was elected, I was saying the sorts of things Robert Redford was saying: "I'm gonna leave the country." I was off the wall. Here's this cowboy actor. How can he be president?

I think what started changing was, the day Reagan was inaugurated, they gave the hostages back. You sort of wake up and realize what the real world is like. It's very nice for Kerry and everybody on that side of the line to say "We've got to cooperate with the rest of the world. We've got to make nice with people." Well, guess what? That's not the way the rest of the world works. If you piss the big dog off enough, you're gonna get bit.

So that was kind of a watershed moment. And from there, I became steadily more conservative. From living in this one area in the inner city, from being involved in different things on the Democratic line --- and that's what city politics is --- you can't just keep giving money to people who either won't work or won't straighten up their life, and try to maintain a minimum standard of living.

City: Do you know many of these people?

Bogdan: Yeah, casually. I see them walking around the neighborhood. We're nice to each other. We talk. And, believe me, I've had my stints on unemployment. But I've always worked. And that's what pisses off that large red area in the center of the country.

When we build a low-income housing unit, for instance, in the town of Nunda, all that's doing is taking what rural people feel should be the city's problems and moving those people out there. Well, guess what? The county's got to pick up the tab for that, right? So their property taxes get raised. It ties in to that two-part article you guys ran with the Cornell University professors ("Ailing in Upstate," October 27 and November 3,

But when you get down to root causes, the Democratic Party stands for income redistribution. They're gonna take it away from people who they think have enough to give and they're gonna give it to people who don't have enough.

City: Of course, there's the argument that we're all in this together. That people in rural areas simply can't afford to ignore their cities, because we all stand to lose when cities falter.

Bogdan: I think real effort has to get put into job creation. It's tough for the government to create jobs, other than to create an atmosphere where businessmen can come in and start businesses and create jobs. They're not gonna create $12-an-hour jobs right off the bat. Most of the people who work where I do security, I don't know what they make, maybe $8, $9 an hour. And a lot of them are driving from the Batavia area to come in.

City: The economy, especially in terms of employment, has not been well under Bush's watch.

Bogdan: No. But look at the Democratic Party. A very large part of their base is the labor union vote. Why they did not nominate [US Representative Richard] Gephardt... That was a huge mistake. He would have drawn far more than Kerry. He had a lot more in the tank than John Kerry. And they sort of slapped the labor unions right in the face by not nominating Gephardt.

I'm of the feeling that this whole thing was just a dry run for [Chairman of the Democratic National Committee] Terry McAuliffe to nominate Hillary Clinton as the next presidential candidate for the Democratic Party.[Hillary Clinton] didn't want to run against an incumbent in a time of war.

I cannot believe that Terry McAuliffe is still running the Democratic National Committee. That's astounding. As I recall the history of it, after Clinton left the presidency, they had the DNC meeting in Atlanta a month later. It was all in the cards for the retiring black mayor of Atlanta to be the head of the DNC. Then the Clintons and Terry McAuliffe blew in there, and on the second day of a three-day convention, they announced that Terry McAuliffe was going to take over the party.

I mean, how many times can you crap on the people who support you? The blacks turn around and give the Democrats almost a 90 percent turnout. And this last election can only be described as a bloodbath.

I'm reading some of this stuff in USA Today, some of the stuff the Democrats are saying. And they still don't get it. They can't understand how they were scorned by a bunch of hicks in the center of the country.

City: A lot of people in New York and California were shocked by the outcome of this election.

Bogdan: Here's one big reason Kerry lost Ohio: the letter-writing campaign from the Manchester [UK] Guardian. You're getting letters from a newspaper in a foreign country saying: "You guys realize we think George Bush is an asshole and you shouldn't vote for him." That might have worked if you sent it to Hollywood or most of the boroughs in New York, but it's not gonna work if you send it to Ohio. People found it insulting. They're under the impression that we settled the manner of how we vote and who we vote for in 1776.

Bogdan: So which Bush messages really hit home for you?

City: Well, I just have the feeling Bush is a good man. I think he's stubborn. And I think he can be downright mad-dog mean. But I think he is a better man than Kerry. He's certainly a better man than I am. He changed his life around from the rich playboy type of kid....

My son was stationed in the service down in Ft. Hood when Bush was governor of Texas. And he gave me some very good reports on the way Bush got people to work together. The other thing is: The trial lawyers have been attacking Bush ever since he was governor of Texas. They absolutely hate him. And, like, I don't brake for trial lawyers. That's just the way I feel about it.

The Democrats put a guy on the ticket --- John Edwards --- who I would describe as a major-league ambulance chaser. This guy's gonna talk about reforming the health-care system and giving health care to everybody? One of the reasons why doctors have to charge the prices they do, or else they pack up and just leave a state like New York or Florida where there's a lot of litigation, is because they can't afford to stay in business.

City: You've mentioned the importance of a strong defense program. Some critics point to negative foreign attitudes towards Bush --- like the people in the UK who were writing folks in Ohio --- as an indication of our precarious position in the world.

Bogdan: When there's heavy lifting to be done in the world, the United States is gonna do it. The other power that's going to be doing it in the next 25 years is China. What we should be doing is opening up some sort of treaty negotiations or joint exercises between China's military and our military, so when things come up....

Like this crap that's going on in Sudan. You can send one armored cavalry regiment from our military over there and clean that up. Or you can go to the UN and we can all talk about it, and all the diplomats can take their cuts for having their military forces go in there. Screw you. If people are dying, you should get forces on the ground. These things should be treated as police actions.

Look at Rwanda during the Clinton administration. PBS did an excellent series on that, Ghosts of Rwanda. It's amazing. We knew it was going on. The Canadian general, the guy who was commanding the force, was actually told to disarm his soldiers. "We don't want any confrontation." You have a bunch of guys armed with small arms and machetes and they massacred thousands of people. That's what a rapid deployment force is for.

City:Do you feel as estranged from liberals as Kerry supporters seem to feel from conservatives?

Bogdan: Eh... I feel like I went through a metamorphosis. I know the way it affected me. When Reagan won I was screaming. Then I realized, when this guy took office they gave the prisoners back. And it wasn't because they wanted to embarrass Carter. They gave the prisoners back because they knew they were gonna get the shit popped out of them. That's what you have to project around the world.

Go back to the days of the Roman Empire. Look at the way Rome had to govern. The BBC did a series called I, Claudius years ago. And it showed that, when you're at the top of the food chain, the way you keep things going is, you keep everyone afraid of you.

It would be an interesting corollary to look at how the Romans ruled the Middle East when they had it, when it was a lot more fragmented and bloody.... If you're on the top of the food chain, you've got to stay on top of the food chain. I don't think America has enough wealth to go into South America and try to say, "Well, we're gonna raise the standard of living in Brazil. We're gonna clean up Rio de Janeiro." It can't be done. A lot of those people are doomed.

City: So what's the alternative?

Bogdan: I don't know. You keep your country strong, that's for sure. And there again, you're getting into a basic difference between Bush and Kerry. People in the solid center of the country think that Bush is gonna keep the interests of Americans at heart. Then they look at Kerry, who's saying we should really be looking at solving some of the base causes of poverty and then people wouldn't hate us so much. That kind of sounds like we're gonna be shipping money and resources over to Africa or the Middle East. Well, wait a minute: We didn't elect you to be president of Botswana. We elected you to be president of the United States.

City: Bush's tax policy has been criticized for favoring the very wealthy. And in some regards, people are surprised to see blue-collar folks voting for Bush, because they feel they're voting against their own interests.

Bogdan: The wealthy pay a hell of a lot more in taxes than I do. I think there's probably a lot of people in Middle America, in "the red zone," who are looking at this and saying: "John Kerry and John Edwards are screaming about the disparity between the rich and the poor, their two Americas." I think a lot of the people in the red zone don't really want to hear that. They're trying to make it their own way. Why do they want the president to go after some millionaire and tax him so they can get some money back? They don't really want that.

City: Because it would be perceived as a hand-out?

Bogdan: That's one thing. But a lot of this relates back to the Christian philosophy. It can be broken down to the Lord's Prayer: "Give us this day our daily bread." It doesn't say: "Give us this day our daily bread and go to my neighbor and get that apple pie off his window sill."

They have to break down and understand the way Middle America is thinking. And I'm not sure a lot of the Democratic leaders can do that. There are good people in the Democratic Party. But I don't think there are people who can actually understand that.

City: On what issues do you think there is some common ground between Democrats and Republicans?

Bogdan: As long as the Democratic Party is being led by people like the Clintons and Terry McAuliffe, there's very little.

Believe me, you've got good people in the Democratic Party. [Congresswoman] Louise Slaughter is a pretty damn good person. Do you hear her talking about Democratic policies anymore? Not really. Because that party basically has been taken over, and until you exorcise the people who are running it....

Ted Kennedy is another big problem. In 1982, I was working in a small machine shop in Buffalo. My boss came in one day and said: "You know, I was listening to Ted Kennedy the other day on the TV. He was talking about how we had to raise taxes because we needed all these social services, and we had to pay for the infrastructure that has to be created to maintain this great society."

Ted Kennedy was actually saying back then that he didn't think Americans were taxed enough. Kennedy said: "Take your average American family making $40,000 a year." He said this in 1982. He actually thought the average American family was making $40,000 a year in 1982. Change his meds.

City: Did religion play any role in this election for you personally?

Bogdan: Yeah, it certainly did when looking at the two men.

When the race was still in doubt, and I'd get together with my friends, who are also Bush supporters, we said many, many nasty things about John Kerry. But he's not the devil. He's not even working for the devil. He's working for Terry McAuliffe. Now, Terry McAuliffe is probably working for the devil. [He laughs.] He's basically running the party into the ground. He regards issues as something to gain votes. It's like these stories floating around about the Democrats going into nursing homes and having Alzheimer's patients fill out absentee ballots in Florida. The felon vote. Come on. That's not going to fly in Middle America. You're registering felons?

City: And this leads to the values discussion, which has become rather large since the election. Were you surprised by the importance values played in this election?

Bogdan: There was this great divide. And these people said: "Hey, we believe Bush has values. And we're not sure what Kerry has, but they're not values."

City: But, when it comes to values, how do you draw a line between, say, affordable health care and gay rights?

Bogdan: I don't think people believe affordable health care is something the government can provide. We've got it for the elderly and retired. But when you get into affordable, government health care, the Canadian system is something conservatives mention a lot. It's like: "Yeah, that's national health care. Wait six months to see a doctor."

The people who are paying the taxes in New York State, for instance, see things in the paper that say we have to pay [15] percent of the [Monroe] County budget for Medicaid. It's obvious that's not working. There are a lot of working people who are doing without health insurance. And then they see something in the paper that says more than [15] percent of the county tax burden is for Medicaid. It's like: "Well, I can't afford it for myself. Why am I being taxed for this?"

If you're a property owner here and you have kids, you get out of the city because you don't want your kids in city schools. So you go to whatever suburb you can afford. You get out there and you're told by the Democratic candidates that we'll have to raise property taxes to help the urban area as a whole. That's why [Rochester Mayor] Bill Johnson took it in the chops in the last election [for county executive]. All you have to do is mention metro government to turn people off.

City:That election was basically a referendum on consolidation, and it failed miserably.

Bogdan: Yeah. And I think, again, this goes back to religious faith. You can't have religious faith explained by the Unitarians. They don't have a religious faith. I'm not sure what they have anymore. They sort of have a discussion group with some mumbo jumbo. If you want to learn about religious faith, you have to go out into the religious community.

City: You spend much time yourself doing that?

Bogdan: Actually, no. My church is Oatka Creek. I'm out in the trout stream. I commune with the powers that be.

City:Where do you stand on the litmus test issues: abortion rights, gay marriage...

Bogdan: Abortion is something that really has to be discussed. There are economic aspects of it, too. From the standpoint of the Religious Right, abortion is murder. That's the end of the story. The liberals say it's a woman's right to her body, and we should be able to do that, it's just a growth. It's like: No. If you wanna talk that stuff, take it down to Hollywood. Because that's not the way we're gonna do it in Middle America.

If abortion is just a matter of convenience for a woman, that's a deal breaker. You're not gonna get support from the Religious Right. But, on the other hand, just from the standpoint of the economics of society.... I mean, there are kids in this neighborhood who basically start their mating rituals at 12 years old. If you spent time here, you'd see it. Teenage kids have always thought about sex. But in this neighborhood, except for all the rain, this would have been a long, hot summer. And if we're going to provide abortions for teenage girls because they're too stupid not to have babies.... Wow. You can't get that by Middle America.

How can Kerry say that life begins at conception but then say he doesn't feel he has a right to tell a woman what to do with her body? You can condone a woman the right to murder her fetus, but you don't support the death penalty for murderers or rapists or people who do violent crimes? It's a mortal flip flop. A mortal wound.

City:Were you concerned by the US's failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

Bogdan: We'll find 'em. They might not be in Iraq anymore, but they're around. And I think they actually have a pretty good idea where they are.

Those are open borders. I think the weapons of mass destruction were definitely there at one point.

City:Do you think Saddam Hussein played any role in 9/11?

Bogdan: He might have had some incidental involvement. Some of the planning might have taken place in Iraq. He might have provided a safe harbor. Though, it's also been said that he didn't want these guys in his country because he saw what they did in Afghanistan. And a dictator will never want another armed group entering his territory.

All the Middle Eastern leaders saw what happened to Lebanon. I talked to a guy about 12 years ago; a guy working at one of the 7/11s in Fairport. I stopped for a cup of coffee and asked where he was from. He emigrated from Lebanon in 1988. He had a hatred of Palestinians and Yasser Arafat. He said: "We had a beautiful country. And when the Palestinian refugees came in there, they basically took over the country."

If you look at any leader, whether it's Hussein, the guys in Iran, the ruling family in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria... they tolerate the terrorists because maybe they provide a natural outlet for the frustrations of their own people, or maybe it's just too much of a bother to actually drive these people out and kill them.

City:Are you concerned that Osama bin Laden is still at large? Did it bother you that Bush once stated he didn't spend much time thinking about him?

Bogdan: Nah. The statement Bush made, it was something that needed some context. What he was talking about was shutting down the whole network rather than going out and hunting down one man.

And that's kind of the way we destroyed the mafia in this country, too. You go after the top guys when you can get them. Now there's something: George W. Bush as Eliot Ness. Give that one over to [This Modern World cartoonist] Tom Tomorrow.

City: What news sources do you typically turn to?

Bogdan: Usually USA Today. I don't have cable. So when it comes to TV, it's either channel 31 or 21. I'll turn over to Dan Rather occasionally, just to see what he's up to.

City:What's your opinion of mainstream news coverage?

Bogdan: It's definitely polarized. That's obvious to everyone in America. Look at the shenanigans CBS pulled off and then look at Fox, which is openly supporting Bush. They're coming at it in the guise of "we're telling the other side of the story." But maybe that's a good thing, too. That's democracy at work.

I thought it was interesting when Fox was going to air Stolen Honor. You saw one of the hallmarks of liberalism: "we'll sue." They got the lawyers together on behalf of some stockholders and said: "You are cheapening our stock price by doing this. You are hurting us economically by taking this course of action." I wonder if a similar case could have been made against CBS.