To the Editor:

I write in response to Brian Cook’s column, (“Before leaving for Canada, take a look at us,” 11/4). As I was one of the friends he quoted to open the article, I’d like a chance to point out how simplistic and misguided his comments are.

My faith in the American people has, indeed, crumbled. Mr. Cook somehow makes the leap from my disgust to inferring my belief that “[my] way is the only way.” He goes on to say that I must believe that “everyone who disagrees with [me] is less intelligent, totally ignorant or generally evil.” I am currently a graduate student at the University of Michigan, the campus of which is just as liberal but not quite as well-informed as Yale’s. As a result, I have heard over and over again the same over-simplified, knee-jerk liberal arguments against President Bush. Mr. Cook’s arguments certainly match these for their puerility and short-sightedness.

This election dealt, in part, with issues that are fundamental to the fabric of American society. Entering Election Day, I was confident that the America in which I thought I reside could not re-elect this president. I was proven wrong. The nation chose a president who, after bucking centuries of precedent to pre-emptively invade a nation, failed to have a coherent exit strategy to quickly secure an effective, just peace; who, in an effort to drive voter turnout, supported an amendment that, for the first time since the 1860s, would encode bigotry in the United States Constitution; who had a continually egregious record on education and health care; who exhibited fiscal irresponsibility almost unprecedented in the Oval Office; and who repeatedly demonstrated a firm disbelief in the importance of allies.

These policies have, in my mind and in the minds of many others, gone directly against what we believe to be critical values of the United States. We, evidently, were wrong, and, therefore, we express dismay. At what point, in politics, did it become “arrogant and self-righteous” to, upon studying issues and informing oneself as much as possible, decide that a vote for a certain candidate was an incorrect vote? This concept should be even easier to accept during this, the most divisive presidential election in recent history. There is a reason we heard the phrase “most important election of our lifetime” over and over again this year: The issues at question were fundamental. I know my own values, and it is now clear that the majority of the American people does not share them. I must now reassess what exactly I believe about the nation I love so much.

Mr. Cook’s own arrogance is alarmingly clear as he lists reasons to vote for Mr. Bush that are not hard to agree with and then, based simply on those arguments, declares the debate over. I recognize that there were some supportable justifications for voting for Mr. Bush, and I certainly never stated or implied the contrary; I simply maintain that Mr. Cook has, as many columnists on shaky ground do, ignored 80 percent of the questions at issue. In discussions with conservative friends much more well-informed than Mr. Cook, I have found myself pausing to consider the possible benefits of a second Bush administration. I believe, unfortunately, that the average Bush voter did not analyze the issues even as well as Mr. Cook has and, instead, voted on fear and on bigotry. For that, my faith in my fellow Americans crumbles.

Tyler Mann ’03

Nov. 5, 2004