Some attendees were driven by spiritual conviction that seamlessly encompassed faith in two messiahs, Jesus and Bush. For the true believers, Bush is a man of wonder-working powers. Jason Cole, a 22-year-old senior at the University of Iowa, grew enamored of Bush when he heard his earnest, simple talk of God during the 1999 presidential campaign. Cole says he has little interest in working in politics beyond the 2004 election. "I do it," he explained simply, "because I love President Bush."
If Bush and his successors remain in power for the next decade, Cole believes, we'll have a world "where leaders say what they mean and follow it up ... millions and millions will enjoy the freedoms that our forefathers fought for. Democracy will spread across the world. Iraq was a phenomenal start. In Africa, the United States is helping Liberia and giving AIDS relief. Soon, they'll be back on the economic track. People now living in squalor will experience a home-owning boom like that following World War II. Look at how Staten Island was developed ..."
The College Republican leadership echoed this pious optimism. Paul Gourley, the party's treasurer, is a chiseled, broad-shouldered 21-year-old from South Dakota. "I am religious, and my religious beliefs steer me towards this party," he says. Bush is somebody "students can identify with, somebody students can follow. His energy, his passion for America and freedom and his religious beliefs ... I think he's going to be one of history's great presidents. We're all honored to live during this presidency."
He's all theirs. And wouldn't the recent betrayal by his cult followers be enough to explain the petulance we hear about these days?
Your turn now.