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Suzanne Strauber 

41, stay-at-home mom

City: Describe why you didn't like Kerry.

Strauber: I don't know that I didn't like him. I didn't really care to get to know him. I already had established that I was going to vote for someone who had the same morals and convictions I do. And while I wasn't sure of what Kerry's morals and convictions were, I was sure of Bush's. So I wasn't even interested in Kerry.

It didn't really matter to me that this state is Democratic. I'm going to stand up for what I think no matter if it stays Democratic or not. I really don't care.

City: What values does Bush hold that you share?

Strauber: I think the stem-cell research thing is huge. I think he's definitely made the right call on that. And I just think that, in any decision he makes, he doesn't make it on his own. He reverts to God. This is a pretty powerful job, and to think a human could do it on his own is wrong. So I appreciate the fact that he admits that he calls on God to help him make those choices.

City: Obviously religion plays an important role in your life.

Strauber: Yeah, I'm a Christian. And I've grown up that way. Actually, my husband is a born Jew. A New York City Jewish boy. Don't you love it? Not only did I move him to Rochester, but I guess you could say I converted him. [She laughs.]

We are a Bible-based, church-based family. We go to Browncroft Community Church, which is the church I grew up in.

City: Do you feel estranged from liberals? Do you encounter many of them?

Strauber: A lot of people I hang out with are sort of sensitive to what everybody else thinks. It's more like: "You believe this, and it's fine, but we don't really need to discuss it." I don't hang out with people who are confrontational that much.

City: Do you and your husband get into debates about politics?

Strauber: He's a big movie fan, so he saw Fahrenheit 9/11. I didn't see it. I could care less. But he loved it. He came home and was saying, "There's no way we can vote for Bush!" But it's a movie. It's fantasy. That's what movies are about. You go to them to escape the realities of the world. You fall for that, you're crazy. So we had a discussion.

City: What changed your husband's mind?

Strauber: I did. [She laughs.]

City: What do you think were the biggest differences between the two sides in this election?

Strauber: Experience. And Bush is a real guy. I think Kerry might be not so real. He says what he wants people to hear. Bush, on the other hand, may not always be liked for what he says, but he says it anyway.

City: He's taken a lot of flak through the years for how he says things, as well.

Strauber: I think you can come off so polished, so perfect that it doesn't work. When you think of someone "being presidential," you don't want hokey-pokey character. But there's something to be said for someone who maybe doesn't say things perfectly. It makes you realize this is just a man doing a job. He's not trying to come off as "I know everything." And he relies on a higher power. I can't imagine doing that job not having that source of strength.

City:In the values discussion, how do you draw the line between poverty disparity and abortion rights?

Strauber:I think it's personal responsibility. Everything has its consequences. If you make a decision and you choose that behavior or lifestyle, that lifestyle's going to have consequences. And when you can avoid consequences, I think that's really wrong, in any choice you make. I think people need to be taught that. By not teaching people that, and by giving them options to get out of consequences, it just kind of perpetuates the behavior. I'm all about: If you do something wrong, you have to pay for it. If you can get away with stuff, it doesn't teach anybody anything. It's a bad societal standard.

You can apply it to abortion; you definitely can.

City: What about poverty, though? Especially living in Rochester, where you can see these neighborhoods where poverty is so deeply entrenched and concentrated. Were you against some of Kerry's proposals for eliminating tax breaks for the very rich?

Strauber: I think Bush will do something with that, too. I don't know if he really outlined it. But I don't think he's what people say he is, leaning towards the big-business guys.

City:Were you concerned at all about the US's failure to find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

Strauber: Of course. I don't think that's the only reason we're there. But, yes, that's distressing. But because I know that's not the only reason we're there, it doesn't make it all wrong.

City: So what's your take on the occupation?

Strauber: I'm coming to the conclusion that the Iraqi people don't want what we want. There's just such an ingrained feeling for how they live over there, that I don't think they know... opportunity. I don't think they even get that word. I don't think they even know or want what we think they want.

City: Do you think they'd be better off in a democracy?

Strauber: If we're trying to give them the freedoms we have, yes. But I don't think they get it. It's just a different culture. All those tribes. They're not unified at all. And I think it takes more than a war to unify.

City: Where do you see the situation in Iraq heading, now that Bush has four more years?

Strauber: I think it's a start. I don't know how it's going to end. I'm all for starting something and finishing it. I'm not a quitter. So we can't quit. But if we can get some sort of legitimate, pro-people government and let them figure out the details... I don't think we can just go in there and say, "OK, run your country just like we run ours."

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

Strauber: I think they're all in cahoots with each other.

City: Are you concerned that Osama bin Laden is still at large?

Strauber: A New Yorker friend of mine said, "You know, it's just really unbelievable that someone hasn't just walked into a Macy's or something with a bomb." That's not hard to do. So something, or someone, is protecting us. I have to believe that. Because I think these crazies have ways that could allow them to do something as simple as walk into Macy's on a busy shopping day and, boom!

If these people can do something as complicated as get on a plane and all that, they're certainly able to do other silly things. I really think that God's protecting us. I really think so. And when he chooses not to, watch out.

Speaking of Red Voices, election 2004


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