And so we’re left with…

Wednesday, 3 November 2004, 12:31 | Category : Politics
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For Democrats and liberals, yesterday’s results are little short of a disaster. Not a disaster for the country – I’m not going to predict the end of civilization because my preferred candidate lost. But the scene was set for Democrats to take the White House, and maybe the Senate too. You had an unpopular President, with an unpopular war, a massive self-indiced budget deficit, a poor environmental record, and controversial positions on health care and social security reform. The Democrats had plenty of money, unlike past campaigns. They had a massively-organized get-out-the-vote effort, which seems to have, along with Republican efforts, succeeded wildly. Unlike previous campaigns, the Democrat candidate had a pretty easy primary season, which was decided early.

And they lost. And while on the surface it looked like a close election, it really wasn’t. They held most of the predictable states – New York, California, Massachusetts – but actually lost ground in some of those. And George Bush became the first candidate in some time to get more than 50% of the popular vote. His popular vote percentage, in fact, was higher than his approval rating. The message is written in big, bold letters – the country has lost interest in the product that the Democratic Party is currently marketing. The Republicans have out-maneuvered, out-messaged, and out-mobilized the Democrats at almost every turn.

So, what now? The country has elected a government that will be, if they’re true to their campaigning, much more conservative than perhaps any US government in the past 70 years. It will be a government with a mandate across the board. And in the near-term, the Democratic Party can be little more than a nuisance factor. So the Republicans have their best opportunity to do the things they’ve claimed they wanted to do for two decades. And the American people will have to assess the results of this mandate they’ve delivered, to see if it’s really what they wanted. But this election speaks to more than domestic issues. For all practical purposes, yesterday’s vote ended to debate over whether the war on terror and the war on Iraq were one and the same. The effect of our national policy, both regarding the response to terrorism and the reconstruction of Iraq, will now be, unequivocally, that Iraq and terrorism are inextricably linked, without the distraction of a national debate. I’m not saying there won’t be people who disagree. I’m saying that the voices of dissent won’t play in the discussion.

And for Democrats? I’ll have more thoughts later. But there is one huge problem for Democrats – the electorate sees them as being on the wrong side of the Culture War – and the Culture War really only has two battles, abortion and gay rights. It’s not that simple, but they’ve allowed the perception to be that simple. And perception is all too often nine-tenths of reality.

(Beltway Traffic Jam)