Well, it's over . . .
This is the second presidential election in a row I've watched from an out of state motel room - I've got to find a way not to travel so much.
This is the second time the power elite in the Democratic party have acted like contentious, litigious, whiny spoiled children. I'll forgive them getting bent out of shape over a 500 some odd vote margin in Florida in 2000 (although, it was 500 votes even after a concerted and successful effort by Florida's Democratic party in 2000 to throw out thousands of military absentee ballots that would have substantially increased GW's lead. The Dem's excuse was that the military postal system at the time didn't postmark military mail, so the letter of the law required those ballots be discarded. Let every vote be counted indeed . . . This is the same party getting all worked up about letting convicted felons vote in Florida. What does it say about a political party when it has more regard for the vote of thieves, rapists and murderers than it does for the vote of soldiers?)
This time, though, was different. 140,000 votes in Ohio is not a close election. As commentators pointed out fairly regularly, Gerald Ford conceded when he lost Ohio by 8000 votes. I'm glad that Kerry showed some class (12 hours too late, but at least he did), and ignored his advisors who had been all over TV the night before promising litigation over the vote in Ohio, apparently based on the hope that 95% or so of the provisional ballots there could be made to come in for Kerry. (And, as an aside, what does it say about voters when, in carrying out their most important responsibility as citizens, they can't figure out where to go to vote and remember to carry their driver's license with them? Why are we coddling these people?)
I feel like the Dems are missing the point in this election. Yes, its true that a lot of socially conservative evangelicals turned out for this one, and GW would have lost without them, but:
- The numbers show that the conservative evangelical turnout just about balanced out the Dems get out the vote drive. Millions of infrequent voters on both sides were brought to the polls, which still left the decision in the hands of the moderate middle.
- The Dem's talking heads keep talking about responding to the results by recasting the Democrat's "progressive" economic policies in moral terms (e.g., a higher minimum wage = a moral crusade to give the little man a decent living.) What a dumb idea - the people who are likely to be swayed by that argument - whether in moral terms or in strictly economic ones - already vote Democratic. The socially conservative voters who voted Republican on the issues of gay marriage, gun control, and abortion aren't going to be turned around by a political consultant who tries to manipulate their sense of right and wrong over the minimum wage.
- However, let's hope that the Dems do try moving a bit more towards the center on values. Maybe the nicest thing that could come out of the Democratic soul searching would be to see them distance themselves from the Hollywood liberal political crowd. One of the things that makes me happiest about the election is the realization that, as dumb as the power elites in this country think we all are, and as dumb as we actually are sometimes (see Jimmy Carter), we aren't so dumb as to elect anyone president because Barbra Streisand, Leonardo Dicaprio, and Eminem tell us to.
- At the end of the day, I suspect George W Bush is president because - when it actually came to crunch time - the moderate center of this country was honestly scared of what would happen if Kerry were president. This time "It wasn't the economy, stupid." If something goes wrong with the economy, we can fix it. The war with Wahhabism, Muslim extremism and most of the religious yahoos in the Middle East and Central Asia (however often that war is packaged as the more politically correct "war on terror" ) is a defining moment for our society, our culture and our nation, and we have to win it - even if it upsets the French. I don't think that Kerry ever really got that. This election was a gut check for our country, and I'm happy that if we had to make the choice, we chose the cowboy over the wimp.
That doesn't mean that I'm happy with all of Bush's policies. I'd like to see a politician at least try to wean us all a bit from the public teat, instead of throwing money around for more wet nurses. I'm sick of seeing the Republicans and Democrats arguing over who should be the beneficiary of public largesse (should seniors get a Medicare drug benefit? should corporations get subsidies? should homeless people get to live in the suburbs?) instead of arguing for a more minimal approach to government. I'm concerned about the civil liberties of US citizens under the Patriot Act (like the RICO acts before it, which were passed solely to deal with "organized crime", its only a matter of time before the Patriot Act is applied to anyone government officials suspect of any criminal activity or just suspect of thinking differently.) And I frankly don't like the Republican approach to the environment. I don't understand why businesses shouldn't pay the cost of not messing up my backyard and factor that expense into the cost of their goods and services just as they would any other production cost (not that I'd be in favor of blindly sycophantic acts like signing the Kyoto protocols either.)
However, with all that said, we're at war, the stakes in this war are likely to be nothing less than the continued ascendance of western civilization over the barbarian horde and we need to be in it to win - and only one of the two candidates for President got it. Thank God and the good sense of the American people that he won.