Okay, I’ve been reading a fair number of blogs lately (including my own), and I guess it occurs to me that some of this does sound a bit chicken little-like. Maybe we need to take a moment here to take stock and to calm down a bit.
Sure, I’m disturbed that people seemed to vote for Bush because a) they’re too stupid, b) they’re too afraid (despite the fact that they’re voting for the guy who made them afraid), c) they’re full of hate, and/or d) they felt like they were voting for God’s candidate. There are a couple of very good op/ed pieces in the NYT right now about all this.
Still, it isn’t as if this all happened over night, either. For one thing, most of the polls before the election gave the edge to Bush. So I guess I’m sort of surprised that I was surprised– maybe I was just in denial before.
For another, we were pretty much a right wing/red versus blue state nation on Monday, too. (Though, as I point out here, there are compelling reasons to think that we’re actually a purple nation). And really, that’s not too surprising given our origins. I mean, the Europeans who started coming here 500 years ago were religious nuts and capitalist pigs intent on exploiting resources. These people have always been a part of us (and us them, for that matter). It’s just that every once in a while, these nut jobs run the show.
It also seems to me that it’s possible to make the argument that what happened on Tuesday isn’t really a “moral referendum” per se; what happened is the democrats just “lost” because the republicans ran a better campaign. We had a lot of faith in getting young people and other first time voters to the polls, but despite the pictures the showed on TV, not enough of them turned out. The dems had this big and flashy rock n’ roll tour to get people on their side, and the repubs went low-key and to traditional places like churches and such. But it turns out that, despite the efforts, young people don’t vote– or, perhaps more accurately, there just aren’t enough of them to make that much of a difference. The dems probably would have been better if we could have gotten “stars” like Bob Barker, Andy Rooney, and/or Andy Griffith (is he still alive?) to go out and do a tour for Kerry in retirement communities. (Imagine the crowds screaming “Matlock for Kerry! Matlock for Kerry!”)
And of course, there always has been Kerry’s personality problem. I’m not trying to say that Kerry wasn’t the best candidate for the dems to put forward– he won the primaries fair and square, and I think any sort of argument along the lines of “maybe we should of gone with Howard Dean” is just not fair. But Kerry did have a problem… connecting, I think. Bush is a big idiot, but he’s also comes across as a simple and a “nice guy.” Kerry is smart, but he out-thinks himself too much and he doesn’t seem approachable. I heard some pundit on some show talking about how since the 60s, the candidate who has the broadest “popular” appeal is the one that wins. And even though he’s a rich bastard from a political dynasty family (not to mention the President), Bush won the “who would you want to have a beer with” contest.
Well, we’ll see what happens. A number of people have pointed out that had Kerry gotten in there, he would have been blamed with the mess that Bush made in Iraq and beyond. That will probably help the dems in 2008.
Now I gotta go shop for a “Don’t blame me– I voted for Kerry” and/or a “Hillary 08” bumper-sticker….