It's sort of hard to believe the Election is actually over, both because of the realization that Bush has won but also because...what are we going to pay attention to for the next three years? It hurts because I feel like Karl Rove is laughing at me. And it hurts because I believed the exit polls that said we were winning. The statistical reason Kerry lost is that he didn't maximize his advantages in the friendly parts of Ohio. The people whose top issues were terrorism and conservative Christian (Note the use of this term as we will not be using "moral" of any of its synonyms in relation to how the South votes) values voted for Bush in a far greater ratio than people whose top issues were Iraq and the economy voted for Kerry.
I have nothing bad to say about Kerry. I think the fact he didn't excite some on the left (I'm looking at you New Republic, Slate and Joel Haas) had more to do with the divisions within the left that were supposedly put aside in this election. We on the left are too adept at internecine warfare to truly believe "Anybody but Bush." And, frankly, we're not very convincing when many of us are saying that we're picking the most "electable" candidate. I liked Kerry a lot and was excited to vote for him Tuesday morning. I think he would have made a great president. If he remains in the Senate maybe he should be the new minority leader. After all, it's his party until the Democrats pick a new nominee in 2008. Plus, based on the debates, I think he intimidates Bush.
The question is, now what? Moping around, doing everything halfheartedly for the next couple of days is pretty much a given. But then it's about figuring out how to fight for the next four years. GOP fuckers can talk of mandate because their party has made steady gains since 1994, controls the entire federal government, got states like Oregon to pass anti-gay marriage ballot measures, and turned the South redder than Eastern Europe circa 1962.
So we have to find a way to resist Bush's extreme right-wing impulses. And that's the crazy thing about this administration. They've governed to the fringes yet were able to, with some success, define the Democrats as outside mainstream. Some will blame the mainstream media for this, but fuck that. The Democratic party failed because for decades it has focused on tactics rather than strategy. The far right has had the same strategy since 1964: organize and remain intractable. Democrats, meanwhile, seem to slide along the spectrum depending on the issue. People like me might say this is practical or even responsive. But if you're not predisposed to vote Democratic it can also look weak and unprincipled.
Much of the online chatter in the last few hours has been about the "values" question. Kos of the famous Daily Kos argues that we need to take back language
. Meanwhile this piece on Slate offers a more secular, if similar idea, that we need to get back to start digging in for the class war
argument, pushing the proposition that the GOP's positions overwhelmingly favor the rich.
But not only do we need to dig on this point, we need to get better at talking about it. We need to fight things like estate tax cuts and dividend tax cuts. We need to draw attention to the fact that Bush's vision for the economy is one where "earned" income, the stuff you work, is taxed but "made" income, the stuff that comes from dead relatives and stocks, is not.
Single-issue religion voters are never going to move. But I think the middle-class voter who is seeing his paycheck become less and less powerful is persuadable. Kerry made this point in the final months of the campaign, but the GOP and the Swift Boat Liars for Mendacity
(thanks Jeff'y) defined him in August, the first time anyone really paid attention. When that happened, he didn't have a shorthand message to fall back on. Therefore Kerry came across as equivocal, which is completely insane. The Dems need to spend the next three years pounding the economic issues, showing how Bush's economic decisions are really a world view favoring the wealthy over the working class. We need slogans, we need shorthand and we need to not back down.
Another thing we have to remember is not to nominate John Edwards in 2008. If it comes down to Edwards vs. McCain that year, I will vote for McCain, and I am located somewhere to the left of Gandhi, according to The Political Compass.
These are random thoughts. I turned off election commentary and have only listened to sports talk radio for the last day, and probably the next few days. It may hurt NPR ratings, but it helps mental health.
When Bush landed on the aircraft carrier, "Mission Accomplished," we felt totally douched. It wasn't until Iowa, when the democratic rank and file picked Kerry, that there was any hope. It was the brief moment before the Rowe machine got going that makes the prospect of 4 more years so much more toxic.
I remember Nixon crushing McGovern for 4 more years [with AFL CIO failing to endorse McG], and Reagan crushing Mondale, and GHWB crushing Dukakis. The first Reagan election was a greater turn to the right than this one.
However, just because it was bad before doesn't mean that it will get better this time.
The heart of the Bush constituency is white, protestant, married people with less than graduate school education, with a little extra for males and gun owners. The social tide is running against them. It seems to have run out in New York, Illinois and California.
Beyond this, nothing more coherent [assuming above was] today.
I think some of Mike's thoughts were pretty on point, as well as the articles he links to. However, more than specific issues and language is the root and principles of the Democratic Party. What does the Democratic Party Stand for? Besides Gay Rights and Abortion Rights, it seems like they make it up as they go along. The Democratic Party needs a couple of Think Tanks to think something up and then believe in it. This used to be the Party of the Big Idea. What is it now? This is the third election in a row this party got its clock cleaned. Why does it deserve to exist?
The Dems do have a problem with letting people know what they stand for, and some of that's for good reason. I hate the necessity for the whole line about "civil unions are ok but you can't call it marriage." It drives me nuts and I can't believe real live politicians actually believe that, but there just aren't many places where someone who's pro-gay marriage can get elected. I'm hoping that over the next few years people will see that the Massachussetts sky hasn't fallen. Then again I'm probably giving most of America too much credit. Some of those bans passed by amazing, ridiculous margins. I realize I'm seeming like a single-issue griper, and it's not even an issue that has anything to do with me really but it's so damn obvious to me what the right and inevitable thing is that it really stands out as a symbol of the backward mindset and the power of the religious right in the USA.
The Dems do have a problem with letting people know what they stand for, and some of that's for good reason. For instance, I hate the necessity for the whole line about "civil unions are ok but you can't call it marriage." It drives me nuts and I can't believe real live politicians actually believe that, but there just aren't many places where someone who's pro-gay marriage can get elected. I'm hoping that over the next few years people will see that the Massachussetts sky hasn't fallen. Then again I'm probably giving most of America too much credit. Some of those bans passed by amazing, ridiculous margins. I realize I'm seeming like a single-issue griper, and it's not even an issue that has anything to do with me really but it's so damn obvious to me what the right and inevitable thing is that it really stands out as a symbol of the power of the religious right in this country.
double post, how embarassing, sorry