So here we are, post-election, and George Bush has won. A lot of people, Bush supporters and otherwise, are dumbfounded by the numbers. The Republican party
absolutely and surprisingly spanked the Democratic party to a degree that nobody really expected.
I think a lot of my liberal friends felt like the issues were just so amazingly obvious that nobody could possibly vote for George Bush. While Kerry wasn’t the shiniest of all possible candidates, he was a reasonable contender and could certainly do a better job
than Bush. “What argument needs to be made? Isn’t it just obvious that we should toss Bush out of office?”
But the kind of religious Anti-Bush fervor into which the left has been whipped up blinds them to the reasons why people would vote for Bush. And while it’s great for rallying Democratic voters and getting hefty donations, that kind of zeal alienates the
very people that Democrats most needed to reach: undecided centrists.
And the fervor is at a religious level. I’ve had a tremendous amount of fun horrifying people by just implying that I might be Republican (I’m actually an independent). In some parts of San Francisco, a “Bush / Cheney” T-shirt might get you killed. Ironically, by being so sure of the evident nature of their argument, Democrats failed to convince those in the middle, leaving them open to the Republicans, who successfully swooped in and carried them off. (You may love or hate Carl Rove, but he is inarguably effective.)
I hear a lot of people bemoaning our country, thinking about leaving, or complaining that maybe things need to get worse before people wake up. But these are the very sorts of
strategies that cause the Democratic party to shoot itself in the foot. What Democrats need to realize is that if things do get worse in the country, it’s not going to make people vote for them. In fact, it will just serve to encourage rightist, conservative momentum, since people who voted for Bush for security reasons will feel even further justified in voting for more protectionist neo-conservatives in the same thread if they feel further threatened.
What needs to happen instead is that Democrats need to take their head out of the ground and stop whining. Dems didn’t lose this election because a horde of evil election workers decided to disenfranchise them. (I was an Elections Inspector myself for a precinct.) Dems lost the election because more people voted Republican. And they did so because they like Bush.
You can plan on Democrats getting soundly spanked until they can understand why people like Bush and why they’d pick Bush over Kerry. And all of the whining and wars in the world are not going to change that. One of the only reasonable attempts at driving the point home for the common man was a series of “Switchers” ads by the same guy who did the “Switch” ads for Apple. By focusing on people who did like Bush but then were turned off, the ads get under the skin of those likely to vote for Bush. Anything short of a refocusing of the Democratic party towards thinking along these lines – sympathising with (and not belittling) the mid-West and understanding Bush-love – will be permanently disastrous for the party and its beliefs.
And regardless of what your particular political stance is, I think we can all agree the system is healthiest when two strong parties are competing for the hearts and the minds of voters. So for the good of the country, would the Democratic party please wipe its tears off, climb down from its tower, and get to work at understanding and embracing the American people?