The Most Difficult Post
Hard work and hopes die hard when reality hits you in the face. After watching hours of cable and network TV coverage, most of it fairly adequate but totally mediocre by the way, I have reached several conclusions that I want to get off my chest, regardless of how the Kerry gambit works in Ohio overnight.
First, forget exit polls. The White House earlier in the day said that the AP-run exit poll that Slate and others were using undercounted Republicans. I donít know enough about exit polls to know whether this is even possible, and since it came from the White House I summarily ignored it. But it is clear when you look at what Slate was reporting earlier today about several states being very close, it was utter garbage.
Second, forget the talk about the youth vote coming out for Kerry. According to preliminary data from NBC, the portion of the vote that was 18-29 in 2004 (17%) was the same as the 2000 number. So if this is true, I donít want to hear about expensive or hip turnout efforts aimed anymore at young voters. They donít turn out. And if they donít turn out in this election, when they can likely find their asses being sent to Iran next year, then I donít want to hear any whining from them about it. If you donít vote, then screw you.
Third, forget the talk about how a large turnout helps the Democrats. Although there may be evidence that overall turnout was up this year, it appears that Rove was right that it was up primarily amongst the religious right. In other words, Bushís Cult came out today in droves. All the expensive and hip GOTV efforts that ACT and MoveOn and the like produced failed to generate enough new Democratic voters to offset what Rove was able to do with the Cult through the churches. And it is not even clear that turnout was even up this year.
Fourth, and on a related point, we Democrats have to face a depressing set of facts: the religious right and the Cult controls this country. By cleverly placing gay marriage bans on the ballots in several key swing states, Rove was able to ensure that the values issues would overcome pocketbook or war concerns and drive up the vote amongst the right wing base at a time when a majority indicated concerns about Iraq, the economy, and the direction of the country were paramount to them.
Fifth, the Democrats cannot cede the entire South and the Midwest to the GOP and expect to win national elections. This isnít to say that Zell Miller was right, but it is still true that John Kerry and John Edwards failed to make a dent in the GOP southern block, and it can be argued that Gore and Lieberman clearly ran better south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Plus, it turns out that what Rove knew was correct all along: with the population and demographic shifts in the electorate between 2000 and 2004 where up to 7 electoral votes shifted to red states, Bush never had to take a blue state this year from Kerry, all he had to do was keep his states from 2000. It was incumbent upon Kerry to grab enough red electoral votes from 2000 this year to offset that 7 EV shift, and he and his message didnít do it.
Sixth, even if Kerry wins his gambit in Ohio by overtaking Bush through the counting of provisional ballots, and even if the still-to-come in California vote erases a part of Bushís popular vote lead right now, Kerry has to face the fact that he and Edwards got their heads handed to them in Florida, and this wasnít about Jeb stealing anything this time.
The bigger problem is that even if Kerry somehow wins Ohio and runs the table to an Electoral College win over Bush, he will not have won the popular vote and may have lost it by more than a percent or two. If so, and given the gains the GOP made in the House and Senate, a Kerry presidency will be immediately beset by a hostile Congress, and gridlock and harassment will ensue. In essence, Kerry will be crippled before he gets out of the gate and will have no mandate at all.
I donít like bringing all of these things up, and especially if the Ohio gambit works. And we can dissect what happened in this campaign, and why, in the coming days. If this campaign was lost by the Democrats, it wasnít lost due to widespread voter suppression and disenfranchisement, or lost votes, or a Supreme Court involvement that goes beyond the pale. You canít gripe or complain away a 2-3 million vote loss that way. This race was lost, if it was lost, because millions of religious single issue cult-like voters turned out to vote in red states for a man they have unyielding faith in, even if that man and his party are about to lead this country into an abyss. And the Democratic Party has built an electoral strategy around a base and geography that cannot compete with that cult at this time in our history. People much smarter than I can argue about why a minority in this country can take over a major political party, marginalize its moderates, and still win 50-51% of the electorate at a time of an unpopular war, mediocre economy, and a questionable future for our children.
Sure, the GOP will immediately enter into a civil war, and inevitably George W. Bush will cause irreparable harm to this country in the next two years with a GOP House and Senate that will rubber stamp every mistake he makes. And yes the Democrats will rebound in the 2006 midterms as the GOP suffers from the second-term implosion. But by then, the harm to our social fabric of having the religious right gain total control over our social and foreign policies and judicial appointments, while the economic elites savage our communities, environment, and economy for private gain over public interest will be incalculable and significant. Yet that is what a majority of those who voted tonight wanted. So the voters deserve what they are about to get. No excuses.
This may sound like sour grapes to many of you, but so be it. My congrats to Karl Rove and Mr. Bush for running a disciplined and thoroughly disgusting and deceitful campaign, of which they are expert at. My congrats to our freeper brethren for the joy and arrogance they feel tonight. To the victors go the spoils, or as Dick Cheney believes, it is their right to do what they want now.
My thanks to John Kerry and John Edwards and their families and the campaign for doing a good job. You made the mistake of trying to run on principle and disappearing for the month of August, and for not having any strategy to reach out to moderates and the South, thinking mistakenly that our base would turn out in sufficient numbers to offset the Cult and the electoral shifts between 2000 and 2004. It may still work in the Electoral College depending on what happens in Ohio, but there will be no mandate or frankly any real legitimacy for a Kerry presidency due to the several million vote loss in the popular vote.
And lastly, my apologies to Gallup and the other pollsters that I criticized during this campaign when I couldnít believe that there would be a 5% advantage for the GOP amongst likely voters. Even if the margin turns out to be 1-2% for Bush over Kerry in the end, Gallup ended up pretty close to the final Bush margin, regardless of whether or not there were 5% more self-identified Republicans than Democrats. Weíll have to check the complete exit polls in a couple of days to see what the party ID composition was of those who voted today. But again, no matter what the polls say, and despite Mr. Bushís record and personal failings, the Cult reinstalled him tonight. Letís now see how low their threshold is for second-guessing themselves.
I wonít be holding my breath for that to happen. Again, to the right wing and the freepers who are having a good time tonight, enjoy yourselves. You have got the keys to the car now with no more excuses. We will still fight you tooth and nail, but you are firmly and totally responsible for what your dear leader and his cabal will do to this country from this point on. There will be no more blaming it on Clinton, or the Democrats for obstructing you from doing what you want because you have the numbers in Congress now and after this an even more submissive media than you had before.
Just be happy with the monster you and the rest of the Cult have created at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue tonight. Because he's all yours.