Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Tweedle-dum defeats Tweedle-dee

Right before the election I said that Bush would get re-elected because he would hang on to Florida and Ohio and pick up one or more of New Mexico, Iowa and Wisconsin (he won two out of the three). I also predicted that Bush would lose New Hampshire to Kerry, but that it wouldn’t matter. Acknowledge my political prowess!

I’m not particularly enthused about the results of this election, as I’m not looking forward to another four years of the arrogant unilateralism, crony capitalism and pandering to the fundamentalist right that the Bush administration represents, but the voters of this nation have spoken. And I’m glad it’s over. This election was ugly and hateful and neither side should be particularly pleased with the way they conducted themselves.

As for the result, the Democrats really only have themselves to blame. Bush was very vulnerable and probably could have been defeated by a better candidate. But the Democrats chose an uninspiring northeastern liberal (didn’t the Democrats learn anything from Michael Dukakis?) with a murky, contradictory voting record. Kerry couldn’t articulate his plans or visions in a manner that the voter could understand; he couldn’t shake his reputation as a “flip-flopper,” and he did a poor job of defending himself against character attacks from opponents such as the so-called Swift Vote Vets for Truth. He chose to attack Bush where he was strongest by focusing on the war in Iraq and didn’t spend enough time attacking Bush where he was weakest, such as on health care costs or prescription drug benefits. Simply put, Kerry was a lousy candidate who ran a lousy campaign.

Being the “we’re not Bush” party just wasn’t enough for the Democrats. They needed to give the electorate somebody to vote *for* as well, and they didn’t do it with John Kerry.

The Republicans saw the election as a huge victory, because in addition to Bush's successful re-election they were able to increase their margins in the House and the Senate (even adding insult to injury to the Democrats by ousting Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle). However, boasts of a Republican "mandate" are merely rhetoric. 

The nation is still bitterly divided and extremely polarized. 51% of the voting public supports Bush; 49% voted for somebody else. Deep divisions remain along urban /rural and secular/evangelical lines. Although this nasty election is over, the political climate in this nation will unfortunately remain ugly for a long time to come.

(Retroblogged on August 23, 2015. Eight years later, the Republicans would make a similar mistake, choosing an uninspiring northeastern elite with a murky and contradictory record, Mitt Romney, to run against the otherwise-vulnerable Barack Obama.)

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