Wednesday, November 03, 2004

A few post-election thoughts

Yeah, there's some politics here. Move on if annoyed by this stuff -- this is a rare "venting of the spleen" for me, and if your intent is to gloat in comments, well, get your own blog. (I'll delete gloating comments. Really. You are warned.)

I'm disappointed, but not surprised, by the results. My predictions were startling close to the reality, (even thought this is one time I wish I had turned out colossally wrong). In truth, a lot of the rationalizing for a Kerry victory in the last few weeks -- in Blogistan and elsewhere -- felt a bit tenuous to me: "The polls are oversampling Republicans. Undecideds usually break for a challenger." And the predictions of a Kerry landslide seemed like wishful thinking. As the campaign wound down, it appeared to me that the most likely result was the George W. Bush would carry all of the states he carried in 2000, plus two or three more.

I don't pretend to know what this means. I don't know if voters in such a close election can really be said to have "rejected" Kerry or Democratic liberalism, and thus I don't know if the best thing for Democrats is to start acting like Republicans Lite again. But I have my suspicions to the contrary, and I hope that Democrats and liberals across the country don't just retreat to their holes to lick their wounds in hopes that things go better in four years. The groundwork for 2008 has to be built now. That means streamlining the mechanisms for getting the Democratic messages out there.

So, what do I expect from Bush's second term? Well, I have to plead guilty to being a bitter Democrat here: I expect nothing very good. I expect colossal deficits to continue piling up. I expect fiscal and economic policy to continue to focus relentlessly on tax cuts, tax cuts, and nothing but tax cuts. I expect half-assed strategies in the War on Terror. I expect another major attack at some point, with more gloating by Osama Bin Laden. I expect that President Bush will be able to see to it that the Supreme Court and the rest of the Federal judiciary will tilt conservative for the next two decades. I expect that the standard post-election calls for bipartisanship and "reaching out to the other side" will, as is nearly always the case with George W. Bush, amount to "Vote for all my stuff, and then I'll go out of my way to screw you anyway." I expect further demonizing of gays, further advancement of ideology over science. And since second terms are historically much worse than first terms, I expect some barnburners of scandals to arise. Remember: Monica Lewinsky, Iran-Contra, and Watergate were all second-term events for their respective Presidents. And technically LBJ's term from 1965 to 1969 wasn't a second term (rather a first full one), but that's when Vietnam went from "questionable policy" to "monumental clusterf***".

So yeah, color me disappointed -- disappointed that for the third election cycle in a row the Democrats came maddeningly close to getting their message across to enough people to pull off a win. Color me disappointed that either we failed to make our case that Bush is doing some very bad things, or even more disappointed that the very bad things Bush is doing (and will continue to do, and some very bad things he hasn't even started doing yet) seem to be things Americans don't even care about. Color me disappointed that so many Americans who apparently decided that some notion of "security" outweighed nearly every other electoral concern are under the impression that "security" is best measured in fireballs and body bags.

Generally, I know that we're just going to do this all again in four years, but I'm not looking forward to years of "Will she run or won't she run?" crap about Hillary Clinton. Neither am I looking forward to more creative ways of blaming the country's problems on the Democrats, a strategy whose continued success becomes even more baffling as each year goes by in which Democrats control basically none of the mechanisms of government in this country. I'm not looking forward to watching the people in power continue to play the victim, even as they gloat. I'm not looking forward to a lot of things.

But there are other things that I am looking forward to, things that have nothing to do with politics. As is my usual practice here, I shall continue to focus on those things as best I can. But you'll all have to excuse me if there's a bit less enthusiasm here for the next day or two, because I've got George W. Bush in my living room, and like an unwanted guest, he won't go away.

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