Government Myths Interlude: Making Sense Of The Election

posted Dec 05, 2004

By now, the election results for the US are well known: The Republicans keep the Presidency, they get more seats in the House, they get more seats in the Senate, and they will almost certainly be placing some people on the Supreme Court. Basically, while it isn't quite enough to be considered a blank check, especially as party loyalty isn't what it used to be, it is rather close; the Senate control is only a few seats short of being able to unilaterally break a filibuster.

How do we rationalize this with the strong anti-Bush opinions that we hear so much about? How fortunate that I've created the vocabulary I need to explain my position in my previous posts. :-)

I think what this election shows, among other things, is that you can not field an "Anybody But" candidate. Despite the perception that the campaign is all about being negative, you still must create a meta-coalition that can attract enough of the vote to win. The democrats have failed narrowly to do this in 2000, failed firmly in 2002, and now failed miserably in 2004. The news for the Democrats is not just bad today, it is trending in the wrong direction, too!

I think den Beste called this outcome a little over a year ago, with the linked piece ending in:

Clinton was not the last Democratic president; the Democrats will yet again control the White House. But they won't do so in 2004. I think 2004 will instead initiate what sports franchises refer to as "team building", forcing the Democrats to start contemplating that now-classic rhetorical question: "why do they hate us?"

The Democrats clearly need to look into the mirror and figure out where their disconnect is. It is clearly time to tweak the meta-coalition, and given the amount of time the failures have been allowed to fester and dig in, it is likely some hard decisions will have to be made, or the Democrats will continue to fade. Going out on a limb here, I will predict that either the Democratic party of 2008 will field a Presidential candidate with significant and obvious differences from the candidate of 2004, or a significant left-wing showing from a third-party will occur again, making Nader in 2000 look like an amateur. (One suggestion to that third party: Nader is spent. Come up with someone better. And, based on past elections, probably richer, too.)

I do not think there is one obvious answer here; I think that by the very nature of our meta-coalition system there are a wide variety of valid choices. I can not speak for large segments of the country, but here are some ideas for the Democrats that, if implemented, would at least offer me a very difficult choice in 2008. (Given who I am, it would be too much change for them to get an undivided vote from me. But especially if the Republicans are still holding significant portions of the legislative houses, my general desire for gridlock, coming from my libertarian leanings, might be enough to push me over the edge, if some of these are in place).

Remember, this are my personal opinions, not God-given truth.

The strategic idea here is to reach "behind" the Republicans; this squares with the last paragraph of this essay, which I saw after writing most of this. The Democrats need to be bold, to go on the offensive, and not just marginalize some of their moonbats, but to steal issues from the Republicans in domains they are neglecting. The current playing field isn't working, and at this point the right move is just to shake it up and hope they can pick up pieces more quickly than the Republicans.

As a final note, I would observe that the elections did work this time, per the discussion in myth #3; they produced a gracious loser within a reasonable amount of time. (The vote tally won't be done now for a couple of weeks while some difficult final tallies are made in some places, but the results seem sure.) Hopefully this acceptance will be channeled into the productive avenues.

(This is an interlude in the Government Myths series.)


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