November 9, 2004

Down with the moral majority?

The referendum on the presidency of George W. Bush has passed. Not only did the incumbent president defeat Sen. John Kerry but the Republican Party gained the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and widened their majority in the U.S. Senate. It was such a bad night for Democrats that they even saw their Senate Minority Leader, Tom Daschle, unseated in a race in South Dakota.
Despite the fact that exit polling and high levels of voter turn out indicated early that Kerry might have the advantage, Bush received 51 percent of the popular vote. That is a larger percentage than anyone has received since his father, George H.W. Bush, was elected in 1988.
Conventional logic says that high voter turn usually works to the benefit of Democratic candidates, so the results of this election were somewhat puzzling to many political analysts.
In this election, however, Democrats and Republicans alike poured vast amounts of time and money into getting people out to the polling places on Election Day. Bush campaign advisor Karl Rove said that there were 4 million evangelical Christians who did not vote in 2000 and it was his hope to get them to the polls this November. It appears that he did.
The GOP views their resounding victory in this election as a mandate from the people on a number of issues ranging from so-called “moral issues” (such as gay marriage and abortion) to security and defense.
The Democratic Party should take this election as a sign as well. They have some serious thinking to do that they should have been doing since the GOP gained power in Congress after the 2002 election.
Bush’s victory in both the popular vote and the electoral vote removes any questions about the legitimacy of his presidency. Hopefully this fact will help Democrats stop dwelling on what went wrong in 2000 and move their focus to what they are going to do in 2006 and more importantly in 2008.
They need to find the clarity of message that seemed to work so well for the GOP in this election. Voters knew that when they voted for Bush, they were voting for conservative fiscal policy, conservative social values, and aggressive foreign policy. They may not have agreed with the president on all of these categories but some combination was enough to win their vote. At times it seemed that the only thing voters could be sure that a vote for Kerry stood for was a vote against Bush.
During CNN’s coverage of the election, Larry King mentioned that if there was anything the Democrats could be happy about on Tuesday night, it was the victory of Barack Obama in the Senate race in Illinois. This seems to hold rather true, and perhaps the party can take a cue from its young star.
Obama’s victory by a margin of over 40 percent shows that there are people within the Democratic Party that can have that kind of broad appeal, winning the vote even in GOP strongholds like DuPage County.
This is not suggesting that the young senator-elect should lead the party’s national ticket in 2008. He is already trying his hardest to squelch those rumors.
It is Obama’s style and political attitude that his party could stand to learn something from. In a time when many conservative Americans view Democrats as liberal elitists, Obama managed to gain overwhelming support by simply talking to voters. He assured people that he had their best interests in mind and that he is willing to compromise to do what is best for the American people. After his election he said his plan was to go around and talk with voters again, particularly those who voted against him.
The Democratic Party clearly has some regrouping to do after Tuesday’s defeat. When they sit down to plan for the years to come, it might not be a bad idea to invite Obama to the table.


Shirts and Gloves - Dashboard Confessional

Posted by dpetrella at November 9, 2004 2:03 PM | TrackBack

This is an editorial I wrote for my journalism class. It's just some of my thoughts about the election. Let me know what you think.

Posted by: Dan at November 9, 2004 2:07 PM

I agree that the Democrats need to rethink their strategy. I cannot believe with policies like the Patriot Act, some of the "digital rights" lobbying that is going, and a somewhat global demise of America's reputation with the rest of the world (from what I experienced and what Jon has told me while on his travels talking with many different people), the republican party stayed in power and managed to gain so many seats. Instead of believing they the republican party was doing something right, I believe the democratic party was doing something wrong. There was a very good article in the DI on Monday I believe (surprise surprise a good editorial) about how the Democrats hurt themselves by letting their campaign turn into a bit hollywood script of sorts. I digress. Good blog entry, even if damn Bush won.

On a different note, I'm also overwhelmingly impressed by Obama. His talk here at UofI further impressed me to the point that I'd vote for the man for any political seat without ever meeting the other candidates. I first saw/heard him at the Democratic convention and continued to hear about him. He seems to be truthful, down to earth, reasonable, and truly involved with politics for the right reasons. Even if his policy does not match 100% with my views, his character is such that I know his decisions will respect everyone and that gets a vote in my book.

Posted by: Dan at November 10, 2004 3:29 AM

Why the hell did my entry say posted by Dan? oh well, that was my long comment above.

Down with the moral majority? Did you come up with that or did the Green Day song insipre you?

Posted by: Dave at November 10, 2004 3:30 AM

Definitely the Green Day song. I've been using song lyrics as all my titles lately.

Posted by: Dan at November 11, 2004 2:31 PM

A vote for Bush does not represent a vote for conservitive fiscal policy. Do not fool yourself.

Posted by: Steve at April 4, 2005 9:11 PM
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