Democrats learned to mobilize in 2004 but were still outgunned by Republican organization and tactics. Karl Rove correctly figured that in a closely divided electorate, he could build on his key bases and carve out the few needed extra votes. So even though we got the vote out, they did too and BushCheney got a majority. From which they will claim vindication and a mandate for their program of economic militarism. After all, “Four million more voted for us. George W. Bush received the most votes for president in history” to paraphrase the victory claims. Of course, to an unelected administration installed by judicial coup, an actual majority, however slim, must seem like a mandate. We’ll be hearing mandate often in the days, weeks and years to come.
At least this time BushCheney earned their claim to office; they got a majority. (Reported figures give them 51 percent. But the many questions about malfunctioning machines, lost and uncounted ballots create a some uncertainty. “They”couldn’t have programmed all those machines all over the nation. Could they?”) Their majority notwithstanding, the country is still divided. BushCheney may have received more votes than any previous candidate but John Kerry was close behind. And 3.6 million is a very slim majority in a record turnout of 115 million. But I have no doubt about who is in control. BushCheney strengthened its hold on Congress, adding three new southern Republican senators and the spawn of Tom Delay’s redistricting coup in Texas. They’ve got a lock on the United States government that will be disastrous for this nation in the long run. The good news is that they, not John Kerry, will be in office to reap the whirlwind. The bad news is that we will pay for it.
BushCheney will push privatization and American corporate and economic expansion throughout the world. They will claim to be supporting democracy but, reality, they will be serving the oil dependent, increasingly uncompetitive American corporations in a world where America faces strong economic competition from China and India. Instead of helping American workers and industries create real jobs in the US so that American workers and businesses can compete in a changing international economy, BushCheney will spend vast sums to protect the interests of their corporate cronies. The real concerns of most Americans–good jobs, health care, safer neighborhoods, a cleaner environment, education–are not part of their agenda.
It’s bad enough that they are squandering the people’s money on military adventurism. It’s even worse that they are killing the America’s sons and daughters. BushCheney stole Americans’ patriotism and prostituted it in the service of their narrow interests. They have cleverly manipulated public opinion, distorted facts and lied outright. And half of America believes them. Or rather, voted for them. Their success frightens me. George W. Bush should never have gotten close enough to steal the 2000 election. He was not and still is not a credible candidate for President of the United States. Dick Cheney was and is but could not be elected so they ran George. It worked and has given us four years of BushCheney, a combination of military aggression and economic control combined with effective propaganda. How else can you explain the completely misinformed American public (about WMD’s, Iraq-9/11 links) a’s tactics are and their willingness to accept an unnecessary war that reduces American security. BushCheney has made highly effective use of the Big Lie. Their improvement over previous practitioners is their effectiveness in a stable society with a long democratic tradition. America has lost part of its soul since BushCheney took power. The nation and the world will be poorer if BushCheney complete hijacks America during the next four years..
What is to be done? Don’t Mourn (at least for long). Organize. The election was a tough loss, especially after all the hard work that so many put into it. But it was not landslide or overwhelming defeat. Half of the electorate voted with us. We earned a right to be heard, at least as much as BushCheney earned political capital. A few strong voices remain in Congress. We also have our own voices to speak out. We learned to organize this year. I hope we can continue that effort to give strong voice to progressive values for all Americans.
Forty years ago conservative Republicans were swept away by Lyndon Johnson’s landslide victory against Barry Goldwater. Democrats held commanding majorities in Congress. Four years later, Vietnam had totally discredited Johnson and gave the White House to the Republicans. They’ve had it all but 12 of the 36 years since. Congress took longer but Republicans finally took control in 10 years ago. They did it. We can do no less.