While I still await the results from Ohio, New Mexico, and Iowa, I’m not optimistic. Sorry, Matt, but I don’t see a lot of hope out of this election; if we couldn’t beat this administration in a fair fight after the last four years, we need some serious overhauling. I’m thinking about what I learned last night about the last four years, and the next four.
First: it’s pretty clear that the rhetoric about “election stealing,” regardless of what happened in 2000, does not apply to the 2004 election—at least not yet. Turnout increased on both sides and so far their side had more than ours.
Second, the country as a whole is much more conservative—socially—than I think anyone on the left dreamed. Gone are illusions of isolated backwaters of Bible-thumping bigotry; with results like these elsewhere in the country, it’s clear that there was a major group of voters for whom protecting God from the Democrats was much more important than worrying about nuances of the reasoning to invade Iraq, the economic health of the country, or the lives of our boys.
Third, I think this election dramatically showed the strengths and limitations of the blogosphere in the political process. While information was flowing freely, there was a whole class of issues and voters that never showed up on the blogosphere’s radar, but which turned out to be pivotal. (See my previous post about blind spots in the blogosphere.)
Fourth, while we were making logical arguments, people were falling into a reality distortion bubble in which Iraq was involved in 9/11 and had WMDs, John Kerry shot himself to get medals that he then threw away, and the rest of the world likes us for our efforts in Iraq. Not just a few people—a lot of people. We may want to start thinking how we reach people who have voluntarily disconnected from reality but who vote in large numbers—or, failing that, make sure that the people who are still living in reality have all the facts.
Fifth, we may just have been handed 2008, given that the president now has to clean up his own Iraq mess and deal with his own budget deficit. But we can’t win an election if we handle it like we did this one, and we won’t win it if we don’t start shifting the ground against the “loyalty oath” people and start making people think.