The Democratic party is at a crossroads. At least thats what I keep hearing on the idiot box, and reading in the editorial pages of the New York Times. After presidential hopeful John Kerry was handed his ass by Americas new moral majority last Tuesday a number of deep Democratic thinkers suggested that, in order to remain viable, the party needs to move a little bit further to the right by softening its views on wedge issues like abortion, gay marriage, and the separation of Church and state.
On the front end it seems like a reasonable proposition, but as Banquo said to Macbeth, Oftentimes, to win us to our harm, The instruments of darkness speak truths. Win us with honest trifles, to betray us In deepest consequence. Cousins, a word I pray you. President Bushs mandate is non-existent. And while the white Christian population cant be taken for granted, this new evangelism sweeping the nation is a Chimera, and not to be trusted. There are changes that need to be implemented within the Democratic policy, but they have precious little to do with altering the basic party platform.
Before getting into all the whys and wherefores, lets consider President Bushs 3-million vote mandate. To put things in perspective, Bill Clinton, deep in the throes of BJ-gate beat Bob Dole in 1996 by 8-million votes though he was denied a popular majority thanks to the candidacy of eccentric conservative Ross Perot who garnered--yes--8-million votes. In 2000 Gore, an unpopular candidate, received more votes than Clinton did in both 1992 and 1996, though he only beat George W. Bush by half-a-million votes with nearly 3-million additional votes going to the extremely liberal Green party candidate Ralph Nader.
Given the GOPs general hegemony, and undeniably superior organizational skills it appears that in 2000 America was shifting left. But as they say, 9/11 changed everything, and its hard to ignore that things were looking pretty peachy for the underdog Kerry until Osama bin Laden decided to endorse the poor Democrat in his pre-election video.
In terms of the Electoral College the Bush mandate is based on the second smallest margin since Woodrow Wilson beat Charles Evans Hughes in 1916. The honors for smallest margin of victory go to George W. Bush for his Supreme Court-assisted defeat of Al Gore in 2000.
If you look at the overwhelmingly red electoral map, marred by only a few specks of blue, it looks like all of America is Bush country. But thats not true. For every 53 Republican who made it to the polls there were 48 Democrats. If you added red and blue pigment to each state in direct proportion to the votes cast rather than color-coding the entire map according to the winner-take-all standard of the Electoral College what you see is a big purple country -- a bicoastal bruise. Also, in spite of the hype about a gigantic voter turnout in 2004, the actual percentage of eligible voters who made it to the polls was lower than it was in 1992. Since the Democrats far outstripped the Republicans in terms of voter registration it can be assumed that they were less successful than the Republicans at getting their voters to the ballot box.
Jakob Nielson, an expert in the field of interactive technology, did a comparison of content from the Bush and Kerry e-mail campaigns during the last week of the election. This isnt what swayed the election in the presidents favor, but it does suggest that the Democrats made some major tactical mistakes.
Give Money 8% 57%
Get Out the Vote 38% 29%
Issues/Events 54% 14%
In his veiled plea for a more conservative Democratic party former Clinton advisor Harold Ickes told the New York Times, I think that we ignored in large measure the three big cultural issues of this election: guns, abortion and gay rights, epitomized by gay marriageÉ These are very, very big issues. They really, really motivate people
And he was correct. But in the last week, under the shadow of Osama, and the threat of an orange alert Kerry wasted a valuable resource begging for money instead of getting out the vote while Bush reminded his more religious constituents of the horrible fate that befell New York -- and Sodom. This wasnt a faith-based victory; it was a fear-based victory.
Any Democratic fool who thinks his party is going to win over Evangelicals by softening its views on issues like abortion, gay marriage is living on Fantasy Island. The only thing such a shift would accomplish is breeding dissent in the ranks while sending a message to the masses that the Democrats are a waffle-loving party with their fingers in the air and no courage to back their alleged convictions. The first rule of winning is dont act like a goddamn loser. The second rule of winning is never forget the first rule.