Running Scared: Observations of a Former Republican
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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Post Mortem

posted by Jazz at 11/03/2004 08:55:00 AM

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While it is not technically over, it certainly is finished in every meaningful sense. I believe that Bush's current lead in Ohio is greater than the total number of provisional and absentee ballots waiting to be counted. I had hoped that whoever won this election would win with a clear mandate from the people by gaining a clean majority in the popular vote, and more than 300 in the electoral college. One out of two isn't bad, and I think Bush will finish with 286 in the EC, which is still substantial. Before this blog converts to a depressing parade of pet pictures and recipes for speedies, I think it's important to stop and take a look at what happened, what went wrong, and what this portends for the future.

DID BUSH WIN?

There will be questions from the segment of America that favors tin foil in their haberdashery, but I can't live in that world. Questions will be raised about how the exit polls could be so wrong, when they have traditionally been piercingly accurate, and why they went wrong in the states with the new electronic voting systems. I simply can not sign on for that. The votes have been counted, as far as I'm concerned. I desperately wanted Bush out of office, but I believe that he won a true majority of the popular vote - not just a plurality - a feat not accomplished by anyone since Reagan, who was arguably the most popular president in the last half century. Bush could have done better in the electoral college, but I am willing to accept 286 as a clear victory, if a close one.

I believe that Bush did win, and did so legitimately. Kerry needs to concede early today, simply to maintain his own dignity and to allow the democratic process to move forward.

WHAT WENT WRONG?

Frankly, nothing went wrong. The majority of Americans simply bought into what Bush was selling, succumbed to fear, and made their choice accordingly. I think Kerry's team fought a spirited campaign, he conveyed his message as well as he was able to, and he garnered a very respectable portion of both the popular and electoral votes. It simply wasn't enough, though. There has to be a winner and a loser in a contest like that, and Kerry is the loser.

WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS

This is a perplexing question, both for me, personally, and for the country at large. We had a serious conversation last night, which is still ongoing, about the possibility of leaving the United States. One of the serious consequences of a second Bush term, aside from living four more years in an increasingly dangerous world because of this madman's policies, is what I view as a near certainty that this will set the stage for a Hillary Clinton presidency in 2008. It could be eight or even twelve years before we have a chance of getting a president who I could genuinely support.

Bush, unfettered by a need to be elected again and obviously not concerned about whatever legacy he may leave, seems clearly destined to affect the country and the world in a vast way. I expect to see wars begin on other fronts in the next few years. Death tolls will continue to rise, and the rest of the world will grow to distrust and despise us more deeply than they do now. Terrorist attacks will come as Bush's arrogance continues to infuriate the Muslim world and isolate us from our former allies and supporters. The President will probably be able to tip the Supreme Court, once and for all, to such a radically right wing stance that personal liberties and diversity in this country are going to be seriously endangered.

The economy has hard times ahead. Bush is hardly likely to suddenly become a fiscal conservative overnight. I have no idea how the next generation will pay off the massive deficit that we're going to leave them, but I wish them luck. As companies continue to ship jobs overseas without a president to keep them in check, the wealth gap between the very rich few and the increasingly poor many will grow more vast.

The environment will likely take the biggest hit. Bush dismisses any hard science that doesn't agree with his "vision" of the world. Environmental protection measures which have barely been sufficient will continue to be scrapped in favor of more industry-friendly policies. This president obviously has no incentive to move us away from an oil driven energy policy, so drilling will expand and true wilderness will continue to shrink.

From a personal perspective, the most glaring disaster is the effect this will have on the Republican party. The mandate which Bush received and the continued advances in the House and Senate will be touted by the neocon and theocon hawks as a complete validation of their ultraconservative views. Moderate voices in our party will be effectively silenced now. The lines of separation between church and state are going to continue to blur, and the civil rights of many Americans are going to be taking a back seat. I find it highly unlikely that I will be able to continue on with the GOP. I will take my time making that decision, though, as I don't want to rush into something that important.

I'd like to write something more cheerful about last night's election, but I can't find much sunshine through the current fog. Good luck to us all.