On October 22nd I had a premononition of what would happen on 11/2/04. I wrote then:
The Washington Monthly: "92% of Americans for whom terrorism is their major concern plan to vote for George Bush."Today I heard on NPR that polls showed voters favored Bush over Kerry on security by an 8:1 margin. Were we to rerun the last few months, this would probably emerge as the (impossible?) test Kerry failed -- despite an astonishing fight.
I am stunned. I wonder if North Koreans, famed for their isolation and media control, are really any more ignorant of the world than we Americans.
Given those numbers, it is incredible that Kerry got as close as he did. As a colleague of mine noted, this means Edwards was absolutely the wrong choice for VP. We needed a Cheney-equivalent, probably General Clark.
The election for president is not done, but Bush won the popular vote and Republicans gained in the house and senate. It was a huge uphill fight, and Kerry and his supporters fought well. Heck, I fought well.
Now I want to understand why the electorate made its decisions. I'm coming up with three reasons:
1. Social conservatism: This is the anti-gay, anti-intellectual, anti-feminist, AM radio, power and dominance cohort. They appear to have voted in good numbers.
2. Evangelicals: Overlaps with #1, but a slightly different group. They appear to have turned out in greater numbers than in 2000.
3. Americans appear to have opted for the Bush war. That means fairly severe limitations of civil rights, continued restrictions on immigration, unilateral military action, abandoment of alliances, torture and one-dimensional conflict. It also suggests that a significant majority of Americans are ready for a military draft.
All of these played a role in the house and senate outcomes, but #3 feels to me like the reason we lost Florida and are lagging in Ohio.
These will be the dominant forces in American life for the next four years. Economics, the environment, civil rights, social justice, integrity in government, respect for the law -- all are in retreat. Humanists and rationalists are in retreat.
What will Europe do?