Wednesday, November 03, 2004
The Elephant in the Room
I am amazed at how surprised the Democrats sincerely seem to be. I certainly didn't expect a landslide vote either way, nor did I think that Bush was a shoe-in, but it didn't surprise me at all that American voted as she did.
It seems to me that there is a liberal blind spot that doesn't see (or doesn't want to see) that morality matters to Americans. Not just morality, but life issues and family issues. Throughout the campaign, I grew more and more firm in my belief that the entire issue of the war was a smokescreen to somehow distract voters from the issues of abortion, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, euthanasia and homosexual marriage. This on top of the appointment of supreme court justices in a time and political climate when legislation is being made from the bench, rather than the people.
The war is a moral issue, it is something which reasonable people can disagree on, and the way it has been handled can certainly be questioned. However, Kerry voted with Bush on Iraq and didn't have plans to pull out of the war. How is this truly different than what we have now? Just saying that you think something is bad doesn't change the fact that you voted for it, and essentially wrote the check to back it. The war wouldn't have been different under Kerry.
It is important to realize, though, that life issues take primacy in the moral economy. Touchstone's October editorial page (among many other publications and groups) addressed just this. See, First Things First for further discussion on this. There are no human rights without the basic right to life. Democrats do not understand that this really matters to most Americans. It perplexes them that people in my generation, women at that, are more conservative, pro-life and religious than our culture, upbringing and education would suggest.
This election brought forth amazing numbers at the polls. More young people voted, by a significant amount, more people in general voted. This seemed to signal to Democrats that Kerry would win. They do not understand that people are motivated by moral decisions. They do not understand that not all (or even most) women are liberal, nor that a young vote does not guarantee a Democrat vote.
Not only did Bush win decisively, but he made some records.
* Became the first President to be re-elected while gaining seats in the House and Senate since 1936 and the first Republican President since 1924 to be re-elected while re-electing Republican House and Senate majorities.
* Became the first President to win a majority of the popular vote since 1988.
*Received 57.4 million votes - more than any other candidate in history. He broke President Reagan's 1984 mark of 54.5 million. (96% reporting)
*Increased the popular vote by seven million votes since 2000 - more than twice Clinton's increase from 1992 to 1996.
*Improved his percentage in every state except four (MD, OR, VT and WY). This includes a four percent increase in John Kerry's home state, Massachusetts.
Many are trying to discredit this and say President Bush doesn't have a clear mandate. This is false. Not only did he win the popular and the electoral vote, but he did so with far greater turn out and plain numbers than any in recent history. He received more votes than any president in our history, and all at the same time as voters created a larger majority of Republicans in both houses of congress, voted to retain marriage as a one man one woman institution, and in many states changed the guard of their own congress to a more conservative one. In our state, we may actually have a Republican governor.
I keep hearing and reading that the liberals do not know how their candidate lost. They are looking for a broader candidate for the next election, they are looking for a candidate who is stronger on just about everything but the very thing Americans are looking for: namely, moral judgement. Kerry did himself a great disservice by saying that he couldn't vote his personal convictions. Even if we believe that is true, (which I don't, I think he does vote his convictions, it is that his convictions are not what he says they are), people elect representatives precisely because they want their views and beliefs enacted. They vote for the one they agree with the most. When someone says he can't vote what he believes or won't let us in on what he believes, we have no reason to vote for him. Touchstone has done a couple editorials on this theme. Both Unimposing Kerry and Show Us!address this better than I can.
There is an interesting comment from Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America:
As the dust settles, we are beginning to see how heavily this election was influenced by concern about moral values. After a campaign focusing on the threat of terrorism and the war in Iraq, this development will surprise those from the Left - and Right - who dismissed moral issues and social conservatives as irrelevant. And, in fact, those who view the appeal to moral values as mere political manipulation and ideological posturing have a basic misunderstanding of people of faith and Main Street Americans. The moral values that were a top priority in this election - abortion, embryonic stem cell research, same sex unions, etc. - are values rooted in deep religious beliefs. In addition, at another level they are the values that form the basis of democracy - moral boundaries and personal responsibility, respect for life and human dignity, freedom, etc. - and are the essence of what it means to be American. President Bush embodies those values and, during his first term, put people and policies into place that supported those values. Further, there was no way that patriotic Americans would elect as president a person who betrayed his military buddies and trashed his nation's reputation. Nor would Americans choose as president a person who surrendered the nation's leadership in the world arena. Bush's strong, resolute stance on terrorism as well as his unwavering position on pro-life, pro-marriage and pro-family issues resonated with mainstream Americans. The Left has tried to portray these moral values as extremist; Americans have resoundingly said that these values are American.
Perhaps the new Democratic candidate should be stronger on moral values next time. This is the elephant in the room. This is the obvious difference in this election, yet I don't hear many on the liberal side treating it with any more significance than before.
I also think that the personal attacks lobbed by both Sen. Kerry and his wife to the Cheney family and the Bush family, especially as late in the campaign as they came, actually served to show their true colors and send more votes to Bush. I was beginning to get outraged about them, and Rich told me not to worry about it, those attacks just show the character of the people making them. Character does count.
I thought Sen. Kerry's concession speech was well done, considering the circumstances, but found Edward's speech to be primarily a divisive rally. I wondered why he found it necessary to say that the fight was on for, among others, the little child who doesn't know why people treat him differently, because of the color of his skin. Now, I suppose he could have just said, Republicans, Bush and those who voted for him are racists and we're not, but I guess that would have been divisive, and they are fighting that.
At first, I was annoyed that he used his concession time to rally supporters around a fight, but I have decided that he was being more honest than most people are. The only thing I dispute is that this is the beginning of the fight. This is a fight that has been coming for about 70 years, more aggressively in the last 40 years. Today's statement was the first open admission of it.
FWIW, while Bush did get more votes than any other candidate in history, the second person on the list now (with 99% reporting) is no longer Reagan, but in fact, John Kerry, with 55.7 million votes.
(This is Kris from alt.newlywed, btw.)
This is why Cheney lied in the debates. Why not admit that he'd linked al Queda and Iraq in the time leading up to the war? Especially since he'd said it in front of Ifill, the debate moderator? Because (a) the strong base would forgive him/vote for him anyway out of fear of the alternative and (b) admitting he'd been wrong might crack the image of "we know best; we're the best - no, only real - protection this country has." See, I think his telling the truth wouldn't have changed much. But he did.
And that's pretty much when he lost my respect. Bush never liked to give a clear answer to this question, but I didn't vote for Bush four years ago, I voted for Cheney. Who didn't think I deserved the truth. And having sat through years of disgust with Clinton supporters who glossed over his legal lies over the affair (not that they forgave him, which would be different, but treated it as irrelevant) because they so desperately wanted their party to be in power - I don't see any reason to be less critical of the current administration's lies. Which is why I don't equate a vote for Bush as a vote for morality. He lied to keep the presidency. Not the first to do so, but when both sides play the same game - both sides resorted to personal attacks - I can't pretend one is more "moral."