With all the passion. With Nader not being a serious factor. With liberal radio. It still was not enough.
My predictions were wrong. Although I am not sure about the percentages, it seems that turnout was fairly high. Still, Bush won a substantive share of the electorate, and the electoral college by about 120,000 votes in Ohio. It was not a total blow out, it was not Mondale or Dukakis… but still. All of the verve; everrything that had been building for four years was not enough. And whatever minor voting problems there were the election was fair and square – regardless of my worries about literal fights at the polls. No one can call 2004 a Coup D’etat like 2000.
Now comes a big choice. It is easy for Democrats to say that they really won in ’00, and if not for 9/11 they would have the presidency and perhaps a majority in the senate now. It is no small thing to unseat a president after an event like that. Even if that president has been as incompetent, foolhardy and terrible as Bush.
To me it seems that the Democrats can continue on the moderate but inchoate course they are on now and fight a long and slow war of losing attrition, slowly having great plains and southern senators picked off while losing presidential elections by 5 – 8 percent, yet winning the west coast and the north east.
Or, they can dream big and start talking about huge ideas that time will prove necessary, just as it did with social security, farm price controls, desegregation and medicare. How about reforming the economic system so the ingenuity of the free market reponds to the problems of pollution and global warming, so that subsidies do not prop up old, sedentary industries like coal? It may mean giving up West Virginia from the first, but who cares? How about arguing for the federal decriminalization of marijuana? Which will be the first state to “legalize it” to gain back revenue lost from the “drown the beast” mentality to taxes coupled with the desire to have high quality schools and services? For a long time the west coast and parts of the north east might be a lone blue bastion, but these ideas are necessary enough to sweep the nation, when worst finally comes to worst as it did in the Great Depression.
Having united, passionate liberals was just not quite enough this time. Of course it wasn’t fair. The so-called “mainstream” media is a right-wing megaphone. But so it goes. Having a credible candidate that could not defeat a president as terrible as Bush is a sign that the core needs to change.
9/11 won’t go away, and the media will not become balanced any time soon. The left must be brave enough to fight a high stakes battle, or else be slowly whittled away into a long winter of irrelevancy.