With a gap in the popular vote of more than 3 million votes and an apparent lead in Ohio, I think President Bush has earned another four years in office. Much as it disappoints me to think that the Democrats have come up short in a third straight national election, I actually would prefer that resolution than a Kerry victory (somehow) in Ohio (and, as a result, an electoral colleve victory as well).
The roots of the country’s division go well beyond the 2000 election, but the boundaries of that division hardened quite a bit throughout that election. Without speaking to the merits of either side’s arguments in 2000, factually speaking, President Bush lost the popular vote nation-wide by more than a half-million votes. That fact alone was cited repeatedly by Democrats who, in pointing to the irregularities in Florda, claimed that he was somehow not the rightful victor.
The country needs a legitimate victor. And that appears to me to be President Bush. The next four years will continue to be divisive. Better that the division is borne out in policy disagreements than arguments over the election results.
On a broader note, it’s clear that last night’s results portend a wholesale upheaval in the Democratic Party. (Or at least they should. How much more evidence do they need?) The two party leaders who shepherded the party’s disastrous 2002 mid-term elections (Daschle and Gephardt) are now gone. We’ve lost seats in the House and the Senate. I’ve not yet paid enough attention to the state races to know how they played out.
But the Republicans are fighting on moral issues, while the Democrats are trying to fight on economic issues. Ask yourself this: who are the Democrats on the national stage who are speaking authoritatively on moral issues? (From exit polls last night, 80% of those who cited “moral issues” as their most important issue voted for President Bush.) I can think of only one politician who’s been speaking nationally on the subject, who can do so naturally without appearing forced. If there’s any silver lining from yesterday’s results, it’s that Barack Obama has embraced a core Republican tactic and made it his own. We’ll see who else can pattern themselves after Barack’s approach; I’d love to know who’s out there that can do it.