Sunday, November 07, 2004

Election Wrapup

I've been away for a few days, so please forgive the lack of posting. Here are my final reflections on the 2004 election:

-George W. Bush's victory was not a "landslide", but was certainly decisive. His 59.5 million votes was the most ever received by a presidential candidate. With 51.5% of the popular vote, Bush became the first president to be elected with a majority of the popular vote since 1988, and the first president reelected with a majority since Ronald Reagan in 1984. His 286-252 victory in the Electoral College was not overwhelming, but was an improvement on 2000.

-I applaud John Kerry for making the wise and gracious decision to concede Wednesday, after it became obvious that he had no real chance of winning Ohio. By avoiding a lengthy, bitter post-election battle, he showed a willingness to put the nation's interests above those of himself and his party. I hope he will use his remaining time in the Senate to be a constructive and responsible critic of the administration.

-My thoughts and prayers are with Elizabeth and John Edwards. I hope Mrs. Edwards makes a full recovery from breast cancer.

-As I noted in June, the Democratic Party needs to decide if it wants to be the party of responsible centrists such as Joe Lieberman or Evan Bayh, or the party of the Michael Moore left. During this election season, the party tried to be both, and voters saw through the contradiction. For the sake of the nation, I very much hope that the Democrats choose to follow the Lieberman/Bayh path.

-In terms of why Bush was reelected, the idea has been floated that President Bush's victory was due to Gay Marriage and other "values" issues. Some on the left have already seized on this as proof of their superiority to the benighted Red state masses. The Democrats would be well advised to avoid this temptation. As numerous others have noted, "vote for us you ignorant, Bible-thumping bigots" is unlikely to be a successful electoral strategy.

-Instapundit has a good roundup of links debunking the importance of the "values voter" thesis. As David Brooks noted in the New York Times, the War on Islamist Terror was the decisive issue of this election:

The reality is that this was a broad victory for the president. Bush did better this year than he did in 2000 in 45 out of the 50 states. He did better in New York, Connecticut and, amazingly, Massachusetts. That's hardly the Bible Belt. Bush, on the other hand, did not gain significantly in the 11 states with gay marriage referendums.

He won because 53 percent of voters approved of his performance as president. Fifty-eight percent of them trust Bush to fight terrorism. They had roughly equal confidence in Bush and Kerry to handle the economy. Most approved of the decision to go to war in Iraq. Most see it as part of the war on terror.

The fact is that if you think we are safer now, you probably voted for Bush. If you think we are less safe, you probably voted for Kerry. That's policy, not fundamentalism. The upsurge in voters was an upsurge of people with conservative policy views, whether they are religious or not.

-Much work remains for the Bush Administration. The Islamist/Baathist insurgency in Iraq must be defeated, and a stable, representative, pluralist democratic state created in that troubled country. A difficult task, but it can be done if we have the will to see it through. Also, Iran must be prevented from bringing its nuclear weapons program to fruition, by whatever means necessary. North Korea must be firmly contained and prevented from exporting nuclear technology. Finally, the broader war against the jihadists must continue to be prosecuted with unrelenting vigor. Osama bin Laden and the remaining pre-9/11 al-Qaeda leadership must be eliminated, and new leaders prevented from arising. George W. Bush's decisive reelection victory will give him a stronger hand in dealing with all of these issues.

With the election and its partisan passions over, I hope to be able to focus mostly on the War on Islamist Terror, and to do longer analytical pieces as opposed to quick takes on specific events. Posting will probably be more intermittent. I hope those of you who've chosen to visit will continue to come back.


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