James, friend of mine from London, emailed me after the election offering crash space in case I wanted to escape Bush's America. Here's what I told him:
Thanks for the offer, but we're going to stick it out.
There is a sign of hope that is overshadowed by the disaster of Bush's reelection. In 2004, we saw a groundswell of opposition to Bush and his policies. True, it also saw a groundswell of conservative voting, but at least the liberals have been vitalized. It would be a real downer if the Democrats hadn't been able to get out the vote to ditch Bush. If Bush had won 60-40, I'd be barfing into the toilet. But we did get out the vote. More people voted for Kerry in 2004 than voted for Gore plus Nader in 2000. I volunteered for the Democrats for the first time ever, and there's a lot of that going around.
The Republicans out-politicked the Democrats, but they did so by drumming up support from their most conservative supporters, not by winning the hearts and minds of the moderates. The religious conservatives tipped the scales, but only because the election was so close.
Much is made of the divide in the nation, but that divide is a phenomenon of the presidential campaign. Most of the people who voted for Bush are like most of the people who voted for Kerry. Even in Utah, where the Mormons hold sway, Kerry got 26% of the vote. Even in Kerry's home state of Massachusetts Bush got 37%. The electoral college makes the difference between a Bush-voting state and a Kerry-voting state seem absolute, but red states and blue states still have plenty in common. Every state is purple.
I look forward to the religious conservatives coming out into the open and stating their agendas and their motivations plainly for the electorate to hear. If they are bold enough to do so, there will be backlash.
2000 election results
2004 election results