In 2000 Americans were reminded that electoral votes select presidents. In 2004 Democrats were reminded that Bruce Springsteen does not. Other Nov. 2 epiphanies include:
In 1984 Walter Mondale's running mate was Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, a Catholic woman from New York. Ronald Reagan carried Catholics, women, New York -- and even Ferraro's district. Vice presidential nominees rarely sway this or that national demographic group. However, a running mate should help carry his or her state. But last week Bush carried North Carolina, getting 295,026 more votes than in 2000, and carried John Edwards's home county, as he did four years ago. Edwards was supposed to cut Bush's appeal in rural America. He did not.
While 44 percent of Hispanics, America's largest and fastest-growing minority, voted for Bush, African Americans continued to marginalize themselves, again voting nearly unanimously (88 percent) for the Democratic nominee. In coming years, while Hispanics are conducting a highly advantageous political auction for their support, African Americans evidently will continue being taken for granted by Democrats.
On election night, news organizations were hesitant to call a winner in Ohio, where Bush led all night and won by 136,483 votes. They were less hesitant about calling Pennsylvania, where Kerry led all night and won by only 127,927 votes.
Republicans should send a thank-you note to San Francisco's mayor, Gavin Newsom -- liberalism's George Wallace, apostle of "progressive" lawlessness. He did even more than the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts to energize the 11 state campaigns to proscribe same-sex marriage. All 11 measures passed, nine with more than 60 percent of the vote. They passed in Oregon and Michigan, while those states were voting for Kerry. Ohio's measure, by increasing conservative turnout, may have given Bush the presidency. Kentucky's may have saved Sen. Jim Bunning.
Newsom's heavily televised grandstanding -- illegally issuing nearly 4,000 same-sex marriage licenses -- underscored what many Americans find really insufferable. It is not so much same-sex marriage that enrages them: Most Americans oppose an anti-same-sex amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which is why it fell 49 votes short of the required two-thirds in the House and 19 short in the Senate. Rather, what provokes people is moral arrogance expressed in disdain for democratic due process.
Republicans should send a large spray of flowers to thank the Guardian, a British newspaper. It urged readers to write letters to residents of Ohio's Clark County -- the city of Springfield and environs -- urging them to defeat Bush. The backfire from Ohio was so strong (e.g., one resident told the Guardian, "If you want to save the world, begin with your own worthless corner of it") that the paper quickly canceled its intervention. In 2000 Bush lost Clark County to Al Gore. This year Clark was the only one of Ohio's 88 counties to support Bush after opposing him in 2000.
Some Deaniacs -- the Howard Dean remnant -- and others argue that the Democratic Party would have done better if its presidential nominee had advocated a more robust liberalism. But one of the party's few happy moments on Nov. 2 was the election of Ken Salazar as Colorado's senator. Salazar generally made himself scarce when Kerry came into the state.
For many months Tom Coburn, the Republican candidate for Oklahoma's Senate seat, ran such a weird campaign (e.g., fretting about rampant lesbianism in southeastern Oklahoma) that his opponent, Brad Carson, had hopes of winning even though Bush was on the way to carrying the state by 32 points. Then, in a debate, Coburn asked Carson why he supported Kerry. This was the best Carson could do:
"I'm a Democrat. And I support good people for office. I'm a Joe Lieberman type of guy. Because he shared my commitment to expressing our faith in politics; the idea that you don't leave your religious beliefs at the door but that they are important in politics . . . he shared my hawkish views about what needs to be done by America in the world . . ."
Moderator: "This is Lieberman you are talking about?"
Carson: "This is Lieberman I'm talking about, yes."
On election night on public television -- your tax dollars at work -- Bill Moyers said: "I think if Kerry were to win this in a -- in a tight race, I think there'd be an effort to mount a coup, quite frankly. . . . I mean that the right wing is not going to accept it." Moyers, the emblematic face of public television, is an intellectual icon in the sort of deep blue precincts that think red America is paranoid.