I don’t know who I’m writing this to, but I need to write.
For all the reasons, across all everything I know and have seen, electing George W. Bush is a mistake for the U.S. People have seen him as president for four years and they should know this. But there’s a disconnect between me (along with almost all the people I know) and the 51% of the population that’s voted for George Bush. How do we have such different world views?
While I could find many reasons to vote for Kerry and against Bush, there was really should have been only one issue in this election, national security. I found Kerry exactly right about Iraq: the war was a distraction from the fight against Al Qaeda and, more broadly, terrorism. And given that our most important immediate foreign policy objectives must be nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan, I find it much easier to believe that Kerry could do a good job. My understanding is clearly not the majority view.
As I read things right now, it looks as though at most 1-2 states flipped from 2000. That means we’re in an entrenched position, with almost nothing changing. Has the country ever had a repeating, near stalemate in the electoral college before? Perhaps the 1870s and ’80s?
And yet, the popular vote did shift. We saw the millions of new voters go to the polls — nominally a great predictor of Democratic returns — and the balance tip towards Bush. Was this “security moms”? Karl Rove’s missing four million evangelicals? Whatever it is, I am shocked by how unpopular the Democratic ticket was.
Since I’m a democrat (and not just a Democrat) and a strong critic of the electoral college, the popular vote difference is more fundamental to me. Given the outcome of 2000 and my sense that fairness means playing by what the rules are, I do think the Democrats should fight on in the electoral college, at least until the provisionals in Ohio are tallied. But doing so requires an admission that the popular vote went clearly in the other direction and our positions are antithetical to a (narrow) majority of voters.
Perhaps this at least gives hope that both parties are willing to eliminate the electoral college. While a small consolation, it would leave the country’s politicial processes healthier in the long run. But it’s very small consolation right now.
I’m very confident that Kerry, if he pulls off a win, will govern from the center. I’m also confident that Bush, given the chance, will not. And certainly this election would give him no reason to change direction.