Looking at the results of the 2004 election I can see that there needs to be a significant realignment of the, until now, conventional wisdom that we are a nation divided.
President Bush received more votes than anyone in history while on the way to winning the election with the majority of the popular vote for the first time since 1988. The popular vote itself was over seven million higher than during the last election. He improved his performance, compared to the 2000 election, in every state except four, and "became the first President to be re-elected while gaining seats in the House and Senate since 1936 and the first Republican President since 1924 to be re-elected while re-electing Republican House and Senate majorities."
Does this sound like a nation divided? Perhaps in the fevered minds of the mainstream media, who have two items on their agenda; say whatever is good for Democrats, and make it into a good story.
What has really happened is a reassessment of where the "center" is in American politics. The DNC, and their accomplices in the mainstream media have, until now, been left alone to define "center". And they were in it. They have defined it based on their own ideas of what the country ought to believe, rather than on what they do believe. Only a day after the election they have already begun to try to define conservatives as even further to the right, and therefore further out of the mainstream, by claiming that the only thing that got Bush elected was the 4 million Evangelical voters that the president magically activated. Their characterization is that Evangelicals are really very far to the right and Republicans are now deeply indebted to them and will govern accordingly. Liberals are completely blind to the values that unite conservatives, whether they be slightly, moderately, or very conservative.
Until now, if you believed that it was wrong to kill living babies in late term or partial birth abortions you were branded a right wing extremist. Or a wacko. If you believed that religion had a place in American life, and that honor, dignity, and loyalty were virtues, not fantasies to be sneered at, you were a member of the religious (read "ignorant") right.
Belief in limited government, lower taxes, and welfare reform, was branded right-wing hate, or even racism.
If you believed that marriage is for one man and one woman you were a narrow-minded, hateful, homophobic red-neck.
If you believed the war on terror was a new kind of world war and not just another legal problem; that what we did in Afghanistan and Iraq was a good thing - an excellent thing- you were equated with Hitler, Stalin, et al.
Now though, this election and it's, dare I say it, mandate for President Bush shows us where the center really is. And we're in it. The angry left has been shown to be just that; the angry left. They are not the center fighting for greater tolerance from the right-wingers; rather they are the loony left trying to camouflage their ultra liberal beliefs in a cloak of moderation.
The geographic center of our nation has been shown to be the center of our nation politically as well. We are tired of being dismissed by the pseudo-intellectual elites, the self-styled, self-important coasties who dismiss the heartland as "flyover land" as if we are to be ignored, or perhaps patted on the head like little boys who mean well but don't have a clue.
We are tired of them imposing their highly flawed ideas on us with activist judges because they're unable to convince us with rational arguments. We are tired of fighting chameleons and ghosts instead of a loyal opposition.
They say conservatism is a divisive philosophy, but divisiveness is the liberal’s hallmark. Tom Daschle lost his job because he was the archetypical divisive politician; a man who wouldn't reach his hand across the aisle to get a glass of water if his pants were on fire. When Bill Clinton was elected by a slim margin they said it was because Republicans were so mean spirited and divisive. And when George Bush won by a large margin it was still because Republicans are mean spirited and divisive. When the misery index under Carter was in the mid twenties it was good, when it's 7.5 under Bush it's the worst ever. Divisiveness is the main strategy of the left.
Liberals insist that, since conservatives have won, they must reach out and compromise. But a reasonable person would see that it is the Democrats who, as the party whose ideas have been rejected, must reach out and compromise.
This election has determined, indeed measured, just where the center is - who is, and who is not in the mainstream of our political spectrum. The Democrats, having been voted out, are by definition not in the mainstream. That they cannot see this, nor even consider it as a real possibility, is going to be the chief obstacle to their reformation. And reform they must, or they will become irrelevant and fade away. Their lack of guiding principles and the fact that they are, at best, a loosely aligned coalition of wildly diverse cliques does not bode well for their survival. An alliance based on the quest for political power does not make for a long-lasting coalition (just think of Bogart and his companions in "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre"). Squabbles will abound; defections and backstabbing will multiply.
Not only do the Democrats not have a set of defining values, they scoff at the very idea of defining values. Values are just for the rubes. Yet without them they have no chance of holding together in the long run. In the short run they will have successes. Indeed they are formidable opponents. With no values to get in the way of their hunt for influence, they have a quiver of questionable tactics from which they can draw without compunction, and Republicans cannot. The modern Republican coalition is based on a shared set of values, and as such, it would crumble if its leadership lowered itself to the tactics the Democrats used in this election. Violate the values and there is no more coalition.
Will the Democrats realize all this? Are they capable of realizing all this? I hope so, but I don't think so. Will they reach out and compromise? I can't see it; which of many cliques would reach out and which would follow? Which would balk? Will the media continue to try to define conservatives into a small corner in the far right wing? Definitely.
Will we let them? No.