It has already been more than a day since Bush retook office (although not technically) and things have started to move on. Ohio fortunately did not live up to the Floridian standards of 2000 and thankfully national attention was quickly shifted away otherwise I have heard that Cleveland gets pretty nervous with people staring. Kerry called Bush and conceded the election, Bush instantly called him a flip-flopper — “he criticized me earlier and now looks forward to working with me, what the; ” (courtesy Conan) It was only after Karl Rove reminded him that the election is over and that was merely gracious of Kerry that he settled down with a biggest ooooh! But at least America has its share of sporting losers and Democrats, if nothing, are getting better at it with each passing election.
The world no longer seems as gloomy (other reasons though; the green is back on the top, if you ever notice) and I have accepted the fate, although I have occasionally wondered why a foreign election in a foreign land should bother me so much but it did and somewhere deep down, I am glad that the campaign circus is over. No more getting up in the middle of the night screaming “Hope is on the way” and “Wrong War, Wrong Time, and Wrong Place.” But if I am around, I will again cheer for possibly Hillary in 2008. Or will it be Obama, nah! America is not ready for a black president, at least not now. Cultural Conservatism is on the rise and media is already asking if liberalism (all kinds) is dying in America. But then again, it has bounded back after the impressive Reagan years and will see resurgence after couple of years of moral police knocking on your doors using the now-sure-to-be-ratified Patriot Act. But the huge swarthy red patch on the map bordered by shades of blue is scary. I can only barely resist myself from singing aloud “Hum Honge Kamayaab” because even if I do no one eligible to vote is going to understand; as Kerry says in his probably final public words, the dream shall live on.
I am still unable to understand what else the Democrats could have done to have a different result. According to me, they did possibly everything that a moderately faithful liberal does — rally the voters, be clear on the social issues, criticize a wrong war, mercilessly attack an incompetent president but guess it wasn’t enough. The young first-time voters were expected to make a difference; they did turn up in overwhelming numbers — 17% of the total turnout but then so did everyone else as America posted an incredibly high voter response.
Unfortunately morality issues — gay marriage, stem cells, and abortion — made the religious right and conservatives turn up in record numbers too. It is surprising to see a developed country with marked tendencies for heralding change to resist obvious social dilemmas. I overheard a lady speak to her colleague, telling her that couple of her friends voted just because they were “afraid” of a gay takeover. However regressive that might seem, it did inspire many people to vote in favor of Bush solely for that reason. His tough stance on Islamic “terrorism” gave Crusade status to his global fight on terror, leading many evangelicals to believe that this was the second coming of the Christ, no matter that he didn’t seem to have enough brain cells as the first one; the Iran of the West, as I like to call it. Roe vs. Wade (the thingie that keeps abortion legal) might be expected to be overruled. Imagine New York, Washington DC, and San Francisco, the three regions already hit by terrorism or most likely to be and have the highest concentration of homosexuals; yet they vote overwhelmingly against Bush’s moral and terror police. This entire obsession with religion without a Christ Janmabhoomi on the continent, and we are expected to believe Pilgrims came here to escape religious persecution, strange, right?
The intellectual media is equally befuddled at the turn of events and wonder in which world are they living in. But I see a strong similarity to the Indian Elections where the India Shining campaign failed miserably. The urban elites fully agreed with BJP’s vision and plans to lead India to global heights but the average voter was more concerned regarding local issues pertaining to basic amenities like water, power and roads. Farmers in the rural hinterland voted overwhelming for the Congress and led by the Gandhi charisma, loved Sonia. Emotions ruled your choice and tendencies to keep a winning combination intact was ignored. Instead we have a puppet Prime Minister, an idiosyncratic foreign minister, and a emboldened Left Front halting any moves for privatization. If we did the same mistake (according to me); we shouldn’t be questioning America’s choice to vote with their hearts instead of their minds. Another factor similar to Indian polls was the failure of the exit polls. At end of voting day, they were predicting a Kerry win and even had the chummies in the White House nervous. But in the end, exit polls cannot always hide behind the margin of error excuse in these times of sharply divided populace.
Certainly in America, Democrats will have to take a long hard look at redefining themselves. Minority Leader Tom Daschle too got washed away in the conservative wave and eleven states including Georgia ratified the ban on gay marriage. The only silver lining seemed to be the approval of state funding of stem-cell research in California. Ahnold has his head set straight in spite of being a Republican; wonder if he has enough clout to modify the Constitution to run for President in 2008. The way things are going in California lately, it wouldn’t be too bad to have him as a President. On a lesser note, Bobby Jindal settled for a space among the masses of the House of Representative after not winning the gubernatorial race last year.
Anyways, we have Bush for another 4 years, for better or for worse. Bush lost the popular vote last time and ran the country as if he enjoyed a resounding mandate. This time, around he not only has the unhindered electoral victory but also has the popular vote (by four million) in his favor. Any guesses on how he plans to interpret that? We just have to live with it and be prepared for the worst. The comics find their livelihood intact (but we know their opinions don’t matter anymore). We can at least look forward to the war ending in Iraq but then also he might be starting three more elsewhere. Freedom is, indeed on the march. Yeah, right!
But on a final note, as Lance Klusner would put it, we lost an election, so what? No one died. Tell that to the troops in Iraq.