Not Eudora   By Harry Welty
Published Nov 11, 2004

Death Greatly Exaggerated

Despite the funeral dirge playing for the Democrats after last week’s election there is still a lot of life left in the old Party. Let’s be honest. John Kerry was not a candidate that voters could easily warm to. Considering the natural reluctance of voters to change horses in the middle of a war, Kerry’s coming within three percentage points of unseating George Bush was a great accomplishment.

The vast swath of Republican red spread across America’s electoral map has left Democrat’s wringing their hands while the Republicans gloat. But you can visit a website that I’ve linked to at my site: www.snowbizz.com, which gives a much better picture of how America voted. It gets the red out quicker than a drop of Visine.

What you will see is that America is not nearly the divided nation that the pundits have described. Using shades of purple, to show the degree of partisanship in different regions, rather than stark red or blue, America appears much more unified. This site also uses cartograms rather than a standard map in order to emphasize population rather than land mass. By giving the proper weight to population these cartograms show just how close the 2004 election was. Most regions of America  are still open to good Republican or Democrat candidates depending only on the right issues and campaign.

Going into this election Democrats were terrified that they would be outspent by the Republicans but the unexpected success of Internet fund raising allowed them to spend as much as the GOP. I don’t see the Democrats being grossly outspent any time soon as they have been for so many recent elections.

Furthermore, Democrats are more united today than they have been for a generation. The Green and Independence Parties are not dead but they might as well be. Until they reconstitute themselves or are replaced by a new Third Party most of their former adherents will stick with the Democrats. Republican’s may not be so lucky. Although President Bush has made much of the political “capitol” that he has “earned” by winning this election he has spent much more to keep his conservative base happy. These conservatives have high expectations for the President and Congress but they may be disappointed.

George Bush’s true believers expect him to bulldoze “strict constructionists” onto the Federal Courts. But George Bush needs 60 Senators to confirm a court nominee without a floor fight and there are only 55 Republican Senators. It’s too much to expect Democratic Senators, who feel that they’ve been bullied by the Republicans, to make any easy concessions. Will the true believers make the effort to vote Republican in the future if the President fails them on the Supreme Court?

Even the Republicans in Congress could cause the President problems. George Bush may have four years to build his legacy but one-third of the US Senate and the entire House of Representatives will face the voters in two years. If Iraq is still a mess in 2006 many Republican congressman might feel free to part ways with the President. 

Things won’t be easy for George Bush and the Republican Congress. The war in Iraq has effectively become a Republican war and it’s hard to see how anyone can make a success of it. Just today Iraq’s Prime Minister Allawi had three members of his family kidnapped. The kidnappers are threatening to behead them if America doesn’t pull the marines out of Fallujah. Will January’s promised elections bring any relief from the grim headlines? Had John Kerry been elected this would have become a Democrat problem but the election leaves it a Republican tar baby.

Iraq is just the most visceral misery that George Bush and his Republican Congress face. Throw in a catastrophic deficit, threats to Social Security, and 45 million uninsured Americans and the voting public may begin to sour on the party that took us on a detour through such an expensive and poorly executed foreign adventure.

There is one more bright spot on the Democrat horizon. Young voters favored John Kerry over Bush by a significant margin. It seems likely that many of these voters will stay with the Democrats just as many young people swelled the ranks of the GOP in the Reagan Era.

If I were a Republican (and I am though barely), I would not get too cocky. The reports of the death of the Democratic Party have been greatly exaggerated.

Welty is a small time politician who lets it all hang out at: www.snowbizz.com