Pickett's Charge

This election was the Gettysburg of the culture war. Both sides came in full strength. There was confusion and misdirection on both side, but in the end the Democrats risked it all in a full frontal assault and were decisively rebuffed. This is a crushing defeat, not because relatively small vote margin (51-48%) but precisely because both sides gave it their best shots. There is no reason to believe Democrats can regroup and hit with any greater force next time, nor that the Republicans will be much weaker in four years hence.

The Democrats made this election a referendum on the George Bush presidency. They claimed that they were more united than at any time in living memory and they boldly raved and swore that they were absolutely united in their resolution to defeat George Bush. They rolled out all the big liberal guns from the elite media, Hollywood and academia. They rocked the vote and registered a record number of new voters. On the day of the elections, they got their voters, new and old, to the polls in record numbers. Everybody knew the stakes involved. 527 groups told everyone about George Bush and George Bush himself made it abundantly clear where he stood on the full range of issues. When all the shouting was over, Bush won with the largest vote total ever. More importantly, he won a majority of all the votes cast - something no Democrat had been able to do since 1976 ? and increased Republican strength in both the Senate and the House, after already having done that in the midterm elections two years ago. This was big, no matter how you spin it.

George Bush now has the ability to move on his agenda of victory in Iraq, tort reform, reform of Social Security and ownership society. He should cooperate with Democrats, but he can probably accomplish his goals without very many of them. If successful, George Bush will change the paradigm of American politics and both sides will be living in a new world by 2008.

Robert E. Lee might have won at Gettysburg if he had moved to the right instead of committing to a direct assault on Union strength. Democrats might well learn this lesson and MOVE TO THE RIGHT. They can certainly do better than John Kerry in 2008, but it will also be time to change the message, not just the messenger.

Posted by Jack at November 6, 2004 10:20 PM