November 3, 2004
By Brian Bentley
Well, the 2004 Presidential race is finally over and good riddance, I say. For one brief, shining moment the world seemed like it might change for the better and we would make a difference and the truth would matter. But it was all an illusion. The 60's have been dead for 35 years. Grow up and get over it.
The cutthroat world of modern politics has sunk into a sewer of voter manipulation and character assassination, where the fruits of victory go to the lowest common denominator. So it is that George Walker Bush, Texas Ranger, will be our President until each of us is four years older and John Kerry is just another forgotten face from the past.
As they are fond of saying in the Super Bowl, nobody cares who comes in second. When the final gun sounded early Wednesday morning in Cleveland Ohio, John Kerry lost it with a fumble on the one-yard line. George W. Bush stomped Kerry into the Buckeye night and the footprints in the dirt belonged to Karl Rove. Back out on the playing field, half of America lay bruised and bleeding, just like in that dusty stadium in Afghanistan where the Taliban used to lead condemned prisoners to public executions.
Make no mistake, the Democrats and Progressives in this country are in serious, deep shit. Yo, Michael Moore, spin this one into a self-serving, e-mail message of false hope and tell us again how we can’t lose. Hillary Clinton, honey you might as well slap the dominatrix gear back on and assume the position. You ain’t goin’ nowhere in 2008. See ya, Tom Daschle, freshly voted-out former Democratic Leader of the Senate. Maybe if you’d had the nerve to pursue the Party’s Presidential nomination in the first place, you wouldn’t be looking for a job in the private sector next year.
It’s been only 24 hours since the Democratic Party imploded into its own private ground zero on November 2, 2004. Just one lost evening, and yet, the fallout will maim and cripple them for a generation to follow.
John Kerry, warrior that he is, was like the platoon leader who storms up the hill, only to turn around and find his entire company has deserted him. Nobody was watching the poor bastard’s back. The very people he was trying to rescue just lay down and died.
Kerry had been fed faulty intelligence from eager sycophants like Jann Wenner at Rolling Stone. The Youth of America, led by MTV, were supposed to line up behind Bruce Springsteen and Rock The Vote. But instead of learning from our mistakes in 2000, we just repeated them. As Pat Buchanan put it, “Bruce, we’re sorry to have wasted your time. It seems everyone showed up for your concert and registered, but they blew off showing up to cast ballots.”
Here’s a figure to remember: 17 percent. It’s a shameful statistic that will hang in the air like a scythe for the next four years, every time some knee-jerk liberal wag trots out the concept of the “Youth Vote.” In this election, only 17 percent of the kids between 18 and 29 who were eligible to participate, managed to unplug their iPods and answer the call of the t-shirt tagline that screamed, “Vote or Die!” How about “Die?” And get this, according to exit polls, half of those 17 percent said they supported the War in Iraq. The demographic with the most to lose in wartime wound up the biggest losers of all.
If that 17 percent figure sounds familiar, it should. In 2000, when there was a stronger economy, no war, no mass marches in the street or carefully targeted e-mail campaigns, the 18-29 voter turn-out was 17 percent. Four years later, with the specter of the Draft hanging over their apathetic heads and a flat economy of McJobs awaiting, this prime demographic crashed Internet Blog sites by the millions on Tuesday to whine about the vote count, yet couldn’t manage to make their voices heard in the only place that mattered. Somebody tell activist Eddie Vedder that Jeremy has spoken.
Meanwhile, in the land of mortgage payments and afterschool soccer practice, Bush scored a direct hit with the elusive voters dubbed the “Security Moms,” who were said to share his “values,” not to mention being completely scared stupid into believing that Dubya was the only candidate who could fight terror. Hopefully, in a couple of years, when Bush’s fundamentalist backers have overturned Roe vs. Wade, these same moms won’t hesitate to send their pregnant teenage daughters to illegal abortion doctors who operate out of shiny new Land Rovers.
Get this, George W. Bush swaggered into Florida and bagged a 3-1 majority of Hispanic voters. Many of these were Cuban immigrants who responded to his message of less government. In fact, Bush fared surprisingly well across the Latino spectrum. The logic remains a mystery. Let’s see: jobs, healthcare, the Patriot Act … How could this voting bloc be so naive as to reward a candidate who cherry picks their best kids to send off and die in war? The press kit says George W. is supposed to be “bilingual.” Somebody tell somebody this gringo is loco.
No matter how you crunched the numbers in the end, a stone-faced John Kerry was just too difficult a sell for a shell-shocked nation that wanted change, but was afraid it might be change for the worst. When Kerry completely wrote off Southerners in the final stretch of his campaign, he only reinforced the fear that a Massachusetts Yankee would not value their interests. Despite Kerry’s strong economic message, he couldn’t win the battle because he couldn’t win the trust of the people. JK made southern folk uncomfortable, just another patronizing blueblood who never type-matched with voters in the Red states.
Until the Democrats come up with a plan to make gains in the South, they might as well take the next four years off. The only Democrats to be elected President since 1964, have been southerners (LBJ, Carter and Clinton), so tacking John Edwards onto the ticket clearly wasn’t enough.
What was only whispered before this election can now be shouted out loud. There is a Jihad-like civil war going on in this country and it is a vicious clash of cultures reinforced by regional boundaries. Red and Blue State voters completely oppose what the other stands for. In this corner, social liberals, in that one, moral conservatives: polarized values in hand-to-hand combat to decide the country’s direction. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of Barbra Streisand, people in Utah who marry young, have kids, go to church regularly and pack guns vote conservatively and more often than hash-smoking, San Francisco bike messengers.
The Democrats clearly need a charismatic Bill Clintonesque ringer to step forward. The candidate must closet his progressive agendas while campaigning on Moderate values, hopefully hoodwinking the Southern rubes as masterfully as Bush stole this year’s Swing voters. The Party needs to either begin moving further to the Right to compete, or consider being marginalized out of the equation entirely. The other option is for the Democrats to split into two branches. The Far-Left wing could then marginalize itself even further with a Howard Dean-type liberal who might have the same chance of getting inside the White House as Dick Cheney has of getting inside Janeane Garofalo’s pants.
So now what? It was a good run while it lasted, but today John Kerry is a dead man walking. His national political ambitions have been reduced to faded bumper stickers. Such is the fate of war heroes who wind up as casualties, blown out of the water by Swift Boat TV campaigns. Despite stellar performances in all three Presidential debates, Kerry, even with 55 million votes, couldn’t close the deal. He was like the candidate for the job who says everything right in the interview but loses the gig to the dude who can play golf with the boss.
But talk of John Kerry is old business. There is much new business to attend to. A world of opportunity awaits the Republicans who now firmly control all three branches of government. George W. Bush lost the popular vote in 2000 and cheated his way into the White House. With no real mandate, he ran the country like Al Capone ran the South Side of Chicago.
This time around, Bush was duly elected. With a freshly resurrected Newt Gingrich and Dick Cheney pushing the buttons, he will launch offenses upon “Liberal” forces with the same genocidal vengeance that Saddam Hussein used against the Kurds. He has a vested interest in keeping Americans at each other’s throats and the country at war. It is his greatest accomplishment, the Diversion. Like a shell game, the marks can’t keep their eyes on the ball. The purest form of any rule is to divide and conquer. So while Bin Laden chills in Tora Bora, Bush pursues conservative domestic agendas like Tommy Lee Jones chases fugitives.
John Kerry’s agendas now read like weathered Dead Sea Scrolls. Stem cell research and global warming will remain fringe issues until Hell freezes over or the polar icecaps melt. Universal healthcare, like military intelligence, is now just another oxymoron. The good news is that Bill Maher won’t run out of comedy material for another four years. The bad news is that the rest of us have run out of options.
Somewhere in the misty graveyard of CBS News, a pallid and ghostly Dan Rather wanders the empty halls at night, a lost spirit who cannot rest in peace. He has instructed his underlings in the newsroom to leave Ohio in the undecided column until every last provisional ballot has been counted. What’s the frequency, Kenneth?
Outside, a mob has formed and the gathered masses light torches and press harder against the studio gates like they are pushing against the gates of Hell. They can smell the blood of a wounded animal. Inside, Rather girds himself for a date with oblivion like Tony Montana snorting lines at the end of Scarface. Dan’s 1968 CBS News tour covering Vietnam taught him that good soldiers go out with commentary and guns blazing. “Say hello to my little friend.”
Just then the newsroom’s private hotline rings. For one brief, delirious moment Rather imagines it has all been a dream and that this is the call he has been waiting for. Maybe Ohio has gone to Kerry after all. But neither the cavalry nor Bill Clinton is on the other line. Instead, the caller is Ralph Nader, giving Dan the inside scoop that he’s announcing his candidacy for 2008.