The Therapy Sessions
Thursday, November 04, 2004
What's next?Daily Kos:
Don't ignore history.
In 1964, the Lyndon Johnson beat Barry Goldwater by 23 points. Goldwater managed to carry just 6 states and Johnson won the electoral college 486-52. But the conservatives didn't give up. They didn't spend a lot of time wringing their hands. They regrouped and fought back. By 1968, Nixon crushed Humphrey in the electoral college 301-191 and won the popular vote by a million votes. If you oppose Bush, now isn't the time to feel sorry for yourself. Now is the time to get to work.
This Kerry = Goldwater formulation suffers from one key problem: Kerry is no Goldwater.
Goldwater was a fiery speaker: a small government, libertarian, internationalist hawk who frightened people with ideas that they weren't ready for in 1964. The Sixties were the era of big government, and Goldwater was crushed. Goldwater wasn't vindicated by Nixon (as Kos suggests) but by Reagan (and it did not take place until 16 years later).
Kerry, however, was not daring. Kerry presented warmed over ideas that the Democrats have been happy saying for twenty years. His problem? They have been largely discredited among the general population. Kerry's inability to say what he really thinks was not just a symptom of his aggravating verbosity; it was a necessary function of a candidate representing a party divided between minority groups, trial lawyers, teachers, peace types, the elderly and union people. They are a fractious group who share only one similar political idea: the role the government is to seize and redistribute wealth.
They believe wholeheartedly that the President should hand out goodies: welfare checks, higher salaries, social security benefits, trade protection, subsidies, price controls, and jobs. To them, government is the ability to take from others. The most dangerous thing in America is not the fact that they didn't have the votes to assume power; the most dangerous thing is that they almost did.
The most aggravating thing about politicians like the aristocratic Kerry is their unspoken formulation that people are too stupid or too lazy to get by without a check from the government. It is expressed well here:
The New York Times: Living Poor, Voting Rich:
In the aftermath of this civil war that our nation has just fought, one result is clear: the Democratic Party's first priority should be to reconnect with the American heartland.
I'm writing this on tenterhooks on Tuesday, without knowing the election results. But whether John Kerry's supporters are now celebrating or seeking asylum abroad, they should be feeling wretched about the millions of farmers, factory workers and waitresses who ended up voting - utterly against their own interests - for Republican candidates.
"Against their own interests."
Terrorism, national security, low taxes and social conservatism are not in their interests.
Getting help from the government is.
In the eyes of the elitist Democrats, these poor people are too dumb to even know what their interests are.
This kind of condescension stings in the heartland. And thank God it does.
If there was anyone among the Democrats who could be a Goldwater, it was Howard Dean. It would have been therapeutic watching Dean get nominated and crushed. Dean had his party's heart.
Watching Kerry the bland get beaten only shows how far their heart is from the heart of America.
So where do the Democrats go from here? It is common knowledge that Hillary Clinton will be the nominee in 2008 (I believe that she will run against John McCain).
I suspect that Clinton's national support is overrated: it is miles wide and inches deep (it is practically non-existent in the South, which, for demographic reasons, will be an increasingly important force in national politics).
Clinton will probably run with or against John Edwards and Barak Obama. All are candidates with a noticeable weak spot: foreign policy seriousness (it runs in the party these days).
By 2008, they might have another weak spot as well: their inability to present any real plan to prevent the bottomless sense of entitlement of the Baby Boom Generation from seizing more of the national wealth.
2004 was the first year in which Social Security paid out more than it took in. In 2008, this problem - coupled with the disastrous state of Medicare - will be an increasingly large drain on the US budget. Doing nothing is not an option, for the long term liabilty of these two programs is around 70 TRILLION dollars.
The amount of money that politicians will be able to hand out to buy votes in 2008 will be smaller than it is today (and it won't be going up). The programs will have to be reformed, and only the Republicans have a plan for that.
Money will have to be squeezed from other parts of the government. When voters are given a choice between liberal darlings like the EPA or law enforcement, who do you think is going to win?
2008 will be no time to talk about nationalizing health care.
The future of fiscal conservatism is bright in this country, even if our economic future is frightening.
Choices will be made by the voters, or choices will be made our creditors.
But choices will be made.
And they won't be choices that Democrats are going to like. The demise of the "Era of Big Government" was prematurely declared.
But it is coming regardless. The Democrats had better prepare for it.