Democrats must feel like they've been run over by a truck. Not only have they been denied the presidency, which they were quite sure they'd win in the closing days of the campaign, but they've lost more ground in the U.S. House and Senate.
Even their No. 1 man in Washington and top obstructionist to GOP legislation, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, was sent packing. Republican John Thune exposed how the three-term South Dakota senator had lost touch with the conservative values of his state.
In fact, cultural moral values was the sleeper issue in this campaign.
And it caught top Democrats napping.
Democrats, especially liberal Democrats like John Kerry and his political aides, think morality is a "wedge issue" that ruthless Republicans use to mislead gullible, not-very-bright Americans in the "backward" red states. They just don't get it. Traditional values are not a distraction or a cynical "wedge." Many Americans regard morality as central to their culture and, yes, their religion - more important, even, than their economic well being. Referenda in 11 states, including Georgia, that overwhelmingly rejected same-sex marriage should be a message to Democrats that elections are about more than just materialistic issues.
Until Democrats can re-establish their "values" connection, red state Americans will continue to regard East Coast presidential candidates like Kerry as being outsiders; they may as well be from France.
Values and morality issues are what enabled the Bush campaign to mobilize get-out-the-vote drives that were stronger than the Democrats'. Millions of evangelicals who stayed home four years ago flocked to the polls Tuesday for the GOP, swamping the new youth registrants that Bruce Springsteen and other Democratic activists had signed up.
His aggressive determination to protect Americans from terrorists and stabilize a liberated, democratic Iraq also counted a lot in garnering George W. Bush more votes than any presidential candidate in history; and, for the first time since his father won in 1988, the president won a clear majority of the popular vote: 51 percent.
Finally, Bush can be proud of the uphill battle he waged to hang onto the White House. Not only was Osama bin Laden against him, but so were most of the so-called mainstream media, Hollywood, academia, the United Nations and political elites everywhere, at home and abroad.
Many of these Bush-bashers look down their nose at Bush backers. But today it's ordinary Americans being heard, not the elites. Isn't democracy wonderful?
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