Wait 'til next year

November 4, 2004

On Tuesday morning, I enthusiastically went to my polling place and waiting in line for over an hour in order to cast my vote. Using New York's antiquated mechanical lever voting machines, I found it especially satisfying to cast my vote with a solid "thunk." That felt good.

Unfortunately, the day went downhill from there. When did being a liberal become as frustrating as being a Mets fan?

For more than twenty million Bush voters, the most important issue facing the US is not the economy, not security, but "values." According to CNN's exit poll, 22% of voters cited "values" as the most important issue in this election. 80% of the of those voters voted for Bush. In particular, the main "value" issue at stake in this election was gay marriage. While the Presidential election itself may not have been a referendum on that issue, voters in 11 states overwhelmingly approved state constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage.

These voters are more concerned with denying others of rights than with their own self-interest. In fact, many of these voters are hurt by Bush economic policy and would have been significantly better off with Kerry policy. These voters care more about the personal conduct of other citizens than issues that affect their own economic self-interest or personal security.

Nearly 20 million Americans are more concerned with preventing the state from recognizing monogamous relationships between same-sex couples than burdening their children with a broken economy and debt crisis. Nearly 20 million Americans are more concerned with preventing the state from recognizing monogamous relationships between same-sex couples than ensuring everyone has access to affordable health care and insurance. Nearly 20 million Americans are more concerned with preventing the state from recognizing monogamous relationships between same-sex couples than educating their children. Do these voters fear that recognizing same-sex unions will force them to have a homosexual relationship?

So we clearly lost this election. The obvious question is: what next? Should Democrats reach out to the social reactionaries by embracing their "traditional values"? No. John Kerry wisely avoided compromising on principles by pandering on those issues. We are better on the issues than BushCo. Where we lose is in framing the issues.

Over the last 30+ years, conservatives have created and institutionalized a movement, with groups like the Federalist Society, Heritage Foundation, the Washington Times and Fox News Channel providing talking heads to spin political discussion. Most importantly, they have effectively controlled the language of political discussion. We need to frame the issues using our language and not merely try to respond using the same language. We need to clearly frame our core principles and values. The problem is not our position on the issues, but merely how we discuss those issues.

It is vitally important that we continue to develop progressive institutions to counteract the reactionary institutions which have enabled conservatives to effectively control political discourse and created the environment which helped to elect Bush. MoveOn.org, the Center for American Progress, the American Constitution Society, Media Matters, Democracy for America, Americans Coming Together, Air America and the progressive blog community are a start. We need to get our vision out in the public discourse using our rhetoric.

Here in New York City, it seems like the Bush voter is a mythical creature who doesn't exist. This is not merely perception. Here in Brooklyn, Kerry earned 74.14% of votes and Bush 24.79%. In Manhattan, 81.66% of voters chose Kerry and 16.61% picked Bush. In the Bronx, 82.35% of voters supported Kerry.

Perhaps it is time to get out into Red America and find out who these people are. Or, maybe we should simply secede, and join Canada.

Posted by Andrew Raff at November 4, 2004 10:42 PM
Trackback URL for this entry: http://www.andrewraff.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/3114

Jeez, guess what?? The Dems lost the election... And the Big City Response, is that Kerry lost because the rest of the USA is too stupid to vote the NYC/Big City way...
Sounds like liberal America is preparing to become more marginal each and every election...

Secede??? What exactly can the average NewYorker do that is in the least bit real and concrete? In any desert Island reality, we'd have to pick the NYC resident last... First pick to help survive on a desert island, would be Mr or Ms Redneck, who is so unsophisticated, that it doesn't actually take a super to change their light bulbs...

Liberal USA has spent 40 years chasing failed policies, all the while forgetting what the original liberal party (English) was all about, the ability to consider points of view other than one's own, just like Hillel. But the liberal "push" are just as challenged as their republican counterparts, except that they can't win elections, can't grow food, can't drive, can't fix anything, can't shoot, and sure as damn well can't win elections...

If the dems are not going to spend eternity in limbo, they will have to reconnect with real working people, and not take their directions from effete, arrogant, useless latte swilling snobs...

And I voted for Kerry, but you guys are just so good at losing respect, with your mindless, egotistical arrogance...

Posted by: Ty Enright on November 8, 2004 06:49 PM

"Liberal USA has spent 40 years chasing failed policies"

Ty, which specific policies, which "Liberal USA" has spent 40 years chasing, have "failed" ?

Posted by: Andrew on November 8, 2004 10:33 PM

If the final Ohio vote count shows Kerry as the populist, then Ohio goes to Kerry. Now if Kerry made a concession speech based on faulty information, then his speech is null and void (contract law). In other words, when the votes are finally totaled, it is only then when we will know who carried Ohio. Kerry cannot trump the electorate with his speech. Remember, electorates cast their OFFICIAL vote in December, based upon the states carried by each side. If you think this is not true, then why wouldn't every electorate vote in December 100% for the candidate who did NOT concede?

Posted by: Cindy S. on November 9, 2004 02:15 PM