As I follow the aftermath of the election, in which my choice lost, I note some reactions. One is the disappointment at the loss, as a force of the lead up and hard work and hoping of the Kerry supporters; the other is the call for a new approach, a change in tactics, and/or over analysis of causes.
I was, of course, disappointed, but I don’t advocate a change in tactics. Congresspeople are hanging their heads, wishing the world was different. But I hope that the powers that be avoid a see change in approach for the Dems, because this would miss the point. The numbers, number one, are on any scale closely competitive nationally. State by state tells an uneven yet interesting story, which I interpret loosely as able to change quickly, depending on future events. In some cases, as in Ohio, the vote reveals a narrow split, as does New Hampshire. Consider Missouri at 53/46 and Alabama at 63/37. Some states show a marked split, while others, especially in the blue, are tending to red. I won’t double check this, but either way, the point remains the same. From sea to sea anything is possible even in the face of state by state trends, under the auspices of federalism.
The “attitudes” of any given time span always trend. At the moment, the trend is conservative. Anyway, this all means that a few million people, which, in my mind, are the same people you meet every day and have nice conversations with, could just as easily have swung Kerry’s way, but didn’t. In some cases, people will vote against their interests, to use Thomas Frank’s (What’s the Matter with Kansas?) phrase, and go with an anti-Roe vote or on terrorism issues (closer perhaps than any moral vote), all the while feeling their pocketbooks whithering as the world slowly changes under their feet. People vote on the visceral, not on the intellectual.
In any event, “reaction” is rarely a good way of going about solving a perceived problem. I myself have come to many conclusions about the things I think are fair, good, or honest, and I don’t plan on changing those things because of a close loss. Iraq is a great mistake; the arts and sciences need strong support; education needs teachers to have a stronger role in how learning happens; the press needs to stop trying to be the boss’s friend; and people of whatever kind need to be left to pursue what they wish or care to pursue.