God, guns, gays and the Jesus factor won this election. The politics of morality is an area that the Democrats have failed to capitalize on, and that is why Sen. John F. Kerry will go down in history as one of only a few presidential candidates to lose an election to an incumbent with only a 50 percent approval rating.
Republicans didn’t just secure the White House; they got more seats in the House and Senate while enjoying a majority of state governors and disproportionate judicial influence. So the next time your conservative friend starts bitching about how liberal this campus is, just remind him or her of all the red states they can move to. Was I the only one to notice the continuity of blue states on each coast, separated by a massive blotch of red in the middle of the electoral map like a Smurf stabbed in the chest?
In a crude delineation, the basis of most voters’ preferences may be classified as a decision rooted in moral values, in the Christian sense, or rooted in public policy in a secular sense. I reluctantly congratulate the GOP for their command of moral values in their rhetoric and actions. Eleven states rejected the Armageddon-like notion of gay marriage with huge majorities voting against it. This includes Ohio, with a 62 percent majority defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
These types of wedge issues scare the average evangelical into believing that the Rapture is soon upon us, and this equates to a larger turnout of unlikely voters. Elections this close are won by the side that can get as many voters to the polls as possible who would not normally go.
Republicans gained more power in 2004 because it is much easier to bring voters to the polls to vote on simple moral issues than it is to try to explain to the average American the complications of international relations and economic policy.
Essentially, what this means is that whatever the Democrats are doing is not working. It is time to try something new. And here is the most obvious prescription: Frame these complex issues of public policy into simple moral ones. Sound too simple? It’s harder than you think since it hasn’t happened yet.
The Democrats are going to have to change as a party. There are too many centrists who are Republican lite – with the exception of that scary Zell Miller guy, who actually is just too lazy to switch parties. These centrists are digging the Dems’ hole even deeper. Right-wing pundits like Sean Hannity have framed the word “liberal” as some sort of satanic trait. Have you looked up the word in the dictionary lately? It’s not so bad – I promise.
“Liberal” issues are moral issues; it’s just that it is not necessary to refer to God when discussing them. What could be less moral than an unjust war? Oh wait, that was Howard Dean’s issue. Despite Neil Visalvanich’s bashing of the Green Party (“Electoral Heartbreak,” Daily Nexus, Nov. 4), history will show us – assuming we survive long enough – that they and Ralph Nader fought for the other moral values that Kerry was unable to frame in a moral context.
The failure of the Democrats in 2004 will have real effects on real people throughout the world, and for this I am truly heartbroken. The Dems keep tripping over their idealism in an effort to be pragmatic. This cannot and will not work as long as Republicans have control over the issue of moral values and the Democrats fail to frame their own.
This is what Nader said yesterday:
“If the Democrats do not stand for the issues that affect the daily lives of these people, many will vote on whatever issue of the day the Republicans can dream. … This year it was a vague, hypocritical morality message and a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Four years from now it will be something else, but this only works if the Democrats continue to take off the table the mainstay economic, peace and justice issues.”
Hopefully Hillary will get it right in 2008.
Ash Roughani is a senior philosophy major.