Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Election -- What Else?!

So it's over. Months and years of campaigning, billions of dollars spent, and all for it to be over in less than a day. I'm not saying I'm not relieved that it is over, but there is a strange sense of emptiness in me, as though I'm not quite sure what will fill the void that this race has left in my thinking for the last few months; it also seemed a lot darker than I remember as I was out walking tonight.

There are lots of thoughts swirling through my head about this right now, but I'll try to sort it out to the few that I think are important.

  • The swing states

Anyone else a little surprised to see Florida and Ohio (the "Florida" of 2000 and of 2004, respectively, so they were projecting) be not nearly so close as all the analysts throught? I figured that the networks were going to be a lot more careful this time than they were last time, especially with the potential swing states, but that didn't turn out to really mean a lot, did it? It just meant that they'd be careful with Ohio and Florida even when it was obvious to a five-year-old that they'd been taken by Bush.

  • The turnout

To be honest, I felt a little bit betrayed on behalf of the entire part of the country which trusted that people cared enough to get out there and vote. I'll admit that early on in the night, when they were projecting that they thought 120 million people would vote, I was a bit quick to say that I wouldn't be surprised if even more got out there to vote. I wouldn't have been surprised to see a turnout of 130 million, but then again, I'm no political expert. It's been said that now, all of a sudden, it's not "cool" to be apathetic, but it appears to be only a little less cool than it was before. The youth didn't get out in the numbers that they should have (keep in mind, I'm saying this in regards to the youth at large, not just in their capacity as majority Kerry voters). I know people who didn't vote just because they didn't apply for their absentee ballots quite in time, and that's no excuse, in my mind. These are people who know about and care about the issues, and their apathy kept them from being counted again. I have no doubt that my few friends were not the only ones in such a position.

  • The chances, the polls, and "the fight"

I feel like the polls leading up to the presidency didn't mean a thing, and like this election should indicate that more than anything to us. Zogby and Gallup were like our crack and heroin for months, but in the end they didn't mean anything. I thought that Kerry had a good chance because it was the way I felt in my mind, not just from watching the polls. I thought that for the same reason that I thought the turnout would blow me away. But no matter what's said, Bush won a clear majority of the electoral college, and a clear majority (not just a plurality) of the popular vote. As such, I don't think a fight would have been worth it (not to mention the fact that there were no states close enough to swing it for him). In 2000, it was close enough for both sides to be justified in the fight, especially since Gore had only a plurality, and not the clout of a majority.

  • The summary

So where does this leave me? I'm pretty happy that the thing's over without a lengthy legal battle, no matter what the outcome. I'm glad that a precedent hasn't been set for elections like 2000's becoming the norm. I'm a little bit scared to see what's going to happen in the next four years. If the last four years were what Dubya did when he didn't have a "mandate" and when he had to worry about re-election, I'm pretty apprehensive about the possibilities until 2008. There are judicial seats opening up which will be filled by Bush, and there's still a war going on (not to mention a certain Doctrine to apply). I would not be surprised to see many things over the next four years, including:

  • Roe v. Wade overturned
  • Conflict in Iran, Syria, or North Korea
  • Constitutional amendment allowing Arnold Schwarzenegger to be President
  • Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage (unlikely, but wouldn't surprise me)

Especially with the new clear majority in the Congress, there'll be less impediments to getting any of these wedge issues passed. Conservatives are gaining the momentum to make a "change of mind" a pretty uncomfortable proposition for the forseeable future. Say, for instance, the tax cuts are made permanent, and then the country trends liberal in 20 years. It's going to be awfully hard to do anything about that, even if the politicians want to. Or even if the people want to. That's just an example, though. One of the scariest things, I think, is the clear conservative majority that'll be enjoyed in the Supreme Court. "Morals" and "values" are being championed, and as such, a lot of the personal freedoms that religious zealots have crusaded against are going to be in danger in the next four years.

Anyway, that's all I've got right now. I'll be back later. Leave some comments, dammit.