First off, I'm going to judging at the Apple Valley debate tournament this weekend. So no blogging from Friday till Monday. I probably could use the break. And listening to dozens of high schoolers talk and argue intelligently about democracy promotion is real break from election watching (the sad thing is, I'm serious. It's been awhile since I've been able to see anything substantive on the topic).
Now, some more post-election thoughts, responding to the commenters on the last post. A lot of people argued that democrats were in trouble with "value voters," IE the famous "God, Guns, and Gays" crowd. They're absolutely right. As Noam Schieber reminds us, the Conservative vote came out in force this election, with 34% of the electorate describing itself as Conservative (compared to 29% in 2000). That's a huge shift. What's more, according to polling the most important issue for voters this election wasn't Iraq, or the Economy, or Terrorism. It was "Moral Values" (edging out "economy" 22-20). To paraphrase Andrew Sullivan: For Bush's base, it wasn't about the war on terror. It was about the war on gay unions.
All of this, I think, only reaffirms my point though. The "moral values" issues probably have the least substantive discussion of any major campaign issue. You never see a real debate about gay marriage or abortion. Republicans just say "GAY PEOPLE!" and voters run screaming to the polls, while Democrats just try and play damage control. In other words, 1) Bush won due to 2) "values-voters" who 3) are voting off issues that get no discussion beyond bumpersticker platitudes. Style 1, Substance 0.
So to win, the Democrats either have to shift the ground of debate onto areas where they have stronger platitudes, or they need to push the debate beyond cute sound bites. Not only do I find the former morally abhorrent, but I think that it won't work. Abortion and gay marriage are important concerns for many people, and Democratic efforts to ignore them are likely to backfire. And yet, the latter option is a paradox. As former guestblogger Greg Ihrie points out, the mainstream media presents an irreconcilable obstacle to these goals. I think that, in the long term, blogs may counter the influence of the MSM. But what are to do in the short run, when it appears that voters care more about isolating gays and lesbians than annihilating Al-Qaeda? At times it seems we need a silver bullet.
And yet, hope remains. Today, polarization has divided America into Republican and Democrat. Politicians get votes by appealing to the worst in voters. We face grave threats abroad, and yet we fight amongst ourselves at home. Honest disagreement is presented as betrayal, the slightest hint of bipartisanship is seen as traitorous. I do not argue that Americans must ignore legitimate grievances. The solution to partisan vitriol is more speech, not enforced silence. The politics of deceit and deception; bigotry and apathy; prejudice, fear, hate, and anger, can only win out for so long. In the long run, justice will reign in this great land. In place of fear, we can offer hope. In place of bigotry, we can offer brotherhood. In place of partisanship, unity, in place of factions, community, in place of lies, honesty. The legions of justice stand battered but not broken. There is a better way out there, and it is up to us to seize the initiative. And when the gauntlet is thrown down, we will meet the forces of wrong, fight them, beat them, and stand victorious in a stronger, safer, more just America. In cities and in towns, villages and in hamlets, in farms and in apartments, from young to old,Democrat to Republican, Christian to Jew to Muslim to Atheist, black or white, rich or poor, gay or straight, north, south, east, west and all over this great land, we will not be silenced, we will not be quiet, we will not equivocate, and most of all we will not be ignored.
There is hope yet for America. It is a hope based on what binds this nation together as one. The principles of liberty for all, justice for all, equality for all, are what unite this country together as the greatest country in the world. Barack Obama said it best: "The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America." And I believe that, whether or not the standard bearer is a Republican or Democrat, a Liberal, Conservative, or Independent, the day of reckoning draws upon us. The era of hate is over. The American people will not let their government, their churches, their synagogues and their mosques be hijacked in the name of exclusion and bigotry. The party of Abraham Lincoln, who freed the slaves, and Dwight D. Eisenhower, who desegregated the schools, and of Anthony Kennedy, who affirmed that yes, Gay people too are full and equal Americans, cannot be allowed to become the party of Jerry Falwell, Tom DeLay, Pat Robertson and others who wish for a divided, infighting, spiteful America. There is too much at stake for that, and Republicans and Democrats of wisdom and moderation must reach out and fight back the forces of intolerance that threaten to overcome our nation. We will prevail, because we must prevail.
In the coming four years, I hope that Americans can work together, Republican and Democrat, across party lines, for the good of the country we all love so much. I pledge my support to any politician, no matter the party, who will stand beside me and work with me in the pursuit of justice. We owe it to our parents, we owe it to our children, we owe it to our country, to make America all that it can be. Much has been accomplished, but much remains to be done. The hope of America lies in the hands of the millions of American citizens who remain committed to our founding ideals, the ideals that shine as a beacon of hope to oppressed peoples around the world. And so, now more than ever, God Bless the world, God Bless the Democrats, God Bless the Republicans, and God Bless America!