About a week after the 2004 Presidential Election (after enough time had passed to digest that not only would it be four more years of the Idiot-in-Chief but also that I now lived in a red state), I began looking for political analysis of why and how America (as the headlines were screaming) had taken a step to the right.
My research lead me to an unexpected conclusion: Rather than “having a mandate that he intended to use,” Bush was in fact royally screwed because of what he had campaigned on and where his 51% winning percentage of the vote came from. To sum it up, for Republicans at every level of government who got elected in 2004 under Rove’s plan, it is very much a matter of the end justifying the means. The only problem with this is that while it got them into office, once there it was always inevitable that they could not deliver. I am delighted to say this includes Governor “cut Medicaid and every other program to Missouri’s neediest” Blunt.
Just in case you’re still utterly depressed about the national political state of affairs and don’t hold much hope for change any time soon, here’s some evidence that should give you more than a little hope (if the Democrats can actually pull themselves together by the November Mid Term Elections and become a truly viable alternative).
During the 2004 Election Campaign, Bush and the G.O.P. targeted the religious right, getting the Republican “traditional base” to rescue society from the gay marriage plague. What they didn’t realize in the process was that they couldn’t deliver for this section of their base. I firmly believe that Rove, Bush, Chaney, et al. really do not care if LGBT folk get married or not. They just saw gay marriage as a way to get “their” voters to the polls, especially in marginal races.
The religious right, on the other hand, took Bush’s 2004 victory to mean that they too had a mandate for automatic and absolute control of moral issues throughout the country, because in their eyes they singlehandedly got Bush elected again. Yet the reality is that no matter how loud these conservative fundamentalists get, they will never get enough of an ear from the Oval Office to achieve their mission.
For fundamentalist Christians, Bush’s last term is “do or die” rather than the beginning of a lasting change. They know that the American people always return to a moderate middle ground and so see the final four years of a G.W. presidency as their last chance to have their own version of “God’s will” enforced upon as many aspects of society as possible while “their man” is in charge. With this as their cause, no amount of funding for faith-based initiatives, or loading of the Supreme Court with judges that they consider “like–minded,” or any other administration policy on any other moral issue will go far enough to satisfy them.
The other major factor in Bush’s 2004 victory was the perception that as president he could better protect the country. A majority of Americans in 2004 not only supported the war in Iraq but saw it as being linked to the war on terror and 9/11. This is no longer the case. With mounting opposition to the war in Iraq, and activists like Cindy Sheehan speaking up against the war and the lies that were told to the world to justify it, combined with the continuing numbers of this country’s finest young men and women coming home in body bags, what as supposed to be a quick winnable war has turned into one that the majority of Americans now believe should NOT have been fought in the first place. This sentiment has been echoed in recent weeks by several retired U.S. Generals (who led the troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan) calling for Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation.
The myth of Bush’s superior ability to protect the homeland was shattered forever when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf States last year. Not only did countless people die because the Bush Administration ignored years of warnings about the levee system needing urgent rebuilding (he cut the funding for this vital protection each year in office), but because of the current state of FEMA and its clear inability to respond to a national disaster, countless thousands more died in the days after Katrina hit. And many thousands more are living in unimaginable conditions while still waiting for help to arrive from FEMA and the federal government, over seven months later.
While Katrina was a natural disaster and not an act of terrorism, the similarities are obvious. The pathetic federal response to this devastating hurricane shows us all how ill-prepared this president and this administration would be should an act of terrorism again occur within our borders. I can only imagine how many more people would have died at ground zero on 9-11 had FEMA been in the same state it is today.
So 2006 has not been a pretty one for President Bush or the Grand Ole Party. Though opinion polls on his job performance get worse every week, rather than address the mounting problems on all fronts the administration simply keeps saying that all is well and they will stay the course. This week, The Whitehouse finally bowed slightly to increasing pressure, both external and from within the Republican Party, and made some cosmetic changes in staff in the hopes of stopping the rot. It all seems too little too late. There are other storms ahead for the lame duck President: ever-increasing gas prices, the Scooter Libby trial, the next hurricane season, and Iran… to name but a few.
The outcome of the 2006 midterm election should be a win-win situation for anyone who is not a Republican. At worst, Republicans will lose seats, which means they will have less power and will no longer be in a position to simply do as they please. At best, they will lose so many seats that they lose control of both houses. What a wonderful way for G.W. to spend his last two years in Washington. Fasten your seatbelt, George! It’s going to be a very bumpy ride (and a delight to watch)!