Concession speeches, while great political theatre, are nonbinding. Nonetheless, barring any amazing turnovers in the final counting and certification of the ballots, George W. Bush is heading to a second term.
From a very selfish point of view, I know get to watch as our President reaps what he has sown in the world. From Iraq to al Qaeda, he now has four more years to be in power while his mistakes catch up with him, and the rest of the American people. While some of the trends he has set in place may take decades to be fully realized, we will begin receiving some clarity on how disastrous the foreign policy of this President has been. Furthermore, Republicans have always thrived by being in the minority. Now fully controlling all the levers of power, they will no longer have any scapegoats when their policies fail. From their uncontrollable urge for pork to their expansion of the role of the Federal government over the states and support of wealth over work, they will eventually reap the benefits of their policies.
The Democratic Party, on the other hand, now has some serious soul searching to do. With the leaders of the Democrats in both the House and the Senate gone, while remaining out of the White House, they now have to address a leadership void while finding an agenda that speaks to the American people. This election cycle, I refused to donate to any campaigns precisely because the stockpile of innovative ideas within the Democratic Party appeared empty. A significant component of the losses of the past three elections (2000, 2002, and 2004) have been the inability of Democrats to put forth a compelling agenda.
On this point, I have been impressed with the Republican party and the institutions that support it. While I disagree with nearly all the nonsense these groups spout, they have been fantastic in their ability to put together a coherent, organized response to their opposition. They do cross the line, they have fought dirty, but the Democrats need to sharpen their killer instinct. All while ensuring that they have a clear, compelling vision for the future. It’s that vision, clearly articulated, that will win elections. Those institutions will serve as a platform upon which future Democratic candidates can stand.
Is today disappointing? Yes, very much so. But in the not-too-distant-future, I’ll take Joshua Mitchell’s advice, find a group or set of groups to support, and urge all my fellow Democrats to do the same.