Friday, November 05, 2004

electoral college

A Mandate?


By now you've no doubt seen the headlines proclaiming the death of the Democratic party. How we've become irrelevant and have much soul-searching to do. Grover Norquist says we should simply accept our minority party status (Grover Norquist is an evil bastard, by the way, and I hate him more than I hate Karl Rove), Bush says he has political capital and he's going to spend it, and Gary Bauer says that Democrats are out of step with mainstream America.

That's pretty outrageous to me. 48% versus 51% of the people who voted didn't cast their ballot for the "mainstream". That's a pretty slim majority, not a resounding defeat akin to those experienced by Mondale and Dukakis in the 1980s. The process of gerrymandering is what made the Congress so so red, not some wholesale rejection of Democratic policies. I think there's some good to be had in Republican policies too, though I really can't see how we can afford to privatize social security and how it's anything but a windfall for financial services companies. I think Americans are willing to see how the NCLB legislation affects schools, and I am too. I think it's unneccessarily punitive, but I appreciate it's goals. There's room for major improvement, but trying to establish a baseline for the nation's schools is a very good idea. Doing so without providing better social support and enculturation for the children and parents attached to failing schools in failing districts is only doing half the job. And now we're hearing talk of Bush cutting HHS and education funds for the rest of his term. I have no clue how we improve the situation even as we remove funding. But this is the way of the federal government when Republicans are in power. They starve the social services and then whine about crime. They place mandates upon the state and don't fund them. It's unfortunate, but that's the lay of the land.

Regardless of what happens over the next four years, I don't think Americans voted for Bush because they approve of his domestic policies. They voted for Bush because "you don't change horses in midstream," though we'll still be fighting the war on terror in 2008 when he's termed out. I suppose then we just get a horse of the same color--Rudy Giuliani. They voted for Bush because they can't handle the idea of gay couples having the same partnership benefits as heterosexual couples. I read a letter on AndrewSullivan.com that argued that the backlash against gay marriage was a response to having it decided for a populace by judicial fiat. Well, Brown v. Board of Ed. was decided that way too and ultimately it was a good thing. If not the be-all and end-all of educational equality, it got the ball rolling and gave much-deserved legal protection to students of color. It put America farther along the path to actually achieving its ideals. This isn't to say that I didn't cringe a little when Gavin Newsom started marrying people in SF. I knew the country wasn't ready for that. But sometimes what's right can't wait, and I suppose that's how gays feel. I can't fault them for that.

So I'll take my democratic lumps. It's implicitly understood that although the Dems are supposedly opposed to gay marriage, they are the more amenable to change in this realm. I hope that eventually the rest of this country can come around.

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