2008 Election, 2004 Crazy.

No doubt people will have contests to find the craziest day-after editorial about how we are all marxists now. I can’t wait to read the winners, but in the interest of being fair and balanced I want to give you my favorite liberal editorial and video meltdowns from 2004.

November 5th, I was hungover and not happy about the world. However I didn’t fell we had abandoned the Enlightenment Project – I just thought we elected some lying stealing corrupt little scumbags back into office when we really shouldn’t have, and we’d try to get them next time (little did I know about how 2006 would turn out!).

However a brilliant man Garry Wills (who wrote for the National Review in the 60s, and wrote some excellent books on Reagan) wrote a really depressing editorial in the nytimes the day after the election that I did not need to read with a headache:

The Day the Enlightenment Went Out

This election confirms the brilliance of Karl Rove as a political strategist. He calculated that the religious conservatives, if they could be turned out, would be the deciding factor. The success of the plan was registered not only in the presidential results but also in all 11 of the state votes to ban same-sex marriage. Mr. Rove understands what surveys have shown, that many more Americans believe in the Virgin Birth than in Darwin’s theory of evolution.

This might be called Bryan’s revenge for the Scopes trial of 1925, in which William Jennings Bryan’s fundamentalist assault on the concept of evolution was discredited. Disillusionment with that decision led many evangelicals to withdraw from direct engagement in politics. But they came roaring back into the arena out of anger at other court decisions – on prayer in school, abortion, protection of the flag and, now, gay marriage. Mr. Rove felt that the appeal to this large bloc was worth getting President Bush to endorse a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage (though he had opposed it earlier)…

America, the first real democracy in history, was a product of Enlightenment values – critical intelligence, tolerance, respect for evidence, a regard for the secular sciences. Though the founders differed on many things, they shared these values of what was then modernity. They addressed “a candid world,” as they wrote in the Declaration of Independence, out of “a decent respect for the opinions of mankind.” Respect for evidence seems not to pertain any more, when a poll taken just before the elections showed that 75 percent of Mr. Bush’s supporters believe Iraq either worked closely with Al Qaeda or was directly involved in the attacks of 9/11…

The moral zealots will, I predict, give some cause for dismay even to nonfundamentalist Republicans. Jihads are scary things. It is not too early to start yearning back toward the Enlightenment.

Man, did people say some embarrassing things right after that election! As for my favorite video meltdown, I also remember blogging (4 years ago!) Lawrence O’Donnell calling for a secession of Blue States from the Union. (Read that transcript; watch the video if you can. It is so funny knowing now what we thought then.)

However we felt then, in a less-exaggerated form everyone feels now given Bush’s popularity numbers (even his own party doesn’t want him). I do think that the November 5th editorials this time around will less stand the test of time.

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2 Responses to 2008 Election, 2004 Crazy.

  1. ginandtacos says:

    I hesitate to go back and look at everything I had to say in 2004. It would probably be embarrassing. That said.

    I think the biggest problem was the universality of the narrative on what happened in 2004 – the GOP tapped into this majority-building block of evangelicals who would ensure that no candidate who wasn’t hard-right on social issues could win. We were bombarded with that message both from the left and from the right.

    It turns out that said group was just the post-Roe GOP base and that the group who pushed Bush up to 51% was relatively prosperous working- or middle-class suburbanites who were convinced that Osama bin Laden was going to blow up the Applebee’s where they eat after trips to the mall (which would also be blown up).

    In 2008 that same batch of voters were convinced that their bank is about to fold and they’d be out of job and home. The Evangelicals stayed and it didn’t matter. They were not a majority, they were just the base, good enough for 150 EV.

    The problem was not what happened in 2004, it was the widespread misperception of why it happened. Accepting the narrative – that Palin-loving fundamentalists were 51% and the GOP thus had a permanent advantage – made freakouts seem logical.

  2. ginandtacos says:

    Oh, and if you want to see hysteria and bitterness, check out this roll call of columns:


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