Let me begin by dispelling the notion that one of the great political re-alignments will occur as a result of this election. I will fess up to the pseudo-secret – John Kerry was too liberal to be elected President. If the Democrats had run a more moderate candidate, like General Wesley Clark, Congressman Dick Gephardt or Senator Bob Graham, this past Tuesday would have been quite different.
This election re-affirms the notion that the Democratic Party is incapable of choosing a candidate who is saleable to the rest of the nation. A large portion of this country was looking for a reason to vote Bush out of office and John Kerry’s alternative liberal candidacy functioned as a reason not to. In the political cemetery John Kerry will be buried next to Michael Dukakis and Walter Mondale. His epitaph will read – “Here lies Kerry, another product of a Democratic machine that still can’t figure it out.”
I would not be surprised if the President considers his 51 percent majority to be a mandate for his neo-conservative chicken-hawk war-pimp brand of foreign policy and as a vindication of his evangelical homophobia. For the next four years, governing from the center will be about as realistic an expectation as a good party on the frat quad.
Fear not – radical conservatism will cause a backlash from moderates and if the Democratic Party can find some room under its currently small tent it will again find success. I am reminded of the story of the man who continually bangs his head against a wall. When asked why he is inflicting injury upon himself, he replies – “Because it feels so good when I stop.” If the Democrats can stop nominating uber-liberals they can begin to rebuild. This will take years.
As for whom we can expect to arise as the next Clintonesque messiah – the jury is still out. Kerry easily won the West Coast and the Northeast. Bush easily won everything else except the upper Midwest. States bordering the Great Lakes – Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania are the new battleground. They are morally conservative, blue collar and agriculturally dependent. If the Democratic Party is to be successful in this area of the country it will have to do three things.
First, it will have to allow itself to become more morally conservative. Second, it will have to revert back to its protectionist tendencies. Third, it will have to embrace a candidate that is pro-agriculture. Kerry was none of these things. Odds are that the Democratic Party will not find a candidate that meets these requirements unless a dynamic politician, who fits the description, is already going to run.
Possibilities are Evan Bayh, Tom Vilsack, Ed Rendell and Russ Feingold. Evan Bayh has been governor and secretary of state of Indiana. He is currently a senator. He is relatively unknown. Tom Vilsack is the sitting governor of Iowa. He was being thrown around as a possible vice presidential candidate this past year. Ed Rendell is the sitting governor of Pennsylvania and was the former Democratic National Convention chair. Russ Feingold, a senator from Wisconsin, gained popularity as John McCain’s co-author of the Bi-partisan Campaign Finance Reform Act. Also notable, he was the only Senator to vote against the USA PATRIOT Act.
It is candidates like these that will allow the Democrats to re-take the presidency in the future. Let’s just hope they are able to realize this.
Morosi can be reached at email@example.com.