Wednesday morning and liberals around the nation are contemplating
the awful implications of another four years in Bush country.
Some New Yorkers have already applied for Canadian immigration
papers in fear of a Bush win.
The electoral map, however, offers another option—one that
may be more sensible and more durable than leaving the country.
How about a new Confederacy that combines the West Coast,
Northeastern states and Canada, all joined together in a new
Union of Provinces and States based on rational and democratic
principles? This would leave the cowboy heartland and the
South to the creationist fate they deserve—not to mention
the series of hurricanes that either the global warming they
don’t believe in—or the God they do—is sending as a message
The result of the American election reveals a country deeply
split, geographically and ideologically—or rather theologically.
It reveals a Bush constituency so deeply conflicted internally
that they ended up casting their ballots for a president who
supports a number of policies that they actually disagree
This disconnect can be seen in the victory of the referendum
in Florida to raise the minimum wage—a centerpiece of the
Kerry campaign. Bush has resolutely opposed an increase in
Washington, but was totally evasive on the issue during the
campaign. Over 72 percent of Floridians voted for the raise,
which means that at least 60 percent of Bush voters supported
a measure that is socially and economically the antithesis
of what their candidate stands for.
There even seems to be some evidence that some black religious
voters, long a traditional vote-bank for the Democrats, may
have succumbed on the “gay marriage/evangelical” issues and
voted for a party that in some localities is the direct descendant
of the Dixiecrats and the Klan. It was a triumph of the Bush
campaign to secure a chunk of the black vote while still successfully
evoking the coded racism that has worked so well for the GOP
across the country.
Recent polls from the University of Maryland showed that the
Bush campaign had concealed much of its real political and
economic agenda from its supporters—who are out to the left
of Kerry on many issues. But the key issue for Bush voters
was security and terrorism. Many still believe in the Iraq
War and the “war on terror” with a conviction that is as faith-based
as so much of their voting. As that poll showed, over 7 percent
of Bush supporters believed that weapons of mass destruction
had been found, and that Saddam Hussein was behind the Sept.
So what are the consequences for the nation, apart from renewed
scrutiny of the Constitution’s creakily democratic processes?
Slightly more likely than the union with Canada is that the
Republican Party, under the renewed control of the deeply
conservative ideologues, marches down the dead-end charted
by the British Conservative Party. In other words, it will
ultimately reduce itself to an unelectable rump by shedding
the saner and more tolerant Republicans, like George Pataki
in New York and Arnold Schwarzenegger in California, whose
politics are not as right wing as the Bible Belt would wish.
On the brighter side still—despite the appalling levels of
voter ignorance in the most expensive election in history—the
election marked unprecedented levels of popular participation.
Set rolling by Howard Dean’s grassroots campaign, volunteers
went to work on the Democratic campaign on a scale not seen
in decades past. In safer states like New York and Massachusetts,
thousands took weeks off work to get out the vote in swing
states like Pennsylvania, where, incidentally, a core of British
Labor and Union volunteers defied Tony Blair to canvass for
The flood of volunteers, voter registrations, and, by American
standards, high turnout led to great Democratic optimism.
However, Democrats failed to notice that the evangelical voters
too were turning out in large numbers. They were motivated,
in part, by state referenda seeking to ban gay marriages,
and by the abortion issue—one of those peculiarly American
touchstone issues that trumps all rational considerations
of war and peace, prosperity and social justice.
However, while most Kerry supporters were clear what they
were voting against, the Kerry campaign was much less clear
in showing voters what they would be voting for. The Bush
campaign was able to successfully attack Kerry on positions
that he then failed to articulate convincingly. But it must
be recognized that any such effort to define himself was indeed
an uphill struggle against the constant intellectual erosion
of overtly partisan news and talk shows.
The final piece of good news: the unprecedented mobilization
on behalf of the Kerry-Edwards ticket may help the Democratic
Party escape from being a bran-tub of special interests and
minorities. It may lay the groundwork for a broader agenda
that will bring the various factions together. At present,
so many blue-collar workers whose wages are frozen, who face
export of their jobs abroad, and whose unemployment benefits
are about to disappear, continue to abhor the Democrats as
the party of abortion and gay marriage. If the Democrats cannot
frame a platform that appeals to those voters, then there
is little hope for the Democratic Party—or for the United
States for that matter.
As for the rest of the world, they’ll just have to work out
a way to carry on together without the constructive input
of the world’s strongest military power.
Williams writes on the United Nations for AlterNet. His work
has appeared in Foreign Policy in Focus, The Nation,