I have no idea how I managed to stay quiet during the entire 2008 election. I think it’s partly that I was more interested in watching commentary and hearing what other people thought and really didn’t have the energy or even desire to voice my own opinions. And part of it is probably laziness.
So here we are with President Barack Obama.
I really don’t know how we got here. I suppose there are more than a few Republicans thinking “Oh! I get it…a community organizer is a person that is probably pretty good at organizing a community. That might be a handy thing in a general election.”
There are a few topics I’d like to discuss in the next few days. I thought maybe breaking them up would be a better idea than spewing everything into one post. It might also help me get into the habit of writing consistently. Today, I would like to discuss the 2008 election in general terms.
The main point I’d like to touch on today is one that I’ve been dying to write about for months, but I’m a Cubs fan, so I’m a very superstitious person that always experiences that impending sense of doom. I didn’t dare talk about a possible Democratic victory. But now that Barack Obama has begun selecting cabinet members, it is safe for me bring this topic up.
Four years ago, after George W. Bush defeated John Kerry, I heard conservatives claim that it was the death of the Democratic Party. After the 2004 election, the Republicans controlled the White House, had a 17 seat advantage in House and a 3 seat advantage in the Senate. Even in victory, Republicans aren’t honest with themselves. Bush claimed this victory was decisive enough to give him a mandate, and he planned to spend that capital. After all, Bush received more votes than any other president in American History. Of course, John Kerry, in defeat, received more votes than any president in American History, as well. Bush beat Kerry in electoral votes, 286-251. If Kerry would have won Ohio, George W. Bush would have been a one-term president like his father. If you don’t remember how close Ohio was, the margin of victory for Bush was 118,599 votes. That is .02% of the total votes cast. Doesn’t sound like a mandate to me.
So all of this talk about Republican domination for years to come didn’t make much sense to me at the time. But for those of us that were disgusted by the idea that Bush won even one term, it sure felt like we didn’t have any power and who knew how long it’d be until we got some. The length of time that it would take the Democratic party to recover, according to these conservatives, was a generation. So it would be roughly 25 years until the Democrats would become a relevant contender in American politics again? Things didn’t go as planned for the conservatives. A short two years later, the Democratic Party reached out their big paw and stole both the House and the Senate. It only took two years. I suppose there are lots of reasons for this sudden change. First of all, elected officials from the Republican Party were in trouble all over the place for a variety of reasons. Back then, it seemed that almost every day there was another Republican politician linked to Jack Abramoff. Also, Americans had a crash course in Republican led governmental incompetence with Hurricane Katrina. Bush’s approval rating had dipped into the 30’s and the Hoover comparisons were already being thrown out there. The final tally ended up giving the Democrats a 31 seat advantage in the House and a 5 seat pick-up in the Senate.
That sure was a short generation. Fast forward two more years to Tuesday’s election. The Democrats picked up at least another 18 seats in the House and possibly more when all is said and done. The Democrats are also sitting at 55 Senate seats with 3 seats still up in the air. Oh yeah….and Barack Obama is the new President.
So here we are, four years from the so-called “end of the Democratic Party” and they now hold a firm grasp on every bit of government. Karl Rove’s plan of dividing this country to give Republicans the power for years to come has completely failed. The country wised up to this type of politics and the guy that was once considered the most brilliant man in politics could be known as the guy that ruined the strong Republican hold on our country. That’s what greed does. It causes people to over-reach and it backfires.
Barack Obama ran a brilliant campaign. He took the 50-state campaign approach and it actually worked. Not only did he turn red states into blue states (Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Ohio), but he took deep red states and turned them into toss-up states. He went into the Republicans backyard and I can only imagine how shocked they are. They must have that feeling that a homeowner gets when someone breaks into their house. You think you’re safe and in control and then you realize that you’re not as safe as you thought.
I’m no political expert, but I think there is one thing that helped lead to this result. The extended Democratic Primary was seen as a negative for Obama. Hillary was supposed to have roughed him up. But I only see good things that happened from that extended primary.
1. The one thing that worried me was that Obama wasn’t tough enough to face the Republican machine in a general election. I can only assume that this Democratic Primary helped Obama prepare for what he was about to face. He learned how to handle this opposition. I have never seen a politician so disciplined. He knew what to address and what to let go. He came off as focused, knowing what truly matters. During debates, I was screaming at the tv for him to go after McCain on topics the McCain campaign had been bringing up in commercials and through Sarah Palin. I kept replaying John Kerry not fighting back about the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. I was convinced Obama was another soft Democratic pushover. Nope, he knew exactly what he was doing. He was steps ahead of the McCain campaign and he wasn’t about to step back and wrangle with them over non-issues.
2. Obama was on the ground and in every state for all the primaries. In some parts of this country, he was fairly unknown and this was a great way for him to introduce himself to these people and for them to get comfortable with him. It gave him the opportunity to organize volunteers and his grass-roots operations in every single state. This also gave Obama the opportunity to raise much more money, which really is an indicator of a fired-up and growing following. McCain had the Republican nomination wrapped up weeks ahead of time and missed out on this opportunity.
So that’s my disjointed take on the 2008 Election. Stay tuned because in the next few days, I plan to write on where I see the Republicans going in the future.