When a drunken man tries to walk a
tightrope, it is never possible to
predict whether he will make it across or fall.
Nothing you can reasonably foresee happening can
possibly affect the outcome of his walk, and whatever
happens depends entirely on accident.
So it was with the great
presidential election of 2004, now quickly and
thankfully receding into the ocean of bad memories.
On the morning of the election, the
pro-Kerry Washington Post carried the headline
"Election Day Dawns with Unpredictability,"
while the pro-Bush Washington Times announced
"Bush, Kerry battle down to wire." Neither paper
nor all their experts could predict whether the men they
favored would make it across the tightrope. Nor could
Long before the election took
place, every conceivable
voting bloc had been so massaged and manipulated by
those skilled in such arts that everyone knew how they
would vote months before they went to the polls. Only
those few who could not be so massaged and
"undecided vote," as it was called—in the end
determined the result.
Given the immense role that such
political arts and the massive amounts of money needed
to fund them now play in our politics, it is open to
question whether we should continue to call our system
in any meaningful sense.
But certainly it makes no sense to
speak, as Vice President Cheney did the
morning after the election, of the victor in such
elections gaining anything like a "mandate"—a
command from the body of the people to pursue a
particular course of action.
In the case of President Bush`s
victory, any talk of a "mandate" is simply
preposterous. The president, the incumbent chief
executive of a nation at war, won by a bare 51 percent,
only a slight improvement over his actual loss of the
popular vote four years ago.
In 1972, Richard Nixon, also an
incumbent war president, won by 60 percent.
Even in 1984, at the height of
Ronald Reagan`s Cold War, the incumbent won by nearly 59
If George W. Bush`s two victories
in 2000 and 2004—48 percent and 51 percent
"emerging Republican majority," that majority is
in serious trouble. By contrast with the victories of
earlier wartime presidents, the thin margin Mr. Bush won
Tuesday is a moral defeat.
A writer in the neoconservative
Weekly Standard recently argued that the
election was a
"referendum on neoconservatism," [Tod
Lindberg, November 8, 2004] and he may have been
right. If so, then neo-conservatism lost.
There was little serious discussion
in the campaign of the rationale for the Iraq war or the
grand strategy of exporting global democracy that are
the trademarks of
neoconservative policy. What seems to have motivated
voters more than any other concern was neither national
security nor the economy but
"moral values." There`s nothing neo about that
kind of conservatism. It`s as old as the
Old Republic itself, but few political leaders saw
Except for the unpredicted and
unpredictable opacity of supporting "moral values,"
then, there is virtually nothing that can be said about
what the voting of the presidential election of 2004
tells us about what the president should do.
Nor is it even clear which
"moral values" the voters believe are important.
The candidates (or more precisely
their surrogates) spent most of the campaign
vilifying each other`s
40-year-old war records. They devoted most of the
carefully staged presidential "debates" to
questioning each other`s judgments about the war with
Iraq, but at no time did Mr. Kerry make clear what he
would do in Iraq in the future or what he (or Mr. Bush)
ought to have done in the past.
At no time did the president
acknowledge that serious blunders—if not outright
lies—contributed to launching a war we seem unable to
There was no discussion of
mass immigration, probably the
major public issue facing the country today, nor of
trade policy and its impact on the economy and the fate
of the American middle class and its civilization.
Given the refusal of the candidates
and the establishment media to address these and other
issues, how can it possibly be claimed that any kind of
"mandate" emerged from this election?
President Bush faces the next four
years with neither any clear direction from the voters
themselves nor any serious indication of what he and his
administration really want to do.
The election he just won tells us
who the legal president of the United States is, but
neither the president nor the people who elected him
seem able to tell us anything else.
CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
Sam Francis [email
him] is a nationally syndicated columnist. A selection
of his columns,
America Extinguished: Mass Immigration And The
Disintegration Of American Culture, is now available
Americans For Immigration Control.
for Sam Francis` website. Click
here to order his monograph,
Ethnopolitics: Immigration, Race, and the American