The victory itself was significant. President Bush received more votes than any candidate in American history. He is the first president — He is the first president since 1988 to win a majority of the popular vote. He increased his popular vote total by 11.6 million votes since 2000. That’s four and a half times the increase that President Clinton got between ’92 and ’96, as a matter of comparison. President Bush improved his percentage in all but two states. He improved his vote in 87 percent of the counties in America, and he carried more than 81 percent of the counties in America. And he won in 97 of the 100 fastest-growing counties in America.
Thus saideth Rove. I believe I have finally figured out that a bizarre mangled stat I saw someone make — that Bush won by a larger margin than anyone in American history — came from one of these selected facts.
None of these mask the fact that Bush won by a meager 2 and a half percentage points. It is worth noting in Rove’s speech the idea that we faced the most organized effort ever — an idea that I guess cultivates itself in the “Vast Liberal Conspiracy” book.
More significant is this:
President Bush is the first president since Franklin Roosevelt to be reelected while his party gained seats in the House and Senate, and the first Republican president since 1924 to get reelected while reelecting Republican House and Senate majorities.
We’ve stumbled upon a weary structural reality. If you have a 50 – 50 country with a 30 – 20 state favour, you are in an optimum position with regards to the Senate. Further, on the House level, when you draw the legislative boundaries — even without any malice–, the simple act of squaring the most densely populated (thus you have a 90% vote for the Democrat here, and a 60% vote for the Republican in surrounding Suburban parts) areas gives you an advantage there. There is nothing that can be done about this.
The one thing the Democratic Party once had going for them was that these compressed areas gave them an organizational advantage — it’s easier to reach a whole mass of people when they’re living on top of each other. The Republican Party has since managed to figure out a way to do this simple retail politicking — welcome your friendly neighborhood “Mega-Churches”.
Beyond that there’s the matter of the South… which Johnson sighed about writing off when he signed the Civil Rights Act.
Four years, four decades ago, the Republican Party and our movement were relegated to the political wilderness, and today Republicans and conservatives control the White House, the Senate, the House, the majority of governorships and more state legislative seats than we’ve had in the last 80 years. That’s a pretty remarkable rise.
Yes. No. Sort of. Maybe. This was, of course, 1964… LBJ, the Great Society, Barry Goldwater embarrassed, Ds in control of the House and Senate, the legacy of FDR marches on. Things changed quickly. To the proponents of the “Backlash Theory” of politics, the question arises: where ought the Democrats have not gone in order to keep control of everything, and in order to advance “Liberalism”? — Civil Rights? Ending the War in Vietnam? (That would be a rogue band of Democrats, but nonetheless.) WHAT?
But the Democratic Party’s most recent Glory days started in 1932 and ended in 1968. Eisenhower is that era’s Clinton; Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson was that era’s Newt Gingrich. (Wherefor are the cultural currents of dear McCarthy in the 1990s? I don’t know… culturally conservative does not need to play into the slow expansion of New Deal programs.)
But, in the end the South Rose Again. Nixon won the Confederacy, which incidentally Truman lost to Thurmond in 1948. The Republicans’ Glory Days should have started then (or in relatively short order, on behest of the book The Emerging Republican Majority), but Nixon screwed up and couldn’t figure his way out of a scandal that pales next to some things that have gone on sense. Thus, the Republican Realignment started in 1980. (Or in 1978. All suggestions being, with a Conservative-ish Democrat elected on the behest of Conservative Evangelical to the Presidency, that the Watergate cleansing of 1974 notwithstanding, the Republicans are acoming to dominate.)
The lie that it took 40 years to build the current Republican Movement is found right there — go back and read your Reagan-era literature, and watch “Family Ties”. That Reagan had to contend with a Democratic House with a significant party of southern Reagan-friendly Democrats means little to the sway of government. (Note too that both the Reagan-era Democrats and the Bush II era Democrats have stymied the push to privitization of social security.)
Nonetheless, the strain in the current Republican Party is making itself evident. They have a 55 to 45 seat Senate majority, built largely within their political bases… (I go back to the 2004 Senate elections, and what the Democratic Party had to defend: North Carolina — incidentally where the party screwed up is with NAFTA, Louisiana, South Dakota, South Carolina, Florida. And pick-up opportunities: Kentucky, Alaska, the one they won — and the hold out of promise to the beleagured party — Colorado… had Kerry won, he would be stuck with the same damned Senate as Bush has… it may be best for a beleagured party to get to a point where they have nothing left to lose, if not for the short-term prospects of a nation despite the long-term reverberations) and the problem for them is that it doesn’t seem to be matching the political will of the nation. How are the political stawlarts going for the 2008 nomination proceeding? The name of Terri Schiavo now haunts Bill Frist. And Jeb Bush refuses to let that one go.
Like the sand in an hour glass…