Now that Barack Obama has won a decisive victory in the 2008 US Presidential Election, it seems like everyone wants to write or blog about how the Republican Party is "in tatters" or "in disarray" or else how "the greatest conservative ascendancy in over a century has been ruined by George Bush."
This kind of rhetoric, whether born of jubilance on the Left or despondency on the Right, strikes me as incredibly overblown.
Despite the fact that Barack Obama organized and deftly ran one of the most impressive campaigns I think America has ever seen, and turned out unprecedentedly large amounts of black and young voters, and despite the fact that George Bush is just about the worst President in American history by universal acclamation, with unprecedentedly low approval ratings, and despite the fact that he bequeaths to his successor two quagmire wars and a second Great Depression, and despite the fact that John McCain ran an erratic and at times mismanaged campaign, Barack Obama still only beat out John McCain by a mere 6 percentage points.
Only about 7 million more voters, out of a total of about 136 million, voted for Obama over McCain. John McCain still won 23 out of 50 states, including Oklahoma in which he failed to lose even a single county.
America is still as divided as ever, and the amount of voters who will evidently vote their "values" no matter what the political or economic situation is, on both sides, is astonishing.
And given that Barack Obama won this election on vague promises of hope and built his victory on the support of a broad and vaguely defined center-left coalition, numerous members of which will inevitably be disappointed the first time he forms any actual policy, it is scary to think how close the Republicans will already be to getting back into the White House next time, before Barack Obama actually even tries to take on all the massive problems left in his lap by eight years of Republican misrule.
I can't help thinking of Richard Nixon's defeat of George McGovern in 1972, when Nixon won every single state except Massachusetts and obliterated McGovern in the Electoral College, 520 votes to 17 votes.
You want to talk about a "Republican Party in tatters," oh reporters at the Associated Press? The Democratic Party in 1972 - now *that* was a party in tatters.
The Republican Party of today is well poised for a rebound, because the have an ardent and obviously utterly unswayable core of supporters who will vote for them in the foreseeable future, no matter what.
Still, I have to say, this election has restored my faith in the American political system for the first time in eight years. I'm just not sure it has restored my faith in Americans themselves yet.