We will leave the recriminations, the 20/20 hindsight and the Wednesday morning quarterbacking to others. The most important thing is to look forward. What next in a second Bush term? It may be helpful in this regard to give some thought to what Bush did right.
The Peach does not like to sound bitter, but it is time we acknowledged that the bare majority of our fellow Americans are not all that bright. They like Bush because they percieve and believe that he is just like them. Shallow. Elemental. Kind of uneducated. Unreflective. Simple-minded.
He has a tiny handful of key messages and all of them can be summed up in simple, declarative sentences. "They hate freedom." "People ought to take responsibility for themselves." "I'm for a culture of life." And people all over the red states are nodding their heads. "He's so honest," they murmur to one another. "You know where he stands."
It is time we just looked long and hard at ourselves in the mirror and acknowledged that close reasoning and IQ points and courage and human decency and embedded clauses just do not work anymore. Because John Kerry has those things in spades, and to people in Nebraska, he might just as well have been speaking Chinese. What they understood was "He'll raise your taxes." What they understood was "Hillary-care."
Is it sad? Yes. Is it the triumph of the woefully mediocre that writers from George Orwell to Kurt Vonnegut warned us about? Yes. Is Thomas Jefferson rolling over in his grave? Yes. Do we still need to win? HELL YES!
The odious reality -- as The Peach sees it -- is that we must take a leaf out of the Republican playbook. Run a candidate who can boil everything down to simplistic declarative sentences about values and actions (Our vote is for John Edwards -- "There's two Americas! One for the wealthy and one for the rest of us. And it's WRONG!"). Let's start positioning that candidate for the top job now -- not wait till the primaries in '08.
And let's start reshaping those debates as the Republicans did through the Clinton years. We prospered and waxed liberal, and they bided their time and put their people in place and disseminated their simplistic rhetoric out there into the public sphere, over and over again. And when they were done, the red-staters stared with Zombie eyes and chanted "partial birth abortion" and "stay the course" and "the ownership society" and they have now elected George W. Bush to a second term.
People as allegedly smart as we are should be able to figure out a way to beat them at their own game. Let's get started today.