Friday, November 07, 2008

Election Postmortem

Well, at long last, the 2008 election has come and gone. It seemed like it was the campaign that would never end, and it is a bit of a relief to have it now behind us.

Obviously, as a conservative, I'm disappointed with the result of the presidential race. Which ever way it had turned out, it was clear conservatives would need to start the fight not long after the election. The difference was that we'd need to challenge McCain about 30% of the time and Obama about 70% of the time.

We can now, of course, return to our more natural state of criticizing (rather than supporting) Senator McCain.

Most right-leaning blogs have had the common courtesy of congratulating President-Elect Obama. I'm refraining to do so. I will firmly honor him as my President, as he was legitimately elected and I fully honor the office which he will hold. But I withhold my congratulations because I believe he fundamentally ran a less-than-honorable campaign that deserves rebuke, not praise. Congratulations are simply not in order when you unleash your supporters to do a character assassination in an attempt to silence a critic. This is America, we should be above thug-like campaigns.

I do wish our President-Elect the best. I hope is really is able to bring the country together and heal our political divides. I also hope he's granted the wisdom required to navigate our country's significant foreign policy challenges, and I wish him success in keeping our country safe and restoring our economy.

Realistically though, I doubt he'll have success with most of the above because I believe he'll pursue a far-left agenda that will alienate conservatives and fail to meet America's challenges. But I would be glad to be wrong. Perhaps he will govern as a moderate and/or perhaps my ideology is incorrect. I would rather be wrong and see my country prosper than vice-versa.

Finally, to the degree you hear pundits announcing the death of the GOP and conservatism, or speaking about a "mandate" to President-Elect Obama, don't bother listening to them.

Obama received only 2% more of the vote than President Bush in 2004. Bush mistakenly read his results as a "mandate" and tried to spend his "political capital" fixing social security, which promptly failed because 51-53% of the vote does not give you a strong "mandate."

Furthermore, according to exit polls 34% of Americans self identify as "conservative", the same percent as in 2004, and a full 12 points higher than those that self-identify as a "liberal."

Another thing to ignore the pundits ranting about is how this election had "record turn out." In fact, it did. But by a negligible amount. According to CNN right now, with 99% of precincts reporting, (and ignoring the about 1% of votes that went to 3rd parties in both 2004 and 2008), there have been about 122 million votes in 2008. In 2004 there were 121 million votes. I welcome one million new voters, but that's an increase of about 1% which doesn't even keep up with the rate of population growth.

A few final thoughts:

1. The polls - both exit and regular type - were pretty much dead on. This is a huge improvement from 2004.

2. The PUMA (pro-Hillary, anti-Obama) people made a lot of noise, but pretty clearly, didn't make much of an impact in the overall vote.

3. If I hear anyone moan about "why can't we just elect a 'moderate'" during the next four years, I may lose it. America - you had your chance and you made your choice. John McCain has a long history of being a moderate who works across party lines and only won the Republican nomination because of his support from independents. I suspect he will probably be the most centrist presidential candidate most will see in their lifetime. And, America, you decided against him.

4. The "Bradly Effect" is officially dead. We can all be glad about this. There are still pockets of racism in America to be confronted, but they are clearly growing more and more irrelevant.

5. I was quite glad to see the homosexual marriage bans all passed, and the losses in the House and Senate weren't quite as bad as I imagined they'd be.

6. A question: why don't we consider it racist to celebrate the fact Obama is our first black president? Wouldn't it be the actual fulfillment of King's dream to, in fact, ignore his skin color and instead judge solely on the "content of his character"? If McCain had won, we would be condemning anyone who was going around saying "Oh, thank God we elected a white man" and yet millions are saying the exact same, with only the race changed.

7. Finally, if you are a McCain supporting Evangelical in despair, allow me to encourage you. While we are here on Earth, being stewards and ambassadors, elections are important. But - I'm reminded of Michele McGinty's words to Thompson and Huckabee supporters at the end of their primary runs. Our hope comes not from an election, a president, or anything having to do with politics. Our hope is in Christ. Our God is much bigger than any of this, and He remains on the throne! In 1,000 years, we'll be in Heaven and probably laughing at how much we cared about the outcome of an election, if it's even worth our while to think about it at all. For those that believe, the most important "change" has already come!

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