11/21/2004 - The Last of the Democratans


- By Viswam Sundar


After this column was published, a friend pointed out that Kerry had also garnered the most votes ever for an opposing Democrat Presidential candidate. My instinctive reaction was to say “”Oh oh! That changes a lot of things, doesn’t it?” However, after more careful thought, I realized that it really didn’t. If anything, it only makes the Democrats’ loss seem more poignant and actually, all the more needless.


The fact of the matter is that the Democrats lost solely and simply because of Kerry.


They had everything going for them. There was the mess that the Iraq war has become with its relentless spate of bad reports, a slow economy replete with job losses and outsourcing, an almost total loss of international credibility and respect, combined with a President whose weakness in matters of policy other than national security was acknowledged even by his supporters. What else could an opposing candidate need?


It was almost as if the stage was all set and ready for a Democratic take over of the country. All Kerry had to do was walk on to the stage, deliver his lines and walk away with the scene. And yet, this actor, supposedly an excellent speaker, continued to spout the wrongest possible lines at the wrongest possible times at the wrongest possible places till the last few weeks of the campaign.


To be honest, the moment Dean imploded and Kerry looked like winning the nomination, I had predicted that Bush would win by a margin or five percent or thereabouts. Kerry had neither the anger that Dean exhibited nor the courage of conviction that makes a message loud and clear. If Bush was all fire and guts, Kerry was all ifs and buts! You could never say that Kerry took a position on anything, you could not even say that he tilted towards one. You could say, though, that Kerry swayed in relation to a position! Americans stayed with Bush because they thought, of the two, he seemed more likely to bring the troops back; Kerry seemed so ambiguous about most things that is seemed he would bring the troops back…..and forth!


Fortunately for Kerry, he managed to pull up his socks and get his act together by the time the debates came around. Even so, though he clearly upstaged Bush in the first one, it did not help him gain the momentum he needed to take a lead that could have proved significant. Even during the debates, he would periodically switch over to his usual self. It was in the first debate where he said, “The number of casualties was greater in September than the number of casualties in August, it was greater in August than it was in July and it was greater in July than it was in June”. I thought he would go all the way back to March 2003! If a programmer were to write code like that, his application would go into a loop and his PC would into orbit! Couldn’t he have said it more simply? When all that you have is two minutes, you don’t write a history book! I think that statement symbolizes Kerry’s thought process and why it takes him such a long time to articulate anything in a manner that is understandable to ordinary citizens. And as though it was the most profound of all his utterances, his vice-presidential nominee Edwards, picked it up and repeated it in his own debate with Cheney!


If there was an iota of a chance that Kerry could spring a surprise, Bin Ladin timed his video to a nicety. That was the day when the last of the undecided made up their mind in favor of Bush. That is one more point I want to make about the American psyche – if, God forbid, what happened in Spain had happened in America on the eve of the election, Bush would have won by a 90% margin. That is what America is all about and that is why this country has achieved in 225 years what other countries haven’t in eons.


I think the record number of votes secured by Kerry signifies, not that the voters related to him in any way or vice versa, but the fact that a great number of people in this country were against Bush’s policies. In fact, I think it proves and underlines what I stated in the last paragraph of my article, that this is a country with a conscience, even though it might not appear so at all times. In fact, even in the days before the invasion of Afghanistan, there were a great many national figures, like Phil Donahue, who were against attacking that country, even if it was sheltering Bin Ladin at that time.


Speaking of videos, I think Michael Moore made a mistake of historic proportions. If his documentary was a Democratic political strategy, it was, literally, way ahead of its time. It should have been released three or four months before the elections, not more than a year before. For all its alleged inaccuracies, it was a effective documentary, sensational enough to penetrate the common man’s cynicism. Who knows how much of the undecideds it could have brought over to the Democrats' side? One more potentially powerful tool misused, an opportunity misread, a chance squandered.


Personally, I do not think the Democrats will ever get things so well laid out ever again. By the time 2008 comes around, the Iraq war will in all probability be over, the economy and job situation would have improved considerably, Bin Ladin would have been caught or he would have disappeared for ever from the pages of the newspapers, and a far tougher, and more accomplished Republican will be nominated. Both McCain and Juliani enjoy bipartisan support, a luxury even Mrs. Clinton does not.


And ask yourself these questions: Is this country ready for a female President? What if the Iraq war is over but the war on terror is not? Is this country ready to hand over the reins to a woman President in such a scenario? And thinking of Obama, is this country ready for a black President?


Ask me and I will tell you that this country is progressively moving rightwards more and more and unless something dramatic happens, this election will be the last even this closely fought for a long, long time to come. The Democrats may well rue their loss in this election bitterly, for they will not come even so far to winning in the conceivable future.


And inasmuch as the White House is concerned, you have seen the Last of the Democratans.