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Four more years...

Whoa. . .

The majority of American voters have chosen to re-elect George W. Bush.

It's not like the President Re-Elect hid anything from us; we knew about his policy goals and his methods for implementing them. We can't say, like we did last time, that we didn't really know how radical he is, how extreme, how willing he is to sacrifice procedural safeguards and open government. Nor can we say, like we did last time, that he has no mandate because he lost the popular vote and was installed by the Supreme Court.

This time, we know that the majority of American voters are comfortable enough with George W. Bush in the White house that they will drag themselves out of their homes and away from their TVs to vote for four more years of the same.

The question now is what to do about it. At this point I'm still walking around in a daze, but here are some (possibly incoherent) thoughts about where to go from here:

1) Confront and accept the fact that we are an effective minority. There may be a "silent majority" out there that agrees with us and hates Bush, but they will remain silent. Our efforts to rouse these hypothetical people were about as effective this time around as they are ever likely to get, so don't count on any nascent progressive grass-roots movements to change our electoral fortunes anytime soon.

2) Since the Republicans have demonstrated that they need not fear the Democratic Party, don't expect the Democrats to solve our Bush problem. We might want to ask why the Democrats have become irrelevant. Some will say that the Democrats need to "move to the center," but I wonder if this isn't just a euphemism for "we can't beat 'em, so we'll join 'em." The problem in this election was that there wasn't much of a center to move to--if anything, John Kerry didn't inspire any passion because he was so busy pandering to the non-existent center that he ignored his own base. There may indeed be some common ground out there, but we won't find it somewhere between the current Republican and Democratic parties.

3) If George W. Bush was a divisive and polarizing President when he had no mandate, we should plan for even more divisive behavior now that he does. We'd better dig in, keep our eyes on the Federal Register, and pray. More specifically, we should consider doing what we can to support individuals and groups that serve as watchdogs. Sending a check to Public Citizen, the NRDC, or the EFF might be a good idea.

4) When our country sets out on the road to re-electing George W. Bush, there's a lot to be afraid of. Barbarism, fascism, and theocracy are the ultimate stops along that road. But they're still a long, long, way ahead. 50% of the country is still unwilling to buy a ticket on the Bush-mobile, and that's a reassuring thought. So don't get depressed. Look at those blue areas. There are still some islands of good judgment left.

5) Democracy was never a tool for making good decisions, just legitimate ones. If we make the mistake of condemning the people who voted for George W. Bush, we're making a mistake. They're no less wise, intelligent, or concerned for the country than we are. But we do have a sound basis for being very angry with them--especially those who voted for Bush but who aren't committed social conservatives. What were they thinking? We need to be able to get angry at them without condemning them as stupid, shortsighted, or selfish.

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