I must admit: for the first time, I literally wept over an election result. I have been involved in many losing campaigns before, but this time, much more than victory was in the balance.
Lose John Kerry and the Democrats did, and it was not, as experienced four years ago, the result of crass legal maneuvers, likely vote stealing, and the Supreme Court's decision. There are no nefarious forces to blame. There are indeed lessons to be learned from the outcome.
Those of us who so strongly believed that a reinstatement of a more cooperative foreign policy hung in the balance in this election are of course disappointed. Those of us who believed that we must tackle the historically high and shameful federal deficit while restoring tax equity have been thwarted. Those of us who are people of strong religious faith, and do believe that religious values certainly do have their place in government and political life, are disappointed that perhaps the most reactionary, anti-secular group that could very well seek to fudge the sacred boundaries between church and state prevailed. Those of us who do not see America as a pitched battleground between "Us" and "Them" are deeply hurt that these divisions remain. While it is trite to say that this election was essentially Denny's versus Starbucks, the cultural chasm remains. Denny's won.
Just look at the graphic map of the Bush versus Kerry vote nationwide. Around the affluent littoral bi-coastal cities, as well as centered in Denver, parts of New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, blue Kerry blotches prevail. But in the vast rest of the map of America, red Bush votes dominate. In a sense, the Kerry vote was ghettoized into a 48 percent coalition of largely coastal, manufacturing and information industry-based communities. Forty eight percent ain't bad; but you need 50-plus to win.
We lost. They won. America must go on. If we are as shaken by this loss as so many of us truly are, then the only response is to pick ourselves up and get back into the ring and fight harder and smarter. The GOP may own stiletto politics, but this isn't beanbag.
First, the Democratic party cannot continue its drift into what the British Labor party became in the 1980s "The Loony Left." Neither can the Democrats become a right wing me-too party mimicking the same values as Bush. The Democrats must move back to the center where Bill Clinton took them in 1992: free but fair trade; tax cuts, but for the middle class; healthcare reform, but preserving personal choice; American foreign policy vigor, but based on cooperation and modern assessments.
Second, we must strengthen the government and even non-government aid programs we have here at home. Washington will not be there for us. Look at what we went through to receive post 9/11 federal aid.
Third, we must remember Tip O'Neill's immortal words: "All politics is local (Sic)". We can prevent the encroachment of our civil liberties while favoring strong protections in a post 9/11 world by being active seeking this on a local level. We can support candidacies and policies that advance social justice, while maintaining fiscal discipline. We can be for lower taxes and business enhancement without being the reactionary giveaway artists that the archly pro-business Republicans truly are.
I left Republican activism years ago for three reasons. My party went too far south, too far West, and too far Right. Locally, it presided over the bankrupting of Nassau County, and solidified an ossified, detrimental political culture. I am proud to be a Democrat, because as much as Republicans promise a 'Big Tent,' the Democrats actively encourage one. Voices need to be lifted. This election cannot silence us. America only goes in one direction: forward. And we must be part of that process here in Port Washington once again.
Jon F. Weinstein
The writer ran as a Delegate to the Democratic National Convention pledged to Sen. John Edwards.