The Great Victory – crushing the developing myths
This artcile is about as succinct an analysis/commentary on Tuesday's results that I've come across so far…
by Glenn Greenwald
The outcome of this election — even with the not-yet-fully-finalized Senate
victories in Virginia and Montana — is as resounding and clear as it gets. For
exactly that reason, all sorts of devastated Bush followers and confused and
desperate media mavens are busy spawning myths about what happened — often, in
the case of the mindless pundits, unwittingly, even unconsciously. Most
Americans know exactly what happened here, but it is nonetheless vital that
these myths be smashed from the start and the clear lessons of this election be
(1) This is a shattering and humiliating defeat for the Republican Party. The
excuse that it is just run-of-the-mill, standard sixth-presidential-year
impatience is pure nonsense. In the sixth year of President Clinton's
presidency, Democrats in the midterm elections gained seats in the House and
there was no change in the Senate.
When a President and his political party are liked and their positions are in
line with what Americans want, they win, even in the allegedly cursed “sixth
presidential year.” By contrast, when a President is deeply unpopular and his
party perceived to be rife with radicalism and corruption, they lose. And when
that perception is particularly strong and widespread, they lose badly. That is
what happened here, and there is nothing mundane about. These results are
extraordinary, and every Bush follower knows it.
(2) This was a resounding and emphatic rejection of the core, defining
premises of the so-called “conservative” movement and what has morphed into the
grotesque Republican Party. Nobody doubts that Americans vigorously rejected
George Bush and his signature policy — the invasion of Iraq. But it wasn't only
Bush and Iraq.
Democratic candidates won — in every part of the country and regardless of
their ideology — by committing themselves to one basic platform. They
vigorously opposed what have become the defining attributes of the Republican
Party and they pledged to put a stop to them: unchecked Presidential
power, mindless warmongering, a refusal to accept or acknowledge realities
(both in Iraq and generally), and the deep-seated, fundamental corruption
fueling the Bush movement and sustaining their power.
Virtually every Democratic winner, from the most conservative to the most
liberal, in the reddest and bluest states, have that in common. They all ran on
a platform of putting a stop to the radicalism, deceit and corruption that
drives the so-called “conservative” political movement.
Yes, it is true that some of the Democratic winning candidates are pro-life
and/or opposed to gay marriage. None of that is new (Democrats are led in the
Senate by a pro-life politician and most of them are on record opposing gay
marriage). Their doing so prevented the Rovian Republicans from creating
sideshows designed to obscure and distract from the vast damage which these
Republicans have done to the country. But abortion and gay marriage aren't the
issues that determined, or even meaningfully influenced, the outcome of this
election, and everyone knows that.
Democrats didn't win by pretending to be anything. Democrats won because they
emphatically and unapologetically vowed to oppose what the Republican Party has
become and to put an end to its deeply corrupt and destructive one-party
rule — and that is what Americans, more than anything else, wanted.
(3) Republicans lost in every region and were defeated in critical races even
in the reddest of states, such as Kansas, Indiana and Arkansas. The Republicans
are rapidly collapsing into a regional party — the Party of the South — and
even there, they lost incumbents and vast amounts of their support. They have
pandered to such a small and deranged band of extremists for so long, and they
are now finally paying the price in the form of a disintegrating movement and
continuously shrinking band of followers.
(4) The notion that this is a victory for some sort of mealy-mouthed,
Bush-lite, glorified centrism is absurd on its face. Democrats won by
aggressively attacking the Bush movement, not by trying to be a slightly
modified and duller version of it. The accommodationist tack is what they
attempted in 2002 and 2004 when they were crushed. They won in this election by
making their opposition clear and assertive.
Many of the Democrats who won were exactly those candidates who were
supported most enthusiastically by the most liberal blogs. Atrios, for instance,
raised money for only a handful of challengers and many of them won — against
Republican incumbents in previously red districts: Jon Tester, Patrick Murphy,
Joe Sestak, Nick Lampson, Chris Carney. The same is true for the FDL/C&L
list of candidates (Amy Klobuchar, Ben Cardin, Sherood Brown, Kirsten
Gillibrand) and the Daily Kos/MyDD list (Jim Webb, Tim Walz).
Liberal blogs tend to support underdog Democratic candidates who are
challenging Republican incumbents or open seats, i.e., the races that are most
difficult to win. And yet a huge bulk of the winning Democratic candidates who
won in those races were the ones supported by liberal blogs. And many
blog-favored Democrats who lost were ones running in very red districts against
GOP incumbents — such as Angie Paccione (against the heinous Marilyn Musgrave)
and Victoria Wulslin (against the equally horrible Jean Schmidt) — and they
came very close to winning.
Given those facts, the idea that this was some great repudiation of the
blog-wing of the Democratic Party or that it was an endorsement of Broder-like,
plodding centrism is purely wishful thinking on the part of those who wish it
were so. The Democrats who won have one thing in common — aggressive and
unapologetic opposition to what the Republicans have become.
(5) The basic mechanics of American democracy, imperfect and defective
though they may be, still function. Chronic defeatists and conspiracy theorists
– well-intentioned though they may be — need to re-evaluate their defeatism
and conspiracy theories in light of this rather compelling evidence which
undermines them (a refusal to re-evaluate one's beliefs in light of conflicting
evidence is a defining attribute of the Bush movement that shouldn't be
Karl Rove isn't all-powerful; today, he is a rejected loser. Republicans
don't possess the power to dictate the outcome of elections with secret Diebold
software. They can't magically produce Osama bin Laden the day before the
election. They don't have the power to snap their fingers and hypnotize
zombified Americans by exploiting a New Jersey court ruling on civil unions, or
a John Kerry comment, or moronic buzzphrases and slogans designed to hide the
truth (Americans heard all about how Democrats would bring their “San Francisco
values” and their love of The Terrorists to Washington, and that moved nobody).
All of the hurdles and problems that are unquestionably present and
serious — a dysfunctional and corrupt national media, apathy on the part of
Americans, the potent use of propaganda by the Bush administration, voter
suppression tactics, gerrymandering and fundraising games — can all be
overcome. They just were.
Bush opponents haven't been losing because the deck is hopelessly stacked
against them. They were losing because they hadn't figured out a way to convey
to their fellow citizens just how radical and dangerous this political movement
has become. Now they did, and as a result, Americans see this movement for
what it is and have begun the process of smashing it.
(6) This is only one small step towards the restoration of our country and
its defining values, not a magic bullet. There is much work to be done,
accountability to be imposed, facts to be uncovered, radicalism to be reversed,
damage to be undone, and the rule of law to be re-established. And none of that
will be easy.
Even Democratic control of both the House and Senate is no guarantee that
the abuses will end. Quite the contrary. It is worth recalling that the central
premise of this President is the Irrelevance of Congress and of everything else
other than his will and his power. Takeover of the houses of Congress and the
end of one-party rule is but one weapon to be used in the ongoing fight. It
is not the end of the fight. Far, far from it.
But if nothing else, Tuesday's results should galvanize everyone who
recognizes the danger this country has been placed in by the radical,
hate-mongering, deeply corrupt authoritarians who have been controlling (and
destroying) it. That movement has been severely wounded, but not yet killed.