So we have completed another Presidential election, and it happened without the interference of terrorism, fraud, or violence. The Republican Party gained more seats in the Legislature, and Bush will continue as President. Overall, I am impressed with this election. According the CNN statistics, there were over 117 million voters, which was a record number in absolute terms, and the highest in terms of percentage of the electorate (60%) since 1968. I believe that the participation was engendered due to the perception that the election was important, due to some actual issues at stake. With Bush winning by over 3 percentage points (in the popular vote), it was a much bigger victory than most people (myself included) expected. I cannot think of this as anything but a resounding “YES” by the American people to something. To George W. Bush? To the Global War On Terror? To "moral values"? To free markets? More than likely, people will try to spin the re-election to suit their own agenda.
I wonder what will happen now. In the short term, I would expect that some amount of uncertainty / risk has been eliminated from the market. Bombs will start falling on Fallujah, I imagine, and maybe there will be a real election in Iraq early next year. (But will that matter? I suppose that it will, from a symbolic perspective. But there is a lot more to a free society than voting, and I fervently hope that the Iraqis, and the whole Middle East, will have the opportunity to learn that.) In the longer term, I wonder what the agenda of the Republican Party will turn out to (really) be. It is my hope that they concentrate on economic and military issues, and not waste political capital on marginal issues like abortion, repressing civil unions, and similar (i.e. things that I have disagreements).
Marginal Revolution posted a very good wish list of economic policies. I would add that we need to do something about Social Security. At the very least, the expected value of the Social Security obligations need to be added to the accounting of the debt. (Some people suggest that Social Security is like a savings bank. But what kind of bank does not keep its obligations on its books?) It would be revenue-neutral and wouldn’t change anyone’s benefits. But it would make it easier to discuss the subject of transition costs, and such.
I also wonder what will happen to the Democrat Party. They have lost just about everything that they could have lost. The best case scenario would be that their fringe crowd will be marginalized (perhaps moving into Nader’s ineffective 3rd party), and that the Democratic Party will be reorganized around libertarian social issues. The Republicans and the Democrats could fight it out over the role of government in personal lives, while the fetters of government control would be lifted from the realm of work (i.e. the economic world).
But I don’t really see too many signs of that happening. I don’t think that the so-called liberals really understand why they lost (and why they will continue to loose). (The radicals are already gone from reality: I heard a radio-show host say, in dejection, that maybe she will get a lobotomy and become a good Republican. Then there’s this crap.) Even well-intentioned people have said that they consider the bulk of the people in the United States (in the so-called "red states") to be incapable of understanding the correctness of the Democratic platform. (Maybe so… I certainly don’t understand it.) From a purely tactical, political perspective, I can’t imagine that the fairly independently-minded people of the US would ever vote for any group that has such an attitude (even if well-hidden). I believe (I hope?) that the American people understand the (current) Democratic platform all too well, and they will not consent to being treated like needy children.
Still, though, the election brought generally good things: Good voter turnout, no real violence or interference in the election, and a result that I more-or-less approve of. (And, on a personal level, it brought good discussions with my peers, and newfound sources of information and analysis on the internet.) The United States is definitely a good place to live.