After my flurry of posts leading up the election it's been almost a week since the eventful day and this is my first post since then! Rather than just rant or speculate I wanted to give the results some time to sink in before saying anything. Why? Mainly because I wasn't really sure what to think. But the thing is, I still don't know what to think. But in the past week, I must say that I've been tempering my concerns, mainly because I think the power of democracy, freely available information, and a robust political dialogue will prevent the nation from lurching far to the right like many people fear.
So let's leave the discussion about the nation moving right and evangelicals taking over. For right now, the fundamental hope I have is that parties demostrate to the public why they exist. Specifically for the Democratic Party, the leadership needs to communicate to the nation as whole (not just it's "base") what they stand for and where they will lead the nation. The argument that they must counter the GOP is not good enough to regain or maintain leadership positions.
Half of the argument for voting for Kerry was that he's not Bush. Well, it clearly wasn't enough. And the argument cannot come down to a single candidate. The argument must be focused on the party as a whole. Afterall, if people cannot believe in the fundamental platform, why should thye believe in candidates who come and go? The GOP is setting itself up for long term leadership and the Democratic Party should do the same. True, one should not simply vote by party affiliation, but I think a lot of voting comes down to believing in the overall set of ideas a party brings to the table. The specific candidate must then show what more he or she brings to the table to enhace that platform and policy ideas of the party in general.
Anyways, it's a tough task. Just ask leaders of the Indian National Congress. The Democratic Party is in a similar situation to that which the INC found itself after a resounding loss to the BJP in the 90's. It took the INC a decade to recover from that and communicate its identity in a believable manner. The INC chose to stay ground on its platform (which I believe was the right way to go), but it still took a long time to find the right way to relay that platform message.
I'm interested to see where the Democratic Party goes from here. I believe they should stand firm on overall principles, but in doing so, they must demostrate that those principals are closer to the heart of the American public and the concerns of every person. The GOP has taken to that role and message quite well, and it will be a challenge to take that back.