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Tuesday, April 23

Gapers Block

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In the interest of non-partisan reporting, I'd like to announce the following:

We're gonna win in November.

And by "we," I mean the Democratic Party, of which I am a wholly-owned apparatchik. And I don't just mean the presidency. I mean huge, stunning senatorial upsets, a handful of congressional seats, and maybe even Recorder of Deeds for Kennesaw County, Michigan. My God, how long it's been, Kennesaw.

The best poll out there, the Battleground 2004 series, have President Bush and Senator Kerry about even, with George at a slight plurality. The poll is so close it can be interpreted myriad ways; many conservatives have trumpeted it as proof that conservatives are a majority in the United States and Americans like George W. Bush, despite how he handles "his job as President." The poll indicates 44 percent of respondents "strongly approve" of George as a person, which in a media-saturated election would indicate strongly for the incumbent. However, closer inspections are more revealing and lay bare a bad bellwether for the Republican.

Despite a strong affinity for Bush as a person, 39 percent disapprove strongly of his job as president to 38 percent strongly approving. Furthermore, 44 percent "definitely" want a "new person" as president, as opposed to 38 percent who wish to "definitely" re-elect him. Ready for a shocker: 57 percent of respondents would definitely not reelect Bush, no matter who ran against him -- a universal statement which includes a set of people including: a re-animated Stalin corpse, Little Richard, and former Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Tony Mandarich.

What are the weaknesses we Democrats face? First, and most important, we need to regain our balls for fighting. Democrats are all too happy to spar like effete gentlemen fencers while Republicans brawl like Mike Murphy. Mike Murphy is a guy I know who, I imagine, fights very dirty. Anyway, through surrogates, the President has been able to dictate completely the tone of the campaign thus far -- focusing it on Iraq (the war which, he is betting, we will eventually "win") and Vietnam (the war which, he is betting, people will get annoyed hearing about). This is why it is essential that Kerry pick a running mate as soon as possible: it is through surrogates such as the VP that a candidate can set the tone of a campaign through the media without looking like a baby.

The Bush campaign has already made a few mistakes. The most glaring is that Bush has already mentioned Kerry by name, and has reduced himself to making jokes about Kerry as a person, probably because Kerry looks like he never laughs unless tickled, and nobody wants to watch him get tickled. This has reduced President Bush to Candidate Bush, or just "George W. Bush", which puts him at a disadvantage; having the presidency itself is the biggest reason to vote for someone to be president. Take Mayor Daley -- see how often we call him Mayor Daley? His campaign signs even say "Mayor Daley," not "Re-Elect Richard M. Daley Mayor" or "Richard Daley For Mayor." He's Mayor Daley -- George W. Bush should be "President Bush." But so eager were the Republican attack dogs to get geared up, that the President has been forced to put his presidency on hold to become a candidate; and as the weeks pass and more and more reporters focus their policy questions on the campaign, the President will be painted into a corner.

Why, you may be asking, can I be so sure that not only will Kerry, who even a partisan party-line hack like myself must admit is not readily likable, is going to beat George W Bush, whose job rating is going to increase as the economy improves over the summer?

The figures from the Battleground Polls indicate that the public is able to differentiate between personality and policy. Despite Bush's likability, people still strongly prefer another candidate and think he hasn't been a great president. What hides in these numbers are the strong forces that have united to get rid of who might be the worst president of the last 150 years.

And who is leading these forces? Women. In this election, women are going to stake their claim as the political future of this country, exactly because the Bush Administration has waged war against the American woman, through active policy as well as indifference.

This is not merely about Pro-Choice/Anti-Choice. It is wrong to assume that all women are Pro-Choice, or that Pro-Choice is a make-or-break policy for female voters. It is the willingness of the Bush Administration -- notably lacking in high-profile female policy makers -- to stand there, a group of men, and make pronouncements which functionally nationalize the bodies of American women and turn them into a resource like bituminous coal.

How much does a steel worker make? How much does a childcare provider make? And why? Because childcare -- nurturing -- is considered a "natural" female quality, and therefore not worth the compensation of a steel worker. This is an extreme example, but it is indicative of a widespread problem in our economy, and the Bush administration has done nothing to redress this. They have put no thought into it. And women are pissed.

Any poll seeks to find a balance between genders, races, and economic classes; but assuredly, women will vote in much larger numbers in this election. The EMILY's List PAC, which funnels money to female candidates, has raised far and away more money than any other PAC. Almost all of these candidates are Democrats -- locally, we have Melissa Bean challenging Old Coot Phil Crane -- and they will post stunning upsets.

The closer the polls are between now and November, the better Kerry's chances are -- as long as he stays within the margin of error. The less worried the casual Republican voter is about the outcome, the more likely John Kerry will be to win. There is, of course, the fact that so many women, even those who tend to vote Republican, will come out in strong numbers against Bush. Perhaps just as important is the Union Vote.

Union Vote, you say? The labor union, so maligned, will ultimately hand this election to John Kerry. In fact, they could have handed it to Gore in 2000, had he been more aggressive. The AFL-CIO will be putting as many as 50,000 -- if not 75,000 or more -- organizers and volunteers on the streets exclusively in swing states for months and months prior to the November election. They are pouring enormous sums into Democratic coffers. And -- here's a shocker -- although only 9-11 percent of the workforce is unionized, 26 percent of voters came from union households in 2000. You can bet that number will spike in 2004. Imagine, if you will, 75,000 volunteers exclusively from labor unions knocking doors in the five to 10 most populous counties in each of the 16 or so swing states; imagine further the 30,000-50,000 additional non-labor volunteers and organizers from other organizations doing the same.

The Republican strategy was to harden the core of the Republican Party -- the wealthy, fundamentalist Christians and racists -- and pander to the rest of the country on the basis of a Bush-or-Armageddon strategy. What has happened instead is that they have brought a huge coalition into the Democratic Party -- secularists, far leftists, women, nearly all immigrants, Catholics, the elderly, budget hawks, policy wonks, on top of the traditional Democrats -- and hardened them enough that they went from being passively anti-Republican to rabidly and actively anti-Bush, such that no argument or peace offering could sway them. Furthermore, many of them will be hitting the streets, much less the polls, to make sure Bush goes the way of his daddy.

John Kerry is going to win in November, and the Democrats will even out the Senate -- with Vice President John Edwards casting the tie-breaking vote -- and they will pick up five to 10 seats in the House.

Unless, of course, they don't.

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Peter / May 12, 2004 1:43 PM

I can only see the rabidly anti-bush movement hurting Kerry down the stretch. Emotional arguments are rarely persuasive because an audience will discount the message as such.

How many of the swing voters are really going to rally behind "Bush is the Devil" or "Bush is Armageddon" come November? Its silly.

waleeta / May 12, 2004 11:34 PM

Nice article. Let's hope the swing voters swing our way. But we don't need to only worry about the economy doing better, we need to worry about Iraq doing better. Or another attack on American interests. Or John Kerry not being on t.v. enough, which I accuse him of now. He also needs a Foreign Policy advisor who actually writes foreign policy, which he doesn't have right now, unless you count the Jewish guy he has working on Israeli affairs... are there even any other countries out there anymore?

I'll be in DC this November. And if Kerry wins, I'm going to tip over cars and pour 40's on the street. maybe throw my bra on stage while he's giving his acceptance speech...and offer to help him move into the white house.

Seth / May 18, 2004 3:37 PM

IF you have an administration that has done a rotten job, ignored every alternative suggestion and criticism, however well-intentioned and patriotic (e.g. beating up on the 9/11 commission, ignoring torture at Abu Ghraib until it was far too late), and shows an unshakeable, nay, monomaniacal conviction that they are always right, then there's only one conclusion. Everyone who cares about America, its people and its future in the world will VOTE THE BASTARDS OUT.

"Rabid anti-Bushism" isn't extremism, it's plainly our duty as citizens.


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