Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Re: Securing Their Gains

I've heard the claim all too frequently over the last week that President Bush received "the largest number of votes ever received for president," and I am disappointed to see it echoed by Newt in his article. As Josh Marshall notes, John Kerry got the second larges number of votes in history, followed by Ronald Reagan and Al Gore. It has nothing to do with popularity but has everything to do with population. A better measure of "mandate" is the number of electoral votes, and in that department, according to this post (again, Josh Marshall), President Bush obtained the lowest number of those since Woodrow Wilson beat out Chales Evans Hughes (a lifetime member -- dikaia upotheke).

I agree that health care reform presents one of the biggest challenges this country faces on the domestic front, and if Republicans are perceived as making strides that will help in the mid-terms. But health savings accounts alone will accomplish squat. Those who can already afford decent health coverage have the funds to take advantage of such a program, while the rest will be left to fight over the HMO scraps. Only a fundamental restructuring of America's health industry will cause real change -- and that just won't happen under Republican leadership (especially with Frist running things at the Senate).

In my view, the lasting Republican control depends more upon what happens outside the Republican party. The Democrats is adrift so I don't expect much from them until they can straighten up their act. The biggest immediate challenge comes from the growing discontent among fiscal conservatives that may lead to a formation of a viable independent or libertarian candidate in '08.

Some are waiting to see whether President Bush tries to reach out to the moderates to secure a lasting Republican legacy. I predict the only "reaching out" will be with fear -- fear of terrorists and fear of those who are different from the "mainstream" America. That agenda will succeed or fail depending on whether any other party presents a better message. A message of hope rather than despair.

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