You know how Democrats hate Bush now? How will they hate him when they lose to him on November 2 by three or four percentage points?
One of the political commentators I admire most for his astuteness said yesterday that the paroxysm of hatred the Democrats have been indulging for the last six months is the worst American political delusion he has seen in his entire life.
What will it be like–if after all this hatred, all this effort, all those millions upon millions of dollars spent to express disdain, contempt, and hate–Bush wins again, flashes a victory symbol over his head, grins, strides around shaking hands, glows with exuberance and radiance?
For Democrats, losing is much worse than for Republicans. For Democrats, the purpose of democracy is to milk government for ever more abundant benefits. Republicans in principle believe in limited government, and thus in a certain way they do even better out of power than when they must exercise it. Democrats without power suffer much more. Democrats go listless, purposeless.
In a minority, Democrats are fairly useless creatures. In victory, they cultivate grand visions of benefits to be shaken from government largesse; defeat, however, freezes the core of their being. Democratic defeat defies the natural order. For them, history halts. What had been an onward rushing tide swirls round and round, becoming still.
So loss at any time (as in 2000) is almost inadmissible by Democrats. But a loss in 2004, particularly a solid loss, will be for them a disaster beyond imagination. Such recriminations there will be. Some will blame the “centrism” of the Kerry team, and the much-resented repression of the Left. Some will come to see the isolation in which the widespread paroxysms of hatred and contempt for George Bush blindly thrust them. Some will see that the core ideologies of the Left are faultily drawn–in economics, their attraction to a kind of governmental centralization, and their antipathy to capitalism, the market, corporations, and job creators. They claim to love employees while hating their employers, a self-defeating cycle. In matters of culture, others will see that the left-wing’s sexual ethic and religious sensibility are too far out of tune with the American people. Nonetheless, one can predict that both in economics and in culture, others will try to drive the party more leftward still.
In any case, it would be wise to get ready for the coming cataclysm.
In 2004, I see six reasons why the Democratic goose is cooked:
1. No one–neither his colleagues nor his wife nor his supporters nor he himself–has anything good to say about John Kerry except that he served bravely in Vietnam. The nearly 30 years since then have generated few boasts on his part, few commendations from others, few successes anyone can seem to remember.
2. The Democratic elite sitting in convention cannot present themselves as they are to the American people, but must stifle their deepest feelings, be silent about their most passionate aims, and hide their turbulent loathing of George Bush Republicans (lest it frighten independents with its ferocity). The Democratic elite is saying as little as possible about same-sex marriage. And guns. And very little about abortion. And not a word about total withdrawal of American troops from Iraq–quite the opposite. Democratic elites do not want the people to know what they really think. On that ground, they fear they will lose.
3. Democrats must hide from the public what they truly think about evangelicals, fundamentalists, and Catholics. They express these thoughts mostly among themselves.
4. John Kerry looks sillier in the pale blue NASA rabbit suit than Michael Dukakis did in a tank.
5. The months of April, May, and June were so heavy with bad news for George Bush–the huge Sorosian expenditures on anti-Bush ads came at him in torrents–and still he held even with Kerry in the polls. It is hard not to believe that there will be at least a slight change in the roaring winds. When it comes (and the change is already underway), it is bound to push Bush’s sails steadily ahead as the weeks roll on.
6. The worst lies told by the Democrats about Bush–those of Joe Wilson, Michael Moore, and others, saying that Bush lied about Iraq–have already been proven wrong by the 9/11 Commission (which was supposed to blow Bush out of the water just before the election, but ended up destroying his worst calumniators). These lies were also proven wrong by the British inquiry. Even the Kerry Convention in Boston ended up taking the Bush strategic line in Iraq, except for one thing: Kerry is wistful about the probability of persuading France and Germany to bear some burden on behalf of liberty in Iraq. Good luck! God knows, Bush and Colin Powell tried.
Finally, there is the matter of faith, even of the sort Tom Paine showed in 1776. Paine was no Christian, but he did believe that God had created this vast and splendid universe in order to share His friendship with free women and free men, and for this reason the Creator put freedom at the core of things. Tom Paine had no tolerance for the Bible, and less for Biblical fundamentalists, but he was not so much an atheist, he wrote, as to believe that the Almighty Who made the universe for liberty would allow the cause of people willing to die for it to come to naught. Paine couldn’t bring himself to believe that God would favor George III.
In that same spirit, I find it hard to believe that the Creator who gave us liberty will ignore President Bush’s willingness to sacrifice his own presidency for the liberation of Afghanistan and Iraq–their 50 million citizens, and perhaps their progeny for ages to come. A kind of cosmic justice (which does not always materialize, I recognize) calls for vindication. Especially when the president has been so unfairly calumniated by his foes, domestic and foreign.
In accepting the nomination of his party Thursday night, John Kerry could not quite bring himself to give both the president and the volunteer military who performed so well some credit for this great and significant advance for human liberty. The theme of liberty in the Muslim world belongs to George Bush. It was he who named liberty the only real alternative to terrorism.
“With a firm reliance on Divine Providence,” to cite our forebears once again, Bush has publicly held that one cannot fight terrorism merely by killing terrorists. One must provide an alternative of liberty, prosperity, and opportunity–one must labor to build free societies where they do not now exist. Liberty works. I think Bush will win because these are the truths Americans hold.
Bush believes these truths. At this moment, the Democrats (who used to believe them, nobly so) do not even see their relevance. Kerry spoke well about patriotism, the international leadership of America, and liberty–but he seems willfully blind to the relevance of these beautiful ideals to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the war on terrorism. For such ideals and purposes some 900 young Americans of this generation have laid down their lives. They will be thanked by generations yet unborn.
So will their commander-in-chief.
–Michael Novak is the winner of the 1994 Templeton Prize for progress in religion and the George Frederick Jewett Scholar in Religion, Philosophy, and Public Policy at the American Enterprise Institute. Novak’s own website is www.michaelnovak.net.