President George W. Bush beat Ronald Reagan, scoring higher in the popular vote than the 40th president. There will be no talk about a "minority" president this time, or of hanging chads, because this is the first election since 1988 when the winner of the presidential contest received a clear majority.
For conservatives, perhaps the sweetest result was the defeat of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D, who has consistently thwarted legislation and court nominees he didn't like. By adding two Senate seats, Republicans have improved their chances of reforming Social Security, the indecipherable tax code and health care. The Bush Administration may also have the opportunity to outperform Reagan (and Bush 41) by naming a number of solid conservatives to the Supreme Court, which would extend this president's influence for decades.
The Democrats lost more than the election. After spending record amounts of money, their numerous "527" groups, their rock stars, their media friends - particularly CBS News and The New York Times, both of which prostituted themselves for the Kerry-Edwards campaign - Democrats will have to rethink their embrace of the far-left wing of the party and find someone in the "moderate" mold of Bill Clinton.
Democrats also lost an important social issue - same-sex marriage. In 11 states where the issue was on the ballot, it was defeated (even in liberal Oregon) by wide margins, again proving that when the people, and not the courts, get to decide these things, the people have a different view than unelected federal judges. It appears many of the 4 million Evangelical Christians who sat out the 2000 election turned out for this one and mostly voted for President Bush and against same-sex marriage.
The National Rifle Association again demonstrated its ability to turn out voters who care about the right to keep and bear arms. Of the 18 candidates endorsed by the NRA for the Senate, 14 won for a net gain of four pro-gun Senate seats. In the House, the NRA endorsed 251 candidates. 241 of them won. On the other side, gun control advocates backed Tom Daschle, who lost, and they targeted for defeat Senators "Kit" Bond and Arlen Specter, both of whom won.
Exit polls were the scandal of this election. They were wrong. The exit polls were leaked to the media midday Tuesday. Perhaps that's because they "seemed" to favor Kerry and many in the media gleefully reported them in hopes it might discourage people who had not yet voted.
If the thousands of Democrat lawyers are unsuccessful in challenging, or decide not to challenge, the Ohio vote, Bush will be the certified winner of the contest. He then will have the power and the responsibility to pursue several objectives, most importantly the war in Iraq, as part of the overall war on terrorism. Look for a major operation to root out insurgents in Fallujah. What will Osama bin Laden's minions do now? If they stage another terror attack in the United States, how will the president respond? Will he find, arrest and deport those among us who are not of us?
The president has promised to reform the indecipherable tax code and Social Security, which Democrats regularly demagogue, but know cannot continue as currently constituted.
Then there is the Supreme Court. With the lessons of Ronald Reagan (Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy) and his father (David Souter) - judges who were sold as conservatives and turned moderate - will the president nominate people who are genuine conservatives and who believe the Constitution is fine as written and does not need to be bent to fit the whims of contemporary culture?
With Daschle gone, will it be easier to get nominees by obstructionist Democrats? Will the Senate write new rules at the start of the next Congress that would require only a majority vote to confirm judges, instead of the impossible "super majority" of 60 votes, which guarantees frustration and the thwarting of the will of the majority?
For conservatives, part of the thrill of this election is that filmmaker Michael Moore, rockers like Bruce Springsteen, billionaire George Soros, MoveOn.org and the rest of the left-wing rabble must be wearing long faces.
Democrats should realize that the McGovern-Mondale-Dukakis-Kerry wing of the Democrat party cannot win. Will they finally wake up, or will they give into temptation and nominate Hillary Clinton in 2008?
The brain trust at the White House, led by Karl Rove, is entitled to celebrate, but they won't gloat, at least in public. This was one of those turning point elections. Now it's up to the president to turn things in order to make his points.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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