Thomas Sowell

Democrats have now lost two consecutive elections that, by all the usual standards, they should have won easily. Al Gore lost the 2000 election despite a usually unbeatable combination of peace, prosperity, a declining crime rate and the first budget surplus in decades. Now the congressional Democrats have lost despite the Bush administration's budget deficit, an economic decline and an impending war.

If you can't win when the odds are stacked in your favor, when can you win?

The Democrats are down, but not out. They are more like a wounded bear -- the most dangerous kind of bear.

Democrats know that one of the reasons for their disappointing showing in this year's elections is that they failed to get out the black vote in the numbers needed, especially in the South. Since Democrats have nothing to offer blacks, now that they do not control any branch of the federal government, their only way to get out the black vote in 2004 is by arousing fears and resentments.

The race card was played recklessly and shamelessly during the 2000 elections -- and successfully, with 92 percent of the black vote going to Al Gore. One television ad even tried to somehow connect George W. Bush with the dragging death of a black man in Texas.

The Democrats couldn't pull that kind of smear this year, with the president's approval ratings so high. But they have two more years in which to come up with something else, and they have long demonstrated fertile imaginations, unhampered by the truth.

That is what makes the Democrats as dangerous as a wounded bear. They know that their best hope for a political comeback is to turn some Americans against other Americans, stirring up resentments and fears among blacks and envy of "the rich" among others. In short, enhancing their future prospects involves polarizing Americans, at the expense of the country's future.

They can count on those in the media as allies. This is not just because of the well-established fact that nine-tenths of media journalists vote Democratic, but because the whole approach of the media favors polarization.

Issue after issue is presented in the media as a contest between different sides. For example, the prescription drug issue is presented as a contest between the pharmaceutical companies and those who want to control drug prices. The gun control issue is presented as a contest between the National Rifle Association and those who want tighter restrictions on firearms. And so it goes on all sorts of other issues.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate