Friday, November 05, 2004

Post-Election Blues (and Reds)

The election has been over for a few days now; and yet I can't seem to get it out of my mind. I'm still attached to the news and analysis programs on Fox and MSNBC, and the News Hour on PBS, in a manner reminiscent of how a recovering heroin addict clings to his methadone. I've spent a lot of time and energy reading the secular blogs of both the left and the right; and hardly any time at all reading the Orthodox blogs. I'm still trying to make sense of "what it all means" for the days and weeks and months and years ahead; and to chart a course for myself, our family, and our parish, as we look at the maps showing a deep red interior with a blue border to the north, east, and west.

For those of you into the maps, you'll already know about the red states/blue states map. There's also one colored, not by state, but by county -- and the red is even more pronounced. There are also a series of maps that are done by percentage by state, and by county, that have been dubbed by many the "purple haze" maps, as the blends of reds and blues result in a predominantly purple map. Then there are the maps that are "weighted" by population density, and so are also purple; and the ones that show the staes in sizes based upon the number of electoral votes. Anyway, one can spend an inordinate amount of time examining these maps, trying to sense the national dynamics -- and still not get anywhere. I guess it boils down to the fact that 59,459,765 people voted for the re-election of President Bush; while 55,949,407 people preferred Sen. Kerry. Not very many votes, as a percentage of the total votes cast, separate these two totals; while in many ways, the ideological differences are, on many issues, enormous. Put another way: the distance between the vote totals is like the distance from the curb-top to the street; while the ideological distance is more like the Grand Canyon...

Analysis of the results abounds. I highly recommend:
And hundreds and hundreds more...

The levels of distrust and hatred seem staggering; but part of this is probably magnified by the anonimity of the Internet. At least, I hope this is the case! In the speech he gave following Sen. Kerry's concession, President Bush acknowledged the need for "the healing" to begin; and indicated he would "reach across the aisle" in an effort to accomplish this healing. This has prompted some to say that, having won, it is not the President who needs to reach out, but the Democrats. In response, some Democrats have pointed out that, after the votes received by the President, more than any other candidate for the office, the next-highest vote totals were achieved by Sen. Kerry, who also got more than any other candidate, except for President Bush. This election was one of the three closest elections in history (the closest being in 2000); about as far away from a "landslide" as one could get and still be victorious; and certainly not, according to the more "classical" understanding of the term, a "mandate." As it is not unreasonable to expect the Democrats to be gracious in defeat, it would not be out-of-bounds to hope that the Republicans would be magnanimous in victory -- for the good of the country, and for all of the people who dwell in this land. We have a lot of work to do; and we're going to need each other to get it done.