There are plenty of good reasons to be against George Bush: his mishandling of the Iraq war, the soaring deficits, his opposition to stem-cell research, his opposition to gay marriage, and so many others. But the Democrats are doing themselves no service by painting the people who voted for him as either stupid or uninformed or venal. As Mark Steyn wrote in The Daily Telegraph:
In Britain and Europe, there seem to be two principal strains of Bush-loathing. First, the guys who say, if you disagree with me, you must be an idiot - as in the Mirror headline "How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB?" Second, the guys who say, if you disagree with me, you must be a Nazi - as in Oliver James, who told The Guardian: "I was too depressed to even speak this morning. I thought of my late mother, who read Mein Kampf when it came out in the 1930s [sic] and thought, 'Why doesn't anyone see where this is leading?'"
Steyn goes on to write, “If smug Europeans are going to coast on moron-Fascist sneers indefinitely, they'll be dooming themselves to ever more depressing mornings-after in the 2006 midterms, the 2008 presidential election, 2010, and beyond.” Even if it were true, and it isn’t, the moron-fascist line of thought is hardly likely, if the Democrats keep on at it, to win them back the swing voters they lost.
The Economist, in the Lexington column of their latest issue, says, “[I]f they are going to extract any useful lessons from their humiliation, the Democrats need to realise that the Republicans didn't just beat them on fear. They clobbered them on hope.” It continues:
For the moment, the American right is better at talking about the future than the left. It is better at exuding optimism. And it is better at addressing the aspirations of an aspirational people.
Arguably the only optimistic thing about the Kerry campaign was its slogan: “Help is on the way”. In general, the Democrats focused on America's intractable problems. By contrast, Mr Bush not only sounded upbeat, but also came up with solutions, of sorts. At home, John Kerry was happy to cast himself as the blind defender of a 70-year-old Social Security system that is headed for bankruptcy; Mr Bush talked about using privatisation to shore up the “ownership society”. Abroad, the president even managed to sound optimistic about terrorism, promising to drain the swamp of terrorism by spreading democracy.
Needless to say, it doesn’t mean that Bush was a better choice for the presidency than Kerry. But it does mean that Bush made all the right noises while campaigning. His opponents are making all the wrong ones.