Nov 18

What happens if the Democrats collapse?

I’ve written several blog essays recently
[1]
[2]
[3]
[4]
pondering the deep trouble the Democratic party is in. I believe,
on current demographic and political trends, that their problems
are going to get worse and might actually prove terminal —
especially if the Republicans have the strategic sense to run Condi
Rice for President or Vice-President in 2008.

I’m not going to rehearse all their problems here. Instead I’m going
to try to think through some scenarios for what U.S. politics might look like
after a Democratic-party collapse, and discuss why I think they are
plausible or implausible.

The common premise for all of these scenarios is that the Democrats
collapse or split into warring factions once they discover that they
just cannot win elections any more. The party breaks apart along the
Democratic Leadership Council vs. hard-lefty split that’s been the
main axis of tension within it since the 1980s. The variables are
about what happens to the left-wing and centrist/DLC factions
afterwards. I’m taking for granted that the handful of
Zell-Miller-like conservative Democrats left in congress would jump
the aisle to the GOP.

Case Gray: Republican Triumph

In this scenario, the left faction runs off to the Greens and
minor Red parties such as the Socialists. The centrist/DLC types go
Republican or exit politics. This one is a recipe for really
long-term Republican-party dominance, with the Greens retaining some
degree of clout in a handful of coastal cities and university towns;
it’s the Karl Rove wet dream.

I rate this one moderately likely, and I’m not happy about that.
It has benign possibilities, but it has fairly ugly ones too. Which
we get depends on whether small-government conservatives or the
Religious Right get the upper hand in the GOP’s factional struggles. The
former seems more likely (especially since all those ex-Democrats will be
pulling against the Religious Right). But the latter possibility is
actually fairly scary.

At the worst-case end, we’d end up in the theocratic U.S. of Robert
Heinlein’s Revolt in 2100. Mind you I think this is
highly unlikely, and the widespread lefty panic about it seems to me
to be mainly hyperventilation and hysteria — they’d have
you believe it’s happening right now, whereas I see a decade
or more before the threat could become acute. But it remains an outside
possibility.

The more likely long-term outcome would be that the Republicans themselves
split along small-government vs. cultural-conservative lines.

Case Green: Green Party Triumph

The Democratic-left refugees run more to the Reds. Greens get some
of them, but absorb a larger cohort of the centrist/DLC refugees and
evolve into a stronger and less left-wing party as a result, one with
prospects to increase its mass appeal. In effect, they become the
successor party of the Democrats and the familiar Democrat/Republican
seesaw resumes, with the Greens out of power most of the time.

I rate this one very unlikely. The problem is that if it were
possible for the DLC to come up with a new, centrist platform and stem
the long-term decline in their base, this scenario (dump the lefty
moonbats and reposition) is exactly the scenario they’d be engineering
themselves as a means of institutional survival. Since they
don’t seem to be able to manage it, I doubt the Greens (who are even more
Red-infiltrated than the Democrats) could either.

Case Gold: Libertarian Party Triumph

The left runs to the Greens and Reds. The centrist/DLC types join
the Libertarians. Small-government-Republican types drift to them, a
process which accelerates as it gradually weakens the holdouts inside the GOP.
At equilibrium, the Libertarians effectively replace the Democrats while
the Republicans become more and more a hard-right party of evangelicals
and nativists.

The key to Libertarian success in this scenario is gun owners.
This is the largest single captive bloc in the Republican voter base
at 50% of American households, one no less a politician than Bill
Clinton has identified as the swing group in the 1994 election and
subsequent Democrat disasters. The Libertarians succeed by prying
them loose from the Republican base.

As a libertarian and a gun owner, this is the one I’d most like to
see. However, I rate it unlikely. While I believe libertarian ideas
could be much more effectively marketed than they are, the LP has
proven almost comically inept at actually doing so. Post-9/11, its
isolationist foreign policy is a non-starter as well; I do not think
Americans will buy this until they perceive that the threat of Islamic
terror has been broken.

I’m, frankly, skeptical that the LP can overcome its own history
effectively enough to grasp this opportunity. But I’d love to be
wrong about this.

Case Red: Reds Triumph

This is Michael Moore’s wet dream — a major comeback for American
Marxism. It only happens if the Angry Left turns out to have been correct
about the DLC/centrists sabotaging their efforts to tap a huge pool of
naturally leftist voters. After the centrist/DLC types have faded from the
scene or gone to the GOP, one of the Red parties successfully markets
itself not just as a replacement for the democrats but in a way that
peels off a significant part of the Republican voter base.

I’ve listed this one for completeness. I think it’s wildly
unlikely, because I think the Angry Left’s belief that it can become
the vanguard of a mass movement is a drug dream. I don’t believe
there is any group in the majority-Republican voter base that is
vulnerable to a Marxist pitch, so even if they cornered all of the
Democrat base they’d still be in a minority position.

Case Blue: New Centrists

The lefty refugees dissipate themselves among the Reds and Greens.
The centrist/DLC types either keep the Democratic rump or boot up a
new party that abandons the socialist-economics and identity-politics
side of the Democrat platform, fights the War on Terror hard, and
remains strongly liberal shading towards libertarian on other social
issues. The result is, in effect, a new party of classical liberalism
— the Barry Goldwater Democrats.

As in Case Gold, their key tactical move is to peel gun owners out
of the Republican base. Over time, small-government Republicans drift
over from the GOP, which goes harder-right in consequence.

Nowadays I think this one is more likely than Case Gold. The key
to it may be the blogs, in which I see a kind of pro-War-on-Terror
libertarian centrism emerging as a new political force. The blogs
have been far more successful than the Libertarian Party at creating a
movement with mass appeal, quasi-libertarian attitudes, and enough
influence to have already arguably scuttled one presidential campaign
(Kerry’s, over Rathergate).

Case Blue is different than Case Gold in that the new centrist
party is not tied to libertarian ideology and pursues a
neoconservative foreign policy. This is the future in which “Glenn
Reynolds for President!” doesn’t sound crazy.

Nov 16

Condoleeza Rice in 2008!

So Condi Rice is going to replace Colin Powell as Secretary of State.
I have to think this means she’s being groomed for the Republican ticket
in 2008.

Well, I hope so anyway. I know very little about her, but I’ve discovered
that I really want to have a ringside seat on the farcical hijinks
that will certainly ensue if the Republicans run a black woman for President,
or even Veep.

Just so my position is clear, it is quite unlikely I’d vote for
her. As in, not unless the Libertarian candidate is a werewolf or
something. It’s just that the thought of Democratic strategists
having shit fits over the hemhorraging black vote greatly amuses me.
The panic and confusion that would reign on the New York Times
editorial page as their political-correctness bias clashes
(for once) with their anti-Republican bias would be good for many
guffaws. I might actually listen to NPR just to hear them choking.
In general, just watching the machinery of smug left-wing duckspeak
seize up and damage itself on Condi’s blackness would be
delicious.

Watching Republican racist/nativist types hold their gorges down
for the sake of party unity would be entertaining too, but probably
much less so as that type seems rather rare these days. In lieu of
that, I’d just have to content myself with the screams of insenate
rage that would issue from the neo-Nazis at Stormfront. Why, they might be
almost as angry as the “Bush=Hitler” crew over at Democratic
Underground. With any luck we might actually get to watch a few of
the vicious morons on both sites die of thundering apoplexy.

Truly, what’s not to like?

There are, of course, excellent reasons for the Republicans to try
this maneuver. Mainstream blacks are far more socially conservative
than most of the other interest groups in the Democratic coalition. I
personally do not consider this is a good thing, but there is no
denying that it makes them pretty ripe to be the next demographic that
gets chiseled out of the party (following southerners, rust-belt
blue-collar whites, and most recently Catholics).

But having a corner on the black vote is important to the Democrats
for more than just raw poll numbers. On it, now that the whites at
the bottom of the socio-economic scale have gone majority-Republican,
rests their last tenable claim to be the Party of the Oppressed. This
claim has become so important to their image and internal mythology that,
without it, the Democrats might very well collapse.

Who’s going to be their next favorite victim group to hang this
myth from? Homosexuals won’t do; there are too few of them at 4%.
The Jews wouldn’t do either, at 2%, even if the Dems hadn’t gotten
badly tainted by the creeping anti-Semitism of their own left
wing. Hispanics used to look promising, but they’re in a late stage of
assimilation and obviously headed the way of the Italians or Irish —
they won’t remain an ethnic voting bloc for even another decade.

It’s hard to peddle your outfit as tribunes of the disadvantaged
when your main powerbases are the public-employee unions, Hollywood,
and the Upper East Side. The Republicans have gotten pretty good at
nailing the Democratic leadership as the spoiled children of wealth
and privilege even with the blacks in the Democratic column;
without them, it’s just going to get uglier. And Condi Rice would be
the perfect wedge candidate.

Your average Democrat’s reflex seems to be to blame the sinister
machinations of Karl Rove for this state of affairs. The trouble with
this theory is that Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell, and Condi Rice do
actually exist. They’re not just fantasies, and they
represent a degree of access and power black people never had under
any Democratic administration.

Cynical tactical positioning? Maybe. Who cares? No matter what
the Republicans mean by it, the cause of equality gains and the
hate-spewing race-baiters on the left and right lose. Condi in
2008!

Nov 15

Hurray for Dollywood

Hot damn! I wonder if this
here post by Iowahawk
means I’m gonna git me someplace near here
in Pensylvay-ni-ay that can serve up a decent mess of Texas
barbeque
?

Put me down as a proud purple-stater. I like guns, but I hate
country music. I love burnt-ends sandwiches, but I despise chewing
tobacco. I agree that Waffle House makes the breakfast food of the
gods, but I loathe fundamentalists. I not uncommonly use “y’all”
rather than “you” for the second person plural because it’s clearer,
but I assume people who use “y’all” for the second person
singular really are dumb hicks.

Demography is not destiny. I was born in the Yankee heart of
Boston, I went to an Ivy League university, I’m a fluent writer and
speaker, every house I’ve lived in in the U.S. has been within a
hundred miles of the Atlantic, and I’ve never had a manual-labor job
in my life. By all that’s stereotyped I ought to be a member in good
standing of the chattering classes and the tribe of fuzzy-sweater
liberals, sucking up NPR and voting for Kerry like all decent
blue-staters were supposed to.

I’m not quite sure how I escaped this fate. It wasn’t by becoming
a conservative, oh dear no. I’m a radical Wiccan anarchist with a
sexual style that your average red-stater wouldn’t even know the right
words to describe (yes, I’ve checked). Right-wingers appall me
— most are so narrow-minded that they don’t even have a prayer
of understanding how narrow-minded they are. They live inside cages
and never see the bars.

So instead of repudiating my blue-state pedigree by turning into
some sort of repellant young-conservative lizardoid, I grew into
someone half-blue, half-red. My wife Cathy thinks my father’s
influence had a lot to do with that, and she’s probably got a point.
He grew up hardscrabble poor in the red counties of rural central
Pennsylvania during the Great Depression, clawed his way out to a
profession in coastal blue-land with drive and brains, and married an
upper-class girl with the looks of a movie star. Men like that don’t
fall for easy, comfortable answers in politics or anywhere else.
Among the traits I inherited from him are a contrarian streak, a
studied and stubborn refusal to fit into anyone’s tidy categories, and
some bedrock respect for red-state virtues.

Iowahawk ends his brilliant satire with the line “After the toilet
backed up, I think he got my point”. Whether intentionally or not, he
perfectly illustrates the single most important advantage of red-state
culture and politics. It’s an advantage my father understood, and he
passed that understanding on to me.

Here it is: your average red-state prole’s world-view may be
strangely cramped, and is too often shot through with bizarre and ugly
superstitions like creationism — but within his limits he
is in contact with reality. On the other hand, your average
elite blue-stater — insulated by wealth and a complacent
mainstream media and thick layers of theoretical artifice —
understands everything except reality. Which is great if
what you need is irony or wit or skilled navigation through a maze of
social constructions, but not so useful when you need a toilet
fixed.

There’s nothing new about this dance. Aristocrats and yeomen have
been doing it since the days when Sumer was the new kid on the block.
The anti-red-state squawking now being emitted by blue-state pundits
in the wake of Kerry’s defeat can be summed up as a fearful cry of
“The peasants are revolting!” It isn’t really about political
geography but about class and class snobbery.

And you know what? Class snobbery pisses me off, especially when
the people peddling it are vapid ninnies whose smugness about their own
sophistication doesn’t conceal their complete failure to get a grip
on reality. Apparently it pisses off Iowahawk too — his satire
doesn’t conceal a dark delight in the thought of all those blue-state
aristo parents wringing their hands.

So, even though I’ll never be one of them, my response to
Iowahawk’s satire is to root for the Neckies. Being one of them by
birth myself, I have long since taken the measure of the blue-state
elite. They’re more interesting to hang with, they tell better jokes,
they understand all the finer things in life — and it’s past
time for this country’s Y’alls to be rubbing their noses in the fact
that they’re mostly full of shit.

Nov 13

Islamofascism and the Rage of Augustine

In response to a long, thoughtful post on religion and democracy. a commenter on the Belmont Club wrote:

A favorite criticism of Christianity is to point to the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition and claim that these events are somehow proof that Christianity is by nature “just another violent religion”. This is both an intellectually shallow and dishonest assessment, since this criticism ignores that fact that these institutionalized excesses did not occur until a full 1000 years into the history of the Christian religion.

The commenter, a Christian apologist, missed or evaded an important point that is relevant to the question of living with Islam and how we cope with the ideological problem of Islamic terrorism. It is indeed true that early Christianity committed only small-scale atrocities against its own ‘heretics’, rather than the really large-scale ones against Jews, witches, and other soi-disant unbelievers that came to characterize it later on. But in interpreting that early period, we need to bear in mind that Christianity changed in fundamental ways after the Donation of Constantine.

I think the turning point was Augustine, though you can see a prefiguration of his ideas in Paul of Tarsus. By making the theology of Fall, sin, and guilt central to Christianity, Augustine transformed it from a relatively harmless mystery cult into a successful monster. Islam underwent a very similar transformation during the early years of the Ummaiyyad caliphate, from a splinter of Monophysite Christianity no more bloody-minded than most tribal cults of the time to a new prosyletizing religion of especially virulent and violent stripe.

Both religions, in their “mature” forms, became strikingly similar to their most important ancestor, which was not Judaism but Zoroastrianism. Augustine was a former adherent of one of the Zoroastrian splinter groups, the Gnostics of Manicheus. He imported Manichean dualism into Christianity almost entire. One can read Zoroastrian descriptions of heaven, hell, angels, the devil, and the fate of sinners from 900 years before Christ and recognize them; they are like nothing else in world religion but very much like Christianity after Augustine, the Christianity that made the Book of Revelations part of its canon.

The Zoroastrian influence on Christianity had always been important. Early Christians had adopted Zoroastrian customs and terminology, especially under the influence of the cult of Mithras which was probably their most important competition in the early centuries. That’s where we got the Sunday sabbath and our words for “priest” and “pope”; even the Eucharist reflects a Mithraic initiation ceremony called the Taurobolion. After Augustine, the Manichean, quasi-Zoroastrian elements of Christianity became dominant and the massacres began, gradually increasing in tempo.

Part of the reason for the reconvergence with Zoroastrianism was doubtless functional. Zoroastrianism had been the state religion of the Persian Empire. It was designed to reinforce the authority of the Priest-Emperor over his vast multi-ethnic rabble of subjects, placing him at the apex of both secular and spiritual authority (and, indeed, making them indistinguishable). The emperors of Rome and the early Caliphs faced a similar set of problems, and enlisted the same kind of religious absolutism as a tool of totalitarian social control.

It was Augustine’s theology of sin and grace that sharpened that tool into a blade. In a nutshell, it reduces to this: (1) We are all sinners, broken and wrong. (2) To escape this condition, we must not only obey authority but internalize it. (3) Even if we succeed at (2), only the whim of divine authority can save us, and that whim is beyond human ken. The tyrant can never be called to account, and to act against him is to be damned.

Worse: in Augustinean theology, the intention to sin is as bad as the act. It is not sufficient to behave as though we believe when we really don’t. It is not even sufficient that we allow authorities to coerce us into believing absurd things or performing atrocities in God’s name. We must conform not only outwardly but inwardly, become our own oppressors, believing because it is absurd. The God-tyrant can never be rejected even in our own minds, or we are damned.

Only when we have installed the sin/guilt/thoughtcrime monitor in our own heads will we be even potentially among the saved. There is a straight line that connects Zoroastrian dualism and Augustine’s sin-centered theology with the Islamic concept of “sarfa” (turning away from God) and Communist talk of “false consciousness” — at some level, the mechanisms to run any stable totalitarianism have to look alike, because they’re all designed to control the same wetware.

The alliance now forming between the Islamo-fascists and the hard left should surprise nobody who understands the deep structure of either belief system. Both are, fundamentally, designed as legitimizing agents for tyranny — memetic machines designed to program you into licking the boot of the commissar or caliph that stomps you. But outside of a tiny minority of the brave (Robert Ingersoll) or the crazy (Nietzsche) Western intellectuals have averted their eyes from this truth, because to recognize it would almost require them to notice that the very same deep structure is wired into the Gnosticized Christianity of “Saint” Augustine — and, in fact, historically derived from it.

Hence the shared Christian/Islamic propensity for putting unbelievers to the sword for merely unbelieving. You will search in vain for such behavior among post-Exilic Jews, or Taoists, or animists, or any other world religion. Only a religion which is totalitarian at its core, fundamentally about thoughtcrime and sin and submission, can even conceive of a need to murder people wholesale for the state of their unbelief. The massacre on St. Bartholomew’s Eve and Stalin’s liquidation of the kulaks were of a piece, both jihads against thoughtcrime.

Islam conceals this less well than Christianity or Communism ever did. The very name, “Islam”, means “submission”. But when Christian evangelists called the destruction on 9/11 God’s punishment for feminism and homosexuals they were singing from the same hymnbook, channelling the same authoritarianism and “ancient religious rage” that Margalit and Buruma’s essay Occidentalism quite correctly diagnosed at the roots of fascism.

It is not difficult to recognize in that rage something deep, twisted, sick, and anti-human, and condemn it for the psychosis it is. It is more difficult, but necessary, to recognize Augustine’s theology of submission — and the concept of “islam” that Islam derived from it — as one of the most subtle and deadliest symptoms of that pychosis, one which leads to massacre as surely as a stab wound bleeds.

Totalitarian religion and democracy are not, in the end, compatible. Free people cannot — indeed, must never — submit in the way that Zoroaster, Augustine, Mohammed, and Stalin required. The Founding Fathers understood this, and when George Washington wrote “The United States is in no way founded upon the Christian religion” on a diplomatic message to the Knights of Malta they were expressing it.

Islamic terrorism is forcing us to face this fact. But we will not be able to understand and squarely confront the evil at the heart of Islam, Naziism, and Communism, until we face the fact that all three of these monsters are Augustine’s progeny, and that same evil is embedded in Christianity itself.

Nov 05

Mobilizing the Poor and Other Delusions

Yesterday a Democratic friend of mine emailed me in part: “There is a big constituency of poor people who are just not making it at all.” This is one of the American Left’s conventional dogmas — that there is some vast ocean of descamisados out there waiting to be mobilized into a political force that will sweep away all those nasty uncaring conservatives.

I laugh when I hear or read things like this, because — unlike most Americans — I know what real poverty looks like. I have lived in poor countries. I’ve seen the shantytowns that surround Caracas and the acres of concrete Stalinist shitboxes that ring Eastern European cities; I’ve played scoppa with rural peasants in Southern Italy who are worn out from toil at forty.

We have nothing like that here. Our poor people are fat. They have too much to eat. They have indoor plumbing and houses and cars and televisions. Real poverty no longer exists in the U.S. at any level above statistical noise, and hasn’t since civilization reached the last pockets of the Appalachians during my childhood.

This has political consequences. Mainly, that you can’t get American ‘poor’ people angry enough about their economic situation to make a voting bloc or a movement out of them. In fact, in the U.S. the poor are more conservative than the rich. American lefties think this is because the poor suffer from anti-revolutionary false consciousness, but this is exactly the kind of patronizing piffle that just lost lefties the 2004 elections. The truth is that in their calculus of their own interests, other things are more important to the American poor than bringing down the bloated plutocrats. In this particular election, those other things included supporting the liberation of Iraq and opposing gay marriage.

Believing that poverty is a live political issue is a form of self-delusion by elite liberals for which conservatives should be very grateful — it leads liberals into vast wastes of effort. But it isn’t just liberals who get taken in. A conservative friend who was in on the email discussion said to me, in effect, “But what about the homeless?”. His argument was that homeless people are America’s ‘real’ poor, and he has a point. The trouble with taking that argument any further is that there are too few homeless people to have any effect on politics other than as an emotive issue that wealthy white activists can flog to make themselves feel more virtuous.

And there will never be a politically significant homeless population in the U.S., for simple and obvious climactic reasons. Over much of the U.S., if you can’t find shelter, winter exposure will kill you fairly quickly. On the coasts you need to be south of about latitude 40 for survivability. The winter-kill zone reaches further south in mid-continent. There’s a summer-kill zone, too, that includes a lot of the Southwest.

If you can’t pay for a roof over your head, you have either build one or borrow one somewhere that the owners aren’t around to object. Wigwams would be conspicuous even if homeless people knew enough woodscraft to build them, so building is largely out. In general, finding a sheltered space to sleep where nobody will hassle you is quite difficult outside of large cities and not easy even inside them.

To check this theory, I went and looked for homeless population counts on the web. Leaving out the most obvious noise — figures pulled out of thin air by advocacy organizations with a drive to inflate them — I found almost no hard numbers.

Yes, you get people throwing around figures in the two million range. They’re bullshit. If we had that many homeless it would have obvious consequences we’re not seeing. Like, corpses littering the streets of Philadelphia on January mornings.

One reference said San Francisco, which has a reputation for a particularly large and visible homeless population, counted 4,535 in December 2003. In 2003, the New York city government estimated 1,560 people sleeping on the streets in Manhattan (at latitude 41 Manhattan is well into the winter-kill zone). I recall Philadelphia counting 3,500 a few years back. That’s numbers 1, 14 and 5 of the nation’s fifteen largest cities by population. Extrapolating from these, I’d bet the nationwide homeless count is almost certainly less than 40K, probably less than 20K.

Which brings me back to my original contention that real poverty is statistical noise in the U.S. Even if the homeless population were an order of magnitude larger than I’m estimating, you cannot build a political base out of 400K people in a nation of 300 million. There’s no electoral traction in one tenth of one percent, especially when most of the rest of the country has more or less correctly written off the homeless as largely being composed of addicts and the mentally ill.

Americans aren’t stupid. They know there has been genuine, large-scale poverty in this country’s relatively recent past — the folk memory of the Great Depression is still with us. They know there are lots of places in the world where the plight of the poor is still a genuine problem today. But that contrast only makes the posturing of today’s self-designated advocates for the American “poor” look more like a form of careerism, moral vanity or one-upmanship. Which, in most cases, is exactly what it is.

UPDATE: Supporting evidence for the nonexistence of real poverty in the U.S. here. Some commenters pointed out that my estimate of homelesness may be low because two of my three baseline cities are in the winter-kill zone. The main point, though, is that the homeless population is not within an order of magnitude of the numbers needed to have an an electoral impact.

Nov 03

Are the Democrats becoming a regional party?

The 2004 elections are over. Bush won, of course, but I want to focus on an interesting question raised by the red-state/blue-state map of the outcome. It looks suspiciously as though the Democrats are on their way to becoming a regional party.

Specifically, a regional party of the urban Northeast and the West Coast metroplexes. The state-by-state voting patterns since 1980, and especially in 2000 and 2004, point clearly in this direction. The Democrats have lost the South, and they’re losing their grip on the Upper Midwest — Daschle’s loss to Thune and the size of Bush’s margin in Ohio are leading indicators.

I’ve written a couple of previous blog essays on the hole the Democrats are in. They have serious problems. Ronald Reagan peeled away the (private-sector) union vote after 1980; today they’re losing the blacks over gay marriage and the Jews over Israel and the Terror War. Their voter base is increasingly limited to public-employee unions and brie-nibbling urban elites — they’re no longer the party of the common man but of the DMV, Hollywood and the Upper West Side.

The state-level election results reinforce this picture, and I predict that county-by-county numbers will make it even more obvious, especially when correlated with SES. Add to this a serious structural problem, which is that their street-level cadres are largely drawn from a hard-left contingent that wants to pull their platform even further away from anything most Americans will vote for.

This was very clear here in Malvern; even in this staid suburb the Democratic pollwatchers looked like Central Casting’s idea of a fringy radical, bushy-haired and besweatered and festooned with paranoid slogan buttons. The DNC used to rely on unions to supply troops at campaign time; they can’t any more, so they have to lean on organizations like MoveOn.org and Democratic Underground.

Even this they could survive if the mainstream media retained the ability to deliver the 15% swing for Democrats that Evan Thomas of Newsweek boasted of a few months back. But the all-too-blatant partisanship of CBS and the New York Times actually backfired this time, most obviously when the bloggers caught Dan Rather trumping up an anti-Bush story on obviously-fake documents. I think Instapundit is on to something when he says the longest-term result of this election will be the collapse of mainstream-media credibility. With that will go one of the most effective weapons the Democrats have.

A serious rethink of the Democratic platform is in order. The smartest single move they could make is to try to peel off the single largest bloc of Republican-leaning voters — gun owners like me. Bill Clinton has pointed out that alienating the 50% of American households which own guns lost the Democrats the 1994 elections and has cost them critical swing votes in every national election since.

The sane thing for the Democrats to do would be to go unreservedly pro-Second-Amendment. Alas, I do not think they are a sane party any more.

UPDATE: My prediction about the county-by-county numbers proved correct,
according to USA Today’s
map.