Bush has won the election, whether Dems like to admit it or not. Not only that, but republicans swept a majority of the congressional races. Many Democrats foresee a second Bush term that is more radical than the first. Now that Bush and the neocon administration has little opposition within the government except for the senate filibuster, consolidation of his ideological allies will give him newfound “capital” to push his agenda. Within days of winning the election, Bush is already emphasizing privatization of Social Security and a constitutional ban on gay marriage.
Prospects look rather challenging for democrats in the second term. But with adversity comes a chance to reform and reenergize. Some of that has happened already.
There is a struggle between many social groups in addition to liberals and conservatives: neocons, minorities, urban voters, Christian fundamentalists, Middle America, etc. How the Democratic Party appeals to these groups will determine its future.
In the long term, the Democrats will have an opportunity with the next generation of voters. Most voters ages 18-29 voted overwhelmingly for Kerry (by a margin of ten percent according to the NYTimes), signaling that a lot of “new blood” is becoming politically active. Barak Obama gave a energizing speech at the DNC convention, providing more substance than most of the elder speakers, overshadowing an aging generation that is becoming less effective: Tom Daschle, Joe Lieberman, and Dick Gephardt.
Although the majority of voters, including neocons, Christian Fundamentalists, and much of Middle America, who supported Bush touted traditional values as a deciding factor, making reference to questions of gay marriage and abortion laws, values tend to change. Many phenomena cause changes in values, and Democrats should take several major ones into account. Demographic changes in the United States can greatly benefit the Dems. An increasingly dense population will allow more contact between individuals, possibly creating a more cosmopolitan attitude that reflects urban centers like New York, where Kerry won by a landslide. Also, the minority population grows at a much higher rate than the Caucasian American population. Minorities have been traditionally a Democratic constituent; it is likely that leaders like Obama will increase the Democrats’ ability to reach out to these demographics.
It is the Democrats’ duty right now to reach out to the youth and minority voters; they give the greatest prospects for liberal government in the future. Meanwhile, the Dems must assertively compromise with the republican majority. America needs to heal some of the wounds created by partisan bickering and open up a conversation about sustainable policy. Some say that the Bush administration has already attempted at silencing any dissent; Democrats must take dissenting voices with a grain of salt and moderate their message. Moderation will allow liberals to compromise, cooperate, and move on, while still fighting for the causes they hold ideal.