It's all over
George W Bush has been duly elected by a significant majority of the popular vote and - in all likelihood - by a good margin of the electoral college vote to boot.
My deepest, most heartfelt condolences to any Kerry-voting Americans, but this time I'm afraid you have to accept Bush as your President. If you don't, the Right will latch on to your "lack of patriotism", and the Democrats will stand no chance next time round. You have to vocally rally behind Bush, as much as it pains you. You don't have to actively support him, but at least avoid the Michael Moore style criticism - much like the Guardian's letter-writing campaign backfired, so too did the heated anti-Bush jibes from the (loosely) Democrat camp. It riled the rednecks, and they came out in force. Don't do it again, for all our sakes. Michael Moore (and I will point out here that I loved TV Nation and still rate Roger & Me as one of the best documentaries of the last 20 years) please shut up.
What next? The US Supreme Court will, in all likelihood, turn utterly conservative, but beyond that, no one knows. The civil liberties of minority groups may well be curtailed. There may well be more foreign wars. There may well be more terrorist attacks. The Democrats may well be in a state of turmoil and disillusionment which is too great for them to recover in time for the 2008 election.
As far as I can tell, the most likely outcome is that the US will become ever more isolated from the rest of the global community. Most European nations will start to distance themselves ever more from Bush's administration. The US will increasingly be forced to act alone. This is not a good thing for the US or the world.
Six and a half billion people have to cope with a leader voted for by just fifty-nine million. The fate of the world has been decided by less than 0.01% of its population.
Democracy eh? Isn't it great?
(Oh, and a note for future reference: no political pollsters have a clue of what they're talking about, and exit polls reveal nothing.)
A more sober Thursday update in response to comments:
Certainly fight to change Bush's policies. As John Edwards said last night, "You can be disappointed, but you cannot walk away. This fight has just begun."
But as John Kerry also said, "We are required now to work together for the good of our country. In the days ahead, we must find common cause. We must join in common effort without remorse or recrimination, without anger or rancor. America is in need of unity and longing for a larger measure of compassion."
The apparent lack of respect for the office of president was a major cause of the huge Republican turnout. Attacking Bush directly is interpreted by the Right as attacking the presidency. So focus the attacks on his policies. Associate the policies with people behind the scenes whenever possible - and with the neo-cons in the wings, this is pretty easy. In typical fashion, used throughout the ages to avoid directly criticising an unpopular monarch, attack the "bad advisors" but not the monarch himself.
If the Democrats are to stand any chance in 2008, they have to convince those people who voted for Bush out of misplaced patriotism that the Democrats have full respect for the institutions of government. As Kerry said, "I pledge to do my part to try to bridge the partisan divide. I know this is a difficult time for my supporters. But I ask them - all of you - to join me in doing that."