We all stayed up as late as we could to watch it. We woke up the next morning anxious to see who officially held Ohio. After an unexpected Kerry concession, the incumbent came out on top, much to the dismay of various professors.
Dr. Ralph Young, of the history department, was confident in a Bush victory from the very beginning. Toward the end of the election, as his students were getting more excited, he started feeling Kerry might pull out a win.
“From day one, I was thinking Bush was going to win,” Young said. “You can sense the idealism and youthfulness; I got swept up in the last few weeks.”
He noticed that after the election, the entire campus was drained and down. Temple is typically a very liberal campus, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
“The campus was dead,” he said. “The day after [the election], it was like the campus had a hangover.”
Young is disappointed in America. He’s unsure how the country did not seen through what he puts as “the spin, lies and manipulation” of the administration.
“Democracy depends on an informed electorate,” Young said. “They voted for an obviously bankrupt policy. I think they were basing a lot on fear, and bizarrely thinking Bush may protect us from another attack.”
To Young, the citizens of the nation, at least the 59 million that voted for Bush, have failed a test.
“They have to redo this class,” he said. “They’re not going to graduate.”
He sees a dangerous trend materializing from the Democratic Party. He feels that the party believes moving to the right as the only way to win.
“Democrats are too wishy-washy; they spend too much time pleasing moderates,” he said. “Democrats have discovered they can’t beat the Republicans by playing the Republican game. They can’t win by being conservative.”
He questions the integrity of the leaders that the Democratic Party nominates.
“The Democrats haven’t a good, thought-out, liberal candidate,” he said. “Have we had a liberal candidate since Lyndon B. Johnson?”
He advises students, at all costs, not to lose hope or courage, to continue the good fight, so to speak.
“Don’t lose your idealism, be a part of your time. Lead by example,” Young said.
After this election, Dr. Richard Josyln is utterly concerned for America. He is frightened that Bush will do whatever he wants in his upcoming term.
“I’m worried, apprehensive and puzzled,” he said. “Not only did Bush get re-elected, there are larger Republican majorities in the House and the Senate.”
At this point, Joslyn feels Bush will do whatever he thinks is right and pure, and that concerns Joslyn. Because of this, Bush will continue to push America in the direction he feels is right.
“I don’t think anything is holding him back. There’s no re-election constraint, and less of a congressional constraint,” he said. “I can’t imagine him voluntarily ceasing and desisting. He believes he’s right; he’s on a mission, on a crusade. You get what you see with George W. Bush, I don’t think he’s particularly clever.”
Joslyn debunks the idea that Democrats need to move rightward to find success.
“I think it would be a mistake for Democrats to mimic Republicans,” Joslyn said. “I tend to agree with the people that say they shouldn’t run away from their core values.”
Not all hope is lost, he says. The Democrats got almost 56 million votes, and it was a very close election. But, like Young, Joslyn sees an ignorant electorate as a major problem.
“You would think there are a lot more people interested in raising the minimum wage, but the numbers just don’t show it,” he said. “I do worry about an attitude that’s contrary to [the American public’s] self-interest.”
The election was incredibly close, and progressives on campus and elsewhere shouldn’t be discouraged, according to Joslyn. Liberals have ultimately suffered a defeat, but the battle goes on.
“The mobilization of progressives was inspiring. I would never say the effort wasn’t worth it,” he said. “There is good work to be done, and it can happen now. It’s about recruiting candidates and raising money. It’s not glamorous work, but you can be sure the Republicans are already doing it.”
When midterms arrive in 2006, it’s clear to Joslyn that there is a lot that needs to be done. The work begins now.
Jonathan Rashid can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.