Campaign 2004 is past tense.
The bull was tossed about for most of 2004 and now the chips have fallen. I’m not sure how to take the emotion of this week and put it into words. To begin with, a couple observations from the pasture. To end, a couple quotes from folks around the country.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, www.opensecrets.org
, The biggest spender was victorious in 413 of 433 decided House races and 29 of 33 decided Senate races. The findings are based on figures reported Oct. 13 to the Federal Election Commission. Now this doesn’t surprise me but it sure does disappoint me. Excluding the side groups and the parties, President Bush spent $306.3 million in private contributions and governmental funds in his successful re-election bid. Sen. Kerry spent $241.7 million. Now friends, I’m not sure about your math but that is one whale of a lot of money. A friend to ask me how far that money would have gone in the offering plate at my church or social programs in our communities or health care for those uninsured. I’m not sure but it probably would have made this country a lot better off than we are now.
The most expensive race outside of the presidential race was South Dakota’s US Senate race where, Tom Daschle went down to defeat. Both sides spent $27.7 million, not counting the outside ads, which were plentiful. Here is the other side of the equation. In about a third of all House races, the incumbent had no opposition or an opposing candidate who spent less than $5,000. To be honest, I’m not sure which is worse. No money or opposition or one-half of a trillion dollars spent on the White House race.
To get very personal, only one candidate who spent $1 million or more in their personal funds won. That was Michael McCaul (R-TX), who put almost $2 million of his own money into his run for Texas' 10th Congressional district. The Center says that twenty-one House and Senate candidates spent more than $1 million of their own money and lost at the polls. Only seven of them even made it to the general election. If you include the Senator from Massachusetts who borrowed money on his personal property in January to jump start his presidential campaign. That is a lot of personal funds in this race. I wonder if they can write off all that money on their 2004 tax return.
The good news for Bush is that there are more like minded white “born again Christians” than there are gays or lesbians. The percentages were almost the same, with “Christians” voting Bush (77-22%) and the GLBT community (77-23%) supporting Kerry. (Spin alert) Now, if more gays and lesbians would come out of the closet and vote...
My home state of Iowa went for a Republican for president for the first time since Ronald Reagan’s first term. With the economy in the toilet around here, you would have figured Kerry would have done better. Maybe the Kerry supporters were too busy working their second or third job at McDonalds’ that they couldn’t get to the polls.
Elizabeth Edwards showed some class this week by keeping the issue of her newly diagnosed breast cancer to herself until after the election. I’m sure some campaign people on either side would have released bad health news looking for the sympathy vote. It could have been the October surprise but Elizabeth didn’t mention it. Thank you Elizabeth. Beat the cancer and come back with your husband in 2008.
I have to end this post election wrap-up with a couple quotes. First, from someone who knows controversy. Even though filmmaker Michael Moore is no relation to me that I know of, I do like his spin on a couple things. In an email this past week, he told me the good news is:
* It is against the law for George W. Bush to run for president again.
* In spite of Bush's win, the majority of Americans still think the country is headed in the wrong direction (56%
), think the war wasn't worth fighting (51%
), and don't approve of the job George W. Bush is doing (52%
). (Note to foreigners: Don't try to figure this one out. It's an American thing, like Pop Tarts.)
* The Republicans will not have a filibuster-proof 60-seat majority in the Senate. If the Democrats do their job, Bush won't be able to pack the Supreme Court with right-wing ideologues. Did I say "if the Democrats do their job?" Um, maybe better to scratch this one.
* Admit it: We like the Bush twins and we don't want them to go away.
Musician Trent Reznor, whom I also like, did sum up what many people are thinking about now. Even though I think the phrase “organized religion” should be re-done, here are his thoughts: “one step closer to the end of the world. the one-two combo of corporate greed and organized religion apparently proved too much for reason, sanity and compassion. it's a sad and shameful day to be an american.”
One final quote that seems to hit the spot for the next four years was from Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) note to me. “Because, while George Bush is certainly going to have a lot to say about what happens in the next four years, he's not the only one. You, I and those with whom we've worked over the last few years have the opportunity to participate in creating a whole new dialog in America and the world.”
You are so right, Congressman. Let’s keep the dialog open, without the bull.