Ever since the presidential election, the media in this country have organized themselves into a clamorous, we-told-you-so chorus. Each voice fueled by one burning question that haunts the United States’ Democrats: What did we do wrong? With the choice so clear and the stakes so high, there must have been some critical mistake the Kerry-Edwards campaign made that kept us from winning back the White House.
Every hack journalist and political commentator in the country has stoked the fire with his or her own theory about exactly what we did wrong.
After spending a few months on the front lines of the Kerry-Edwards campaign in Minnesota and personally trading jabs with the Republican attack machine, I can tell you what cost the Democrats most dearly in this contest was not any strategic mistake we made. It was the things we refused to do because we knew they were wrong. What we did not do wrong cost us the election.
We did not run character-assassination campaigns. We did not debate complex issues using comic-book vocabulary. We did not incestuously violate the autonomies of church and state. We did not persecute down-trodden minority populations as scapegoats. We did not hide behind patriotic rhetoric as a shield against dissent. We did not use proven lies to score points in national debates. We did not use fear as a trump card against rational discussion of the issues.
Certainly, many Kerry-Edwards campaigners were ready to use any means necessary to oust the illegitimate incumbent, but the message from our top leadership was always one of upholding our moral values before boosting our poll approval.
Our leaders refused to make the mistake of compromising the core values of the Democratic Party and the values of this nation to win at all costs. It is this decision that ceded the upper hand to our opponents.
It’s no wonder the political hacks can’t agree what big mistake cost Democrats the election; they’re looking in the wrong place. The big mistake was made by the other side when it traded integrity for political advantage. Moral values really did decide the presidency, but not in the way the Bush campaign likes to tell it.
Will Nicholson is a third-year medical student. Please send comments to [email protected]