Loser:Exit polling. Like most people in the media, I spent Tuesday getting exit polls that showed Kerry on his way to a clear-cut victory. What went wrong? Did pollsters sample the wrong precincts? Did voters lie (perhaps embarrassed to tell “the media” they were voting for Bush)? Or did those electronic voting machines do exactly what everyone had feared — skew the election? A fascinating thought. After all, exit polls were reckoned reliable until the 2000 presidential election. It’s too early for me to know, but were the exit polls as wrong about Senate races as they were about the presidential contest?
Winner:The religious right. For months we’ve been hearing about how the Democrats were registering millions of new young voters. Either the kids didn’t show up on Tuesday or, more likely, they just weren’t as liberal as everyone thought — Pew estimated that Kerry led Bush among the young by 5 to 4. Meanwhile, the Republicans were registering scads of evangelicals, and unlike the kids, they voted as a bloc — over 80 percent went for born-again Bush. The religious right now can stake even more enormous claim on the White House. One only wonders when (if?) it will stop behaving as if Christians are a beleaguered, abused minority in the U.S. This isn’t ancient Rome, folks. Nero is one of yours.
Loser:Charles Darwin. The Polish social philosopher Leszek Kolakowski observed that one horror of communist ideology was that it had a theory of everything — from genetics to composing symphonies. The same is true of Christian conservatism, which seems eager to roll back centuries of scientific discovery. For them, the Beagle hasn’t landed. Thanks to this election, we can expect more and more schools to start teaching the bogus Theory of Intelligent Design (which has the added disadvantage, scientifically, of not actually being a theory) as if it were real science and not a debased offshoot of theological doctrine.
Loser:Women. Now that he no longer fears losing re-election, Bush will be free to appoint Supreme Court justices who will finally overturn Roe v. Wade. Which raises once again the question posed by my old colleague Michael Ventura: Why do pro-life activists identify so deeply with the fetus and not with the woman carrying it? Is it because they themselves feel as powerless as an “unborn child”?
Winner: The Anti-Bush Industry. According to definitive statistics, over the last 12 months a Bush-bashing book has been published every 4.3 seconds. If Kerry had won the election, deathless works by the likes of Michael Moore, Al Franken and the scintillating Graydon Carter would have fallen into the dustbin of history. Thanks to Dubya’s victory, these books can enjoy a prosperous life in paperback. Bush’s victory may be bad for the world, but it’s certainly good for them. And who am I to say that’s a bad thing?
Powers is the author of Sore Winners: (And the Rest of Us) in George Bush’s America (Doubleday).