Republicans are absolutely crowing about how decisive Bushs win was - the first president to be elected with over 50% of the vote since George H.W. Bush in 1988. On the other hand, some of my Kerry-supporting friends are bitterly talking of moving abroad from their feeling that right-wing extremists are taking over this country.
Take a deep, deep breath, people. Our country is still split almost equally between Republican and Democratic voters - as it was four years ago. The only difference this time is that the Supreme Court didnt have to break the deadlock.
The truth is that President George W. Bush was returned to office by the tiniest margin of popular votes for any president reelected in history - 3% more votes than John Kerry. The other 13 presidential reelection winners averaged about a 15% margin over the second place candidate.
No sitting war president has ever lost his reelection bid, though George W. Bush came the closest in last weeks election. By contrast, previous commander-in-chiefs Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt received about a 10% advantage in the popular vote during their reelections.
All of the discussion about moral values deter-mining this election is absurd. With the long list of problems this nation is facing, no one can con-vince me Bush won this election because he is perceived to be more religious than John Kerry. George W. Bush was reelected because no commander-in-chief has ever been kicked out of office during major military battle - for good reason. For instance, historians shudder to think of a scenario in which Lincoln lost his reelection bid during the Civil War.
Polls show that today almost half of all Americans dont even think our military should be in Iraq. Yet, American voters tend to give their president the benefit of doubt during conflicts where the cost is the greatest - American lives. Maybe the most stunning proof of this no-change rule is that even in the midst of the Vietnam quagmire, Richard Nixon was returned to office by landslide in 1972. This president had a 30% advantage of popular vote over war hero George McGovern that year. Americans stuck by Nixon even after American deaths pushed near 50,000 in an unpopular war that got worse under Nixons watch.
We all have a responsibility to help bring this nation back together but it starts at the top. If George W. Bush has a mandate from the voters in this close election, it is that there is no mandate. On the heels of this election, our country is bitterly divided down the middle and will need healing in order to resolve the overwhelming challenges of the future.
Though the 2004 voting results are a mixed message from the electorate, our 43rd president doesnt need to worry about any more elections. In part, for that reason, we can all be hopeful that George W. Bush will follow through with his recent pledge to do more in his second term to reach out and help unite our country.
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nations wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. -Abraham Lincolns 2nd Inaugural Address.