No Más! No Más!
Reflections on the 2004 campaign
Like many of our fellow countrymen, we're glad the election season is over. Things got so nasty and vile in the final days of the campaign we found ourselves seeking solace in tabloid-esque yet nonpolitical Internet postings. Like the harrowing tale of a kitten surviving a spin through the full cycle of a washing machine. There was also a hair-raising report about marauding bands of blood-sucking monkeys in India.
"Thank-yous!" are due to our friends in the Animal Kingdom for providing a story of hope and reminding us that things actually could be worse in those critical hours of need.
But that's all over now. In the words of John F. Kerry during one of the more gracious concession speeches in recent memory, "In an American election, there are no losers, because whether or not our candidates are successful, the next morning, we all wake up as Americans." Well said, Senator.
With that spirit in mind, there won't be any "losers" in our post election wrapup. Instead, this is for the winners and those who simply woke up as Americans on Nov. 3. And, of course, for those who fall somewhere in between.
George W. Bush—despite being one of the more vulnerable incumbents since Jimmy Carter, Bush the Younger managed to win re-election. The question is, what will "W" do with this term? There's that war in Iraq to be handled, the War on Terror, the mushrooming national debt, the solvency of social security, etc. ... Given some of the challenges facing the Prez, the adage, "Be careful what you wish for as you will surely get it," comes to mind. Good luck, though, Mr. President. Deep down inside, even the folks who didn't support a second term want you to come through for us.
John Kerry—Sure, he lost a race that by any objective standard he should have won. As was mentioned earlier, however, that concession speech was an act of true statesmanship. Only the most fervent "Swift Vet for Truth" wouldn't acknowledge that. Don't fret too much for JFK, though. His fallback position as a billionaire member of the U.S. Senate ought to provide some cushion. And he'll continue voting "yea" or "nay" on the Bush administration.
Heather Wilson—The First Congressional District representative engaged in an into the gutter, multimillion dollar brawl and emerged with 55 percent of the vote. Maybe it's time to remove the bull's-eye "Heather Haters" keep placing on her back and move on.
Bloggers—Nonentities in the 2000 campaign. A new force to be reckoned with in 2004 and beyond.
HILLARY!—With the hurdle of an incumbent Kerry/Edwards administration out of the way, the 2008 Democrat nomination for president is hers for the taking.
“Payne's World”—On Oct. 21, our political gurus predicted a popular vote win for Bush "in the 51 percent range." Final popular vote? 51 percent. Additionally, these witch doctors of real politick said Bush would take the Electoral College "with at least 284 electoral votes" and included our fair state in that total. Final Electoral College count? The unofficial tally stands at 286 with New Mexico's five votes going to Bush. Not to toot our own horn, but the Psychic Hotline would be hard pressed going one on one with our band of swamis.
Bill Richardson—The Guv's power quotient took a real hit this election. First and foremost, Richardson couldn't deliver New Mexico—with its large Hispanic population and even larger Democrat registration edge—for John Kerry. "Moving America Forward," Richardson's political action committee failed to win a single state it targeted (Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Florida and New Mexico) and watched the Hispanic vote—which Richardson was once considered a leader of—grow from 35 percent in 2000 to 42 percent in 2004 at the national level and from 37 percent to 44 percent here in New Mexico ... for Bush. Ouch!
John Wertheim—The Democrat State Party Chair vigorously opposed Voter I.D. and unleashed some of the most vicious attack campaigns and sound bites since the glory days of John Dendahl. The result? Democrats lost New Mexico to Bush, Richard Romero lost to Heather Wilson, Democrats failed to pick up any seats in the New Mexico Senate and actually lost a seat in the House. Keep up the good work, John—the Republican Party needs you!
"Heartless Heather"—If a sign campaign ever stupidly produced the exact opposite effect intended, this was it.
Osama Bin Laden—Released a video message just days before the election. Barely managed to remain the lead story through a 24-hour news cycle. Oh, how the once frightening have fallen. But he is still out there. ...
GOP fiscal conservatives—Republicans say they're the party of limited government and fiscal discipline. The past four years gave us quite the opposite. Nevertheless, the GOP increased its margin in both the U.S. House and Senate. Will the spending binge continue or will the Republicans get back to their roots?
The Youth Vote—One day, the young people of America will rise up and truly affect the outcome of an election. Unfortunately, 2004 wasn't the year. What's it gonna take, kids? Jon Stewart for president?
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author. Payne, a former city councilor, can be reached at email@example.com.