by Rod D. Martin
November 5, 2004
There is simply no calculating the victory that was Tuesday. But that victory was not so much in the results.
No, it was not that George W. Bush beat John Kerry, beat the media, beat the French, and generally whipped every tail in sight to become the first president elected by a majority since 1988 and the highest vote-getter of all time. That was good. But that wasn’t it.
It wasn’t the tectonic shift in the Senate either, as astonishing as that was. Oh, everyone knew a four-seat shift to the Republicans was possible, but no one dared predict it. Certainly no one dared predict a newly conservative composition of the enlarged Republican majority so great as to render hard-left “Republicans” like Arlen Specter in trouble and Lincoln Chafee irrelevant.
But the Senate earthquake isn’t the biggest victory either.
Nor was it the eleven out of eleven states which overwhelmingly amended their constitutions to officially define marriage as being between one man and one woman. Nor was it (as Dick Morris suggests, though he has an excellent point) that George Bush cut Al Gore’s margin among Hispanics in half: Republicans are bringing that hard-working, values driven people home. Nor was it the greatly increased likelihood of pro-life Supreme Court justices, better laws respecting the Second Amendment, meaningful Social Security reform, or even the President’s promise to enact fundamental tax reform, likely in the form of a flat tax, thereby igniting an economic boom of Asian Tiger proportions.
No, any and all of these things would be a great victory – for Republicans and for America – all by themselves. And yet the greatest victory lies deeper, undergirding them all.
It’s the story of how we got there.
You see, for years I’ve been telling you – in this column, in the media and in speeches around the country – one simple truth: only about half of Americans vote, even in high turnout years. Those who vote do so for a reason, and that reason is always that they care about something, or someone. You must motivate people to turn them out. Annoy them and they stay home. There’s always room to expand either group. And the guy who turns out more of his supporters always wins.
Almost no Republicans have understood this. They have listened to a left-wing media trying to destroy them, constantly telling them to “run to the middle” (as if people who want to elect liberals won’t just vote for a real one). They have listened to their paid consultants, who make ungodly sums on television ads but not a penny organizing volunteer GOTV (get out the vote) efforts. And they have listened to their own officeholders, who, having picked the low-hanging fruit, managed to get elected by doing these things, but whose counsel is virtually worthless in the harder battles being fought today.
I have preached this for years. Run to your base: give them a reason to vote by giving them an agenda worth voting for and meaning it. And then organize the activists necessary to find them and get them to the polls. Here lies the Holy Grail, I’ve said, and for years been laughed at by all.
All, that is, except three men: Morton Blackwell, and Karl Rove. Oh, and George W. Bush.
Morton has been the apostle of all this since before I was born. A real-life conservative hero, Morton has trained more conservatives than anyone alive. After the debacle of 2000, Morton convinced the RNC that something had to be done, that TV was no longer enough, that mere survival required a ground war, that a serious ground war might bring a national realignment.
They listened. So did Rove and Bush. And the elections of 2002 and 2004 are the (early) result.
And yet even that is not the ultimate victory of 2004.
For all these years I’ve told you: the future of the Republican coalition lies with Evangelical Christians. Only a tiny part of them – just a quarter – normally vote: this means that, more than any other group in America, with sufficient motivation, they could flood the electoral process and utterly reshape America. If Christians voted according to their numbers, the left could never win another national election, the Congress would be overwhelmingly conservative, the radical social agenda would be crushed, and a better, freer America would quickly emerge.
Tuesday night it finally began to happen. George W. Bush, a host of good Senate candidates, and multiple same-sex marriage amendments motivated them to vote. The Republican ground war – including my Vanguard PAC’s efforts in Florida – got them to the polls. Despite being completely ignored by the pollsters, almost a quarter of all voters nationwide identified “moral values” as the reason they voted, and as the infamous libertine Hunter S. Thompson put it, “they voted like they prayed.”
It’s just the beginning. But I told you so. And America will never be the same again.