American Voters Just Say No
By Robert Parry
November 8, 2006
By a surprisingly decisive margin, American voters rejected George W. Bush's designs for transforming the United States into a one-party government run by an all-powerful executive waging endless war abroad and throttling constitutional liberties at home.
In essence, the voters asserted themselves as the final check and balance in the U.S. political system, giving the Democrats control of the House of Representatives and putting them within reach of a Senate majority as well.
The results were even more devastating for Bush and political adviser Karl Rove because the President had sought to turn the Democratic tide by nationalizing the election and taking to the stump with harsh attacks. Bush equated a Democratic win with a victory for the "terrorists" and a defeat for America. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Bush Will Say Anything."]
Initially, that Republican scare strategy, combined with the news media's obsession over Sen. John Kerry's botched joke about Iraq, seemed to be working. Over the last weekend, a Washington Post poll showed the Democrats' double-digit lead shrinking to six points. Just two days before the election, a Pew poll pegged the Democrats' advantage down to four points.
But, in the campaign's final hours, the American people appeared to have refocused on the frightening prospect of giving Bush and the Republicans another blank check. A pre-election CNN poll put the Democrats' lead back to 20 points.
That surge carried over into the actual voting, with the Democrats routing the Republican House majority, ousting vulnerable Republican senators and inching toward possible control of the Senate.
The outcome sets the stage for a potentially historic fight over America's constitutional system. Bush has vowed never to give an inch on the Iraq War and Vice President Dick Cheney promised that Bush's "war on terror" policies will continue "full steam ahead" whatever the voters want.
In one interview, Cheney declared, "you cannot make national security policy on the basis of that [elections]. It may not be popular with the public. It doesn't matter, in the sense that we have to continue the mission [in Iraq]."
Without doubt, the White House would have read the significance of the voters' judgment differently if Republicans had been returned to control in Congress. Then, Bush would be boasting about a new mandate from the people and rolling over any remaining opposition.
But the significance of the Republican defeat cannot be easily brushed aside. Beyond the issues that popped up in exit polls corruption, the Iraq War, etc. the news media should have taken into account the American people's discomfort with Bush's assertion of "plenary" or unlimited power.
By rebuffing the Republicans, the American people were saying they want to keep their Republic. They were defending their quaint Constitution and Bill of Rights; they were embracing the clunky notion of checks and balances; they were endorsing that old-fashioned idea about the rule of law.
The nation's unease about Bush's thirst for dictatorial powers has always been an underplayed issue, troubling Americans across the political spectrum from liberal to conservative.
It remains to be seen what the Democrats will do with their new congressional clout. But it can't be disputed that the voters just said no to President Bush. The American people rejected Bush's grim vision of endless war and the end to the Republic.
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at Amazon.com, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'
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