With exit polls showing that moral values influenced the 2004 election results more than both the economy and national security, Democratic voters have been left wondering whether their values have effectively been kept out of the government's decision-making for the next four years and beyond. Despite the almost 50-50 split in the country, Republicans could control same-sex unions, abortion rights, social security, and foreign policy issues. None of that, however, should discourage the "losers."
A number of positive signs came out of the last few years. Young voters showed that they care enough about politics to debate issues, canvass in swing states, and actually cast ballots. Having raised awareness and motivated a significant number of voters, those efforts should not be forgotten. Grassroots activism did work this last campaign, and if anything, groups should expand their work in coming years. Having only been involved in politics for a handful of years, it's easy for students to get frustrated by short-term results. Instead, we should keep in mind our long-term goals.
Although our form of democracy is a majority-takes-all system, it is still built on compromise. Every voter already compromised on his or her preferred political party, candidates, and legislation. Now, whether liberal or conservative, we have no choice but to work with our current elected officials. The Left should still maintain its idealized values concerning social and fiscal responsibility, social equality, and the environment, while looking for constructive ways to effect legislation. Now is the wrong time to become either apathetic or angry. Democratic supporters worked hard during this election season. Now they need to work harder, looking forward first to the midterm elections and then to 2008.