This time there are no excuses -- no thwarted popular majority, no fatal butterfly ballots or hanging chads, no renegade Supreme Court decision, no Nader factor. This was a defeat, pure and simple -- not a landslide, not an unambiguous mandate for the policies of the Bush administration, but unmistakably a defeat. So where do Democrats, and liberal-progressive Democrats in particular, go from here?
Nothing is so central to America's image of itself as the idea
of individual liberty. It is, we believe, what spurred many of
the first European settlers to leave their homelands and come
to our shores. It drove the revolutionaries who broke with England
and created a new nation. It shaped the Constitution and, above
all, the Bill of Rights. And it has been, we claim, the defining
characteristic of our democracy for more than two centuries.
This is a pivotal moment in our recent political history. The 1994 elections may or may not represent a lasting realignment of party loyalties. But even if they do not, they are clear evidence of something at least equally important. They reveal how massively government, politics, and the liberalism that has for decades largely shaped them have lost popular support, even popular legitimacy.