The Red Scare

This was written about a month ago, after I was commissioned to write an article on California's dying Democrats only to find the meme had no truth but the LA Times had no scruples. I wrote this as an op-ed for the Times but they, unsurprisingly, passed. A few days ago, a friend mentioned the same fear to me, so I figured there are a few people who'd still gain from reading this. So enjoy:

Any election with the emotional intensity of 2004’s is bound to send the losers into a soul-searching tailspin, desperate to find a political Dr. Phil willing and able to diagnose their electoral afflictions. They reject the idea that a close loss can be a close loss rather than a resounding message, as it argues against a single, easy-to-repair cause and paints a cloudy, uncertain future full of deadlocked contests and unknown outcomes. That’s no fun. Americans like bright colors and bold strokes, if we’re going to lose, we’ll lose big (no matter what the numbers say). And so it’s happened that Democrats in California, where Kerry crushed Bush and staunch liberal Barbara Boxer garnered the third most votes of any candidate for any office – including president! -- in the nation, have begun searching the returns for worrying portents. But, just like during the election, Democrats forgot their Bible, specifically their Matthew 7:7. “Seek and ye shall find”, it says, and oh what finding they did.

Bush’s margin of loss closed by 300,000 votes, his total haul increasing by over 900,000 votes. The Republicans, in a press release written with an apparently jammed caps lock, touted that they’ve increased their share of the California electorate by .68 of a percent, while Democrats dropped by some .22 of a percent. Over at the Sacramento Bee, Daniel Weintraub did some number crunching and found that Bush won not only the six fastest-growing counties in the state, but 20 of the top 23. The LA Times found that, in 1992, only 13 of California’s counties had more Republicans than Democrats. The new number was 38, and oh what a powerful graphic it made, full of creeping crimson and obvious implication. Not only, it seemed, would Republicans own all of California in another 12 years, but give them 20 and they’d take control of the Pacific Ocean, too.