Election 2004 Was About The War On Terrorism, Not The Culture War
Take it from a guy who was suggesting that we use gay marriage as a campaign issue to hammer the Democrats way back in July of 2003, this was not an election that centered on cultural issues.
That’s not to say “culture war issues” are unimportant. People will turn out to vote against gay marriage, abortion, and for a candidate who they believe shares their faith and values. However, those issues alone are not the make or break issues that determine who becomes the next President in and of themselves. If you think otherwise, then I have two words for you: Bill Clinton.
So if this election wasn’t just another battle in the culture war, what was it really all about? If I may tinker with that classic Clinton campaign line a bit, “it’s the war on terrorism stupid”!
Why did the left hate George Bush so much? There were a lot of factors that played into it, but the one thing that really drove them up the wall was his approach to the war. Going after nations that supported terrorism? Without the approval of the UN? Outrageous! We’ve got to get rid of Smirky McChimp before Belgium, Germany, and France become furious with us and withdraw their valuable assistance! Besides, by killing all the terrorists instead of counting on UN summits to make us safe, Bush is playing right into Osama’s hands!
On the other hand, in January of 2004, after Bush had announced his wildly unpopular “American jobs for illegal immigrants” program and started spending so much money on the space program and the National Endowment for the Arts that you’d think the election was going to be decided by statue making astronauts, the base was ready to riot. But, because conservatives were horrified by the idea of having an indecisive Massachusetts weenie as their Commander-in-Chief during the middle of a war, they rallied around W.
This is not a hard thing to figure out. Bush and Kerry slugged it out on foreign policy all year long. It was all about “plans” for Iraq, the Iraqi election, “Why did you let Osama get away?”, “Would you rather that we left Saddam in power?”, “I fought in Vietnam!”, “He voted to slash weapons systems!”, “But he’s making the world mad at us!,” etc, etc, etc, for 9 solid months.
Then, Bush wins and “It was all about morality”? No, that’s just spin. Gay marriage, abortion, and other moral issues played a role in deciding the winner, just as the economy, jobs, tax cuts, likability, and a few other issues did. But, if this election boiled down to any one thing, it was all about the war on terrorism and who was best qualified to wage it. To say otherwise, is to rewrite the history of the campaign.