The election also identified some key trends in social issues.
- Gay marriages were soundly rejected in (almost) every state where it was on the ballot. Gay couples will continue to have only a few states where they can count on civil protections equal to heterosexuals.
- The federal minimum wage will be raised. Every state that voted on it, including the red states, chose to increase their state minimum wage. Republicans were smacked on this one.
- The evangelicals lost ground on abortion and stem cell research. South Dakota did not ban abortion, Missouri OK'd stem cell research, and Santorum got slaughtered in Pennsylvania.
- Arizona went for an official language - look for many more intiatives and statutes on this issue, most of which will pass.
The republican party should give John Kerry its "Motivator of the Campaign" award. He fanned the fury that was only smoldering in many of the red congressional districts, likely costing several democrats their chance to move to DC. The democrats should require Kerry to wear a dunce cap in the senate chambers. (Likewise, the democrats need to fete Rush Limbaugh for his important last minute assistance in Missouri.)
Will the democrat win result in an onslaught of liberal initiatives in congress? I think not. Nancy Pelosi will go centrist in order to keep her flock together. By forcing the administration to either accept compromise legislation it doesn't like or make unpopular vetoes, she will begin the differentiation process needed to hold the congress in 2008.
Meanwhile, the democrats will sit back and let President Bush simmer in his Iraq stew. They have no incentive to grab the reins on this one, since every new death or tactical setback takes another ounce of flesh off the Commander in Chief. Rummy is history, though, and soon. It's unlikely he will stomach explaining his actions to a new congressional committee every week.
As an "old-time moderate republican", I'm pretty happy with the outcome. Like Bush One, I oppose wars aimed at regime change. I believe two-party rule will curb the outrageous spending that threatens America's long-term viability. Threats to personal freedom will be curbed because the "religious right" lost some key battles. Moderates will take center stage for 2008, and I can live with any of those who have a brain, a little charisma, and the toughness to take on the crucial issues facing our country.