With the Republican control of the House and Senate, there is no scenario in which a Democrat can become President by August 2005 (the two-year horizon of my original Bet). Looking at the two arguments, Eno’s is persuasive in detail, mine clearly wrong.
The morning after the election I wrote Eno my summary of what happened and the prospects…
You win, we lose. My country is in a bad way and getting worse. Exit polls said that Bush supporters voted for his “moral values.” For “strong and wrong versus weak and right,” as Bill Clinton has put it.
Bin Laden won. He tried against all odds to set in motion a religious war, and he succeeded. The US majority WANTS a religious war of good against evil. Irrationality rules here, and as a result a very cynical Republican party rules— Presidency, Senate, House, judiciary, governorships, and state legislatures. They own America and are running it at a profit.
The unreported divide: educated Americans voted strongly for Kerry, the uneducated for Bush.
Kerry and the Democrats did everything as right as could be. They couldn’t have fielded a stronger candidate, nor worked harder individually to get out the huge vote. Bush’s war in Iraq went as badly as it possibly could, yet he was not held accountable.
Now I can only hope for your scenario to play out—Bush has to suffer the consequences of his own incompetence. But it will be a bleak four years. Irrationality feeds on failure. As things get worse, it just tries harder, gets shriller. I hate the prospect.
The turmoil will be good for the arts perhaps. We may see a revival of the religious left.
Economic wars can end; ideological wars can end. Religious wars go on and on. Long term I can imagine a new Enlightenment coming out of all this, and I will work for that.