- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 3, 2004

The true believers buried their sagging facades in bottled spirits in the bluest precinct in America on election night.

They stared at the unsettling election returns being flashed on the television screens hanging from the walls and could not imagine the America before them. It is an America that is increasingly distinct from the so-called enlightened urban dwellers on each coast. It is an America that is disconnected from those who pretend to know what is best for the rest.

The disconnect was nowhere more pronounced than in the nation’s capital, where Sen. John Kerry captured 90 percent of the presidential vote. President Bush could have passed as a write-in candidate in the tax-and-spend oasis of the free world.

The mood inside the neighborhood pub turned funereal after the clock passed midnight, and the electoral math became harder to ignore. One woman in the “re-defeat Bush” camp was in a daze, rendered almost catatonic after Ohio fell to the president. Hers was a picture of despair after a day that began with so much promise and exit polls seemingly designed to mislead. She just sat there for the longest time, close to tears, unresponsive to those around her.

It was like that all along this high-priced stretch of asphalt that considers Michael Moore to be a beacon of truth and light. This was the celebration that never came to be. This was the too-close-to-call election that was not that close in the end. There was no Florida-style wrangling to keep hope alive this time. There was no shaky margin that could put an army of lawyers to work. There was only a coming to terms with the outcome, difficult as it was.

They never saw it coming, not one of them, not after being spoon-fed the agenda-driven inanities of Dan Blather and the like. It was hard to fathom, hard to process, and harder still for the true believers to accept, as they descended into gloom after so many months stuffed with hope.

They told us it was the most important election in our lifetime. They told us that our very existence hung in the balance. And, in this most political of cities, the first Tuesday in November was never far from any conversation. And so when it hit, this hard blow of reality, it hit hard.

The numbers kept filling the screen as the night progressed, one jab after the other, with each one doing more damage to the Democratic psyche until an animated den eventually lost its chatter and spark. The news was bleak all around, as the Republicans added seats in the House and Senate, plus defeated the Democratic boogeyman of the Senate, Tom Daschle of South Dakota.

Yet, the true believers clutched their tenets to the bitter end. They talked of the lost opportunities of the election. They talked of an outcome certain to alienate “Old Europe” even further and inspire terrorists to strike again. They talked of their despondency and fears and the torment of a nation splashed with so many red states.

They do not know the red states. They do not understand the convictions of the red states. They only know what they know from those who think and live as they do, in a locale that seemingly earned a terror-free pass from the head rat known as Osama bin Laden after voting so persuasively for the long-faced senator from Massachusetts.

The city awoke to a political hangover yesterday, punctuated by Bush-induced chants of “Four more years.” It was a good day in the city, the first day in recovery from the political season.

It was a long and exhausting campaign that tested the social graces of a sometimes ugly electorate.

So much of the time, the blue-red divide evolved into fighting words.

Now it is over. Finally. At last.

Perhaps we can talk to one another again without bug-eyed rancor.

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