Scott Tibbs
blog post
November 11th, 2004

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Depressed Democrats and election results

Rush Limbaugh is being blasted by Florida therapists for mocking those who are depressed over John Kerry's loss to President Bush two weeks ago. (Two more articles: here and here.)

From the article:

Douglas Schooler, the Boca Raton trauma specialist who treated 20 people with hypnotherapy following Kerry’s loss, said he believes many people suffering from election-related symptoms are still afraid to step forward. "The Republicans want Kerry voters to shut up and pretend they’re not feeling anything," Schooler said. "But many people have serious emotional pain over this election and it’s unhealthy to stuff it down inside of you. Therapy is the best way."

There have been a lot of Republicans mocking depressed Democrats, and I can understand why. (Of course, the vast majority of Democrats have moved on. They may not be pleased with the results, but they are not letting it affect their lives.) It does seem rather pathetic for people to be deeply depressed over the results of the Presidential election.

That said, this phenomenon is not completely surprising in hindsight. The campaign against President Bush was centered around hate for Bush personally, rather than just disagreement with his policies.

While we heard a lot during the 1990's about the "Clinton haters", the hatred many (though not all) Leftists have for President Bush eclipses that by a wide margin. When you invest that much negative emotional energy into someone, there is bound to be somewhat of a letdown when you lose.

I was certainly disappointed about not being able to defeat disgraced ex-President Clinton in 1996, and disappointed again when the U.S. Senate failed to remove him from office for perjury, subornation of perjury and obstruction of justice in 1998. But I was not depressed over those events.

This should be a lesson for Democrats in 2008. You cannot base a campaign on hatred for the incumbent. Conservatives learned that lesson, to some extent, in 1996. We were focused on defeating Clinton but had little positive energy for Bob Dole. (Dole's moderate stance on issues didn't help.) Dole was simply the beneficiary of the "anyone but Clinton" movement. In 2000 and 2004, conservatives had positive energy for George W. Bush.

John Kerry, like Dole, got support from Democrats because he was their default "anyone but Bush" candidate. Someone like Howard Dean, who had enthusiastic volunteers who supported him, would be a much better choice for the Dems in 2008. As this election showed, Dean is no farther to the Left (in fact, he was probably less so) than John Kerry. If the Democrats are going to stop the losses they have suffered three elections in a row (Bush elected and re-elected, with the GOP strengthening its grip on Congress in 2002 and 2004) they are going to have to come up with a positive message.