David W. Rohde, in The New Republic, voices an until-now unspoken truth: the best thing that could have happened to the Democratic Party was the defeat of John Kerry in 2004.
I’ve said that for about a year and half now, although Rohde makes a slightly different point than I would. He believes that in governing, Kerry would not have had great success and Democrats would not have the advantages that they have now, nor would they have been able to campaign on Bush’s unpopularity this time around. I think that’s true, but also that there would have been nowhere near the pent up anger, channeled into excitement, on the part of progressive Dems for Kerry’s reelection in 2008.
The Democratic Party was in desperate need of a re-vamping after 2004, a task taken on by the likes of Howard Dean (with the 50 State Strategy) and ably helmed by Obama in 2008. If Kerry had won and there had been another four years of “What Do We Really Stand For?” out of the Democrats, I think things would look a lot different today. An extra four years of GWB, as awful as they were, gave a good number of people reason to look to the Democratic Party for answers, which in turn led a lot of people (the young, especially) to register and vote Democrat this year, and perhaps for years to come.
That would have been a hard pill to swallow four years ago; thankfully we don’t need to continue to relieve that awful election night over and over. A new day is upon us.