This op/ed originally appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on November 4, 2004, page B-13
My heart was warmed Wednesday morning by some excellent coffee at the local cafe and the endless bleating of Bay Area liberals as they angrily ordered their cappuccinos and lattes.
“Bush is the Antichrist,” said one fellow in his uniform khakis and Tommy Hilfiger top. His may have been the most polite and generous assessment I heard.
“What were those &^#%#* idiots in Ohio thinking?” said a woman with a perky buzz cut who was wearing oh-so comfortable work boots.
“It’s time for revolution!” said one disheveled, 60-ish patron to the barista, who gladly echoed whatever unsolicited sentiment was hurled in his direction.
There has been a common theme throughout this election, and indeed for the last four years. As I predicted in the spring, this sentiment was the undoing of any chance the Democrats had for gains in Washington.
That theme is hatred.
Many polls, pundits and prognosticators accurately noted that there was never a great deal of support for Kerry or any of his rivals in the primaries. Yes, some hard-left ideologues picked their favorite communist in sheep’s clothing, but registered Democrats mainly sought anyone who might beat Bush. This “anyone but Bush” trend continued right up until Tuesday: There, on the corner outside my favorite coffee shop, were a number of activists sporting “Re-defeat Bush” signs.
Hatred has a short fuse. Yes, hatred is as passionate as new lovers on a first tryst, and typically lasts as long. A presidential campaign built not on support for ideals and a candidate, but on deep loathing for the opposition, will not work. Not only does the passion of hatred peter out before polling places open, it fails to bring undecided or new voters into the process because it fails to appeal to high motivations. Post-election analysis may show that the open and vile disdain the left demonstrated this past year may in fact have driven these key groups into the arms of the hated.
Regardless of your political stripes, this lesson must be held dear. The open and often nasty abhorrence shown by the left over the last four years did it more harm than good. Bush is re-elected. Several House and Senate seats have swung to the GOP. Two or more Supreme Court judges will be nominated by Bush.
Filmmaker Michael Moore’s deceptions and philanthropist George Soros’ millions failed miserably. As with many Bay Area Democrats, their positions were built on the unstable sands of intolerance. They might take a lesson from the Dixiecrats of my native South, who learned long ago that hatred is no longer a useful campaign theme.
Guy Smith is president of the Coalition to Preserve our Rights, a Bay Area Libertarian group, and author of the e-book “Gun Facts, Debunking Gun Control Myths” (gunfacts.info).