Elizabeth Drew entitled her post-election thoughts post to NYRBlog “A Victory over Suppression;” and I agree that it was right to view this election as a concerted effort by those determined to exercise their right to vote in spite of the efforts equally determined to disenfranchise them. However, since I seem to have a disposition to prefer the negative to the positive, I prefer to think about what happened last week in terms of who the real loser was. In those terms that loser would have to be Karl Rove. He staked his reputation on the premise that large sums of money could be applied to either buy or steal a victory for Mitt Romney. There are any number of ways to analyze why and how that premise was falsified; but the result was a Rove so undone by that falsification that he made a fool of himself on Fox Television, thereby prompting the network to make what may have been its first significant commitment to place reporting the news over promoting an ideology.
Unfortunately, as we know from the history of American
politics, losers have a nasty habit of rising again, often high enough to
become winners. We have only to look at the roller-coaster biography of Richard
Nixon and his checkered (pun intended) legacy. Rove may be down (even down for
the count, to play a bit more with words); but we should not assume that he is
no longer a contender. At the very least, those forces of the rich
and mighty, so determined to have stronger influence over all dealings of
our government, are still with us; and they are already worried about salvaging
their agenda. It is, of course, possible that they will turn to a better
strategist, having been led astray by Rove; but that assumes that they will be
able to find one.
Last week the American voters fought the good fight. It says
something about our national spirit that they prevailed. However, the forces
that opposed them are as strong as ever (even if, for the immediate present,
they are not quite as rich). This is not a time for us to relax our vigilance,
just because we maintained our freedom in last week’s battle.