Reflecting on the Politics of 2004: Year of the Conservative
The year 2004 had its highs (the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series), and its lows (the Abu Grhaib Prison scandal), but overall, it was a stellar year, especially if you are conservative. The November elections were merely the frosting on the cake of 2004, the year of the conservatives.
The year started off slow, but gained momentum with the very entertaining Democratic presidential nominee race, at the time, thought to be led by Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont. Dean provided perhaps the most entertaining moment of the primary race on Feb. 2, when he delivered the now famous ‘Dean Scream’ as he was preparing his supporters for the road ahead.
February was also the beginning of an issue that was one of the centerpieces of California’s 2004, the Same-Sex Marriages of San Francisco. Starting on Feb. 12, the mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsome, performed nearly 4,000 same-sex marriages, even though California voters had voted against the legalization of such marriages not long before.
Newsome continued performing marriages even after the governor’s objection later in February, until March 11, when the California Supreme Court finally banned the continuation of the marriages. But conservatives were finally victorious in the issue when on Aug. 12, the California Supreme Court voided every single marriage that Newsome illegally presided over.
2004 had many triumphs for democracy, the most important of which were the approval of the interim constitution by the Iraq governing council in March, and the first ever direct presidential election in the history of Afghanistan in October.
Both of these nonmilitary victories came at a point where American support for the efforts of American troops in both countries were dwindling, and both proved that the steadfastness of the American troops will lead to a world that is safe for democracy, and a world that is safe for freedom.
April saw another triumph for democracy when 10 former Soviet bloc countries were admitted to the European Union. This was a victory not just for democracy, but for all American presidents who fought against the spread of communism and, most importantly, for the president during the fall of the soviet union, a great conservative, Ronald Reagan.
June 5, 2004 was definitely one of the worst days of the year. America lost one of its greatest sons, one of its greatest presidents, Ronald Reagan. A former actor and governor of California, Reagan served two terms in the oval office, and directed America through a period of deregulation and ‘Reaganomics.’
At the end of August and the beginning of September came a phenomenal point in the year during the Republican National Convention in New York City. At this point, President Bush took a lead in the polls that he would not relinquish, and it gave tremendous momentum to all Republicans running for office.
Not long after the convention came the allegations of CBS News about Bush’s National Guard service. CBS was later criticized for their lack of real evidence and the faulty paperwork that led to the allegations. This error in judgment most likely led to the retirement of the face of CBS News, Dan Rather.
Finally, 2004 ended on the strongest of strong notes for conservatives when on Nov. 2, President George W. Bush was reelected and Republicans gained four seats in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, increasing their majority in the house and taking control of the Senate.
The election also saw 11 ballot measures to allow same-sex marriages struck down, and all this in the election when young people were supposed to dominate the polls. There were more young voters than ever before, but they were unable to make the difference they thought they would make, and Bush was elected to the presidency by a wider margin than President Clinton ever saw.
2004 was a great year, especially for conservatives, and 2005 looks even more promising. I hope everyone had a safe and happy New Year, and that you all voted, regardless forwhom, because if you didn’t, you have no right to complain, so don’t.
Alex Chazen is a first-year political science major.