Lately, we've been hearing the refrain that "this is the most important election of our lifetimes" a lot. Usually it's delivered in a grave tone to signify the seriousness of the statement. Back in 2004, we heard the same oft-repeated warning and one wonders if there will ever again be an election that's not billed as the most important to date.
It also raises an interesting question: In hindsight, if the 2004 election were indeed so important, what would things look like if the result had been different? More specifically, would the political fortunes of the Republican Party be better or worse today if John F. Kerry had defeated George W. Bush in 2004?
While the most delusional of Democrats might argue the point, the truth is that you can't blame everything that has gone wrong in the last four years on Bush. How would John Kerry have dealt with Hurricane Katrina? Would he have be able to do anything to reform health care? It seems unlikely that his budgets would have been less generous than Bush's and extremely unlikely that he would have been able to do anything to prevent the financial crisis that we now face. He may not reached the depths of unpopularity that Bush has now sunk to, but I doubt--given the circumstances--that he would be wildly popular at this point either.
So it's worth taking a moment or two and wondering if perhaps the Republican Party (for the moment leaving aside the country) would have been better off today if Kerry had beaten Bush four years ago. Sure it's nothing but rank speculation but asking "what if?" can be a fun distraction and may also bring some perspective on how important the outcome of any individual election really is.
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