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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Bush Stole the Election

Well, maybe not, but humor me for a moment. I have to say I was somewhat disappointed that Kerry conceded so easily. When I vote for a candidate, I expect him or her to press on till there's clearly no hope of victory, and I think Kerry gave up too soon. I'll admit that I'm probably particularly easily annoyed right this second since Donna Frye, a write-in candidate for mayor in San Diego, basically won and then bailed saying that she really didn't want to be mayor anyway. It would have been nice for her to point that out before I wasted my precious vote on her. Oh well.

So what's the evidence that Bush stole the election? Well, I'll have to admit it doesn't look terribly solid, but it is ample enough to make me think that it is a possibility, even if somewhat remote. The evidence consists mainly of a couple of statistical studies, coupled with the fact that electronic voting machines can be fairly easily hacked.

A study by Steven Freeman at the University of Pennsylvania looking at differences in exit polling results and counted votes states that
"As much as we can say in social science that something is impossible, it is impossible that the discrepancies between predicted and actual vote counts in the three critical battleground states [Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania] of the 2004 election could have been due to chance or random error."
Certainly, the exit polling methodology could be the problem (as opposed to the actual voting) and admittedly, Freeman concludes with
"Systematic fraud or mistabulation is a premature conclusion ..."
but still, I do wonder why there is such a significant discrepancy between voting and the exit polls. Perhaps we'll find out eventually, but until we do, we can only conclude that there is a discrepancy, not that there is any certainty of fraud.

The second statistical study is from UC Berkeley and concludes that irregularities associated with electronic voting machines may have awarded 130,000 - 260,000 or more excess votes to Bush in Florida. Unfortunately, the operative word is "may" in that there "may" also have been zero excess votes awarded to Bush. Also, there is the minor detail that Bush won Florida by almost 400,000 votes so even if the study is right, and the upper estimate is correct, Bush would have still carried Florida. In addition, there are a number of problems with this study, the most significant being that the authors needed to use a very complicated multivariate interaction model which, as Michael McDonald, a professor at George Mason University concurs, "lacks theoretical grounding", which in laymans terms means "what the heck were they thinking when they decided to use that bizarro model?" Basically, a simple, single, linear independent variable didn't show any discrepancy at all, so they had to try other models with more degrees of freedom to fit the data, whether or not those more complicated models made any sense. So I don't find this study particularly convincing, but the authors do, so maybe there's more to it than I (or Professor McDonald) think. Perhaps the authors will update their paper and explain why they think the model they used was a good choice and why it doesn't overfit the data and why the single independent variable model shows absolutely nothing of interest.

The evidence that the electronic voting systems can be hacked is fairly solid and disconcerting. It's especially disconcerting because there's no paper trail, so it can't be independently audited. Here in San Diego, they have electronic tabulators that count paper ballots that we mark with pens. Ballots that have errors are kicked out immediately and destroyed and the voter is told to go try again. I like our system. It can be counted by hand if need be, yet is completely automated. Voting systems without an audit trail just seem like a bad idea to me at this point in the technological development.

What will make it extremely difficult for the Kerry camp to make any headway, is that there is no hard evidence that anybody actually did commit massive voter fraud. It's not good enough to show that it could be done, it has to be shown that it actually was done, that fraud was actually committed by someone, and that the fraud was as massive as required to swing the election to Kerry. Even statistics with more confidence and fewer variables with the only possible explanation being vote fraud might not be enough, someone has to be caught who committed material fraud.

Because we can't just recount the votes. The electronic machines will give the same results. And we can't just say that there seemed to be fraud, let's give 500,000 votes to Kerry to distribute how he sees fit. There would actually have to be a re-vote. It would have to be in every state, not just ones that Kerry lost. That means Kerry might pick up Ohio but lose New Jersey instead. Or he might squeak out a win. Then what? Best two out of three? Best three out of five? You can sure the Republicans will find an anomaly or two in the second election and get a re-re-vote and perhaps a re-re-re-vote and a re-re-re-re-vote if necessary.

No, as much as I would like to see Kerry as President come January, I think it best to let this election go at this point (so maybe I shouldn't blame Kerry for conceding - but that was then, this is now). Then we should concentrate on making the voting systems better. Unfortunately, that's left to each State and I'm happy with mine so I'll have to count on Ohioians and Floridians to step up to the plate and fix their own.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Massive Deficits

Prior to the election, there was an argument that went something like this:

A. The United States has massive federal deficits;
B. Massive federal deficits are devastating to an economy; and
C. Bush caused the massive federal deficits.
D. Don't re-elect Bush (i.e., vote for Kerry)

I liked the conclusion, so prior to the election it seemed counterproductive to take issue with the premises. However, the election has come and gone and Bush has four more years, so it's as good as time as any to consider whether or not the premises are true.

Taken individually, each premise is true to a certain degree. Starting with premise A, it certainly would seem that a deficit that's larger than the entire GDP of all but a few countries on the face of the earth could be fairly described as "massive". Certainly, deficits that are massive enough would be devastating to an economy. And, at least in the short term, it could be argued that the Bush tax cuts contributed to the size of the deficits.

However, when looking at the data, premises A and B conflict. While the Federal Government's deficits are massive compared to the budgets of most entities, they are pretty modest compared to both the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the Debt of the United States. The remainder of this essay explains why.

Deficits are a budget shortfall. U.S. Government budgets span one year. Debt is the accumulation of deficits over time. It is usually more useful to consider debt and deficits as a percentage of income. For example, assuming a million dollar mortgage would be a problem for someone with a $20,000 annual salary, but no big deal for someone with a $5 million annual income.

A given amount of debt becomes a smaller percentage of GDP as GDP grows. As an example consider a scenario where a country has 5% nominal GDP growth, and government debt that is 60% of GDP. After one year, the country's GDP has increased by 5%. Instead of 60%, the debt from the previous year now represents 57% (.95 times 60%) of GDP. The government can incur a deficit of up to 3% of GDP without increasing debt as a percentage of GDP relative to the previous year.

This scenario is actually fairly similar to the current state of the economy and government debt in the United States. Consider the following table which spans the Clinton and Bush presidencies:

United States Debt
($ millions) Percent of GDP
Total Held by Total Held by
the public the public
1993 4,351,044 3,248,396 66.3 49.5
1994 4,643,307 3,433,065 66.9 49.4
1995 4,920,586 3,604,378 67.2 49.2
1996 5,181,465 3,734,073 67.3 48.5
1997 5,369,206 3,772,344 65.6 46.1
1998 5,478,189 3,721,099 63.2 42.9
1999 5,605,523 3,632,363 61.3 39.8
2000 5,628,700 3,409,804 57.9 35.1
2001 5,769,881 3,319,615 57.6 33.1
2002 6,198,401 3,540,427 60.0 34.3
2003est 6,752,033 3,878,438 62.8 36.1
2004est 7,320,769 4,166,061 64.8 36.9
2005est 7,837,499 4,386,515 66.0 36.9
2006est 8,353,379 4,602,648 66.9 36.9
2007est 8,857,525 4,796,647 67.6 36.6
2008est 9,387,680 5,002,947 68.3 36.4

The debt "held by the public" is:
All Federal debt held by individuals, corporations, state or local governments, foreign governments, and other entities outside of the United States Government less Federal Financing Bank securities.
The difference between "total" debt and debt held by the public is intragovernmental holdings:
Government Account Series securities held by Government trust funds, revolving funds, and special funds; and Federal Financing Bank securities. A small amount of marketable securities are held by government accounts.
Intragovernmental holdings are essentially debt the government owes itself. Social Security is an example of one of the Government funds that is currently running a surplus and loaning it back to the government. These are funds that will need to be replenished eventually. However, intragovernmental debt has no real effect on public debt or capital markets or interest rates.

As can be seen from the table, total debt went up every year. Since 1940, total debt has increased during more than 90% of the years. However, as a percentage of GDP, total debt dropped during five of those years. That's because, like the example above, nominal GDP growth more than made up for the absolute increases during those years. In this case, the 3% deficit equates to about $330 billion. The actual deficit for 2004 is estimated to around $450 billion and is somewhat higher, but has a relatively smaller effect on total government debt as a percentage of GDP.

In fact, the debt held by the public as a percentage of GDP is hardly budging this year. It's estimated to increase from 36.1% of GDP in 2003 to 36.9% of GDP in 2004 and level off and even shrink from there. Also note that the debt held by the public is projected to be substantially lower during the Bush years than it was during the Clinton years so it's highly unlikely that the debt will have a worse impact on the economy now than it did during the 1990s. Indeed, long term interest rates, both real and nominal, have fallen steadily since Bush took office and "caused" the "massive" deficits.

Government debt relative to GDP is changing little. Interest rates are falling. Core inflation remains low and stable. GDP growth and productivity growth are robust. Employment is steadily increasing. There seems to be scant evidence that the "massive" deficits are damaging our economy.

No doubt, if we continue to increase the total debt one or two percent every year, it will eventually be a problem. To get an idea of how long eventually might be, let's compare our 36% publicly held debt to other countries with highly developed economies. Here are a few estimates for 2003:
France: 68.8%
Germany: 64.2%
Japan 154.6%
We have lower debt than they do, much lower in the case of Japan. Their economies aren't great, but they are nowhere near collapse either. At the current rate of debt accumulation, it will take decades before our debt is as high as theirs.

How about relative to our own history? We're a bit below the middle of the range. The peak total debt was 121.7% of GDP in 1946. That year also marked the peak debt held by the public of over 100% of GDP.

How about the deficits relative to the debt markets? Here are a couple of statistics to give a feel for the massive size of those markets (I think the word "massive" is more appropriate here). For home loans:
Mortgage originations shattered previous records and reached $2.5 trillion in 2002. Including second mortgages, that works out to about 25 million loan originations, or 100,000 per business day.
The U.S. Treasury Bond Futures market on the Chicago Board of Trade have an annual volume representing about $5 trillion a year. A few trillion here, a few trillion there, pretty soon you're talking real money! In any case, the debt and capital markets dwarf the deficits and even total government debt. And again, the debt held by the public will actually shrink relative to GDP over the next few years.

In summary, you can describe the current deficits as massive, and you can say that massive deficits can wreck an economy, but it turns out the these massive deficits are simply nowhere near massive enough to hurt our economy.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Moral, Believing Animals

Moral, Believing Animals: Human Personhood and Culture
by Christian Smith

"…this work argues that all people are at bottom believers whose lives, actions, and institutions are constituted, motivated, and governed by narrative traditions and moral orders on which they inescapably depend."

The author has a long list of terrific arguments and insights about human motivations, cultures and their many imbedded institutions.

Perhaps at some point I will post some excerpts. I give this book the HIGHEST recommendation!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Smart Democrats?

Prior to the election I read numerous essays claiming that Democrats are smarter and more educated than Republicans. For example, I received the following email from a friend:
OK, call me an elitist but this is disturbing:

Bush's Chief Advisor, Karl Rove has already said it: "As people do
better, they start voting like Republicans...unless they have too much
education and vote Democratic, which proves there can be too much of a
good thing."

Here's a chart that clearly indicates how stupid Republicans are
compared to Democrats...
I won't reproduce the chart here, but it shows the percentage of people with college degrees was higher in states that voted for Gore in 2000 than in those states that voted for Bush. What it doesn't show, and what doesn't seem to be true, is what the emailer claims: that Democrats are smarter than Republicans.

The problem is that a fairly complex multivariate analysis with far more data would be required to show that there is a relationship between state by state voting patterns, percentage of college graduates, and intelligence of voters based on who they voted for. To illustrate this, consider the following: let's say there are two states, state A and state B, that have identical distributions of intelligence within their respective populations. But let's say state A was poorer. Which state would you guess had more college graduates? I'd guess B. Let's say state A had a higher percentage of jobs in agriculture and manufacturing. Which state would you guess had more college graduates? I'd guess B.

There are numerous other factors as well. Average age of the population, ethnicity, state government grants for college education, etc. The influence of all of these other factors could easily outweigh an intelligence factor, if the intelligence factor exists at all.

So lets look at some more direct data. A quick look at exit polls tells us education levels for those voting for Bush relative to his opponents are very similar:
A more direct comparison of the parties' voters can be found in the 2000 exit poll, where Bush voters reported an average educational level negligibly greater than Gore voters. Gore did best among high school dropouts and those who had undertaken post-graduate studies, with Bush leading among those in-between. (Many Democrats with advanced degrees, by the way, are public school teachers with credentials in the easy field of Education.)

In the 2002 midterm elections, voters supporting Republican House candidates were particularly well-educated. The GOP won 58% - 40% among college graduates and even captured a majority among postgrads for the first time in many years.

In 2004, Bush's majority was more downscale. If you assume that high school dropouts averaged 10 years of schooling, high school grads 12 years, those who attended college but didn't graduate 14 years, college grads 16, and postgrads 18, then Kerry voters claimed 14.64 years of education and Bush voters 14.48 years, or only about six weeks less schooling.
Exit polls are notoriously unreliable, though, and I've heard it claimed that people tend to overstate their education level. However, there is no evidence that I've found that Republicans systematically overstate their education level more than Democrats, though anything is possible.

An interesting note is that white Bush voters do seem to be somewhat less educated, on average, than white Kerry voters:
White Voters:
High School Grad: 62% Bush
Some College: 61% Bush
College Grad: 58% Bush
Some Postgrad: 48% Bush
From this we can compute that the average white Bush voter had 14.6 years of school versus 15.0 years for white Kerry voters. This represents a difference of a little less than 5 months of school. However, I don't think white Kerry voters can take too much comfort in this since there were still significantly more white Bush college graduates than white Kerry graduates.

What about IQ studies? IQ is considered by some people to be the most direct measure of intelligence. I personally don't believe that IQ is particularly useful as a measure of intelligence except as a measure of relative intelligence within a very homogeneous subpopulation. Nonetheless, let's look at IQ and voting.

The Economist (May 15, 2004, p. 26) published a chart showing the average IQ of each state with Connecticut having a stratospheric 113 average IQ down to Mississippi having and subterranean average IQ of 85. The Economist printed a retraction in a subsequent issue after they realized they had fallen for a hoax. However, that same chart can be found on thousands of sites across the Internet and still appears in the mainstream media from time to time.

There has not been a nationwide IQ study with appropriate sampling by state. The best that can be done is to use SAT, ACT, or NAEP math and reading scores as a proxy for IQ and intelligence. There are numerous analyses. My favorite is this one. The bottom line is that there is no nationwide correlation of someone's IQ with which presidential candidate that person voted for. As I wrote here, it may be that very conservative Republicans and very liberal Democrats are more educated, on average, than more moderate members of both parties. Lastly, just like education, white Kerry voters were, on average, more intelligent than Bush voters. However, since many more white voters voted for Bush, significantly more above average intelligence white voters voted for Bush than Kerry.

In summary, the data does not support statements to the effect that Democrats are either more intelligent or more educated than Republicans. While there is some evidence that white Kerry voters are on average more intelligent and educated than white Bush voters, a majority of college graduates and a majority of above average intelligence voters voted for Bush.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Will Bret Fret? Nyet, not Yet!

Wednesday and Thursday after the election I was a little depressed, but perhaps that was more from the mild cold I had caught than from the election results. This week I'm more feeling the relief and serenity that I get from knowing that I voted for the losing candidate. No matter what Bush does, it's not my fault. I even tried to convince others to vote for Kerry. I did my best to support the political choice I thought best, so no matter how it turned out, I wasn't going to worry about it too much for too long.

How much confidence did I have that the world (or at least my world) would have been a better place after four years of Kerry instead of four more years of Bush? Not a lot. Being a numbers kind of guy, I estimate that my intuition assigned the probabilities of 52% to the world being a better place with President Kerry and 48% to the world being a better place with President Bush having a second term.

Why such a little difference? Given that a butterfly flapping its wings can completely change the weather patterns (the so-called butterfly effect), Bush as President versus Kerry as President will create wildly diverging futures for the entire Universe. However, my feeble brain is unable to predict and foresee all possible effects of the election results on the actions of six billion people in almost 200 nations with effectively infinitely complex interactions subject to the environment's unpredictable and continuing changes as the Earth continues about the sun. There are just so many unforeseen gazillionth order effects that make it impossible to have much of a clue regarding what the alternate "Kerry is President Universe" would have been like and how it would compare to the actual universe we inhabit.

I think Kerry would have been the better choice for me, but that choice is just one piece of a very, very complex puzzle.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Perhaps Bret Shouldn't Fret

Concerns by social liberals over the future course of events in this country have some merit. I think, however, that the situation is far from dire. While there does seem to be some movement back towards more traditional values amongst the populace, it doesn't look like your grandfather's conservatism to me. Even amongst many religious people there is a greater degree of tolerance for people who are different provided that pursuit of alternative lifestyles is not too "in your face." Furthermore, most evangelicals are not fundamentalists.

I've mentioned my views about the primacy of economic and political liberty. Ultimately all liberties are intertwined. Even social changes should be pursued within a framework known as the rule of law. This is the best assurance of preserving all kinds of liberty in the future (I would think that this is of great importance to Bret). It is the departure in practice from this concept that has contributed to many conflicts in this country. Bruce Bartlett points out the implications of such in this column. Here are some excerpts:
The truth is that the issue of values, which motivated many of Bush’s supporters according to exit polls, has much less to do with religion than Democrats believe. Ironically, the real problem is that liberals have imposed their beliefs on America in exactly the way they imagine what conservatives want to do. In many cases, the real frustration isn’t even with the liberal goals, but with the way in which they would achieve those goals.

Consider the most divisive issue of all: abortion. Had the courts left it alone, the states would gradually have changed their laws, with some being very permissive and others maintaining tight restrictions. This would have eventually led to one of two outcomes. Either it would have stabilized America, as people would move to states that suited their moral or religious beliefs, or it would have pressured Congress to adopt something that probably would look much like the trimester system we have today.

But the democratic process was not allowed to operate. It was too time consuming, too messy, and too uncertain for those who wanted legalized abortion immediately. So the Supreme Court imposed it by fiat, thus leaving those against abortion or even just uncomfortable with it feeling disenfranchised, as if their views count for nothing.

Moreover, the lack of a legislative solution also means that there is no way to tinker with the system to fix obvious flaws, such as the problem of partial-birth abortion, without reopening the whole question of abortion for debate.

A similar situation has arisen over gay marriage. Liberals are too quick to assume that all opposition to it is based solely on hatred of gays, when in fact it is based more on a fear that the courts will impose it by judicial fiat without the consent of the people.

Consequently, there are growing numbers of voters who are secular in their beliefs, but find themselves within the values coalition. They oppose making abortion illegal, but also oppose Roe v. Wade. They have no problem with gay marriage, but are appalled that a single court in our most liberal state is effectively imposing a national policy allowing gay marriage. Such people are not prudes, but they don’t want their children viewing nudity or listening to profanity on the public airwaves.

If Democrats conclude that there is nothing to the values issue except religion, they will be very mistaken. Unfortunately, they may conclude that they will have to rely even more on the courts to impose their agenda in the future, thus making the fight over Supreme Court appointments even more bitter.

Friday, November 05, 2004

More on Demographic Trends

Given the states he won, Bush won the electoral college vote. What's interesting, is that 40 years ago, winning the exact same states, Bush would have lost. Consider the following table from Samizdata:

1960 census (1964, 68 elections) -- Kerry 270, Bush 268
1970 census (1972, 76, 80 elections) -- Kerry 270, Bush 268
1980 census (1984, 88 elections) -- Bush 276, Kerry 262
1990 census (1992, 96, 2000 elections) -- Bush 279, Kerry 259
2000 census (2004, 08 elections) -- Bush 286, Kerry 252

In other words, not only was Kerry the "60s candidate", he would have won the election in the 1960s! It also shows another perspective of the trend, though slow, that favors social conservatives.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

A Tough Sell

Consider the following hypothetical situation. You walk into a store looking for some product. The salesman says little about the particular make and model of the product his store sells. Instead the salesman begins berating the competitor's product, calling it worse than horrible. He then states that anyone who has bought, or who would even consider buying the competitor's product, is a deluded moron.

Would this salesman's approach convince you to buy his product? Not me. Even if the salesman were right about how bad the competitor's product was, I would leave his store and never come back.

Yet the salesman's approach is exactly the same as the Democrats' approach to selling their party's candidates. I can't count how many times I've been told that Republicans are "deluded", "morons", or "stupid", with the frequency of such insults increasing immediately before the election. Many of these insults were accompanied by supporting "evidence". I found much of that supporting evidence to be very weak, even bogus.

While I'm convinced that these emails and posts didn't help the Kerry's cause, and I wanted Kerry to win, I decided that pointing out problems with them prior to the election would only make things worse. So I decided to lay low and wait for the election to complete. But now that the election is over, during the next couple of weeks I'll show my analysis of some of these emails and posts and point out where the supporting evidence for the Stupid, Deluded, Moron Republican/Conservative (StuDeMoRC) hypothesis is, at best, lacking.

But even if the StuDeMoRC hypothesis is true, it's too late now - those StuDeMoRCs happen to be our rulers. Consider this: if you had gone up to Saddam Hussein before the war and called him stupid and deluded to his face it probably wouldn't have turned out too well for you. The only question would have been whether he would have thrown you into the shredder feet first or head first. Back here in the United States, it's fortunate that insulting the StuDeMoRC rulers won't turn out quite so catastrophically. Nevertheless, call me crazy, but insulting those in power doesn't seem to me like the optimal way to win friends with power and influence them. In fact, it seems, um, er, well, rather stupid and deluded. But maybe that's just me.

Unfortunately, I don't think we're going to get rid of StuDeMoRC rulers anytime soon. As I've written before, demographic trends help Conservatives. Indeed, consider the following exit poll statistics:

The Democrat won the votes of single women by 63-36, even as Bush was winning 54 percent of married women to Kerry's 45 percent.

Single women don't have many children. The most likely predictor of your voting patterns is your family's voting patterns. Therefore, in another generation there are going to be even fewer liberals. Of course, part of the discrepancy above is explained by the fact that younger women are more likely to be both single and liberal. However, unlike previous generations, the current young generation is not particularly liberal: 45% of 18-29 year olds voted for Bush versus 52.5% for the rest of the population. Not much difference, really, and not enough to explain the 36% versus 54% difference between single and married women.

So instead of calling Conservatives "deluded morons", perhaps it's time that we rethink our strategy about how best to interact with them.

Grasping a new reality

Peggy Noonan gets it!

Who was the biggest loser of the 2004 election? It is easy to say Mr. Kerry: he was a poor candidate with a poor campaign. But I do think the biggest loser was the mainstream media, the famous MSM, the initials that became popular in this election cycle. Every time the big networks and big broadsheet national newspapers tried to pull off a bit of pro-liberal mischief--CBS and the fabricated Bush National Guard documents, the New York Times and bombgate, CBS's "60 Minutes" attempting to coordinate the breaking of bombgate on the Sunday before the election--the yeomen of the blogosphere and AM radio and the Internet took them down. It was to me a great historical development in the history of politics in America. It was Agincourt. It was the yeomen of King Harry taking down the French aristocracy with new technology and rough guts. God bless the pajama-clad yeomen of America. Some day, when America is hit again, and lines go down, and media are hard to get, these bloggers and site runners and independent Internetters of all sorts will find a way to file, and get their word out, and it will be part of the saving of our country.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Bummer for the Left

I've seen a number of essays and posts from centrists and conservatives that are surprised at just how upset and angry the Left is about the outcome of the election. For example, Michele Catalano writes:

Sure, it's easy for me to say those things while I'm sitting in the victor's chair at the moment. But I believe in my heart that if Kerry were today making a victory speech, I would feel the same way.

I certainly wouldn't be calling for violent action. I would not be threatening total strangers with death or wishing ill will on them.

A nice essay all in all, but I think it misses one major point: the Left had far, far more to lose in this election and they lost it. It may well be the beginning of the end of the social liberals' way of life, whereas the typical social conservative was only going to be marginally impacted by a Kerry victory, at least on the domestic front.

With a Republican President and solid Republican Senate, it seems likely that we'll have more social conservatives installed in the Supreme Court. In addition, the country is trending towards social conservatism (conservatives have more children and most immigrants are social conservatives). The furthering of the social conservative agenda is inevitable over the next 20 years or so, and the current situation will push it forwards significantly faster.

So what is this "scary" agenda the conservatives have? In addition to reproductive rights rollbacks (mentioned in a comment above), there's intolerance to non-religious people (note that it's already true that not a lot of atheists hold offices of any kind), funding of churches, legislation of sexual mores (e.g., gay marriage), legislation of other "victimless" behaviors (e.g., draconian punishment for trace amounts of marijuana), rollback of environmental regulations, more complete acceptance of American exceptionalism, etc.

None of these things will happen rapidly. But the foundation is laid for that sort of progression. I personally am getting older and I don't get too wound up about the conservative agenda anymore (I admit that it is easier to be a parent in a conservative society), but when I was young I would have been absolutely horrified by the outcome of this election. I would have felt that my future was taken away from me, and in some sense, it would have been true. I would definitely have considered it to be an example of the tyranny of the majority.

When a group loses at the ballot box and the majority imposes unacceptable conditions on the minority, the minority has no choice but to revolt. Fortunately, the unacceptable conditions will only be opposed slowly, over decades, so it seems unlikely that there will be any trigger event for any sort of violent revolution. It's sort of like boiling a frog alive by turn up the heat so slowly it doesn't notice.

Nonetheless, I think that it is critically important for Bush and the Republicans to work with the minority to prevent other negative consequences (admittedly, I have no clear idea what those negative consequences might be). The hatred and bile of the Left could easily be channeled into something very, very nasty. The Left is close to the point where they think they have nothing left to lose. Whether or not that is "objectively" true doesn't matter. It's still a very dangerous situation to have a large minority that feels both completely disenfranchised and terrified of the future.