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Tuesday, 12 November, 2002, 12:09 GMT
Can the US Democrats recover?
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend concedes defeat
The US Democratic Party is facing its biggest challenge in years as an identity crisis sets in the wake of Tuesday's mid-term election defeats.

The heavy losses inflicted at the polls have been followed by the announcement by Richard Gephardt that he will not seek re-election as House Minority Leader.

The Republicans now control the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives. It is only the third time in a century that the party of an incumbent president has improved its position in the House of Representatives at mid-term elections.

Democrats have lashed out at their party leadership, blaming them for their failure to secure votes in key races that the party was expected to win.

Where next for the Democrats? Can the party recover from Tuesday's defeats? Or will America's swing to the right continue beyond the mid-terms?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

In two years, there will be a Democrat in the White House!

Andrew, Centennial, Colorado
America had reached a crossroad on the 5 November. Around 51% of people wanted President Bush to lead a united government. Yet, there is still much hope for the 49% who wish to God Bush had never won the presidency. Now the president has the reins to run the government, and like all of his business ventures he will fail. Don't worry Democrats, sit back and watch Bush destroy what most voters want. In two years, there will be a Democrat in the White House!
Andrew, Centennial, Colorado

I'm not so sure that the Democrats will recover any time soon. Agreeing with the president on the most important issues of our time is not a winning strategy, and instead of coming up with alternatives, they ran with no ideas hoping that the people would elect them simply because they wanted a balance.
Michael Adsley, Portland, OR, USA

Americans are more afraid of terrorist threats than what Democrats can do for an ailing economy. When the Monica Lewinsky affair came to light Bill Clinton should have either been upfront or stepped down when he was found to be lying. Americans feel hustled by the Democrats. The Republicans are in power because Americans are afraid. Thank you Bill Clinton, this is your legacy.
Jason Forauer, Westfield

The Democrats must get their act together

Valkea, Albany, NY, USA
I was saddened but not surprised by the results. The 'checks and balances' mechanism is effectively broken because the Republicans actually control the legislative, executive and judicial branches of our federal government. They are behind the scenes delegating the decisions and tasks, and they now effectively control the US Government. The Democrats must get their act together, unite among common themes such as social equality, and prevent the dissolution of our country.
Valkea, Albany, NY, USA

This is what happens when there is no viable third party and you end up with a population voting for the other chap simply because they are fed up with the sad options they have. Elections should reflect change and an exciting direction but what we have currently is more of the same, and politicians looking for places to pin the blame. But, what's new about that?
Di Stewart, North Carolina, USA

The Democrats are disunited and adrift

JT, San Francisco, USA
Rather than fully support the President in the war on terror, the Democrats began second-guessing the war one month after September 11. They blocked the homeland security bill, blocked terrorism insurance, blocked the judicial nominees, undermined the effort on Iraq, and delayed the appropriations and budget process. On top of that, they offered no new ideas on the economy or leadership concerning Iraq or the War on Terror. The Democrats are disunited and adrift.
JT, San Francisco, USA

I really can't understand why many of you claim that President Bush is doing such a great job. What has he really accomplished in the last two years? Absolutely nothing. No agendas, nothing on education reform, nothing about the economy, nothing about large corporation fraud. All we hear is the clear and present danger of Iraq. I think he is a joke, and anyone that supports him is clearly not focused on the real issues this country is currently facing. I hope that many of you get a clue before the 2004 election and not make the mistake you made in 2000. Democrats will recover from this unfortunate tragedy.
Demond Taylor, Atlanta, USA

Until the Democrats develop some integrity and backbone it's going to be a long, cold political winter

Eric, Taipei, Taiwan
As a progressive, I'm appalled by the recent election results. The 2002 election marks a major victory by the right in advancing its agenda on a wide variety of fronts. However, I must gave them their due in effectively communicating their message to the voting public while the Democrats drifted into irrelevancy. Until the Democrats develop some integrity and backbone (not to mention charisma), it's going to be a long, cold political winter.
Eric, Taipei, Taiwan

I voted for Democrats for the state legislature and Republicans in my Congressional districts. Democrats are not saints by virtue of their allegiances alone, but no one party should be able to override checks and balances as the Republicans now have the capacity to do. Those who doubt their control of the judiciary should look to their first order of business in the Senate: fast-track replacements of numerous judges with conservative Republicans (who can legislate from the bench for their own purposes).
Matt, Atlanta, GA, USA

It's interesting that so many people underestimate this man Bush. Unknown to those people is the fact that he is actually using this to his advantage. He fought and won. He means what he says, he does not deter from his path. He is the president of the American people and he takes that far more serious than his immoral predecessor. He is the constitutionally elected president, he has sworn to uphold the constitution, and he will do the bidding for the American people. This election will make that easier. There's a world of hurt coming down on the bad guys.
Darren, Sheridan, USA

To Darren: I'm glad to see that you made the distinction between Bush being the "constitutionally" elected president. Everyone should read Michael Moore's book Stupid White Men so we don't forget how the election was stolen by the Bush team. As for people underestimating Bush, you are right, but he's only the tip of a great big iceberg. What did this man ever do before he was given the presidency? Did he ever earn anything for himself, did he ever create, or nurture - no! Unfortunately Americans got the president that they deserve. As for the Democrats, they are just junior Republican wannabes.
Athrazhur, Los Angeles, CA, USA

First off, people should stop complaining about Bush's election and how he 'stole' the election. It's over with, let's work with what we have. Secondly, half the reputation of a president depends on what he was handed at the time of election. Let's look at the situation we're in right now as a country, and realise that these problems were handed to him beforehand, not created by him. At least he's facing them and doing what he feels is best, rather than chickening away from them like others have done before him.
Chris, Indianapolis, IN

I am curious to see if this will help or harm Bush's chances for re-election, especially if he ruins the country like I feel he will

Nick, Greenville, North Carolina
The Democratic party is spending too much time arguing with the president and not enough time actually concentrating on their own ideas for the country. Bush and the Republicans on the other hand have pushed their issues. However, Bush should have spent the last few weeks acting like a president and running the country instead of flying around trying to win races. As a Democrat I am curious to see how the president will handle his new found power. I am also curious as to whether this will help or harm his chances for re-election, especially if he ruins the country like I feel he will.
Nick, Greenville, North Carolina

I see that there are many who do not understand what checks and balances means. It does not mean that one political party polices the other, but rather each branch of government is supposed to ensure that the other branches do not violate the separation of powers. Now that we have taken our country back by electing conservatives, we can have honourable judges appointed to the courts. The days of legislating from the bench will soon be over.
Sheryl Meade, San Antonio, TX USA

I don't see how in the 21st century, we can vote conservative and go back to the 1950s when the purpose of society is to be progressive.
Mark Rajan, Florida, USA

The Democrats don't want to fight and defend so they got kicked out

Dawali, New York
This is not about Democrats. Americans are in a war. People are killing Americans. The Democrats don't want to fight and defend so they got kicked out. Your question should be "Will the US recover from 9-11?"
Dawali, New York, USA

The good news in this election for America is that the erstwhile head-Democrat, Bill Clinton, who played a major role in setting the tone of expediency and insincerity that has infected US politics and business, was completely ignored and irrelevant. The Republicans aren't necessarily any more capable of solving the country's problems. They simply appear to have some values they are determined to stand by.
Dave Bennett, Ramsey, NJ, USA

There is not as much difference between the Republicans and Democrats as there used to be. They have the same financial sponsors, the same big-business backers. Even if the Democrats had won, nothing would have changed.
Joey, Columbus, OH, USA

I fear for the survival of the American Republic

Eleanor, California
The Republicans control all three branches of government, wiping out the protection of checks and balances. A total lack of leadership among the Democratic party has left a vacuum that is being filled by rapacious, arrogant men who have only contempt for the people of their own country, to say nothing of the rest of the world. The people get their so-called information from TV, which is controlled by the same clique who run the government. I fear for the survival of the American republic.
Eleanor, California, USA

To Eleanor from California: The checks and balances in the US Constitution have nothing to do with the party in power but rather with the three branches and how they interact. Those criticising should at least understand what they are criticising. Democrats can recover by helping to govern instead of continuing to block and stall the president's initiatives.
Rod Sturgeon, USA

Eleanor, California: The three branches of government are the executive, legislative and judicial. The Republicans only control the first two. Your blather about the future of the country is representative of the half-baked attitude that true believers of both parties have used to push their agenda and demonise anyone that disagrees with them for the last 30 years. I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat, but I certainly will not be supporting the Democrats in the future if they pander to populist fear mongers like you.
Gerald, Chicago, USA

Gerald, Chicago: You have a short memory if you have forgotten that Republicans also control the judiciary. Wasn't it the Republican majority in the Supreme Court that installed Bush in the White House? And won't Bush now have a much easier time appointing right wing judges, with the Senate on-side? Cast your mind back to mid-2001, Bush was beginning to have some problems at that time. In speaking of populist fear mongers, remember that Republican success has come on the back of 9/11, a result of the strategy of terrifying the American people with frequent warnings and the draconian undermining of civil liberties.
Colin, Victoria, BC, Canada

I see a bleak future for the Democrats in 2004 as they have no one who can match Bush's popularity

Fawad Arain, Washington, USA
The Democrats should be utterly ashamed of themselves. Their strategy was non-existent, they didn't exploit the economical failures of the current administration, and they acted as if September 11 never happened by focusing on the same old issues. I see a bleak future for the Democrats in 2004 as they have no one who can match Bush's popularity.
Fawad Arain, Washington, USA

I'm glad to see the Republicans in charge. I believe it will be a good thing for this country and for the world. If Gephardt is going to be enough of a sore loser to quit, then good riddance - that will be good for the country and the world, too.
Doug Faircild, Sacramento, CA, USA

The victory by the religious right on Tuesday brings to a close a 20-year effort by fundamentalists to take control of America's government. They have been highly effective at misleading the public on their true agenda. This is the beginning of the end of the nation, and it may prove to be a necessary step to ensure the safety of the rest of the world. As America unravels, hope for peace and fairness can be reborn.
Matthew, San Francisco, USA

The Republicans should remember that all glory is fleeting

Ward, Georgia, USA
Yes, of course the Democratic party will recover, just as the Republicans have from past debacles. But the Dems should learn that the president is not as clueless as they have portrayed him in their rhetoric. Indeed, he has integrity and a message, the very things that the Clinton era erased from the Democratic Party agenda. No doubt victory is indeed sweet. But the Republicans, of which I am one, should remember the saying that "All glory is fleeting". Use the power wisely while you have it.
Ward, Georgia, USA

I think the President has done a phenomenal job in tricking the democrats into their apparent disunity. He has pulled them from their core messages and left them hanging out to dry. This is good for America and the world because this good man can now lead without the petty and spiteful restraints constantly put forth by his enemies.
Stuart, New Jersey, USA

The Republicans now have control of the Senate, the House of representatives and the White House. This is a major victory for the Republicans. Now let's see if they can do what we put them in office for. The resolution on Iraq should now pass with ease; President Bush will have more control over the Congress and laws and resolutions will pass or die easier than before. We can only hope that these new lawmakers will make those laws effectively and fairly.
Zach, Columbia, United States of America

I'm proud to say that I voted. While the elections do not necessarily endorse Bush's policies, the Republican success will certainly help him to further his goals, most of which I support. We know right from wrong, we claim to adhere to the principles of our Constitution and it's time to act like it. We have the power and influence to ensure that injustice and tyranny are not tolerated in this world, and it is our obligation to use it. To those who say that it's wrong to attack Iraq - go live there for a year and get back to me.
Mitch, Chicago, IL

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