The first thing to be said about the presidential election of 2000 is that George W. Bush and the Stupid Party lost miserably. This is true despite their actual victory in the great post-election Florida chicken-scratch because, without Ralph Nader on the ballot, Al Gore would have won the election easily. Nader’s votes in Florida alone would mostly have gone to Gore and put the Democrat over the top almost as early as the TV networks originally predicted. The same is even more true in a number of other states, including Washington and Oregon. Exit polls estimate that some 47 percent of voters for Nader would have voted for Gore had Nader not been on the ballot. If it’s conspiracy theories about the election you want, forget the Mossad manufacturing fake absentee ballots in Israel and the various frauds each party is supposed to have perpetrated in the Sunshine State. The real question is how much the Republicans paid Mr. Nader to stay in the election.

The meaning of the Gore-Nader vote is that all the pandering, all the big-tent compassionate conservatism, all the muting of traditional conservative themes and issues, all the hiding of the conservatives in the basement at the GOP convention, all the careful waffling in the party platform, all the outreach to blacks, Hispanics, women, homosexuals, Martians, and three-toed Lesbian Pacific Islanders in which George W. Bush and his Rainbow Republican allies enveloped themselves didn’t help one little bit. In a word, the soft-right strategy of dulling the sharp edge of radical conservatism is a failure and an embarrassment. Let the facts be submitted to a candid world.

Black voters went for Al Gore by a whopping 90 percent—the largest proportion since 1984 and, before that, since at least 1960. The carefully deployed blacks at the Republican convention, the careful prance and prattle about affirmative action and Colin Powell’s insulting convention speech in support of it—none of it worked. The Democrats, aided by the NAACP, virtually implicated Bush in the “hate-crime” murder of James Byrd in 1998 and nakedly relied on the exploitation of racial fear and hatred to mobilize black voters against the Republicans. In the closing days of the campaign, Gore told black audiences that Bush’s “strict constructionism” meant a return to Jim Crow, the end of affirmative action, and the appointment of segregationist judges. What does the thin mewling of “compassion” have to say against the scream of racial paranoia that the Democrats unleashed?

Nor was Bush much more successful among women. He won only 43 percent of the female vote to Gore’s 54 percent. The former number is a slight increase over Bob Dole’s 38 percent, but Clinton also won 54 percent in 1996. Bush did gain a few points among white females, but a mammoth 94 percent of the black female vote went to Gore.

The Republican plan to cut into the Democrats’ whopping 1996 majority among Hispanics was also a dismal flop. Dole carried only 21 percent of the Hispanic vote nationally; Bush raised that to 31 percent (against Gore’s landslide 67 percent), but even that increase is deceptive. As Steve Sailer reported in a UPI story, Bush won a mere 18 percent of Hispanics in New York (where 85 percent voted for Hillary Clinton), 23 percent in California, 42 percent in his own state of Texas, and barely 50 percent in Florida. These are the four main states where Hispanics live and vote, and in none of them did Bush win anything approaching a clear majority. Even in Florida, the mainly Cuban Hispanic voting bloc went to Bush in large part out of anger over the Clinton administration’s support for sending Elian Gonzalez back to Cuba. For all the soft-right rhetorical chicken-doodle about Bush’s winning a majority of Hispanics in his own state, his 42 percent showing there was only slightly better than the 39 percent he won in his 1998 reelection campaign. His 23 percent Hispanic vote in California is not a significant improvement over Dole’s 21 percent national figure in 1996, and some 23 percent of Hispanics in California also voted for Proposition 187 in 1994. In other words, about a quarter of California’s Hispanic population normally votes Republican, and Bush’s 23 percent added nothing substantial to that figure. All the pandering to Hispanics, all the jabbering in Spanish, all the abandonment of the powerful immigration issue availeth the Stupid Party naught. Hispanics vote for left-wing candidates not because Republican support for Prop. 187 and immigration control alienated them but because Hispanic voters tend to be leftish in their political sympathies.

If the presidential election proves anything, it is that race drives American politics. As the Washington Times‘ Ralph Z. Hallow reported the day after the vote, “race was the most potent factor in Tuesday’s elections.” With 90 percent of blacks and 67 percent of Hispanics (and 54 percent of Asians) all voting for the Democratic candidate, and with 59 percent of white males voting Republican, there can be no further doubt of that. The natural strategy for the Republican Party therefore is to abandon its foolish and fruitless efforts to win “inroads” among racial minorities and to concentrate on increasing its share of the white vote. As Peter Brimelow has argued, white Southerners face far more formidable racial opposition in their part of the country than the white Californians who have just become a minority in their own state. But even with black voters accounting for 40 percent of the electorate in the South and the Democrats winning 92 percent of their vote, white Southern Republicans still manage to carry most Southern states easily. That’s because Southern whites vote as a bloc far more than whites outside the South (66 percent of whites in the South voted for Bush, compared to only 49 percent of whites in other regions). If Republicans could increase their national share of the white vote to a comparable level (65 percent or more), they would not have to worry so much about the opposing black, Hispanic, and Asian racial blocs.

But the Republicans will not beat the drums necessary to win those votes. They have abandoned immigration control and now boast of their support for open borders and making Puerto Rico a state. They have all but abandoned opposition to affirmative action, and their positions on such issues as hate-crime legislation and racial profiling are softening. Last year, GOP strategists boasted of having abandoned the “Southern strategy” that pulled white Southerners into their ranks in the first place; fortunately for the party, most whites have nowhere else to go and have not yet perceived that the party’s leadership no longer thinks they’re important enough to court.

One reason white voters have nowhere else to go but to the GOP is that the alternative party of the right, which is what the Reform Party promised to become with Pat Buchanan’s seizure of it last year, has flopped even more drastically than the big-tent Republicans. There were three main reasons for Buchanan’s miserable showing that do not really reflect on him or his campaign very much: the fixation of most conservatives on ridding themselves of the Clinton-Gore demons their own propaganda had created; the lack of appeal last year of the two main issues on which the Buchanan campaign chose to run, trade policy and an America First foreign policy; and the difficulty of winning control of the Reform Party in face of the determined opposition of the nuts that littered it when the Buchananites hit its beaches. Nevertheless, the Buchanan campaign proceeded to commit major tactical blunders that convinced most conservatives that its leader could not win or even make significant headway against the Republicans. The promotion of Lenora Fulani to co-chairmanship of the campaign sent confusing signals to rank-and-file Buchananites and offered endless opportunities for Rush Limbaugh and the Weekly Standard to ridicule his claims to conservative purity. The preposterous prediction by campaign cochairman Pat Choate that Buchanan would win 35 percent of the popular vote because of the “coalition” that the Fulani alliance created only opened the whole campaign to further ridicule among politically sophisticated observers. Buchanan also managed to keep himself out of the public eve during most of the primary season and afterward, so that by the time he popped onto the national screen in Long Beach, California, for his party’s convention, most voters had probably forgotten he was running at all and had long since made up their minds to support one of the two empty suits offered by the major parties. Buchanan’s gall-bladder operation and repeated hospitalizations thereafter, the brawls at the Long Beach convention with the flying squirrels of the Natural Law Party, and the delay in receiving federal matching funds were further setbacks not entirely due to the candidate or his campaign. But, to top it all off, Buchanan chose as his running mate an obscure black John Birch Society member who soon turned out to have an ethics problem in her background. Ezola Foster brought absolutely nothing to the ticket—no stature, no votes, no balance, no reputation—and by picking her, Buchanan alienated racially conscious conservatives who had already been alienated by Bush’s Rainbow Republican convention and might otherwise have been attracted to the Buchanan standard, and pushed himself back toward the fading movement-conservative ghetto from which Mrs. Foster came. The candidate who started off his two previous campaigns vowing to forge a new political identity of Middle American nationalism and populism thus wound up drifting back to mere conservative ideological torch-waving. For most of the rest of the campaign, Buchanan intoned predictable noises about abortion, homosexuals, and the culture war and abandoned the anti-corporate and pro-working-class themes that had won him both votes and sympathetic press attention in his first two races.

In fact, it was the Gore campaign that tried to sound the populist bugle with what was dubbed (by both his supporters and his foes) “class warfare.” As the Washington Post‘s Thomas Edsall noted in September, “Gore’s aggressive pursuit of a populism that pits the middle class against the elite, corporations and the wealthy has provided a way to counter his major liability among white men: their doubts about his strength and leadership,” and he attributed to this tactic the Vice President’s rise in the polls in the “battleground states of Michigan, Ohio and Missouri that hold the balance of power in the 2000 election. Among all voters in each of these states,” Gore “is either fully competitive with, or slightly ahead of Bush. In the event, of course, Gore carried only one of these states, and Edsall noted in October that intensive anti-Gore efforts by the National Rifle Association in key swing states were countering Gore’s appeal to white males. “The problem for Democrats,” he reported, “is that gun control is unpopular among many of the swing voters both campaigns are targeting in the final weeks of the campaign, particularly in battle ground states—such as Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania—with a sizable bloc of hunters and other gun enthusiasts.” In the end, Gore wound up with only 36 percent of the white-male vote, which is in the range of what Democratic presidential candidates have received since the 1970’s. What made the Gore campaign somewhat unique among recent Democratic national campaigns was its effort to combine transparent racial appeals to nonwhites with economic populist appeals to white males. Gore won the nonwhite vote overwhelmingly but lost the white guys. In the end, race trumped economics.

And that should tell us something about the future, both of American polities in general and of the hard right in particular. The 2000 election proves that the soft right—the Beltway-based tub-thumpers for Economic Man, imperial globalism, big-government conservatism, multiracialism, open borders, and only the most tepid resistance to the dominant culture—is a political flop. Even those in the conservative establishment a bit more to the right were eager to ride along with George W. as he abandoned and muted almost every conservative theme and issue. Eventually, they may bolt over the direction the Bush administration is likely to take, but if and when they do, why should anyone pay any further attention to them? They helped legitimize and nominate Bush as a “compassionate conservative.” More serious voices on the right need to be heard in the future.

And, given the clear racial alignments and polarizations revealed in the recent election, those voices need to say something significant about race. The silence of the Buchanan campaign about race and racial politics helped reduce it to single-digit figures in the opinion polls before it ever really started. The racial demagoguery of the Gore campaign helped it win as much of the vote as it did win—enough to take the election if Nader had not been on the ballot. And the confusions about race expressed by the Republicans convinced them to neglect their major political base among whites and led them into the fantasyland of multiracialism. White voters may now have nowhere else to go, but if an alternative should arise, they might well start flocking to it. There is little indication that the Stupid Party, no matter who leads it, will change its course or understand the real message of the election; and if the Republicans are unable to understand that message and act on it, the political future may yet belong to a non-Republican hard right that does.