The 1988 United States presidential campaign is over.
Let us all be thankful that we have respite from the daily round of abuse and counterabuse which has been the American lot since the campaign opened.And let us all, no matter what our individual leanings during the campaign, take comfort from the fact that the republic is not going to be seriously damaged by the results of the voting.
There is no great change in either domestic or foreign policy in the American future. Both parties approve of the new relationship Ronald Reagan has forged with the Soviet Union. It will go forward.
Both favor the NATO alliance, which has been the centerpiece of bipartisan foreign policy for a generation. It will be preserved as a balance to the new Soviet relationship.
In domestic affairs, both parties favor keeping the essential features of the federal system of welfare which has grown up in the United States beginning with Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Both favor keeping Social Security intact. Both favor keeping such key programs as unemployment compensation. Both favor civil rights and equal opportunity and better education.
Both also favor an addition in the form of some kind of federal program for day care.
Neither party wants to upset or change radically the main features of either foreign or domestic policy. The winners, no matter what was said during the campaign, are generally of the moderate center. There are differences, yes. But in the main they are differences of degree, not in basic policy or direction.
The victory by George Bush probably means more defense spending, if only because the defense industry has been more generous with campaign contributions to Republicans. The Democrats are as committed to a "strong defense," but would be more selective.
There is a difference in the approach to what Reagan euphemistically calls "revenue enhancement."
A Dukakis victory would have led to an attempt to raise more money by the graduated income tax route, which falls more heavily on the upper economic classes.
Under a Bush presidency the search will be directed to such devices as increased sales taxes. Bush advisers have been looking longingly at the value-added tax (VAT), which has been so helpful to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
A Dukakis win would have meant more vigorous enforcement of civil rights legislation. The Bush victory means a continuation of the kind of minimum enforcement that had characterized the Reagan approach to policies designed to help the black community. The blacks actually have reason to think that they would benefit, marginally, from a Dukakis victory. But even here the difference is marginal, not major.
This has not been a watershed election at a watershed moment in American history. The broad direction of policy is not going to change. There will be no major new initiatives in national policy or direction unless or until Bush has to confront the economic consequences of the vast Reagan deficit.
In other words, the Great Republic is not going to shift course tomorrow, or next month, or probably next year because of today's voting.
If your side lost, relax. No dire disaster lies just ahead.