The Republicans are full, again, of triumphalism, declaring they have a mandate for all kinds of reactionary programs that the people of our country don’t endorse — privatizing Social Security being high on their list.

There were really three major campaigns in this election: the Bush campaign, the Kerry campaign, and the campaign of reality, which doesn’t stop once the election is called, declared, or conceded. The campaign of reality continues to confound spin and demagogy.

Reality doesn’t care if the Bush administration objects to serious measures to reduce global warming — reality is going to go ahead no matter what Bush or anyone else says in a press statement or agrees or disagrees to in an international treaty. Global warming is speeding up, especially in the Arctic, whether the conservatives recognize it or not.

Reality doesn’t care if Bush declares that progress is being made in Iraq — reality will go ahead with mounting death tolls, increased casualties, and a deepening quagmire. Reality doesn’t care if Bush claims that the U.S. is leading a grand coalition of troops and nations in Iraq — reality means that U.S. troops will suffer most of the casualties along with Iraqi civilians. Reality will just keep on isolating the Bush administration from more and more allies.

Reality doesn’t care if Bush proclaims that investing Social Security funds in the stock market will be good for individual workers — reality will go ahead and crash the stock market on its own schedule, not on Bush’s. In Bush’s first term, he started out insisting on privatizing Social Security, but when the stock market crashed, he shut up about it, until recently.

Conservative pundits like to intone about how good the stock market is over the long term. But what if you just happen to retire during a stock market slump? Where is the guarantee of a decent retirement income? That guarantee is what reactionaries want to do away with, and workers will suffer for it. They keep silent about how much money Wall Street and the stockbrokers are going to make off of the infusion of money, charging fees every time a stock is bought or sold. Where do their fees come from? From the private retirement accounts, cutting the amount that seniors will get, even when the stock market is going up.

Reality bites, especially when you try and ignore it. It’s not nice to ignore reality any more than Mother Nature (part of reality). It’s not nice to lie, or cheat, or go to war because of megalomaniacal power hunger, and sooner or later, reality will make you pay the price by biting back.

Bush’s election victory was a setback, a defeat, but not for reality, which goes on just the same. There are many potential pitfalls awaiting the second Bush residency.

History: Both Nixon and Reagan won second terms determined to escalate their conservative policies, yet within a year Nixon had to resign in the face of the majority sentiment that he should be impeached, and within two years Reagan was embroiled in the Iran-Contra scandal. The chances that Bush will face similar conflicts are high.

Scandals: Various investigations are in process — into Halliburton and its no-bid contracts in Iraq; into the Valerie Plame affair, a case of illegal administration revenge against those who exposed administration lies. There will be more trials about the torture at Abu Ghraib; prosecution of Enron CEO and Bush buddy Ken Lay; exposés of Republican efforts to suppress and undercount the vote; censure and likely trial of “the Hammer,” Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, on charges that he broke the law in Texas redistricting and in using the Patriot Act against Democratic state legislators; and other similar problems for Bush.

The polls: Even though he managed to get elected for the first time in 2004, Bush already has low approval ratings, with large majorities disliking his domestic policies. Those numbers will improve for him slightly for a short period, but likely will very soon begin to plummet again, with increasing deaths of U.S. troops in Iraq, with job-creation largely limited to poorly paying jobs (and once Bush’s election stimulus wears off, the number of jobs will go back down), and with senior opposition to Bush’s Social Security boondoggle rising rapidly.

The economy: As in Bush’s first term, so in his second, his tax cut policies and rising military spending will escalate the economic and budget problems that his record deficits are causing. Bush already holds the record for largest deficits, and he’s well on his way to breaking his own record, with red ink and debt for our children and their children becoming a drag on workers’ wages. Bush’s record as a tax-cut-and-spend Republican will dig a deeper hole as he tries to ignore the law of holes — before anything else, stop digging!

Pensions: In addition to his Social Security scam, Bush faces a growing crisis from all the companies that have voided their pension plans and their obligations to past and current retirees — the federal fund that takes over and pays pensions when companies go bankrupt is going bankrupt itself!

These are just a few of the challenges facing Bush right now, and that doesn’t include the tens of millions who voted against him and the millions who will protest his policies.

Marc Brodine is chair of the Washington State Communist Party. He can be reached at marcbrodine@comcast.net.