Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election musings + open election thread

I suppose I shouldn't let the election pass without expressing my delight at the results. It's true, on the one hand, that the Democrats haven't exactly been formidable opponents for BushCo in recent years. They helped him launch the war in Iraq, they let him have his torture bill and warrantless wiretapping. They have been, for reasons that will remain long shrouded in mystery, a party that has consistently found itself (in the words of popular blogger John Scalzi) politically outmaneuvered and flummoxed time and again by the least popular and most incompetent president in history.

On the other hand, what happened yesterday at the polls was an unmistakable message from the American people: You guys are doing a shitty job, and we demand better. Now it's up to us to make sure the new Democratic majority in the House doesn't screw up and allow business as usual. We have to stay on their backs.

From a progressive/secularist/separationist point of view, there were a number of very important victories against the worst machinations of the Christian right. While a number of states passed the usual egregious anti-gay-marriage laws, Arizona, a pretty doggone red state, rejected one. South Dakotans sent that infamously draconian, misogynist anti-abortion law — the one that would have banned all abortions across the board, even if the mother's life were at risk — to the dustbin where it belonged. Red State Rabble reports that pro-science school board candidates in Ohio walked all over their creationist opponents, and even in Kansas, that hotbed of Machiavellian anti-science scheming, moderates appear to be back in control.

So in all, today is a good day to feel good. Now I'm going to declare the comments section open, for you to talk about the elections, how you voted and why, what you think the next two years might bring, etc.


  1. I believe the election is a net positive so don’t drop the ball and think I am an enemy. However I will hammer the winner and state unequivocally that this win belongs to Republican’s greed and corruption.
    Democrats must execute. Any idiot can sit around and bitch, but now that democrats have power they must now be leaders and assume responsibility and perform. I like Tom Friedman’s comment on the Arabs, stating that they hate Israeli’s and American’s because the only alternative is that they hate themselves……To clarify, the Arabs are the biggest losers in the world and consistently blame everyone but themselves. The Democrat party lost to the Republicans in ‘94 because they were weak, corrupt and ineffective. Now that the Republicans have been in power and have proven that they are corrupt and rather stupid, what do we do? We replace them with the proven weak, corrupt and stupid alternative.
    Democrats, progressives, liberals or whatever propaganda tagline you chose, you should look in the mirror, your Democrat base choose the con-artist Clinton, the weakling Gore and the effete moron Kerry. Not because you were fooled but because they represent you best. Wake up, weakness in the face of enemy produces dead bodies. Dem’s are weak and invite attack. Larger issues must be front and center and are completely ignored by the electorate. We must be grownups and execute the big picture. Gays, flags and abortion are little issues and will never effect the big issues of economics, environment, war and empire. Little issues are for little governments like the state and city. The Fed should be focused to big issues, but they go for little issues because they are weak and pander to little people and their little issues. We all lose when the government is as simple as the people. We should at least try to elect people better than us.


  2. This morning the TV morning show commentators were saying that this bunch of Democrats were actually very conservative, so it's not much of a change. What crack are they smoking? Later that day the TV people said that Hillary Clinton was far more liberal than most other Democrats. Again with the crack!

    It's nice to win so big, but this was really only a partial victory. We've just started rebuilding a strong new party apparatus which can win elections, based on the very progressive netroots. It kicked in during this election, but half of the win was because the Republicans screwed up. We need to finish our work, maintain party discipline, and complete the things that were laid out during the campaigns. We need to start today to lay the groundwork for the 2008 and 2012 elections, so we can beat the Republicans when they are at their strongest.

    The solution to that is to go as far left as we can go, and then continue going left. Then, we'll be back into the proper territory, the land of sanity. The Republicans have dragged us into Klan land and Nazi land over the years, and they say that Macaca just happens. That's too far right. The Republicans think that Imperialism is the way to keep us safe. That's what has caused these attacks to begin with.

    Democrats were never as corrupt, even at their worst, as the bunch we just threw out. And we don't even know half the story, because the Republicans didn't have any oversight, and didn't care to investigate themselves. The next two years are going to be a real eye-opener.

    In any case, the Democrats are building a totally inclusive party from the ground up. And the netroots are trying to throw out the old Democrats who want to be Republican light. That was what was behind the drive against Lieberman, and Hillary is going to have to face the fact that she's FAR too conservative for our new party. Democrats don't vote for war or torture, and she did both. The netroots are watching VERY closely, and we will not tolerate corruption. There's too many of us to cut into corruption deals, and you can't buy the silence of millions of citizens networked over the Internet. Just as the Democratic netroots have been bitching for the past 6 years about the corrupt administration, we're not going to let anything our side does slip by us either. That's because we're True Americans and True Patriots, and the ideal we're working for is the country, not just our party.

  3. I believe the vote was more against the latest policies and less "for" something else. I think it was an expression of "If X isn't better than Y, at least it's different."

    I once had a younger coworker who was all upset at the last Republican sweep that was not that long ago. I told her, "Don't worry. The last time I saw so many politicians win by such a large margin, they got in office, immediately assumed everyone supported their agendas, started passing legislation like there was no tomorrow, and it didn't take long for people to freak out and the pendulum to swing the other way again."

    That's what happens. Movements are reactions to the status quo. And the status quo, somewhere in the past, was also a reaction to some other status quo. That's change--and it's as constant in social politics as in physics.

    I went on to tell this youngster that the best mix is when Republicans run some of the branches, and Democrats run others--because then nothing gets done. And letting them sit there on The Hill and get nothing done is generally a lot safter than giving one or the other party full control to start actually executing their agendas. Once X or Y has that power, they go too far to the right or left and the middle of the road nation freaks out and ousts them. As has been done this week.

    I don't vote a straight party ticket--because there are Republicans, Democrats, Independents and Libertarians who support my personal causes. And I like a good mix in there. I think it's safer.

  4. I went on to tell this youngster that the best mix is when Republicans run some of the branches, and Democrats run others--because then nothing gets done. And letting them sit there on The Hill and get nothing done is generally a lot safter than giving one or the other party full control to start actually executing their agendas. Once X or Y has that power, they go too far to the right or left and the middle of the road nation freaks out and ousts them. As has been done this week.

    I am constantly hearing this argument week after week at post-show dinners, about how divided government is the best government.

    With all respect, Tracie -- and I am speaking "ex cathedra" here, not as a host of the the Atheist Experience -- I think that is a vacuous argument with no evidence to back it up.

    I don't want a government that is incapable of getting anything done; I want a government that is interested in doing the right things. The horrifically bad response to Hurricane Katrina last year really should highlight exactly what the consequences are of a government that can't get anything done.

    Yes, a Republican administration with a Republican-controlled house and Senate has been pretty much an unmitigated disaster. That doesn't in any way support the argument that every party in that situation would be an unmitigated disaster; that's a hasty generalization fallacy. The simple fact is, Republicans have a lot of really bad ideas.

    Does that mean I think Democrats are perfect? Of course not; there are bad Democrats and there are good Republicans. But if you claim "See, both sides are equally bad" then you are falling for the same fallacy that many creationists do. You know -- "We collected 500 signatures of scientists who support creationism, so what we have here is a genuine scientific controversy." No we don't. We have a tiny, tiny anomaly among scientists.

    The point being, just because there are two sides to an issue doesn't mean that the sides have equal merit and equal credibility. By and large, it isn't Democrats who are in the pockets of the religious right. It isn't Democrats who pushed this stupid, stupid war. The Republican controlled legislative branch hasn't merely been conventionally corrupt, in the ways people say that all politicians are corrupt. By many accounts they have been the most corrupt Congress in history.

    I don't vote a straight party ticket--because there are Republicans, Democrats, Independents and Libertarians who support my personal causes. And I like a good mix in there. I think it's safer.

    And I don't vote a straight party ticket either, if there are individuals from other parties who hold preferable positions. However, I do to a very large extent favor Democrats over Libertarians and Libertarians over Republicans.

    I really don't buy this argument that just because there are two types of candidates available, they should be installed in government in equal amounts. If, for example there are "Christian nation" fundamentalists running, I will vote against them every single time, no matter how few of them there are in other branches of government. I do not believe there need to be a certain number of fundamentalists in Congress to keep a check on the non-fundamentalists.

    Should you vote for the candidate most likely to guarantee gridlock? No, you should vote for the candidate who actually has good positions and is most likely to achieve those goals honestly and competently.

  5. Make no mistake - there is a measurable political realignment taking place here. Modern "movement" conservatism has been exposed as a sham and is being dismissed by more and more of the electorate and even paleo-conservatives like WF Buckley. The aftermath of 9/11 has exposed its true authoritarian tendencies, and this election was the beginning of its demise. Study after study has shown that a clear majority identifies more with classical liberal values than so-called conservative ones, but movement conservatism had to be discredited publicly before people felt comfortable allying themselves with traditional progressive. That's happening now.

  6. "that the best mix is when Republicans run some of the branches, and Democrats run others--because then nothing gets done."

    I realize we're not living in a perfect world and we're often forced to choose between the lesser of two evils - but I don't believe that the best government mix is one that ensures nothing gets done.

    The idea that no one "party" should have too much control seems to be laced with a number of serious flaws.

    First, it assumes that adopting a party label guarantees a lock-step voting pattern. People within a single party can disagree - and vote however they like.

    Second, it assumes that each party is equally likely to do equivalent harm. It's certainly possible for either party to do harm - but I certainly think that, on the whole, the risk is not equal.

    Third, the idea of encouraging a crippled government implies that "no government" (the equivalent of a government that can do nothing) is better than any government that can.

    I tend to support candidates based on ideas (regardless of the party-label they opt for) - and my sincere hope is that they'll actually be able to accomplish some of the things they set out to do.

    If I didn't want them to accomplish anything, I'd find myself constantly trying to out-guess the rest of the population and vote for people who don't share my values - in order to balance things out.

    If that's the case, why not determine winners via coin tosss...the odds favor a fairly balanced outcome.

    The Dems have congress now. I have no idea who I'll vote for in '08 and, while I'll probably vote for the Democratic candidate for President - it's not completely unreasonable that I might vote for a Republican, Independent, Libertarian or Green.

    However, I won't be basing that vote on what needs to happen to ensure nothing gets done.

  7. Some very interesting points in the first 4 posts. I'd have to agree with Kazim (Dennis?) and Matt disagreeing with "the best government is an inert government".

    I live in Canada, so only get a "peering over the back hedge" perspective on you crazy yanks and your wacky politicians, etc.. But,
    I've been hearing about a "resounding victory", "clear mandate" in this "referendum on Iraq, Republicrat policies, etc.".

    The result was 51-49. How is that a resounding victory?

    It was the electoral, not the popular vote. It's subject to all the chicanery and manipulation (incl gerrymandering, vote fraud, Diebold hacking, etc.). Don't get me wrong, I'm sure Dems are corrupt; they just don't seem to be as good at it as Reps have been recently. So perhaps with all that against them, it WAS a Dem landslide.

    Yes, they have the majority. But it's not a resounding success.

    On the other hand, with the war, Bush record lows, the rampant corruption and hypocrisy, etc., all the Dems got was 2% more than the other guys.

    Sorry, but it just doesn't look all that impressive to me. Good luck. Hope the next few years bring some improvement in the big picture.


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