Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The elections

I guess I should put an official post about today's elections in the can. The reason I've avoided it so far is that I don't have much to say predictively. I suspect the polls are accurate, and while I have some hope they aren't, it's not much hope. I hope that the Democrats do better than the polling suggests they will. I hope that Russ Feingold somehow holds on in Wisconsin. I hope that Joe Sestak manages to beat out that smarmy Club for Growth creep. I hope Ken Buck and Sharron Angle return to the obscurity their cretinous views and actions should consign them to. And I would love for the Democrats to retain the House, if only with a nominal majority. I would rather Nancy Pelosi get the chance to leave her job on her own terms. But the nature of power is such that it sometimes doesn't get to happen that way, and I've resigned myself to it.

What I feel most is the unfairness of this whole cycle. Okay, bailing out the banks was odious, though successful. The stimulus wasn't big enough. Health care reform got ugly and the jobs didn't materialize. Believe me, I can understand why people are pissed off. Obama is responsible for some of these things, though not all of them. But the past two years has been filled with a right rebounding politically with obviously insincere straight talk on spending, a variety of baseless and disgusting smears of Obama, and flat-out lying about so much of what's actually happened. HCR is a prime example of this, but so much of what the government has done positively has been distorted or ignored. I don't even blame the voters for voting Republican, since if I were inundated with all the garbage I might well act the same way. But between the money unleashed by Citizens United and the media's unending commitment not to offend the right by offering up the facts, the Dems never really had a chance to get out the facts or really any other side of the argument. I mean, the polls show 2/3 of people believing that the Affordable Care Act raises the deficit and almost nine out of ten unaware that the Obama Administration cut their taxes. Complaining about the media is becoming passe, but realistically, who else can be to blame when the public simply doesn't have the most basic facts under discussion? And how can there even be a discussion when the opposition is controlled by people dedicated to exploiting the fears of people suffering from an ill economy? I mean, how can one side have a conversation with the other when both sides believe that the other side is on the verge of enacting a putsch? There has to be some level of trust for there to be any understanding or cooperation, and the bile of Fox/Rush/Drudge--enabled by the pundit establishment, in my opinion, because of its entertainment value--seems designed to keep that from happening. Because if it did, they'd be out of a job. And they know how to push their follower's buttons. The levels on which we have failed--at such a crucial time!--are astounding. Despite various disappointments I still believe in Obama and I think he's the absolute best hope Democrats have for the future, and a lot of the bullshit just can't be laid on him. His mission is going to be a lot harder than I ever thought it would be, but we've gone through worse. I admire the steady nature of the man's leadership, and after reading Bob Woodward's book I still believe he takes his responsibilities seriously. Which is a rare enough commodity these days, and it is something to be embraced once found. All in all, I'm not sure were in a better place as a country now than we were in 2008, but we must remember this at all times:

Practically speaking, the Democrats keeping the House might be too much to hope for. But keeping the Republicans to a majority in the single digits? That might be realistic. And were that to happen, it's unlikely that they'd have as much of an ability to gum up the works with a government shutdown, since small majorities are extremely difficult to shepherd. Maybe that's being both optimistic and naive, since Republicans seem to be willing to cut off anyone who tries to compromise or go against the party line. That policy has been self-defeating in a lot of ways--you can easily argue it will keep the Republicans from winning the Senate--and it is some consolation that the rigidity of Toomey and Johnson will very likely lead them to be one-termers swept out in the more robust election year of 2016. But that's still six years of being stuck with them.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the Democrats will fare better than expected in the Senate races--I think Reid will stick it out, and I think Mike Bennet and Alexi Giannoulias in Illinois will get in there barely. I also have a gut feeling that John Hickenlooper will win the governor's race in Colorado, and so will Alex Sink in Florida and Ted Strickland in Ohio. But that's as far out there as I'm willing to go, outside of the standard predictions. I'm also pulling for Prop 19 here in California to somehow surpass expectations and win (I think it will come closer than expected, but it won't pass) and for California to finally end the insanity that is the 2/3 budget majority (which I think will happen). And I'm hoping that the Alaska Senate race will be an entertaining one: it seems like it's possible for the Democrat, Scott McAdams, to actually win since he's doing about as well in the polls as Joe Miller. Miller is terrible, and with Murkowski as a write-in you just never know. That the right wing qualified a shitload of write-in candidates to crowd out Murkowski's name might well make voters looking for her proper spelling forget about it and vote for McAdams instead. In any event, I suspect Alaska will become the Minnesota of this year, with all the fun that that entails.

Regardless of the results, this election cycle has radicalized me in a lot of ways. I've gotten more involved with this cycle than ever before, with donations and phonebanking mainly. I'm ready to do the hard work necessary to make the country better. And the long-term trends still look favorable to the Dems, from my point of view. Screw those Firebaggers who think that everything is lost. I've only begun to fight. So the Obama era didn't turn out to be a walk amongst the daisies after just two years. I'm over it, and I'm ready to start the next go-round.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.