Sunday, November 12, 2006

Post election thoughts.

Maybe one of these days, I will get around to posting about something else besides politics and elections. Hopefully, things will start going well enough in this country that I have enough energy to devote to some other subjects.

I have seen several predominant suppositions regarding the blowout election. Many passionate people are making the case that their view is “the truth”.

Many of the right wing “pundits” are actually saying that this election really shows that their view was correct all along. The election was a victory for conservatives. This theme has two variations, as far as I can tell. First one goes, the Republican party wasn’t properly “conservative enough and had abandoned its’ conservative roots. I’ll go along with the part about “abandoning its’ roots”. That has been obvious for a while. This current crop of thugs in charge of the Republican party is in no way conservative, other than they think taxes are evil. In all other ways, they are not the party of Goldwater or even Ronald Reagan. This supposition is nonsense, and the people spouting this one are doing what they always do; say the first thing that comes into their minds that they think will validate their position. Truth is secondary.

The other variation on this theme is that large amounts of people voted for conservative Democrats. They contend that these new Democrats, such as John Tester in Montana and Jim Webb in Virginia, are really Republicans who ran as Democrats. If this is true, their logic must conclude that Republicans really “won”. Again, these theories are voiced without any supporting evidence. Yeah, Tester has a crew cut and wears cowboy boots. Webb is an ex-Marine and used to be Republican. The fact is that many of their policies that these two endorse are not at all conservative. I won’t go into digging up the proofs here. That has already been done by several other bloggers. Again, this theory is floated out there because it is the only way that some people can conclude that their side actually lost the election and a majority of Americans don’t agree with them on many issues.

So, the theories coming from the Right are, for the most part, complete fabrications. They are just more of the same tactics that people such as Hugh Hewitt have used as long as they have had their mouths open.

There are a couple of competing theories that are coming from the Left, and some people are getting really loud about it. One is that the very Liberal side of the party was very instrumental in winning the election, and there is no way the Democratic party should try to play the middle ground here. The left won the election so they need to play it that way. This argument is being used to say, yes, we damn well should do a lot of investigations into what BushCo. Has been doing the last six years, and while we are at it, we should impeach the President as well. Use the power of the purse strings that the Dems now have in their hands, now that they are in the positions of power in both houses.

The other side of this argument is the election was won by the fact that very many “middle of the political spectrum” independents and even some Republicans supported the Democrats. This argument goes that the Dems should be very careful that they not “overreach” like the Gingrich Revolution did, lest their new supporters abandon the party in 2008. Take the high road, try to be conciliatory and try to reach across the aisle in a bi-partisan way. Try to keep the “big tent” open to all who voted Democratic this year, and try not to alienate those supporters whom the Dems would not have won without.

Frankly, I am not sure which one of these competing theories is correct. Truthfully, I don’t think they are necessarily mutually exclusive; I think there is a more than a little truth in both visions. I think that it was necessary to get the very liberal, anti-war part of the Democratic party energized in a way they have never been since the Clinton election. But, I also think that there was a substantial part of the voters who voted not so much FOR the Democrats on the ticket. They voted AGAINST the Republicans. An example of this is Lincoln Chaffee in Rhode Island, a very moderate Republican and the only one who voted against the war from the outset. Yet he lost. I think people in RI were voting against the national Republican party.

I would hate to see the Democrats start warring among themselves about which way to play this. Maybe playing it close to the vest is a good way to start. I think Nancy Pelosi has been doing a good job so far. But if the Rethugs start playing games again, even though they are now in the minority with a lame duck President, the Dems should not hesitate to play hardball.

In the words of a very good Republican president, maybe the best way to proceed is “Walk softly but carry a big stick”.

No comments: