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Friday, 05 November 2004
People keep asking me what I think about the election. They usually ask because they recall that I studied Political Science and know that I’m a political junkie. They very rarely like what I have to say, and want to argue with me, which is exactly why I don’t discuss politics with friends very much, because I despise political arguments. Especially because, well over fifty percent of the time, it’s clear that the person trying to argue with me isn’t even familiar with the fucking Constitution. Folks, if you want to speak intelligently about the political system that governs your life, you need to go back and fill in the knowledge gaps you earned by sleeping through your civics class back in high school. Don’t come around telling me what Congress should and should not (or could and could not) do until you can tell me who the majority and minority leaders are, what the hell a Whip is, and how committee membership is determined and why it is important. (In Congress, everything real happens in committee, and if you’re not hip to that, you don’t understand what’s going on.)

As for the election itself, I cannot say anything that has not already been said in far more eloquent ways by people who know far more than I do. Bill Clinton says that this election actually presents “a great opportunity for Democrats,” and he is absolutely correct. William Saletan argues that Red Staters can’t get behind a candidate who doesn’t talk in terms of morality, and this should not be a problem for progressives:
Your positions on taxes and labor would be assets instead of liabilities if you explained them in moral terms. The minimum wage rewards work. Repealing the estate tax helps rich people get richer without risk or effort. Lax corporate oversight allows big businesses to evade taxes, deceive small investors, and raid pension funds.
And Arianna Huffington, who I once wrongly wrote off as a loudmouth crackpot, points out that Democrats have to stop being spineless weenies:
Unless the Democratic Party wants to become a permanent minority party, there is no alternative but to return to the idealism, boldness and generosity of spirit that marked the presidencies of FDR and JFK and the short-lived presidential campaign of Bobby Kennedy.

Otherwise, the Republicans will continue their winning ways, convincing tens of millions of hardworking Americans to vote for them even as they cut their services and send their children off to die in an unjust war.

Democrats have a winning message. They just have to trust it enough to deliver it. This time they clearly didn’t.
Note that Arianna is not suggesting a move back to the left. She’s talking about a different, positive sort of message that we did not hear coming out of John Kerry’s mouth very often. Red Staters love this country just like Blue Staters do, but Red Staters also believe that people (like Kerry) who can rattle off huge laundry lists of what’s-wrong-with-America don’t love this country, and they’re not about to send such a person to the White House. They’ll always take an idiot over someone they perceive as down on America. And this time around, they just happened to have one of history’s biggest idiots to rally behind.

Looking to the future, keep in mind that 2008 is not the next big event. 2006 could be a fantastic year for the Dems. Americans tend to prefer divided government. If the Republicans don’t start solving this country’s problems over the next two years — and there is zero reason to believe that they will — then 2006 could be 1994 all over again, but in the opposite direction, with Dems seizing one or both houses of Congress. As for 2008, I’m not as hopeful there, because there’s no way Hillary won’t run, and if she is nominated, I just can’t imagine her getting elected, even if she picks Barak Obama as her running mate. You thought gay marriage and stem cells brought the evangelicals to the polls? You ain’t seen nothing yet: The right wing will mobilize like never before if faced with the prospect of another Clinton in the White House.
posted to /politics at 11:05pm :: 5 responses

katya had this to say (11/08/2004 09:34:29):
That's some of the most intelligent analysis I've seen post-election. I completely agree with you. Interesting points from William Saletan. (And an aside: I supported Arianna in the governor race. Since she jumped parties, I agree with a lot that she has to say.)

Everyone keeps saying how great it is that Hilary will be the nominee (or at least run), and I keep thinking that there's no way in hell she would win. I have nothing against Hilary in the slightest and really don't understand why people do. (I think there's a lot of truth to chauvinism against strong women like Hilary and Teresa Heinz Kerry, whereas Laura Bush comes across like a 50s housewife to me so she seems to be beloved. Puke.) But I know from talking to Republican friends who absolutely despise her and from reading about the Rush crowd, that she is too much a polarizing figure to be elected. Especially against a Rudy Giuliani or a John McCain. I'm sure I'll vote Democrat no matter what, but if a Republican wins I hope it's McCain.
misedumacated folk had this to say (11/08/2004 13:36:32):
make sure you got a helmet causin that horse you are on is pretty high up there.
Ig'nant had this to say (11/15/2004 09:41:58):
I'd offer up some comment except I'm obviously too ig'nant, and I don't want to get verbally flogged.
scarabic had this to say (11/15/2004 11:08:11):
I think you're absolutely right. Any info-rich, well-digested resources you'd recommend for the person who has to make up for high school civics class during coffee breaks at work?
/\/\/\/ had this to say (11/22/2004 16:08:08):
First off, most people would benefit from a careful reading of the Constitution. It is not a long document by any means. Take the Articles one day at a time, and you've got short reading assignments for less than a week. If you find a nice version with obsolete clauses noted inline, that's the best way to go. Most Americans will stumble across all sorts of stuff they did not know about their own government in just one reading... There is a FAQ-of-sorts regarding the Constitution here... As for stuff that is NOT in the Constitution--like how committees work--I'm not finding anything spectacular online at the moment. (But committees are easy: the majority party rules, and seniority is damn near EVERYTHING.) I will be mindful of the feedback in this post, and will in the future try to provide more context and more links when I talk politics, so that my readers who care to take it upon themselves to learn more have a place to go.

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