November 03, 2004

Spin The Vote! 2004

---Bush With A Mandate?---

Feet-dragging of a couple networks and CNN aside, Bush appears to have won the election tonight. Unless the provisional ballots change things, Bush will win Ohio, Nevada, New Mexico and Iowa. Kerry has won New Hampshire and will win Wisconsin. The total will be 286 - 252. Kerry and Edwards are trying to drag out Ohio, most likely to try and get revenge now for Florida 2000.

It looks like turnout will be in the area of 115-120 million voters, clearly the highest absolute number of US voters ever. There were 105 million voters in 2000. Bush, sitting at 51% now, will be elected with the highest number of raw voters ever, likely more than 58 million. But if he gets 51% it would be the first since Bush '88 to do so, as the previous three elections have been decided by less than a majority of the popular vote.

Bush has legitimacy now, he can't be derided as selected - he won at least a plurality and likely a majority. That's a fairly powerful statement and really hurts Kerry. Gore in 2000 had the popular vote to fuel him, as though he deserved it. Kerry lost the country, the vote is against him, and trying to challenge OH while losing the country is much harder than the 2000 debacle. So Bush now has clear electoral legitimacy and a modest mandate for the war on terror.

I have to say, Bush does a lot of things I dislike, but I am glad he will stay on as President. Kerry offered no vision on foreign policy and no backbone except when his career as a politician was at stake. Kerry is a loser, hence he deserved to lose - it's only too bad he keeps his Senate seat. The Democrats are retarded for picking a guy because he seemed like he could win for a reason nobody could even pinpoint. *whap* Bad Democrats, bad. No more pork for you!

I hope Bush balances the budget and seeks to fix Social Security - I want out of it, personally, because Congress has no idea how to make money, only spend it. Mostly, I hope he takes his clearest mandate to heart: win the war on terror, Mr. President. It's your issue. Many people are really against gay marriage, but they voted for gay marriage bans in greater numbers than they voted for you. Your job is not to get a Federal Marriage Amendment passed. What aligns perfectly with the result is the polls showing that people trust YOU to run the war on terror, whatever they think of Iraq. I know you have my support here even if you didn't have my vote; democratize Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine, liberalize trade, and shed the light of freedom wherever the shadows of tyranny and hate remain.

Please win the war against Islamists that seek to harm us and kill innocent people of every nationality, faith and race. That's what the election really means; Americans trust you with their lives and the lives of our soldiers. Don't let us down.

---No More Daschle?!---

Well, in a fit of predictable weirdness, the Senate Minority Leader, Tom Daschle, has lost his seat in South Dakota. As a Democrat, it was hard to run in a state that went 60% for Bush in 2000 and 61% for him in 2004. Daschle ran touting Bush policies, the war, the tax cuts, and saying that it was "South Dakota's turn" and he could bring back plenty of money and prestige as their leader. Daschle was in charge during the disastrous 2002 mid-term along with Gephardt. He's gone, John Thune replaces him.

So who will succeed Daschle?

- Lieberman? Probably not, too widely seen as conservative - though he is in a safe seat.
- Biden? He was angling for an administration spot, maybe he'll go this route instead - he could help reassert the foreign policy street cred of the Democrats.
- Feingold? Not in a safe seat and often votes very independently.
- Reid? Swing state but easily re-elected there, but he's pro-life and won't rise above whip.
- Leahy? Maybe, kind of old and slow, but from a safe seat.
- Hillary? Big name recognition, fairly safe seat, but this is only her first term - maybe use it to set up for 2008 White House run?
- Schumer? He only just won his second term, but maybe - has a safe seat.

The next few weeks will be interesting with the Senate Democrats. Watch to see whom they pick and whether: 1) that state is swing, Bush or Kerry; 2) that Senator is moderate, big-spender or social liberal; 3) whether the posture is aggressive, threatening fillibuster, or partisan yet open to working together. Who knows just what they'll do, the Democrats suck at picking their leaders (Humphrey, McGovern, Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry; Bob Byrd, Daschle, etc.).

---Pot---

Marijuana was on the ballot on three states. Oregon and Montana had medical marijuana initiatives. Alaska had a decriminalization initiative to legalize the cultivation, use and sale of marijuana for those 21 and older, legalize doctors prescribing it even to children, and allow the state or localities to regulate it like tobacco and alcohol - including public use restriction. The Alaska amendment failed, unfortunately. As of right now, it's 57-43 with 82% reporting. The Oregon initiative failed as well, by almost the exact same margin that the gay marriage ban in the state passed. The Montana one passed, however! So hip hip hooray for those lucky soon-to-be-stiffs that can use pot.

The law lets patients and caregivers cultivate, possess and use limited amounts of marijuana by prescription for treatment of conditions causing chronic pain, seizures, severe muscle spasms. The specifically included conditions are cancer, glaucoma and HIV/AIDS, but others can be considered. This passed 62-38 with 87% reporting.

---The Clear Winner---

The real winner on Tuesday? Anti-gay marriage advocates. Every single state with a prohibition on gay marriage on the ballot passed it, often by strong supermajorities. Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio (this one banned civil unions, which the others did not do), Ohlahoma, Oregon and Utah. Clearly a lot of people don't like the idea of gay people getting married, at least using the name of the term, marriage. So where is it legal? Massachusetts and Vermont, both New England. Maybe it falls to New England to let gay people live their lives without social statements targeted against them being entered into constitutional documents.

Before the Civil War, only five states had black suffrage, all of them in New England. I think, as in the Revolution and in the Civil War, it falls to New England to lead the cause for freedom, democracy, and human dignity. Probably most people outside New England would disagree with me. So be it, I'm content for now to let them pass their social-statement amendments, however misguided I might consider it.

Maybe in ten or twelve years states will start adopting a New Hampshire-modeled marriage deregulation scheme, or a Maine-inspired marriage de-recognition policy (neither of which exists now). If we eliminate marriage as a government-sanctioned affair, then we end government abuse or discrimination on the issue. Circumcision, baptism and bar mitvahs aren't government-licensed, but in the Christian religion baptism is far more important to get into Heaven (in some denominations) and yet it's more or less entirely private and unlicensed. I don't need to see missionary proselytizing or something, I don't want to force them to accept my take on marriage (which isn't that it's okay to be gay, but rather that sex and love aren't the tasks of the state), but I do think New England seems to have better policies on the issue - for whatever reason.

---The Election's Role History---

What does this election mean historically? The GOP expanded its control of the Senate, likely to 55 seats, and made gains in the House. It held the White House in a heavily contested election. Taken in conjunction with other key facts, the GOP is in place as the much more powerful party in America - and not just because it won an election. The most popular politicians in America, int he eyes of moderates and independents, are Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Arnold Schwarzenegger - all Republicans. They are more moderate and more socially inclusive. They show that it's perfectly acceptable to be a Republican without being religious right.

They have the uber-popular Governor of California, the've had three terms of mayors of New York, they won a massive historical precedent by advancing their seats in 2002 (that happened once before, for the Democrats in 1934 after FDR). The Republicans have expanded their hold on the electorate, made their power known. They're not dramatically in charge like the Democrats during the New Deal or even post-new Deal, but they are clearly the preferred party for both the White House and the Congress. This goes against the traditional American logic of divided government.

Why did it happen? Because Americans HATE taxes (trust me, tax cuts are the lifeblood of the GOP) and because Americans trust Republicans to protect the country. Look at it from a long-view perspective. Cold War in 1979? Time to win it: Reagan 1980, Reagan 1984, Reagan 1988 (otherwise known as George H W Bush, thanks to that pesky 22nd Amendment). Cold War ends in 1989? Now it's the economy, stupid: Clinton 1992, Clinton 1996, and had Gore run more effectively as Clinton's successor then he might have gotten more than a slim popular victory. The public was split in 2000: both parties kinda suck, but Bush is a change and Clinton was tiresome. Then violence and conflict returns, the country is under attack. War on terror? Get the batards: GOP in 2002 and Bush in 2004.

It's not a rock-solid hypothesis, but clearly people want the Republicans to run foreign policy. That's why they break a maxim of politics that the President's party loses seats its first mid-term election (2002) and why it has little interest in divided government, so Bush has coattails in 2004 and bring in 6 GOP pickups (net of 4 pickups) to help him enact his policies. THe war on terror is Bush's issue and the GOP's issue. They can also have the economy if they do well and always tax cuts are fun, maybe some more work and politicking could reclaim education for the Republicans. But right now, in a time of conflict and danger, the country wants a Republican in there to go win.

When we zoom out, we see that, with Reagan in the 1980s and the 1994 GOP takeover, the 2002 and 2004 elections are part of a historic power shift between the parties. The GOP has the initiative for now, they have the power, they have the new ideas, they have the credibility to lead in foreign policy, and they offer all the most popular leaders. The GOP has held both chambers of Congress since 1994 (save a brief period after Jeffords' switch and a widespread punitive effect for the impeachment). But the margin of victory suggests that either they have a lot more to go or they have a short leash from voters. Ten or twenty years from now the trend will be easier to pass verdict on, but for now it's obvious: the GOP is on the ups right now, and they've been gaining ground since Reagan.

Where they go from here - more vibrant majority or punished minority - only the next few years will tell.

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