Well, that sucked. Yes, working in elections means you have to lose once and a while. I will grumble and complain but I understand it’s the will of the electorate and I will not talk down to the electorate or complain that this election was stolen. They won it fair and square. I just don’t have to like it.
There is going to be a great deal of digital ink trying to explain this election. Just as the 2008 and 2006 tsunamis were many different things to many different people, so will this election be a Rorschach test to those who look at it. Here’s my take, with a couple of caveats.
This is not a tell-all about the Jean Melious campaign. Sorry, but no. Jean was and is a fabulous candidate and it was simply a joy to work for her. She has not yet decided what she wants to do next, politically, so I’m not going to tip my hand other than say I am proud of the campaign we ran. Jean was by far the most qualified candidate and I am deeply disappointed that the County Council will not have her voice for the next year.
Likewise, I now have a pretty good grasp on the numbers game and why some races turned out the way they did. But seeing as I am also a political businessman, I don’t want to give away my proprietary software, as it were. I have a very good idea of what changed and where. This article will speak to a couple of broad themes.
Let’s talk about the Tea Party. Now I know within the Democrats there is a big discussion about whether to reject or embrace the Tea Party. Let me tell you, the Tea Party is rarely going to vote for Democrats. They are social and fiscal conservatives, and even when there is a fiscally conservative candidate in the race who happens to be a Democrat, they are going to go with the Republican. According to surveys, their main news source is Fox News, which means they are not even dealing with the same facts as someone who reads the New York Times or listens to NPR.
That said, there is something very important to be realized about the Tea Party. Their core value is fairness. That’s what all this outrage is about. They want to be the enforcers of Karma. Right now, they see the Obama administration as blocking the natural course of Karma. When GM failed, he bailed them out rather than letting them die. When the auto sales industry tanked, he offered up Cash for Clunkers to encourage sales rather than encouraging people to wait till they could afford it on their own. His health care plan is built around making sure everyone is covered to drive down the costs, rather than letting those who didn’t plan ahead be punished with a big hospital bill.
On many levels, I can understand that. It’s a solid intellectual position.We all want to believe in fairness and equality. However, it breaks down when they get to the social stuff. You were raped so you deserve to get pregnant, having an abortion would be cheating. You choose to engage in homosexual behavior so you deserve second class citizenship.
This is where I get off the train. You are not dealing out Karma; you are refusing to look at the situation from their shoes. No one chooses to be gay or to get raped. No one chooses to get a life-threatening disease, and many of my friends can’t afford to get health insurance. What about those factory workers in GM? Should they lose their jobs because the CEO was terrible at his job? Empathy, it comes back to empathy.
This year, the national message was all about Karma. Olympia has a spending problem; those elites don’t know what it is like here on the ground. As their candidates repeated throughout the campaign, these decisions have consequences for people’s lives.
Never mind that the stimulus was the largest tax cut in the history of the United States. Or that you can no longer be refused healthcare for having acne. People were still reeling from the recession and this message truly spoke to them. Yeah, they don’t think about us, they just do these things (health care/candy tax/balance budget/zoning changes) and they have no clue the damage they cause.
Everyone has been hurt at some point by the government. That’s how it works. An organization that is involved in so many levels of your life pisses you off eventually. It’s just bound to happen. Everyone has a story of someone who got touched in a bad way by the government. This was their message and it worked like a dream.
And as usual, the Dems response was inadequate. Like I mentioned, I’m talking nationally here. Rather than run on their numerous legislative accomplishments, they ran away from them. They ran away from the president and their party. I don’t mind when a few of them do it (seriously, if you are running in Kentucky, I would expect you to.) But when so many refuse to talk about the good work they have done, there is a deafening silence. This silence was filled with noise and fury.
Bill Maher made a very good point recently. There is a difference between a disappointing friend and a deadly enemy. The parties’ labels are appropriate. The Democrats are a “D” which is the grade you get in school when you are just good enough not to be failing, but utterly disappointing. The Republicans are an “R”, which is the sound a pirate makes before he robs you blind.
Joking aside, I am curious what the Republicans will do now that they are in power. Will they try to push their legislative goals, like the Democrats did for the last 21 months? Or will they bring up a never-ending string of nonsensical “scandals” to try and score political points.
Next week, I will discuss the Republican’s obsession with the Executive Branch, and why the Democrats keep falling for the same tricks over and over.