November 06, 2010

Election Post-mortem Rant

Much frustration all around this week, though the writing has been on the wall for months. This stuff has been stewing in my head all week and while some of it is probably irrational, and just wanted to dump these thoughts...

One of the biggest thing that's pissed me off in the election postmortems this week is that I feel no one is hitting on the uncomfortable truth behind one of the common ad subjects used by the Republicans (and a few Democrats) this year: Nancy Pelosi. Has anyone really tried to see what about her gets conservatives' hackles up? I *can* buy the argument that she is emblematic of the Democrats now unpopular (more on that in a minute) health care and progressive agendas and I can see running against them. But what do voters really know about Pelosi, other than that she is liberal? I listened to a long NPR postmortem this week and they chalked it up to Pelosi being a classic 'limousine liberal', due to the fact that she's from a coast, was born into money, and her husband is supposedly very wealthy. But how many people know this? Maybe it's well known withing the Republican echo chamber, but my impression is that those who aren't rabid Rush/Hannity/etc. listeners know three things about Pelosi: she's fairly liberal, she's a woman, and she's from San Francisco. Given those last two things, is there no surprise that so many Republicans ran on a "Let's defeat Pelosi" agenda and featured her prominently in their ads? It was a perfect campaign for them, as they could run against the Democratic accomplishments while simultaneously dog-whistling sexists against women and the strongly-correlated homophobes with those unspoken 'San Francisco values' that she represents. But I guess I shouldn't be surprised that no one is going to that well - it was clear in the 2008 primary that racism >>> sexism as a thing to get outraged about and even then there will be a whole lot of bloviating when the card is played.

I've also been a (little) upset at a lot of the treatment of the Tea Party, from the media and the parties. I strongly disagree with them and they fielded some pretty terrible candidates in several races, most notably Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell. But I don't think it's enough to write off the movement as a whole bunch of nutjobs that may be trouble for the Republicans. I think that the parties aren't taking the right message from them. To the GOP the message taken is "you're not conservative enough", and elements of it could drag them to the right in governmental process (though I don't really see it). But the overriding message, which Democrats also failed to seize on, was "anyone but you", and it surprises me that the Tea Party didn't come up with better candidates all around. Maybe I'm just sad that the seeds for a yet another possibly viable third party in this system are going to be crushed yet again by the heel of corporate, hyperpartisan government.

The last but of this is the Democrats. It absolutely disgusts me that what we can hang our hats on is the fact that Harry Reid, who has been completely spineless, ineffective, and useless as the Senate majority leader, hung on while a far more principled guy like Russ Feingold lost big in his race. All in all, the Onion summed it up best with "Democrats: If We're Gonna Lose, Let's Go Down Running Away From Every Legislative Accomplishment We've Made". Seriously, if the Democrats showed some spine and actually mounted a reasonable defense of their programs and policies, especially on health care, stimulus, and the bank/GM bailouts, they would have gotten some respect from voters. Instead, by running away from their agenda they allowed the Republicans to reframe the debate away from the "We were elected in a landslide in 2006/2008 on these things" instead of signaling that everything they did somehow wrong and and deceptive. If you're going to go through the trouble to spend all this political capital you earned in your last two elections you should fucking stand by it and explain why you did it. One of the things that drove me craziest in this cycle was the Democrats not harping on the fact that all the bailout money was or will soon be repaid (with interest), the stimulus was nearly half tax cuts, and health care will keep the debt from spiraling up even more (and health care in general is still polling positively). Oddly enough, the legislation that seemed to completely disappear from the conversation was the banking and credit card reform that was passed by the government. I don't really see how anyone who thinks the Democrats didn't go far enough in regulating Wall Street would vote for the deregulatory Republicans who got us into this mess in the first place. It's not like the Tea Party was running on that platform either.

I'll end on this, posted by James to one of my facebook venting threads.

It has nothing to do with left vs. right, liberal vs. conservative, or any other idiotic label that Americans throw around without thinking. We just had another election in this country that had absolutely zero substance. Not one candidate discussed the two wars that are draining our economy. Not one candidate addressed the issue of torture that has and is continuing in various parts of the world. Not one candidate addressed any of the structural problems that caused our manufacturing base to erode. Not one candidate described how he or she would prosecute corporate criminals (i.e., the Enrons, banksters, and BPs of this world), or what specific legislation they would pursue to prevent these crimes from happening in the future.
Not one candidate described in any substantial way how they would fix health care, education, lack of public transportation, pollution, mounting income inequalities, or any other issue that actually matters to real human beings. All we get from political candidates from all parties is ignorant quotes that are devoid of all meaning; real gems like "I believe in small government", "I am not a witch", and (now I'm paraphrasing) "I am not qualified for this job, but hey ya'll, at least I'm an account, and not a lawyer like my opponent."

America. Fuck Yeah. :(


Frank said...

I definitely agree with you.

On Pelosi -- I voted for her and cheerfully support her, but I think her critics are right that she is in some ways a Democratic version of Tom DeLay. I don't think she does anything unethical (in gross contrast to DeLay) but she kind of is about twisting people's arms to get everyone on board with the party's agenda.