Wednesday, November 08, 2006

31: Election Post-Mortem the First: Doubts and Recriminations.


Inasmuch as there's plenty of good news today -- more, perhaps more than we dared to expect -- and I do have misgivings about some of what went down yesterday, but don't want to rain on anyone's parade... I'm going to just collect all of my negative thoughts in one place.

This post is unhappy. The next post will be happier.

While I am proud to be an American today... more proud, certainly, than I've been in years, I am nevertheless deeply disappointed by my own state and by the Midwest in general. While Democrats were swept into congress from East to West, and on the coasts this translated at times into true progressive momentum, overall, peoples' minds haven't changed all that much. The country is still very conservative, broadly speaking, and this whole election has had to do more with one inept administration and its failed pet project than with the battery of issues and initiatives facing the country today.

Don't get me wrong; I believe that, right now, compromising our opponents' position is progress and any progress is good.

Still, I have to say on the whole, that I feel a bit of shame as a Michigander today:

Why? We did reelect our Democratic governor and U.S. Senator. That's what last night was all about, right?

Not entirely. There were a host of ballot initiatives and state offices up for grabs, and here, despite its fine congressional performance, there was a lot left to be desired in the Midwest:

· Michigan reelected an Attorney General who won't comment on the transparent issue of stores using poison gas to disguise rancid meat.
· Wisconsin became the most recent state in the Midwest to prohibit same-sex marriage, and that without any provision for civil unions or the allowance of marriage rights to same-sex couples.
· Missouri declined to constitutionally protect stem-cell research, evidently stomaching its vote despite an aggressive PR campaign getting out the word that cells are not harvested at abortion clinics, and the additional mockery of the Limbaugh debacle.

All three of these states held their Democratic congressional seats, and two picked up seats. Yet these three unambiguously conservative items passed by large margins. It all goes to show that the voters that swung this election voted Democrat not out of a transitioning perspective on social progress, but more out of economic fear and curmudgeonry.

I'm used to defending the Midwest against New York liberals on a semi-daily basis. They claim that the Midwest is a nest of unreasonable conservatism and flyover country. I argue, emphatically, that the Midwest is complex and highly populated, a site of nuanced regional affiliations and difficult economic overspecialization... everything, I argue, must be viewed in context, and context shows that the Midwest can and will rise to the occasion politically. But New York just swept a reformer into gubernatorial office, and independent candidates are gaining further traction throughout the Northeast, largely due to a combination of common-sense economics and live-and-let-live policies. Boy, do I feel dumb.


· Michigan voted by two-to-one to repeal Affirmative Action considering race and gender from all state supported offices and institutions. This is Michigan, a state with cities so blighted (Detroit, Flint, Benton Harbor, Saginaw, Muskegon) that they top every list in the nation for crime and povery. Even Genesee County, whose county seat of Flint was ranked third for violent crime this year voted in favor of repealing. The only counties to buck the trend were Ingham and Washtenaw (where MSU and U of M, who will be hugely affected, are located) and Wayne (Detroit).
· Michigan also voted two-to-one to not allow mourning dove hunting.

I am reminded of my gripe with Debbie Stabenow. Namely, Proposal 2 (Affirmative Action) is my issue. That's what has me upset. I really have little opinion on the second measure on its own. But it's interesting to take a look at the contradiction that emerges when we see one bill passed that takes away a form of protection from human beings and another passes that extends protection to a bird that many legitimately consider a pest. It is interesting to consider the large number of voters (as proven by the figures) who voted on their own ballot to both repeal Affirmative Action and protect doves.

Mourning doves, as I've said before, are pigeons with white feathers.

I guess you still qualify for special treatment in Michigan, so long as you're white.

UPDATE: There were a couple errors in this post. In the final count, Missouri did vote to protect stem cell research. And it is worth pointing out that Genesee County, to my great pleasure, passed a property tax that effectively amounts to Universal Health Care. Perhaps I should say then, that I meaintain the reservations I post here, but that things aren't maybe as bleak as I first thought.



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