Wednesday, November 08, 2006

33: Post-mortem the Third: But seriously, Boo Ya.


It was a beautiful thing.

Last night I was thinking back on my political experiences over the years...

2004 wasn't quite a total bust. After the heartbreak of 2000, I had steeled myself for nights like this. My wife, who was then my fiancee, threw a party where we watched the results tick in as it drizzled outside. She made breakfast food for us: hash browns, pancakes, scrambled eggs, omelettes, sausage, and bacon. Coffee and pop. Fifteen or sixteen people packed into that tiny yellow apartment, and we were energized and unified in dismay. It was depressing, but the depression of solidarity.

In 2002 I was in Dress for a play. That was the year I scarcely followed, and may have even forgotten to vote. All I remember was I was on about two hours of sleep, and didn't really understand what was going on.

2000 was the worst. But you already knew that.


My first election memory was the Bush win over Dukakis in 1988. A few days or weeks before the election, when the handwriting was on the wall, I remember my parents were very upset about the outcome as we were driving home cross-state. I remember thinking this really matters to people. And I'm glad I experienced that moment, because then I knew the value of what I felt in 1992.

I don't know that I've had such a feeling of political triumph since 1992, as I have today.

So here's the bad news on the other side. The Bush administration appreciates, I am sure, what a compromising position it has gotten itself into. Tentative Republicans point to Bush's bipartisan successes in the past, but that was before he had spent six years vocally advocating the positions most alienating to the other side. Bush, Sr. was a moderate Republican. Reagan was more of a hard-liner, but he knew how to appear moderate, and that served him well. Bush has proudly played his connections to the Christian Right, to Corporate America, in short to all of the groups who by their very mission and constituency are unwilling to compromise on any bullet issues. All this will count heavily against him at he tries to work with the new Congress.

Add to that the fact that many of these new senators and congressmen were elected specifically to check the Bush administration, and won for exactly that reason. Now they have to prove their platform to their constituency... by visibly checking him.

Add to that the fact that much of the Republican party has distanced themselves from Bush in the last few months, since they finally saw the writing on the wall. Many Republican congressmen ran ads showing their (generally overstated) distance from Bush policies. They, too, are now in the position of having to visibly check the president.

Add to that the fact that the Bush administration now has to eat its words regarding Democrats "measuring the drapes," having already permanently retired the phrase "stay the course." Expect more along these lines.

Add to that that the Republicans have been unable to deliver on abortion, social security, and immigration. This means that while the G.O.P. and Bush in particular has alienated moderates and independents, they've also lost the bedrock of support that has sustained them thus far.

Last but not least, add the weight of the transfer to the Democrats. Not only did they all but sweep their hopes in the House and Senate, but they picked up six gubernatorial spots. Even beyond this, they directly benefited in a number of other races. That is, conservative ballot measures (see last post) certainly slid past. But if someone is also voting for, say, Probate Court or Board of Education, your average voter will know very little about these positions, and is likely to continue along party lines. Thus, in Michigan, for example, all of the trustee positions for public universities went Democratic, which will be of great importance in providing pressure for state funding over private support.

The Bush administration knows how badly it is screwed now. I think they thought they could squeeze through two whole terms by exploiting pure xenophobia... but xenophobia is a shock. It is a gut reaction that eventually wears off and leaves us numb.

What does that mean for the Democrats?


Next post.

Oh yeah. This just in: Rumsfeld Resigns.



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