Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Election Analysis Analysis

There's more than enough of the first part of that around, and quite a bit of the other. So just a few comments, links, and observations.

I'm usually not fond of Maureen Dowd, and her column today is poorly focused, but a couple of bits are good.
The Speaker-in-waiting sounded the alarm: the elites in the White House were snuffing out the America he grew up in. It only took two years to realize that their direction for the country was simply, as he put it, “a contradiction with the vast majority of Americans.”

No one gets to take America away from Americans — not even the American president!

“What the American people were saying is ‘Enough!’ ” the Speaker-to-be told me, as he savored his own win and his party’s landslide, which he said was “a historical tide, not just a partisan election.”

Washington had not been listening. Washington had been scorning the deepest beliefs of Americans. And now that would have to change.

“American people are clearly fed up with what they see as the decay of American society,” he declared.

The new leader of the House took a more black-and-white approach than the nuanced president. It’s enshrined in the Declaration of Independence that you need the consent of the governed and the governed did not consent.
And that leader of the House turns out to be...Newt Gingrich. Lots of implied messages in this, and I'm happy to leave them implied for now.

Karen Tumulty's commentary overlaps somewhat with Dowd's.
So you would think that, by now, politicians in Washington would have gotten the message: They must be doing something wrong.
The problem here is that neither Tumulty nor the electorate has defined what it is that politicians in Washington are doing wrong. Breathing, perhaps; also legislating. But the vote yesterday was for gridlock, which is one of the things that the commentariat and the Tea Party demagogues are fond of identifying as What Washington Is Doing Wrong. I have an unhappy hunch that an alternative reading of one of the adjectival phrases toward the end of Dowd's quote may be what far too many people feel is being done wrong.

Then there's the question of what Republicans intend to do with their majority in the House, other than investigate President Obama's birth certificate and call for more defense spending and tax cuts to decrease the deficit. E. J. Dionne reminds us of Senator Mitch McConnell's recent mission statement for the Republican Party:
the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.
I think this needs to be kept before the public. Maybe a bumpersticker would help.

Mark Schmitt (via Ezra Klein) also wonders what the Republican's program will be. They certainly haven't told us, although there has been a great deal of frothing at the mouth at a number of non-issues, along with ominous silences about the social issues that may well be what is driving some of the Tea Partisans.

But now the Republicans have a chance to show us what they're about (not that we didn't see that 2001-2009), and, with any luck, prepare the way for Obama's easy win in 2012.

Just a small personal note. I served as an election clerk yesterday, fourteen busy hours. Our precinct had a 67% turnout; it usually does well. With four precincts voting in the gym we were located in, for some reason, we were selected for poll-watching by both the Democratic and Republican parties. The watchers occasionally drifted around the room, but homed back on us. Apparently Republican poll-watchers were a problem in New Mexico. Ours was not, although she erupted twice with what she thought were challenges, but which turned out to be the usual sorts of complications that can easily be dealt with by experienced poll workers. Before I read that link, I was thinking that perhaps yesterday could be a learning experience for Republicans who believe that election fraud is rife. If they were watching our polls, they would have seen a professional operation with nobody attempting any funny business. But we're seeing that belief far too often overrides observation.

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