Yesterday's TRUE Meaning and Silver Lining (11/4/09)

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Yesterday's TRUE Meaning and Silver Lining (11/4/09)

Postby Ferguson Foont » Wed Nov 04, 2009 11:17 am

Republicans swept into gubernatorial office yesterday in Virginia and New Jersey (those who crow about taking three offices in Virginia are evidently so ignorant, or so deliberately deceptive, that they are unaware that those three offices constitute a "ticket" in Virginia and only rarely, and only in VERY close elections, are they ever split between parties).

Michael Bloomberg was reelected, but by a shockingly thin margin, to be Mayor of New York City, but had to spend such an enormous amount of his own money to buy his reelection that it can hardly be considered a Democratic defeat (particularly since Bloomberg is no longer a Republican).

On the other hand, Democrats took the House seat in a highly conservative district in New York state that hasn't sent a Democrat to congress in living memory. Another House race was won by the Democrat in California. A gay marriage bill passed in Washington state, although a similar law already enacted was repealed in Maine even as Maine voted to greatly expand the legalization of marijuana for a far wider range of medicinal purposes (social right-wingers up there must be REALLY confused!). Democrats took all the major mayoral seats up for grabs yesterday except for New York.

So, despite all the Republican crowing, yesterday's results were decidedly mixed. One would normally think that any implied rejection of Obama would be demonstrated in races for national office, all of which went Democratic and the Democrats INCREASED their majority in the House of Representatives.

Creigh Deeds ran a very weak campaign that in some ways appeared to be sabotaged from within. For example, when he attacked McDonnell's outrageously strident anti-abortion views, his ad stated "Creigh Deeds will protect a woman's right to abortion." No sensible Democrat would word it way, saying rather that "Creigh Deeds will strive to protect a woman's right to make her own family planning decisions," and it almost seems as if the Deeds ad was crafted deliberately to inflame the hearts of the religious right, still strong in the southern parts of the state.

But I am not one to deny that Obama's performance thus far had a marked effect on the Virginia race (less so in New Jersey, where the issue was Corzine's drunken driving and somewhat overblown record of corruption). Turnout in Virginia was astonishingly low. McDonnell won with 1,159,003 votes, 566,002 (or a whopping 49%) FEWER votes than John McCain received in 2008 despite spending nearly as much during the race. This can hardly be an indication that Virginia is embracing the Republican Party. Furthermore, the whole thrust of McDonnell's campaign (as well as that of Ken Cuccinelli, the Attorney General victor) was to conceal their right-wing records and opinions and portray themselves as bipartisan moderates, a serious bit of deception that Creigh Deeds was unfortunately insufficiently funded to reveal.

Obama's strongest influence on this race was the dulling effect his quest for bipartisanship has had on the Democratic base. We in that base feel somewhat betrayed, as if even the victories we have striven so hard to achieve turn out to be defeats, through endless cycles of compromise and accommodation of our political adversaries. Obama's economic team and its Wall Street, Goldman Sachs-centrism, complete with the massive "rich get richer" policies toward banks and investment houses who refuse to respond to public needs, is the single most important failure. Health care, of course, has had a great impact on our residual zeal, and our continued wars and the persistent right-wing attitude of the Department of Justice on many issues including gay rights and surveillance, cause our hearts to sink in a sea of dismay.

Virginia, of course, always votes for the opposite party of the president elected in the previous year, and has done so for half a century (since John F. Kennedy). The election in Virginia comes when a new president's approval is at its lowest ebb, late in the transition where results are beginning to be expected but are not yet possible to achieve, and so supporters of the party in power are becoming disheartened at the seeming lack of progress. And so we see now. We may be seeing it more severely now because Obama brought such strong hopes that have yet to be realized.

So much of the Democratic base in Virginia (and I suspect in New Jersey) sat on its hands yesterday. The result, unfortunately, will be an unmitigated disaster for Virginia similar to that George W. Bush wreaked on America. Bob McDonnell, a creature molded by Pat Robertson, is actually worse than Bush in many ways, and Ken Cuccinelli is, believe it or not, significantly worse than John Ashcroft or even Alberto Gonzales.

There is a silver lining in all this. The Glenn Beck/Rush Limbaugh wing of the party will crow not only over its victory in Virginia but about its demonstration of power to cause a Republican congressional defeat in New York if it isn't kowtowed to pointedly. Any reasonable, moderate Republicans will be thoroughly cowed and will face defeat in primaries, resulting in a much "purer" set of arch-rightwingers against whom we Democrats will run in 2010. These people may be powerful within the Republican party but they constitute only a very small part of the electorate overall, and will be easy pickin's if we can run a decent slate of candidates ourselves and if we make good progress toward our DEMOCRATIC goals, most particularly economic recovery and universal health care.

Obama needs to learn a lesson from this, but the lesson is NOT that he needs to move to the right. We on the LEFT are the majority and we DISAPPROVE of his administration's compromising moderation, which has gotten us nowhere. We won last year and we demand to be allowed to enjoy the fruits of our victory, fruits that include such things as increased prosperity, improved job outlooks, universal health care, and peace. If Barack Obama continues his accommodation of our political foes we will show our disapproval of it by displaying an impenetrable apathy -- why SHOULD we care if nobody cares about us and if we lose even when we win? We want to see the Republicans steamrolled, not catered to and offered apologies, and when we roll over them we in the base will respond with our great and loyal enthusiasm. Otherwise we'll stay home and the other guys will run us, and all America and indeed the world, to ruin.
Republicans whine and Republicans bitch: "Our rich are too poor, and our poor are too rich."
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