Thursday, November 09, 2006

Notes On The Election

I stared to write a blog about the election last night, while a number of races were still too close to call - specifically the U.S. Senate races in Missouri, Tennessee, Montana, and Virginia - but did not post it. Re-reading it now, I realize that most of it is no longer relevant - much of what I noted were real-time updates on those aforementioned Senate races, and a brief recap of the fact that the Dems had won the House, along with a lament that they would probably not also win the Senate.

What a difference nearly a day makes. Now the Dems have secured the Senate (Republican incumbent George Allen seems unlikely to request a recount in the tight Virginia race, as reported here by CNN) as well as the House, Donald Rumsfeld has resigned (more in a moment on why Bush should have waited to do this), and Nancy Pelosi is about to be installed as the Speaker of the House.

She will be the first woman ever to hold that post, and she will also become the most powerful woman in the history of the United States. I also like the fact that she is ultra-liberal (which sort of goes with the territory when you come from San Francisco). The results of yesterday’s election - though not as satisfying as ousting Bush from office would have been in 2004 - clearly spell the end of King George the Second’s “my way or the highway” style of running the show in Washington. There will hopefully be a return to a real system of checks and balances. It’s probably too much to expect that we will now move full steam ahead on truly practical and progressive issues like embryonic stem-call research, gay marriage, universal health care, energy independence, environmental activism, and gun control - but it’s a step in the right direction.

But back to Rumsfeld for a moment. Clearly, the White House had planned this response in the case of a major win by the Dems last night; and it’s the right thing to do, of course, as Rumsfeld has just become downright dotty in his dotage, and is no longer fit to manage anything more taxing than, say, a rural Dairy Queen. Why just pull the trigger on it like that, though? Bush has got nothing else to lose - he has no more elections himself, and Congress will be in the hands of the Dems for the remainder of his time in office.

He could have made those Dems in Congress fight for it, could have made them expend some of their “political capital” (remember how Bush used that phrase after he was re-elected?) on getting done something that was going to be done anyway. Surely there are still some gun-toting hilljacks sitting Boo Radley-style behind deadbolted doors in shacks somewhere in the backwoods of Montana or the foothills of Colorado, who still think that Rumsfeld is the right man for the job. Bush could have “stayed the course” on his embattled Secretary of Defense and forced the Dems to get nasty from the start - because you know they would have gone for Rumsfeld as soon as all the oaths had been taken and the new leaders been confirmed by chamber vote.

I don’t really believe Bush has had a change of heart and decided to play nice now that the American people have finally cuckolded him; and so I am at a loss on this one. Maybe he’s throwing the Dems a bone? Saying, look, here’s something I’ll do for you. Would you maybe consider not raping me in the butthole for the next two years?

Around Indiana, it seems as though about sixty ballot data cards were lost last night, after the polls closed - which explains why some races are still not decided. One of those races is for State Representative in Indiana House District 89, which is the district I live in, and for which office John Barnes, who taught me U.S. History during first period my junior year in high school, is running. Mr. Barnes is running against an entrenched Republican incumbent who refused to debate John Barnes all throughout the summer. The House Republican Congressional Committee - here’s a bunch of scumbags who should have been in the World Trade Center on September 11th, on some floor above where the planes hit* - ran ads saying John Barnes was “wrong on education,” despite the fact that he has been a teacher for twenty-eight years in Warren Township. (These ads are separate from the ones that Larry Buell ran - those ads were not offensive and did not mention his opponent.)

At any rate, that race is still up in the air, with 16 precincts still out there, the results of which are presumably out there among the lost data cards (of which 20 were reported by WISH-TV on tonight’s 11 o’clock news to be still outstanding). Those results could include my votes. My vote for John Barnes. I suppose they will be found one day - and hey, maybe next year when we vote for Mayor, the election will run smoothly. At least there’s a chance of it, as our hapless Clerk of the Circuit Court, Doris Anne Sadler, is moving on to bigger and better things; she is term-limited, thank goodness, and her days of botching elections - at least in this county - are over.

The next few paragraphs are my thoughts from last night that are still vaguely relevant today - to the extent that any of my wacky ramblings on this blog might be thought of as relevant.

Unfortunately, however, there are not more seats going to Democrats in both chambers of Congress. No matter how you look at it, the war in Iraq is a disaster—whether you agreed with it in principle three years ago and have come to change your mind in the time since as you have watched it turn more and more into the kind of quagmire that Vietnam was, or whether you were completely against it from the outset—but there is something much worse than the fact that President Bush and his war hawks do not have a clear plan to right the ship in Iraq. What’s worse is that they don’t seem to understand why their plan has not worked.

“You’ve fallen victim to one of the classic blunders - the most well known of which is, never get involved in a land war in Asia!” So says Vizzini in The Princess Bride, when he thinks he has bested Westley in a game of wits with the princess as the prize.

There are still way too many people in this country who are afraid, to one degree or another, about things and people that are not plain old white bread American; and that’s why Republicans go to the polls on election day. There are also too many people who think that their voices won’t be heard, that the way they think is no longer relevant in the increasingly conservative United States; and that’s why so many Democrats stay home on election day.

Once upon a time, back in college, I would have loudly upbraided a former roommate of mine for spending as much time as I am now doing analyzing election results. I sit here at my computer, while most people are sleeping, anxiously reloading the CNN web pages over and over and over again, waiiting to see if Congress will go to the Dems. Why not wait until morning and check again, you might ask? Because this is important to me, and I want to know now. I want to know as soon as it happens. Because issues matter, and the way we treat people matters, and the way we comport ourselves as Americans to the rest of the world matters. Because I’m older, too, I guess. I have a wife, a mortgage, and a baby on the way. On the tropic isle of Avalon, in circa 1993 Bloomington, Indiana, I would never have imagined this.

I also never would have imagined myself without my ponytail, but like they say in those commercials, though I don’t recall what the commercials are for - life comes at you fast.

* - Yes, this is harsh. It’s also an exaggeration. Of course I do not wish that anyone else had been in those buildings on that day. But I do think that the kind of people who run the ads that were run this election season by BOTH the Republican House Congressional Committee (local and national) and the Democratic House Congressional Committee (local and national) should have something done to them to get it through their fucking heads that those kinds of ads just don’t belong in the public discourse. I know. Let’s use an example of capital punishment George Carlin joked about on one of his records (Back In Town, I think it was) - you dip a guy in brown gravy and lock him in a small room with a wolverine that’s high on angel dust. Feel free to send me your ideas, too. We’ll publish the best ones in a future issue of our happy little newsletter.

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