Good. Evil. Bratwurst.

Thoughts I thought

Posted on by arlen

…as I waited into the night.

1) It didn’t take long for the Wisconsin voters to show they hadn’t been taken in by an empty suit. Feingold by a hefty margin. It could have been an interesting race had Feingold’s opponent had more than one firing synapse. It was like watching a badly written AI attempting the Turing Test; the answers the challenger gave were knee-jerk, doctrinaire, anything but challenging. And, as a final desperate measure, showing just how out of touch he is with Wisconsin voters, he runs last-minute ads attacking Feingold for being, of all things, a Maverick. You’re running for office in the state of Bob Lafollette and William Proxmire, and you choose to brand your opponent as (gasp) a maverick? That’s like offering to double every vote he would normally get.

2) (Extension of #1) Businessmen don’t understand politics. They understand telling people to do something. They believe that’s all you need to do in government, as well. They understand getting people to buy in to a project by offering to pay them. But they just don’t understand how to get people to buy into a project by getting them to like it, or believe in it. And because they don’t understand it, they downplay the importance of the skills. And so they lose, or are ineffective in office.

3) Our Lady Of The Florida Ballot Box could learn a lot from the Ohio Secretary of State. The man avoided the rampaging bulls of the press corps with the grace, skill, and artistry of a matador. He kept to the facts, and left opinion to the reporters. A man with a cool head in trying circumstances. Bodes well for the upcoming counts (and recounts).

4) Favorite scenario of the Night: Larry King’s observation that if Bush won Ohio and Kerry ran the rest of the board, the 269-all tie might be broken by the faithless elector from West Virginia. (Note to partisan attack dogs. “Faithless” is not a value judgement. It is the precisely correct technical term, which has been used since time immemorial to describe the electors who choose, for whatever reason, not to vote the way the people in their state voted.) It was actually the scenario I went to bed hoping I would find when I awoke, but Nevada (5 electoral votes) let me down.

5) Whoever is finally adjudged the winner (my odds favor Bush, the Ohio ballots would have to split at something over 70-30 for Kerry to gain enough ground) will announce a mandate, when of course, none exists. Bush did not manage to hold the staes he won in 2000, despite the improved popular vote total, showing a relative loss of confidence in his leadership, which will definitely not be recognized by him or anyone close to him. Kerry’s loss of the popular vote tally would prove no mandate for him, but it likewise would go unacknowledged.

6) Poetry is dead. The most poetic finish would have been for Bush, who came into office by losing the popular vote but winning the electoral vote, to go out by winning the popular vote while losing the electoral vote. It’s still possible, but as I explained in #5, I doubt its likelihood.

7) Ohio is not Florida. They have a Secretary of State who acts like a statesman, not a politician. They have clear, binding guidelines written specifically to cover the situation we are in, and even have experience in handling it. I may not find their decision to my taste, but so far it looks as if it will satisfy me that the people will have been heard.

8) If, as others have maintained, we are to remain a two-party system, I want two different parties. I no longer believe a decent election is possible so long as these are the major parties. I think also they’ve become too focused on doing down the other guy to be able to govern adequately. Both have adopted a scorched-earth policy, conveniently forgetting that the earth they are scorching is where they will have to live after the votes are counted. Governing requires compromise; “death-before-dishonor” types should go into the military, where they belong. Reform Party? Green Party? Consitution Party? At least one of you is going to have to step up and deliver us from the hell we the voters have created for ourselves.

9) McCain-Feingold has become endangered by its success. It chased the dangerous money out of the candidate’s hands into the 527’s. (BTW, despite what you’ve heard, M-F did not create the 527’s. They just became the vehicle of choice for the money that used to come into the system through the holes it closed.). Now people are wondering if the money wasn’t better handled by the candidates. Round 2 needs to take the 527’s down a peg or six. I’d favor adding a “truth content” requirement to 527 ads, similar to commercial speech requirements, with a conviction for violating it being enough to effectively take them off the air for the election season, and possibly the next one as well. Looking for an honest ad among the 527’s this season was a task even Diogenes would reject.

10) We need Henry Clay, and all we’re being offered is more Alexander Hamiltons. If he doesn’t turn up soon, we’re doomed.

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November 2004
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