Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Grasping at Straws Here...

Yes, its historic.

But the notion that this election is a watershed, a marked and profound shift to the left seems like wishful thinking from the earnest fellow travellers on NPR and their lefty pals.

The Democratic margin was decisive but rather than attribute that to an ideological shift, I think it has more to do with the desire to give the incumbent a royal ass-pounding when times are hard.

I think any of the Republican candidates would have had a hard -- maybe impossible --time winning with President Bush in the White House, given that the popular dissatisfaction with President Bush is also historic. I've seen his approval rating as low as 17%, which is damn low.

Even though a lot of Red states like Indiana and VA went blue, and the Democrats built up a pretty big majority in the House and Senate. A look at some of the numbers is quite revealing: Obama got 52% of the popular vote, McCain got 47%. Clear victory for the Democrat, but a 7 million vote advantage is not a landslide. There was no huge black or youth turnout, both of which astonished me. The election seems to have been resolved by independents in the center.

Also, look at some of the Democrats who won this year: Louisiana sent Mary Landrieu back to the Senate. She may be a Democrat, but she's strong on national defense and a big supporter of the military. Not only that, Congressional Quarterly says she's one of the most moderate and bipartisan senators in that august body.

Montana sent Max Baucus back to the Senate (He's been there since 1978) He's strong on the Second Ammendment, (NRA gives him a B) national defense, wants to expand NATO, thinks the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are terrorists, wants to build a fence along the Mexican border.

Arkansas put Mark Pryor into the Senate. Pryor is a moderate to liberal libertarian in my view, although I don't know if he'd adopt that label himself. He has a mixed record on Abortion, supports the 2nd Ammendment. He favors open borders, but supports a strong military. Its a mixed bag, but he's no left-wing ideologue, thats for sure.

Kay Hagan kicked Liddy Dole out of her senate seat, but the notion that this represents some kind of drastic leftward shift is silly. Hagan is a left-leaning moderate who believes in the 2nd, supports privatizing social security and more federal funding for health care. She wants to expand the armed forces AND withdraw from Iraq.

Mark Udall. Well, this is where my argument breaks down a little. Udall is without doubt a hard core liberal. I really don't think much of Udall's record. He gets an F from the NRA, 83% from the AFL CIO, 100% from NARAL, and opposes the death penalty, wants to increase federal funding for health care etc. etc etc.

But maybe Udall is the exception that proves the rule. If there were a whole slew of Udalls waving the red banner of the resurgent proletariat from the steps of the capitol, you could convince me that there was a definite leftward shift, but that kind of nut isn't winning elections

Finally, lets look at some of the ballot initiatives: Gay folks are really taking a beating this year, which is sad, but hardly indicative of some great progressive groundswell.

The Arizonans, Floridians and the Californians seem to have voted to ban gay marriage. The citizens of Arkansas banned gays from adopting children. The Nebraskans voted to end affirmative action, and it looks like Colorado may do the same thing -- CNN has the vote at 50-50 as I type this.

Personally, I think its ridiculous to have the state take any position on who gets married, and I'd rather have our representatives and the apparatus of government spend its time thinking about other issues entirely.

But you just can't square these results with the notion that the USA has made a defiant jump to the left.

Edited to add: Here's another one: Heath Shuler was releected to the house in North Carolina's 11th District. Pro-choice, former pro football player, supporter of the 2nd ammendment, neutral on teacher led prayer. Yeah, this guy's a left wing nut, all right (sarcasm)


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