The “Transcendent” Elections of November 2009
My vote for Andy McKenna in November 2010 for governor (assuming he is the Republican candidate), means I am registering my disapproval of President Obama, right? My, albeit somewhat basic, analysis of that vote is that I would be registering disapproval for Pat Quinn (assuming he’s the candidate). Aren’t these races for governor more about the candidates, their policies, and local politics, rather than a national consensus on whether people agree more with the politics of the left or right?
I understand the national GOP needs a rallying cry. A year ago November, the national Republican party was effectively banished into the political wilderness. But RNC Chairman Michael Steele calling Republican wins for governor in New Jersey and Virginia “transcendent” is a bit of overstatement, don’t you think? Transcendent is defined by Dictionary.com as “going beyond ordinary limits; surpassing; exceeding.” If the election of two republican governors in Virginia and New Jersey is “going beyond ordinary limits” then Michael Steele is doing a horrific job. Recall, Chairman Steele, that democrats have solid majorities in both houses of Congress, control of the White House (with, as of November 2009, no viable challenger in 2012), and less people are calling themselves Republicans today than within the last 30 years. Democrats actually picked up two seats in the House of Representatives. The open war of the party in New York state is probably a better example of what is going on within the GOP: conservatives vs. moderates engaged in open war.
In New York’s 23rd district, a GOP moderate, picked by the local party, was criticized for being too liberal because she supports a woman’s right to choose (among other things), necessitating conservatives bring in an outsider. That outsider, Doug Hoffman, did not live in the district and admitted to the local paper’s editorial board that he doesn’t have a grasp on local issues and called those local issues “parochial.” Outsiders affiliated with the tea parties came in against the local GOP nominee Didi Scozzafava. In the days before the election, Scozzafava dropped out of the race, citing her inability to raise funds, and put her support behind the democrat, Bill Owens, who went on to win a congressional seat that has been in the hands of Republicans since Reconstruction. Some areas of NY 23 have been in Republicans hands since the forming of the GOP in the 1850s. The loss of that seat probably has bigger implications for the national GOP than the race for governor in New Jersey.
On the other hand, to blow off democratic defeats in New Jersey and Virginia the way the democratic party is spinning it also would be a disservice to their party. On Wednesday after the elections, citing New York’s 23rd District, Nancy Pelosi said that the elections were a win for democrats. That, is a flat out lie. Losses do not help the democratic agenda– including passing a health care reform bill, against opposition from Republicans. Tuesday’s results will make it more difficult to get representatives from more conservative districts to support any bill– let alone one with a public option. If Nancy Pelosi doesn’t consider Tuesday’s results a problem in terms of getting health care passed and democratic chances in future elections, she’s a little delusional (many republicans would probably argue this is the case).
More likely, Speaker Pelosi, much like Chairman Steele, are spinning the results in their favor. If you haven’t figured it out yet, “spin” is synonymous with bullshit. If anything, the results from Tuesday should have told Pelosi and Steele along with all the other politicians out there who prefer to “spin” rather than provide the straight dope, that the public is tired of being lied to by politicians. We want answers and accountability. And we’d rather have someone tell us the truth, even its difficult to bear, than someone providing spin. Those candidates that are more truthful, regardless of party, will garner more votes than the candidate providing us spin. That’s what the November 2009 elections should be telling or politicians.
Victories in New Jersey and Virginia provide a roadmap on how republicans can win future elections. By talking about the issues, rather than demonizing their opponents. By talking with the voter, rather than inciting the voter’s fears. Democrats should beware: if the GOP decides to listen to Newt Gingrich rather than Rush Limbaugh it will become a party with an alternative rather than a party of the hyperbolic fear-mongering. Listening to Rush will do two things: get Rush rich and get the GOP 45% of the vote. Those two things have something in common: neither win elections. If you need proof of that, look at new York’s 23rd District, which is in the hands of a democrat for the first time in 130 years.
Hopefully, we’ll start voting more on the quality of the candidate rather than party affiliation. Quality candidates, less spin, more accountability to the constituent and less to the party is hopefully where our nation and its politics is heading. Now that would be transcendent.