Election Post Mortem

Ever see those terrible, evil commercials where Ed McMahon or Wilfred Brimley looks soulfully into the camera and lies to old folks? You know, the reverse mortgages, life insurance, Medic Alert and healthcare scams? To me, that’s what the entire 2014 political campaign season was about: lying to and scaring old folk. I think my brain literally melted from the onslaught of insulting, soporific ads reducing terribly complex issues to MacDonald’s Happy Meal slogans. The manipulative, stupid formula played out again and again—the scary music, the grainy, black-and-white photo of the political opponent, “he voted against (or for) such-and-such…” which conveniently leaves out the fact legislators often vote for or against things not necessarily on their merits but because of extenuating factors like stupid amendments tacked onto bills or insider political shenanigans which kill bills in their crib.

Every day, my mailbox filled up with junk—expensive, oversized glossy junk printed in huge letters so old folk can read them without searching for their glasses. One of my favorites, an anti-Udall glossy which included a NY Post quote from the year 2000, nine years before Udall was elected to anything. How stupid do these people think I am?

Of course, the messaging is not for me or even my mom. It’s for my grandmother, my great aunt and her group down at the senior center. It’s for low-information voters who vote out of anger, resentment or bias rather than resolve to compromise in order to actually do what’s best for their community, state or country. It’s all about winning, now—this zero-sum formulaic fanaticism.

Even so, I can’t imagine why so many Americans voted to reelect the worst Congress in American history, or, worse, why the Democrats’ main strategy seemed to be duck and cover. The Dow Jones closed over 17,000, unemployment is below 6%, gas prices are below $3. Eight million helped by the ACA. The economy is growing at 3 1/2% (2% is considered “robust”). What were Dems running from? Running from an unpopular president never works. The GOP tried running from Bush in 2006 and got slaughtered. Dems implicitly understood they were in the crosshairs; they should have run hard on the president’s record and not away from it. They likely still would have lost their hat but at least they’d have gone down with some integrity and not like weasels.

The argument should not be about Obama’s competency or even about Obama at all. The argument should be about jobs, or lack thereof, about Congress allowing people to suffer for political reasons. The argument should have been about the obscene damage Congressional Republicans have done to the average American citizen with their obstructionism, debit ceiling threats, sequester, shutdown, etc. that have cost America an excess of $800 billion in lost productivity and higher interest rates among other things. Tens of thousands of jobs lost or cut back, with more to come, due to the sequester. Congressional Republicans have cost the country nearly a trillion dollars, prolonged the economic recovery, encouraged racism, worked tirelessly to deprive us of the vote, and have effortlessly branded an historic presidency as an abject failure.

Those arguments were not made. There was, to my observation, absolutely no campaign underscoring the Republican record of obstructionism; of constantly, repeatedly, putting politics ahead of the American people. Instead, we have Alison Lundergren Grimes refusing to admit, for unfathomable reasons, that she either voted for the president or had declined to. Memo to Ms. Grimes: it’s not about the president. Stop letting the opposition define your message. “Hell yes, I voted for him, and here’s why:”

The Dems lacked an effective strategy and ran away from the best numbers this country has seen in nearly a generation. That’s my main problem with them: they’re just idiots. And that was our choice this campaign season: the idiots or the liars. So far too many of us did exactly what everyone assumed we would: we didn’t show up, and grampa, scared of Obama allowing Ebola into Poughkeepsie, pulled the lever. I am just beside myself.


  1. Thad says:

    Yeah, pretty much this. The Democrats are cowards.

    I switched my party registration to Independent four years ago when the Justice Department dropped its lawsuit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio. That was the final disappointment in a long line of disappointments.

    In Arizona, independents can vote in any party’s primary; I opted for the Republican primary this year and did my best to vote for Republicans who might be moderate voices willing to reach across the aisle and actually accomplish things. I fear there aren’t many of those left, especially in solid-red states like this one; a few of the candidates I voted for got the nomination but most didn’t. At least we got rid of School Superintendent Huppenthal — who had recently been found trolling multiple Internet comments sections under several sock-puppet accounts — but it looks like the new Superintendent may be a woman whose only qualification for the office is “is not Huppenthal.”

    For all the noise people are making about what a huge deal this is, I don’t see much changing. I expect we’ll have a Democratic President, a Republican House, and a split Senate until the next census.

    State legislatures are a whole other story.

  2. Dave Van Domelen says:

    Only 11% approve of Congress as a body, but a much higher percentage approve of their own Congresscritter. Even ones seen as being in trouble (like McTurtle) had approval ratings in the 40s. We’re really good at lying to ourselves about the causes of problems…Congress is horrible, but my guy is the lone beacon of light and voting for his opponent would just make things worse.

    Meanwhile, rather than convince people to like their guy, the big money interests instead convince people that if you don’t like their guy you won’t like the other guy either, so stay home and don’t vote. I work at a college, and the most common thing I overheard from students was a variation on, “Both sides are just as bad, so I didn’t bother voting.” No need for the elaborate Jim Crow crap that’s gotten all the attention…just flood the airwaves with negative ads so that anyone inclined to want a change is convinced there’s no change to be had.

  3. ‘Dem Bums’ need to stop running away from black people, Latinos, civil rights, the poor and progressive topics in general. This always happens, in the pursuit of getting the almighty “swing voter independent”= white, over 30, already skeptical toward ethnic minorities and gays, uncritically pro-gun in every way, hard-right on anything “crime” related, even when it involves nonviolent offenses, hard-right on everything birth-control, uncritically pro-police, uncritically for as much military spending as possible, uncritical regarding corporate profiteerism, uncritical regarding tax evasion by corporations, and hostile toward anything that’s perceived as “taking” from them but actually helping (e.g., national health care, or at least the severely diluted version that exists now).

    Heavy slashing of “entitlement” policy is always vaunted as this big deal of pragmatic magnanimity for every Democratic candidate that wants to get into office. Expansion of care for the vulnerable is almost never on the table.

    That’s it. I don’t care anymore. I’ve been voting since I was 18, and I’m sick of finding new ways to get hosed. The Republican party hates me, and the mainstream wing of Democratic party really don’t care about me. They’ll always pick the white swing voter over me every time. Every. Single. Time. Urban, minority issues don’t matter at all in comparison.

    • Priest Priest says:

      Christopher: you know, I don;t actually think that’s it. I don;t think the Dems don’t care about you. I think the Dems don’t *believe* in you, don;t believe enough in their own base, which is why every election they pander and try to run away from who they are, which is a major turn off to independents. Look, I don;t particularly like or even respect Republican tactics, but I believe they are who they say they are and will do (or at least try to do) what they say they’ll do. Allison Lundegren Grimes’ “I’m not Barack Obama” shotgun ad was deeply offensive, as were the majority of the DCCC ads trying to distance Dems from the president, thus guaranteeing Obama’s people (such as they are in KY) would not come out for her.

      The 2014 Dem Congressional strategy was pure amateur night. They had sooooooooooo much positive stuff to run on, the roaring economy not th eleast of which, and they had sooooooooooo much negative stuff to pin the GOP to the mat with, essentially the GOP obstructing every good thing that’s happened to America since Bush left. INstead, they ran away from Obama, making them look not only stoopit but like turncoats. Win or lose, EVERYBODY hates a turncoat.

      I can’t believe how dumb the DCCC strategy was. Was that Nancy Pelosi? I really think these party leaders are all complete disasters for this country.

      • Thad says:

        There are also down-ballot consequences. The unqualified candidate for school superintendent who I mentioned above did indeed end up narrowly defeating the well-qualified Democratic candidate who had broad bipartisan support.

        Maybe Democrats were never going to win the race for Governor or AG — but they could have won School Superintendent. Cynicism and disillusionment lead to low voter turnout, and low voter turnout favors Republicans. I’m sure this isn’t the only race the Democrats could have won if they hadn’t done such a poor job on both state and national levels at getting people to show up.

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