Thursday, January 21, 2010

Never Been One to Take My Chances

Of all the varying analyses of the Massachusetts special election that ended in victory for Republican Scott Brown, Conor Friersdorf's is by far the best:
It is particularly amusing to see folks call the outcome stunning in one breath and aver in the next that they can explain why it happened mere hours after the fact, without any new data save the result. This is especially grating when it’s so obvious that the election turned on all the issues that were most important to me, that the outcome so clearly vindicates my world view, and that the wisest course in light of the results is for both parties to do exactly what I’ve been advocating for all along.

Only a partisan hack could deny that all aspects of this election bolstering my analysis happened to be most significant, whereas factors that cut against my thesis were ultimately irrelevant to the outcome. Let this be a lesson to my political and ideological opponents in future contested elections — insofar as it is advantages my policy preferences, what happened in Massachusetts is a harbinger of things to come in the 2010 midterms, and even in 2012. Meanwhile all precedents seemingly at odds with my national political proclivities were unique, and should be ignored.

Commenter ken b. responded:
What an ignorant post. It’s obvious to anyone with half a brain that my views were vindicated, while yours were completely demolished.

Funny, but there's a point here. Elections are capricious things that turn on any number of issues, big and small, local and national. Governing majorities aren't going to last forever, especially not with an electorate as split down the middle as ours. Treating a majority as if it had any permanence is stupid - remember that "permanent Republican majority" of DeLay's? - and that makes selling yourself out to hold on to power absolutely foolish, because your time out of power will come whether you want it to or not, and whatever machinations you might see fit to pull will eventually be for naught. Furthermore, once you're on top there's only one place to go. Procrastinating on your legislative agenda in order to gain political advantage just doesn't work.

One party in Washington understands this. The Republicans have been admirable in sticking to their guns even when it cost them elections. The Democrats have been selling themselves out in a futile attempt to hold on to power, and the liberal wing of the party has basically let itself be swamped. We haven't seen accountability and the rule of law restored to our terrorism policy, the health care bill basically turned into corporate welfare once the public option was dropped, and there has been no movement on civil rights for LGBT folks at all. Instead, the Democrats have lived in fear of Republican attacks that they think might take away their power.

And you know what? They're right. Those Republican attacks might well succeed. But guess what? That's politics for you. On top one year, on the bottom the next. If you can't stand up to attacks from the other side and do what you want to do, why the hell are you in this business? If there's one thing to be learned from the Massachusetts special election, it's that there's no reward in changing who you are. You'll win some, you'll lose some, so if you're going to go down anyway you might as well go down swinging.

One final thing. A lot of conservadems and Republicans are saying that "the Left" is somehow responsible for this election defeat. Riiiight. I can think of no occasion during this presidency when "the Left" has gotten something significant that it wanted. Obama has ignored or antagonized "the Left" on terrorism policy, the war in Afghanistan, economic policy, gay rights, and health care. Sullivan writes:
But if one had traveled to Mars and back this past year and read this statement, what would you assume had happened? I would assume that the banks had been nationalized, the stimulus was twice as large, that single-payer healthcare had been pushed through on narrow majority votes, that card-check had passed, that an immigration amnesty had been legislated, that prosecutions of Bush and Cheney for war crimes would be underway, that withdrawal from Afghanistan would be commencing, that no troops would be left in Iraq, that Larry Tribe was on the Supreme Court, that DADT and DOMA would be repealed, and so on.

Grouse about "the Left" all you want, but not only can I not think of a significant leftist victory under Obama, I can't think a significant leftist victory during my lifetime (I was born in 1981). If you think "the Left" has any power in Washington, you're plain nuts.

Anyway, the tenor of this post reminded me of this song. There are literally no good videos for it (odd considering it's not all that obscure), so here it is set to some random trippy movie scenes:

Posts on Citizens United and the Gitmo murders to come. Stay tuned.

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