Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Obligitory post-election ruminations


By Bill Kraus

The voters continue to do surprising--and surprisingly thoughtful--things.

The election system continues to be in the hands of professionals who worship the gods of marketing who, in turn, read from the segmentation bible.

Everybody, with the exception of the aforementioned professionals, the operators of robo call machines, and the TV broadcasters, is appalled by the amount of money collected and spent.

A few wonder if the billionaires who supplied a lot of this cash via various channels have noticed that the money didn’t buy much. I wonder if these people who were smart enough to accumulate all that money are smart enough to not throw it away on questionable causes and candidates. The professionals will encourage them to keep spending and advise against unilateral disarmament of course, and will point to a few instances where money did matter. Tommy’s campaign, which was kind of a train wreck from beginning to end, can be said to have derailed when the money turned a deaf ear to his pleas to restock the till after he blew his wad to win the primary. The money told him, “You’re a popular ex-governor and cabinet officer who will win in a walk; we’re sending our funds to candidates who need it more.”

Women candidates had a very good year.

Gay rights did as well.

Events, as they often do, played an unpredictable and unexpected role in the results. Who would have figured that Obama wasn’t kidding when he said he wasn’t a very good debater? Who would have thought this admitted shortcoming would have brought Romney the kind of credibility he needed? And the disastrous Hurricane Sandy arrived propitiously as well. The president got to play president, and a lot of unbelievers saw that the government’s role is important and so is the performance of the person with the lead role in governing.

The evangelicals proved to be important but not dominant. Much like the avid factions that support single issues or ideas from gun rights to religious rituals like marriage, and ignore everything else, they are a factor not the whole thing. The late, great John MacIver’s advice to candidates who were nervous about what to say to groups like this was to “not stir up the animals.” Tommy at full speed enfolded them into his “big tent” where their voices were heard but muted by the voices of the other interests and the majority itself. Could the age of the litmus test be waning?

The tea party movement took advantage of the traditionally low-vote primaries to nominate candidates in places that hadn’t been gerrymandered into certainty. These candidates lost in the general elections that followed and the Republicans lost their last best shot at getting a majority in the U.S. Senate as a result. As one political sage observed, “The party can’t ignore this movement, bubble, whatever it is, but it better not let it pick their candidates.”

The primarization of our system in general was on display in many ways, most of them somewhere between worrisome and disastrous. Top of the ticket coattails are short to non-existent in a gerrymandered world.

And finally and happily, the kids voted. They proved that 2008 was not an aberration. They showed real signs of an appetite for politics. It is impossible not to draw a contrast with too many of their parents whose generation did too much outsourcing to the professionals.

Could politics become again the honorable trade practiced by superior people that I once tried to convince my skeptical father it was? I see a glimmer of hope.

Follow Bill Kraus on:

twitter / wmkraus

No comments:

Post a Comment