Thursday, November 04, 2010

Election Ruminating

Just as I didn't want to post some pathetic, over-the-top entry about how the sky was crashing down around us the day following Barack Obama's election as President of the United States of America, I also didn't want to post immediately following this past Tuesday's election because I was too happy and excited about the results, and almost as annoying as whiney, over-the-top blog posts about election defeats, are the types of posts that are so celebratory that they shove the other side's losses in their face.

How can I not comment, though? For years I have been lamenting how the party I vote for the majority of the time has been losing its way on issues that matter most to me. But these Republicans-- Marco Rubio!, Scott Walker!, Ron Johnson!-- these people are free-market, small government conservatives. So many of our new elected officials are cut from the same cloth as Paul Ryan, and that is a good, good thing given our country's current economic woes.

I still don't know what to make of it all. How can a country vote for a president so much more liberal than the candidates they voted for the other night just two short years ago? Are our memories so short? Does President Obama differ that dramatically from candidate Obama in peoples' minds? Did President Obama overreach in his actions? Did different people vote on Tuesday than two years ago?

More locally, Wisconsin, a state that hasn't voted for a Republican for president since Ronald Reagan, I think, completely went Republican. It voted out a popular Democrat incumbent senator for an unknown entity. Our governor is now a Republican, along with both houses of our legislature. Our congressional delegation is now predominantly Republican.

I truly don't know what to make of it all.

Still, 1994 always remains in the forefront of my mind. Republicans were elected to reign in a president that was seen as governing more to the left than the rest of the nation. It didn't take long for those Republicans to lose their way and become part of the Beltway problem.

So, I am hopeful, but also realistic; voters have to continue to pay attention. Vigilantly.


Gordon said...

First off, I want to thank you for being perhaps the most thoughtful right winger I know :)

As far as why the country would seemingly swing from one extreme to the other in 2 years: I don't think it has swung all that far either way in actuality. I read somewhere that based on the popular vote the actual numbers put Republicans at a 7% advantage against Dems, on average. If that's correct, then you're seeing a small fraction of voters swing back and forth, but between two fairly polarized parties.

This point we will probably disagree on, but I think that Obama's actual positions are much less left than they're made out to be. As many have noted out on the great interwebs, the swing might be less of a vote of confidence for Republicans and more a vote of dissatisfaction with where people feel policy has moved (or what policy has been pursued at all, frankly... should have been all economic given the circumstances).

Anyhow, my two cents. Hope you guys are doing well!

Cate said...

Thank you, Gordon. I feel very strongly that if Americans can't get it together and start speaking to each other and disagreeing agreeably, then we're totally screwed.

Thanks for your two cents. I'm still mulling it all over and I love discussing and thinking about it.

Keep posting those darling pictures of Hattie!

AlexanderTheGreat said...

Poor Feingold :(

nina said...

I agree with Gordon: you are the most agreeable person to disagree with! And I appreciate your fiscal conservatism. I should say that too many out there think that a liberal agenda is incompatible with an economically prudent one.

(I do also agree with Gordon that the current administration has been unfairly labeled as anti-free market; truly I cannot understand this: I'm not the first to note that Obama saved capitalism from imploding two years ago; I cannot see how he would not be given credit for that much at least, no matter what one might make of his health care reform.)

As for the electorate -- I am reminded of when Poland turned away from socialism and embraced the free market some fifteen years ago. Poles were stunned to realize that the shift required them to abandon previous entitlements.

At heart, all people want what's best for their country, so long as it doesn't require them to sacrifice what they consider essential to their well being.

Cate said...

I do also agree with Gordon that the current administration has been unfairly labeled as anti-free market; truly I cannot understand this: I'm not the first to note that Obama saved capitalism from imploding two years ago; I cannot see how he would not be given credit for that much at least, no matter what one might make of his health care reform

Politics in this country are reduced to one sentence slogans and thirty-second sound bites. I am not going to agree or disagree with the statement above regarding our president, but I will say it is almost impossible to have an intelligent conversation about its merits because it seems we're not allowed to have thoughtful give and take anymore because as soon as someone gives an inch it seems they're declared to have capitulated entirely. And when I use the term "we" I mean collectively and I am mostly talking about our elected officials who perform for cameras instead of sitting down and discussing (and this is somewhat an unfair generalization; I don't think this of every person in Washington, but it does seem to be a too common trend).

Regarding the election results, I thought I would share some interesting tidbits that I came across last night. I sat down to read our already stale issue of National Review (stale in the sense that it was dated pre-election) but one article contained in the magazine contained some things that, I think, played into Tuesday night's results and were fascinating when comparing Tuesday night's outcome with the outcome in 2008.

The article in its entirety is here:

but the parts I found interesting were some of the polling data they took note of, specifically: A July 2009 Gallup report noted that by a 2–1 margin, people said their views had become more conservative in recent years.

Republicans, independents, and even Democrats had all moved to the right, although Democrats just barely so (34 percent had become more conservative, 40 percent hadn’t changed, and 23 percent had become more liberal). Gallup noted that “the results are conspicuously incongruous with the results of the 2008 elections.” Incongruous, indeed.

and also this: As of June 2010, Gallup had 42 percent of the public identifying themselves as conservatives, with 35 percent calling themselves moderates and 20 percent liberals. Over the last 18 years, moderates have generally outnumbered conservatives. In 2008, conservatives and moderates were tied at 37 percent. Since then, the number of conservatives has gone up and of moderates and liberals gone down. If the current number holds, the percentage of conservatives will be higher than in any other year since Gallup began asking the question in 1992.

It would seem to me, without spending a ton of time considering the above, that President Obama's election had more to do with a dissatisfaction with the Republican party and its abandonment of the principles they supposedly stood for (and I am speaking of the basic principle of smaller, limited government).

It is irrelevant, to some degree, whether or not Obama has governed somewhat to the left or far to the left if the voting public sees themselves as embracing small government; any expansion of government could be seen as too liberal.

Anyway. Thanks for stopping by, guys, and giving me something to think about for awhile besides laundry and diapers. :)

nina said...

This may be the only place, Cate, that I happily comment on politics. I've taken myself out of the internet discussion elsewhere as it is most unpleasant.

While I agree that there's such a thing as too much government, I at least admit that I haven't a plan as to where to make the significant cuts. Whereas too many who speak about too much government, quite openly and with hostility to the governing institutions (I'm thinking of my blogging colleague as one example) are, it seems to me, hypocritical.

How can you take a huge (and I mean huge) state funded salary, including an incredible benefits package and then publicly denounce tax increases and vote NO to government ("but, please, insofar as we have government, do keep me safe from terrorism and,btw, I don't want to pay for any war effort even as I support the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and am looking forward to my social security benefits...")? It is that kind of denouncing of government without offering anything in return ("and by the way, our deficit is out of control but I support keeping tax cuts in place... what? you want budget cuts? Take away the highspeed rail. that should do it!") that gives me pause.

(Quotes are condensed ideas from that "other" blog.)

See, Cate, I think the day we learned how to dig the earth and draw well water and found that we can pollute our neighbor's property while reaping benefits for ourselves is the day that we really gave up on the idea of a totally free market.

We saw that an absence of regulatory oversight nearly killed our economy two years ago.

I'm not sure why I, a basically liberal type, have been given the label of a free spending government yearning person. I'm not!

I do believe that in exchange for work I have been given an excellent health plan and I think that most healthcare providers understand that without intervention we will continue to have a ridiculously bloated and inefficient health care delivery system even as such a large portion of Americans remain without access to health care.

I applaud therefore, efforts to control health care spending even as we expand access to health care.

I think I am, at heart a conservative liberal. Where in the labels that Gallup puts forth do I fit in?

dad said...

A column in Thursday's WSJ explained the voter phenomenon of BO two years ago and Republicans on Tuesday. Voters are, quite simply, dumb. Check it out.

Superdad said...

"I do also agree with Gordon that the current administration has been unfairly labeled as anti-free market; truly I cannot understand this: I'm not the first to note that Obama saved capitalism from imploding two years ago;"

I think is part of the disconnect the respective sides of the national debate are having relates to terminology.

I would argue that Obama (and Bush) both rejected the free market when they attempted to save "capitalism." It did not need saving because it was working, AiG should have failed because it made stupid decisions that put it in a precarious position. GM should have failed because it failed to change its business model to account for the fact that its legacy labor costs were completely out of line with its competition's. The interventions by Bush and Obama were not "saving" capitalism - it needed no saving. It was working; the market was about to punish bad decision making and bad business practices. What the interventions did was impose an artificial cap on risk. Such a cap will only serve to continue to incentives malinvestment and lead to the "need" for further interventions.

I do understand that there were other folks who were about to be caught up in the death of GM and AiG. I have sympathy for them but I would have preferred a plan that dealt with these individuals rather than propping up failed companies.

Cate said...

I am impressed, Superdad-- such a well thought out response posted entirely, I assume, on your iPhone at hockey practice. Impressive, indeed.