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Friday, November 7, 2014

Occasional Repost: The GOP Invited Dems to a Red Wedding, the Dems Obliged

We occasionally repost amazing articles from friends who hit the mark, perfectly. Here is David Phillips take on The Great Democalypse that was the 2014 midterms.

Red Wedding In The Capitol

A Red Wedding.

In Game of Thrones speak, this refers to a scene in the HBO series where the King of the North, his wife, and his mother--along with everyone else in their camp--is led into a trap based around a wedding meant to draw the two warring sides together in peace. The king and his crew let their guard down. They relax and believe that everything will turn out just fine. What follows is a massive bloodletting orchestrated by Lord Walder Frey where no one is spared--not even the honorable king's unborn child. It is a gruesome bit of television that has already taken its place in tube lore. It couldn't compare to what happened Tuesday night in the 2014 Midterms. The Senate flipped, the House got housed, and the guvnas got guvna'd.

Still, to spring this trap on unsuspecting Democrats, Lords McConnell, Boehner, Priebus, and Christie needed the unwitting compliance of two groups of people. Democratic voters and pols. They could not have asked for more.

If showing up is 80% of life, as it has often been attributed to Woody Allen, the Democratic voter was well short of that. Somehow, this happens nearly every midterm election and yet the left seems to never learn that the progress often made in presidential election years must be consecrated two years later. It's a common refrain that Democratic voters are lazy. Nothing about last night will make that refrain less common anytime soon. As usual, the electorate in this off-year election was paler, maler, and staler than in presidential years and again, Democrats paid the cost of too many of their flock only being interested in the big show every four years.

As well, we Democrats are an easily dispirited bunch. Susceptible to disappointment and wanting to punish our party for not doing enough while not recognizing the alternative to our way of thinking is more reliable and therefore more than willing to fill the void during our off-year siestas. This lurching back and forth from election to election is made possible not just by the Right's efforts to disenfranchise minorities and young people--although that's certainly a factor--but by our own occasional lack of interest. And if you think voter ID laws are making it harder to get the base to the polls now, just consider the contests for Governor we lost last night. Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts Florida, Maine, Wisconsin and perhaps Colorado are either flipping and going R or are staying that way. All in states that should be either slam dunks (IL, MD, MA) or at least competitive (the rest). Does anyone think it's going to get any easier to access the ballot box in any of these states now?

PAUSE: If any Democratic leader ever lets Martha Coakley (two time loser in sky blue Massachusetts) or Charlie Crist (who has now lost as a Republican, an Independent, and a Democrat) run for office under their banner again, please push them into traffic. RESUME.

As well, many on the left are feeling less than inspired by our current President. We buy into the fears over ISIS and Ebola, even though not a single American has died from either on domestic soil. We are displeased with the rate of economic growth even though we are outpacing every other first world nation post Bush II's Crash of 2008. We don't think he's done enough on immigration, disentangling us from overseas conflicts, and too much on privacy invasion and national security in general. There are reasonable arguments to be made in each of these cases. They are not won by not voting. Even if you think Obama's merely the lesser of two evils, when presented with the two, what idiot would not take that which would harm you the least?

Not to mention, all the state and local issues we failed to represent for Tuesday night. Even if your congressional vote was hopeless (as mine was), would you not at least want to mitigate the damage by at minimum, keeping your own backyard short of insanity? Don't get me wrong, the average voter in even the red states on election night was pretty strange. By and large voting 'yea' on liberal issues such as the legalization of marijuana and raising the minimum wage, while also voting for candidates who oppose both, but we already know these types vote against their own interests. At least they can be bothered to turn out, no matter how much head scratching ensues by us thinking types afterwards.

As irresponsible as the left leaning non-voter was last night, it's quite possible our candidates were even worse. Nearly all of them ran away from any sort of accomplishment Democrats may have won over the last six years. An improving, if fitful economy. A health care law that is literally addressing the needs of millions of people while also bringing down costs, and a country that is embroiled in fewer major conflicts and has not had one terror attack take place in this country from anyone outside of the occasional lone wolf. That's a story one could tell...if one were willing to tell it. See, when you act embarrassed by that which you have achieved, not only does it show, but your avoidance of those successes allows your foe to define those achievements as anything but. Therefore, you had a lot of politicians with a (D) by their name running on...what the fuck I don't know.

A perfect example is Mark Warner of Virginia. A former very popular Governor of Virginia who won his Senate seat in 2008 with more than 60% of the popular vote. This year, he had to scrape by former Bushie, Ed Gillespie, whom the Republicans (thankfully) barely bothered to fund. Warner was once a short lister for VP and even, in some circles, discussed as a future top of the ticket possibility. Tell me this though, what the fuck does anyone know about Mark Warner? What significant piece of legislation has he ever been attached to? Did anyone in Virginia even know what Warner was running on? Much like Indiana's former nondescript Democratic Governor and Senator, Evan Bayh, the only thing I know about Warner is he wins elections--if this year, only just.

Too many Democratic candidates ran this sort of safe race about nothing last night. Some were even worse. Many of those up for a vote on election day pretended we didn't even have a two-time electoral landslide winning Democratic President of the United States until they were asked directly about him. Then they turned into "See and Says." Only instead of pulling the string and having them--like the toy--say "the cow goes moo" or "the rooster goes cockadoodledoo," the candidate went "I disagree with the president" with every jerk of the chain.

Even worse, Senate candidate in Kentucky, Alison Lundergan Grimes, when asked whether she voted for the president she served as a state delegate for in 2012, fell only one denial short of a Peter/Jesus relationship with her party's standard-bearer. This was the norm for the Democratic candidate in 2014. Take credit for nothing, run on nothing, and when asked about your relationship with a guy who knows how to win elections, speak as if that guy was nothing too. The funny thing is, you know who that guy was more popular than? Both chambers of congress.

This sort of weak-kneed campaigning led to Republicans overachieving everywhere. Even in the few places Dems pulled out a win. Take New Hampshire, where the relatively popular former Governor and current Senator, Jeanne Shaheen, barely outpaced the carpetbagging former Senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown. A candidate so committed to his new state, he could hardly admit to any interest in staying in it should he lose. I don't know what all Mid-Atlantic states have Dems up for the Senate in 2016, but I do suggest they start their opposition research on Brownie now, just in case.

To these short sighted pols, I would like to ask, what did this "safe" strategy net you? Dems lost to a turtle in Kentucky, a man afraid of a circular fan in Florida, and a proud castrator of hogs in Iowa. I'll now share with you my favorite gallows-humored tweet of the night from former Daily Show correspondent, Wyatt Cenac: "For all the Democratic candidates that campaigned by distancing themselves from the President... it worked. They will be nowhere near him."

I will say this for Democratic non-voters and candidates, you did accomplish something unexpected last night. You made a lame duck President more relevant than anyone could have anticipated. Now he's all that stands between you and the policies you despise. I'm sure that's what you had in mind while watching the electoral map run red like the floor of Walder Frey's banquet room.

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