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November 08, 2006

The Morning After

It's nice to finally write one of these election wrap-ups that doesn't have to account for a massive Democratic disappointment. Change is good, right? What it does have to do is punch back against the remarkably coordinated and quick campaign from the right (and sometimes the right includes the left) seeking to paint this election as some sort of victory for...conservatism.

The ideological spectrum is a tricky thing. Take Heath Schuler, exhibit A in the rightwing Democrats meme. He's a cultural conservative, no doubt. But however far right he drifts on those issues -- which, under a Democratic Congress, he won't be voting on because they won't be brought to floor -- he's notably left on economic issues. Today, for instance, he's giving a press conference under the auspices of the United Steelworkers with Great Liberal Hope Sherrod Brown, where they'll discuss the need for new trade policies and their success in making active opposition to NAFTA a winning issue. That's not centrist Democrat. It's not moderate liberal. That's populism, kids, and it's leftier than polite company has allowed for quite some time.

So is Shuler rightwing? Seems like a tough case to me. Sherrod Brown? Liberal as they come. Defeating South Dakota's abortion ban initiative? Passing Missouri's stem cell initiative? All those progressives who toppled liberal Republicans in the Northeast? Somebody think they won in the blue bastions with roaring conservatism? Meanwhile, the most conservative of the serious Democratic challengers this cycle, Harold Ford, went down to defeat. Bravely fought race, tough environs, etc. But with an out-and-out liberal winning Ohio and a right-of-center Democrat losing Tennessee, we're really going to call this election for conservatism?

I don't think so. That distorted interpretation is being promoted by an array of rightwingers and self-styled centrists anxious to constrain the new majority's perceived range of motion. Some of them are conservatives trying to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Others are "centrist" Democrats look to grad defeat from the jaws of victory. Both are, for ideological reasons, afraid that a Democratic majority will govern like...Democrats. And make no mistake: They'll convince no small number of Democrats to eschew any such legislative style. But if the country had wanted a continuation of conservative rule, they would have voted for it. Instead, they voted Democratic. And their elects should give them what they asked for.

November 8, 2006 in Democrats | Permalink

Comments

Good post. The candidate who wins Schuler's district (and others like it) HAS to be culturally conservative; the only question is where he stands on economic issues. A related and astounding stat is that Dems only lost married men by 4 points, compared with double digits in recent cycles. The Reagan Democrats came home last night. Here's Ron Brownstein:

"Democrats also made gains among more socially conservative, economically strained swing voters, who have provided critical votes for Republicans in recent years.

In Indiana, Democrat Brad Ellsworth convincingly defeated Rep. John Hostettler in a heavily rural district where Bush captured over three-fifths of the vote two years ago.

Beaver and Westmoreland counties in Pennsylvania's southwest corner, considered strongholds of blue-collar conservative "Reagan Democrats," split about evenly in Santorum's reelection six years ago. But Casey carried them by nearly 25,000 votes on Tuesday."

Posted by: david mizner | Nov 8, 2006 10:37:37 AM

Speaker Pelosi.

Damn that sounds nice.

:-)

Posted by: fiat lux | Nov 8, 2006 10:42:18 AM

On the Ford issue, much of what hurt him was pretending to be some sort of exaggerated Conservative for the election cycle when the whole State knew that he wasn't.

He did get a poll bounce when people percieved the RNCC ad as unfair to him, but his pretending did him in, IMHO.

Looks like everybody I voted for, except the Governor's race, won in TN. Same with both Constitutional Amendments: 1 (preventing other States from defining marriage in TN), 2 (allowing counties to freeze property taxes for people over 65).

Posted by: Guy Montag | Nov 8, 2006 10:55:46 AM

As noted, the House will be restricted to bipartisan issues. If the hard left looks like they are taking over, 2008 will be a very different story. This vote was about the Bush policies, not the hard left agenda.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Nov 8, 2006 10:59:59 AM

I was just reminded that I need to update my resume. Since the portion of the Defense Department that I support will probably suffer a major budget hit (please, no comments about the President's Budget (PB) meaning anything), but the monies will be shifted to other efforts.

Changing hat from Defense Financial Analyst to Border Security Financial Analyst.

Early homework: monthly cost of watering stations and shuttle service.

Posted by: Guy Montag | Nov 8, 2006 11:06:46 AM

What fun watching the Republican Talking Point Trolls spin.

It's most amusing to note that Montag, schmibertarian fundie champion of free markets, sucks at the government teat and votes for collectivst homophobia. Throws everything he says into sharp relief: freedom for Montag, just not for other people.

Posted by: paperwight | Nov 8, 2006 11:24:35 AM

Paperwipe,

You need to look around.
Most everyone votes to reserve marriage for one man and one woman. There just aren't enough die-hard conservatives out there to account for the tsunami of state constitutional amendments and laws that have been handily passed in the last few years.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Nov 8, 2006 11:33:53 AM

The biggest factor that hurt Ford was that he was single. If he had an attractive young wife by his side, then the spitball ad, which looked like it was aimed at racists but which could well have been aimed at reducing Ford's big lead among female voters, would have fallen flat.

Lamar will be a bigger challenge, but on the other hand he has the one race under his belt, so he better get himself married sometime this year, while he's doing whatever it is that he's going to do ... establish an Energy Independence PAC, etc.

Posted by: BruceMcF | Nov 8, 2006 11:35:39 AM

Hey, now, paperwight, give Montag some credit. "[P]reventing other States from defining marriage in TN" is a brilliant way to spin denying equal rights to Americans because they're stinking hellbound homosexuals, in accordance with Libertarian Leviticus. I fully expect fellow Tennessee authoritarian Bush-worshipping glibertarian Glenn Reynolds to steal it if he sees it.

Posted by: mds | Nov 8, 2006 11:35:43 AM

If the hard left looks like they are taking over, 2008 will be a very different story.

Please define what a hard left agenda is and who has proposed such a thing?

Posted by: Col Bat Guano | Nov 8, 2006 11:40:20 AM

"[P]reventing other States from defining marriage in TN" is a brilliant way to spin denying equal rights to Americans because they're stinking hellbound homosexuals, in accordance with Libertarian Leviticus.

It's also a brilliant way to reserve the marriage issue to the states, something that the whining left was spewing when the federal marriage amendment was up for discussion.

Now, it's different?

Posted by: Fred Jones | Nov 8, 2006 11:45:05 AM

First of all Fred, you lost. All your base yadda yadda yadda.

The only thing you're right about is that there won't be a "hard left agenda", whatever that is, because Rahm Emanuel celebrated a party win by sticking a knife in his own party's back, even though his preferred candidates tended to lose.

Here's guessing that "hard left" is restoring checks and balances and telling George Bush that he can't always have his way and his childish temper tantrums won't help any.

Here's also guessing that conservatives will throw temper tantrums in the form of terrorist attacks against Americans. It's a possibility now that the voters have decided that down-the-line conservatives are just not good Americans.

Posted by: Dr. Squid | Nov 8, 2006 12:05:39 PM

Gay Marriage and Abortion have to stop being the issues that kill all other progressive issues in our country by their mere presence.

Posted by: Rob | Nov 8, 2006 12:13:12 PM

I hope Fred, Toke and Montag reply to this. I hope they each type 50 comments per post today. Their comments are freaking hilarious, especially because everything they've said so far today has been predicted, word for word, by various blogs and the people I was celebrating with last night.

I think that last part is what makes their submissions so pathetically funny today. They really are just falling back, not only on the talking points that people like Drudge give them, but doing so in such a way as to remove all doubt as to whether they are capable of independent thought apart from the GOP hivemind.

If the American people are sick of the Iraq war, and voted for Democrats because they believe the Dems will change the course on the war, then they are voting for Democratic policies. At any rate, let's say the hundreds of Democrats who either kept their seats or took away seats from heavily entrenched GOP incumbents were all repulsive people who would never win an election on their own merits, instead winning only because of how negatively the American people view George Bush. That is a poor argument for conservatives to make, because they are saying, in effect, that no matter how bad the Democrats are, the American people see the Republicans as being worse.

Since Republicans are currently the 2nd choice in the nation for governors, state legislatures and Congress, after the Democrats, it might behoove GOP apologists to temper their descriptions of Democrats.

Or, perhaps the Democrats really are that terrible, but the American people are just stupid, right guys? They chose the wrong people?

Maybe it's that a majority of Americans either sympathize with terrorists or are terrorists themselves. And clearly a majority of Americans have no desire to protect this country's borders. And a majority of them are obviously sick of all the unfettered prosperity brought by the GOP tax cuts.

Also, since an estimated 25% of "evangelicals" voted for Democrats, and since "values" did not rank very high in the exit polls, we can also deduce that millions of Americans have left their faith behind.

Right? I mean, I've been reading comments from our conservative readers, and this is what you guys have said, right? So you believe all that, don't you?

Posted by: Stephen | Nov 8, 2006 12:13:40 PM

Ezra, there's probably a fancy name for this, but you seem to suffer from the delusion that the policies you favor will be popular. As a borderline liberarian, I long ago gave up that delusion.

So, when you sneer at Clintonian incrementalism, self-styled centrists, triangulation and the like, you're sneering at what will keep the D's in power and the R's out of power. The populist agenda may make your heart beat faster, but it's not a winning formula. The D's have a choice: keep the center and stay in power or govern to the left and lose the center and power.

Posted by: ostap | Nov 8, 2006 12:19:05 PM

Or, perhaps ... the American people are just stupid, right guys? They chose the wrong people?

I heard a lot of liberals saying this in 2000 and 2004, a lot. I think I was one of them. But I haven't heard Fred or Guy say this (maybe I missed it).

Posted by: Sanpete | Nov 8, 2006 12:27:16 PM

Only a Leftist can interpret a vote against the expansion of ‘marriage’, by someone who does not want the government to track marriage at all, as an attack on homosexuals.

Posted by: Guy Montag | Nov 8, 2006 12:38:51 PM

Sanpete,

You won't hear me say it either. I wrote exactly what I felt and believe. To boil it down, the people who lost lost on their own.

As far as the party on a whole, Rush is making a good point right now about the sloppy 'leadership' that the party has had for the past few years and is probably a contributing factor. Squishy, left-leaning, giveaway strategy is not a winner for Republicans. It may have been a contributing factor, but it sure was not the main thing.

Would be nice if others (at least I don't think you made a comment on this) would pay attention to what happened with that RNCC ad against Ford. It did not hurt him at all, he got an increase in his poll numbers during the ads run. I do expect the fictional version to be repeated for about 20 years or more.

Posted by: Guy Montag | Nov 8, 2006 12:46:22 PM

Only a Leftist can interpret a vote against the expansion of ‘marriage’, by someone who does not want the government to track marriage at all, as an attack on homosexuals.

Right. Only a bigoted schmibertarian sophist could make a vote to deny people the same privileges he enjoys into some kind of principled stand againt "expanding the right".* I'll say it again: Montag stands for nothing more than "freedom and money for Montag, not for anyone else."

And as far as Fred... It's really pathetic that all Fred has (aside from the name-calling) to crow about is the writing of his style of bigotry into various state constitutions. Pretty much tells everyone all they need to know about Fred and the modern Republican Party.

* (And I say this as a person who actually believes that the state shouldn't be involved in doling out benefits for marriage, but who thinks that as long as the state is doing that sort of thing, they shouldn't do it based on irrational bigotry. Explain to me again how it's Leftist to think that "sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander". Or is simply that basic fairness is not a conservative value? That would seem to be the simplest explanation.)

Posted by: paperwight | Nov 8, 2006 12:47:11 PM

But I haven't heard Fred or Guy say this (maybe I missed it).

Well, somehow our Christian nation has just made a San Francisco liberal Speaker of the House. But she'd better not implement her hard-left agenda, because voters were apparently too stupid to figure out what voting Dems into power means. So it's a little more subtle than a straight declaration that "voters are stupid."

It's also a brilliant way to reserve the marriage issue to the states, something that the whining left was spewing when the federal marriage amendment was up for discussion.

I was spewing against the federal marriage amendment because amending the US Constitution to destroy the possibility of equal rights for all Americans is wrong. The "states rights" mantra of racist bigots who wanted to impeach Earl Warren back in the day didn't enter into my reasoning. "Leave it to the states" hasn't been spewed by the whining left ever since we saw it wielded by the "other women's wombs are our property" crowd or those who were beating uppity Negroes half to death in the South.

Only a Leftist can interpret a vote against the expansion of ‘marriage’, by someone who does not want the government to track marriage at all, as an attack on homosexuals.

Oh, right, cute. You would have voted for the complete abolition of marriage, but you went with "half a loaf" and decided that it shouldn't be "expanded." After all, allowing gay couples to marry and enjoy exactly the same legal rights as straight couples would be government intrusion, but forbidding them to marry is minimalism. I withdraw my criticism. That's a true Libertarian argument, Guy! Hey, if we can reverse those activist rulings against anti-miscegenation laws, we can "shrink" the definition of marriage even more. Whoops, sorry, only a Leftist would draw a factual parallel.

Posted by: mds | Nov 8, 2006 12:48:50 PM

paperweight,

And I say this as a person who actually believes that the state shouldn't be involved in doling out benefits for marriage

I am not bright enough to explain to you that attacking others with your own hypocrisy makes you very hard to believe.

Posted by: Guy Montag | Nov 8, 2006 12:51:29 PM

yes- I love all the biparisan talk. but as has been said oft before- capitulation by the left isn't bi partisanship. if they want bipartisanship- they need to come groveling. it's really that simple.

Posted by: akaison | Nov 8, 2006 12:57:27 PM

oh- and by the way- to all the trolls- paybacks a bitch.

Posted by: akaison | Nov 8, 2006 1:00:23 PM

mds,

Oh, right, cute. You would have voted for the complete abolition of marriage, but you went with "half a loaf" and decided that it shouldn't be "expanded."

Well, you were slightly correct up to there, and then you went off into some fantasy world.

Did you ever bother to look up exactly what I voted for before spewing? Perhaps you did, but it does not sound like it.

If the Paperless Marriage were up I would vote for that. If an amendment granting married couples a lower tax rate were up, I would vote against it. I would definatly vote against an amendment granting special tax rates from another State for anybody in my State.

Actually, I did vote for giving old people the opportunity at a lower tax rate, just for being old and having property. Yes, it is against my general stance.

Apparently, again, I am not bright enough to explain this quite simple position to you so I will stop while you guys continue with the fictional account.

Posted by: Guy Montag | Nov 8, 2006 1:01:51 PM

Squishy, left-leaning, giveaway strategy is not a winner for Republicans.

What's this? Pork? Medicare expansion? I don't think those hurt the Republicans at all. Budget busting hurt, but that was from a lot of things Rush and friends rabidly supported, including massive tax cuts and a very expensive adventure in Iraq.

So it's a little more subtle than a straight declaration that "voters are stupid."

Still far less insulting than what liberals were saying in 2000 and 2004, mds.

Pretty much tells everyone all they need to know about Fred and the modern Republican Party.

Paperwight, you always seem to know everything you need to know about people the moment they disagree with you.

Posted by: Sanpete | Nov 8, 2006 1:07:30 PM

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