Sunday, August 8, 2010

The November Vote

How badly will Democrats take it in the shorts?
by Charlie Leck

Less than 90 days!
We’ll go to our polling places to vote for U.S. Senate and House of Representative seats and many state governors in less than 90 days! Get that? Less than 90 days.

How bad a beating will the Dems take?
I can’t help wondering how badly the Democratic Party is going to get whipped; and what kind of a net-loss would be considered by them a victory; and what sort of strategy in the next three months might save the day for them?

In an attempt to get a sense of what the Democrats ought to do to save themselves in this election, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and thinking.

Right off the top, I find it incredulous that the voting public is going to believe in and get whipped up by the silliness and stupidity of Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman. I cannot believe those two simpletons will shape the thinking of a majority of the voters; however, in combination with automatic Republican voters, who simply follow the will of the party, the Democrats are likely to take a healthy beating in all three important areas: (1) the U.S. Senate; (2) the U.S. House of Representatives; and (3) the various races for state executive positions (governors).

Minnesota is a marvelous test state because of its voting history. In 2008 the state was blue and gave its electoral votes to Barack Obama and voted in (by the margin of a thread) a Democratic U.S. Senator. Races for the U.S. House were very predictable and followed traditional lines in each instance.

My first prediction
The 2010 races in Minnesota will be very close. My first prediction is that Minnesota will again elect a governor with less than a majority of the ballots cast. We have not elected a governor by a voting majority since Arne Carlson was given 63 percent of the vote in 1994. Of course, Carlson’s opponent that year was a wildly leftist candidate who chose not to appeal to the center of our state’s political appetite.

We are the state that shocked the nation by electing a buffoonish professional wrestler, Jesse Ventura, as Governor in 1998. Ventura received only 37 percent of the votes, but it was enough for a victory.

I see the same kind of possibility in 2010, when another buffoon (Tom Emmer) could be elected Governor with less than 40 percent of the vote. A third party, or Independent Party, candidate, Tom Hoerner is much more centrist and will drain off support for the Democratic Party candidate (as yet still undetermined). Whoever is elected will win with far less than a majority of the votes.

Minnesota continues its decline as a state of importance and influence
For many decades, through the years that I have lived in Minnesota, this state has been highly regarded in many important categories – (1) as an educator of its children, (2) for the education level of its residents, (3) for the quality of its health care services, (4) for the high standard of its cultural achievements, (5) for the recreational services and areas available to all people, and (6) for the general health of its environment. Since the end of Arne Carlson’s two terms of office, beginning with the election of Jesse Ventura, the state has declined in each and every one of those categories, falling from leading positions in the nation to very much middle level spots. Certainly it hurts the pride of those of us who took such satisfaction in bragging about our state’s preeminent position in all those categories; however, it has hurt far more than our pride since many residents have had to suffer as those high standards tumbled as a result of poor, poor political and governmental leadership.

The 2010 state elections are the most important of my life
I will never have cast a more important vote than I will on November 2. The results of that election will determine whether or not the state will continue its decline. Under the policies espoused by Tom Emmer, the state will keep falling in stature and quality of services to its people. There is no doubt about that in my mind. Naturally, I will vote for the Democratic candidate if that aspirant is either Margaret Anderson Keliher or Mathew Entenza. Our state stands the best chance of beginning to reclaim its glory under one of these two qualified leaders. Under the third party candidate, Tom Hoerner, the state would likely move into a holding pattern. It has to be said for Hoerner that he is no Jesse Ventura. He is an intelligent and reasonable person. Though he is more conservative than I would like and leans far too much to the side of aiding corporations and businesses over the direct interests of the people, he will not, as will Tom Emmer, endanger the state.

The irritable voter
A New York Times editorial yesterday, 7 November, described the American voter as irritable. I would choose to call them “irritated” voters in that they are already deeply bothered and irritated by American politics. How they choose to perceive the problem in Washington is the question of importance. The problem the Democrats have is that the memory of the voter is very short. Most will not remember that the horrible economic conditions in the nation were ushered in under the policies of the Republican Party led by George W. Bush. Instead, our current President is going to take much of the blame. Even those who remember the origins of these bad economic times are going to ask why Obama hasn’t turned things around.

The Times editorial (cited above) claims that Obama’s independent voters “have deserted him.” The editorial describes a chaotic political situation in America.

“the business and Tea Party wings of the Republican Party are alight with fervor and cash, and even season-ticket Democrats are searching for their old enthusiasm.

The Times then offers an opinion about how Democrats must regain the momentum and move the independent back into its column of support – and I agree with that opinion!

Put most broadly, the Democrats have been failing to delineate the differences between themselves and Republicans, to remind voters what Republicans would do if returned to power and how little their policies have changed from those during the two terms of President George W. Bush.

“Recently, this has started to change. President Obama has become uncharacteristically combative, delivering a series of ardent speeches that other Democrats would do well to imitate. In remarks at a Democratic fund-raiser in Atlanta last Monday, he pointed out that Bush-era Republicans had cut taxes for millionaires, cut rules for special interests, and cut loose working people to fend for themselves.

“Since then, he said: ‘It’s not like they’ve engaged in some heavy reflection. They have not come up with a single solitary new idea to address the challenges of the American people. They don’t have a single idea that’s different from George Bush’s ideas — not one. Instead, they’re betting on amnesia.’”

It is time for progressive thinkers to take the offensive against the agents of fear, negativity and retreat! The Tea Party is NOT representative of the American people. I am more optimistic than to believe that for a second. Those who voted so hopefully for President Obama in 2008 must be shaken awake and brought back to the reality of the American situation. There is still more possibility under an Obama administration if he has congressional support. If we install a contrarian Congress, the nation will go stagnant and we’ll suffer more decline rather than a turn around.

Progressives have a responsibility to fund such a message and to spread that message as effectively and as widely across the land as possible. Perhaps it will be heard and understood even here in Minnesota.

As disappointed as we may be with the last two years, this is no time to sit on our hands and watch our nation be taken over by a bunch of vagabonds and buffoons. It is a time for reasonable people to fight for a great nation.


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