Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What I Get From this Election

First of all, I don't see this as a mandate, I see this as an absolute repudiation of the child-like behavior of this Congress. Pelosi & Co. didn't have to represent a really good hand to take this electoral pot, they just had to beat the awful hand the Republicans were bluffing on. I mean, Georgia beats Florida every once in a while, its doing it two times in a row that seems to be the kicker. But enough analogies, I see these elections as a distinct victory in the War Against Ass Clownery, but the Democrats are going to have to prove in big ways that they aren't the same neandertals they just unseated.

I think they will, considering I thought this was one of the worst Congresses. Ever. They left a pretty low bar to jump over to gain control.

Thing is, I don't think America will be satisfied, in two years, of just being better than the other guy. Maybe they will, two years is a long time electorally speaking.

What I found more interesting was this news. It may be buried in all the huffing and puffing going on the airwaves today (you talk show callers stay classy in defeat, y'hear?), but South Dakota rejecting the Roe v Wade challenge law, Missouri's Stem Cell research referendum, and traditionally libertarian/conservative Arizona's defeat of a gay-marriage ban are some of the most important referendum level voting guages I've seen in a while.

That for me was the heart stopper. You don't get more Middle America than Missouri, and though the margin was tiny, that demonstrates how even conservative, family based, middle class Americans are willing to support medical science in the face of a blistering culture war battle. Arizona's result should have been expected from the 'outta my wallet and my bedroom' West. Thanks, Wildcats, for remaining ideologically consistent yet again. But wholesome, dyed in the wool Republican, wind swept American prairie South Dakota rejecting - in direct democracy fashion - the ban on reproductive choice?

I almost fell out of my chair.

I think the winds of change that affected these referenda, and played into the national debate, is the most important aspect, politically speaking, of yesterday's election. First and foremost, the culture war backlash may be beginning, as voters grow weary of being told they are under constant assault. Think about it, one of the mainstays and most effective tools of the Republican Party Machine over the last 20 years has been the "values under attack" frame that they hit constantly and reliably, reaching crescendo in 2004. But you can only cry wolf so many times, and end up doing nothing about it, and expect the gambit to be effective. I also think that there is a growing part of the middle class that will begin to tire of feeling under cultural assault all the time - the assault as described by Republicans and talk show shills and their most ardent and obnoxious base supporters - before the broken record starts to be overplayed.

They may also be losing their fire because they're running into real liberals (like me) at work and play and while watching Georgia games at the bar, and we're eating red beans and rice as a side to our medium rare steak, drinking Abita or Sweetwater while watching the game on TV, and we're volunteering to work for Catholic School fundraisers. They see these things, and then they hear from the talking head in a shrill voice, with a psychotic lilt, that godless liberals (like me?) will encourage terrorist takeover, pre-natal genocide, and bring a gay dance hall to their town. I think folks are hearing that nonsense more and more these days, and I think folks are calling "bulls**t."

They'd rather hang with us and discuss Sean Payton's probable elevation to Coach of the Year, than keep listening to 'how under attack' they are all the time. Because football is fun, being under attack all the time sucks.

But anyway, that's what I got out of it. Maybe I'm reading waay to much into it, though.


RightOnPeachtree said...

I think that folks still don't understand the stem cell issue. And the media is complicit in (I think) purposefully muddying the issue by always saying "against stem cell research" or "for stem cell research". No one I know of is against adult stem cell research and there is government funding for adult stem cell research. The issue is embryonic stem cell research. And even that is not illegal. It's just that folks like me don't want the government paying for the destruction of embryos. IVF is legal. It's not funded by the government. Abortion is legal. It's not funded by the government. For the same reason, I don't want ESCR funded by the government. I just don't think folks understand this issue and I think there is a lot of intentional deception going on.

Still, I'm not going to stamp my feet anymore than that about it. I just think it's ridiculous that there is so much confusion and deception with regard to this issue.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Framing 3341: When a political frame backfires because of own side's behavior.

It is a difficult issue to wrap one's head around. Most Americans want to advance medicine, and I'd venture that most Americans don't equate stem cells with creation of life. I think 'cloning' terminology brings up thoughts of Star Wars and the Matrix more than of biotech labs.

I think (probably) that the media is undoubtedly affected by the various interest groups, and their own beliefs, that own the rhetoric on this issue. Many of the culture war issues are like this. More likely, this is a very nuanced issue, and a lot of media types, partisans and pundits try to boil it down to a soundbyte.

That being said, this is where the right-wing interest groups are really destroying their own appeal by playing specifically to the base for political reasons. While your explanation makes a tremendous deal of sense, that is not what kitchen table folks hear when they hear most of the pundits on your side of this.

While you make the distinction, there are a lot of folks on your side of the argument who don't. ["Against Stem Cell Research" = against all stem cell research = against medical advancement = we hate Michael J Fox, a beloved actor, and your uncle Willie who is bed ridden with MS. They're sick, put your big boy pants on a deal with it.]

That's not the media's fault, that is, undoubtedly the image these groups either want to project or allow themselves to project because the spewing radio mouths make your side look like the heartless one in this case.