Post-election thoughts

I’m afraid this isn’t going to be one of my most eloquent posts. I’m tired and I’m depressed.

After refusing for months to get my hopes up, I got caught up in the excitement yesterday and I really thought Kerry was going to win. Alexandria is a very blue area in an overall red state, so it felt like Kerry supporters were everywhere. It was awfully exciting to go to the school at 8 am and see a line of voters wrapping halfway around the block. And when we heard the Zogby poll saying that Virginia was too close to call, we were on the moon. But that’s not how it turned out in the only poll that matters…

I’m in awe of the people who waited on lines for 4 or 5 or 9 hours in order to vote. They’re my heroes today. I don’t understand why there were so few voting machines — was this an attempt to surpress the vote, or were they just being cheap? I think that the attempts to squelch the minority vote backfired, by reminding people not to take their rights for granted. If the level of engagement that we saw yesterday can be sustained — if people don’t get bitter and give up — this election may be regarded as a turning point in history.

I think Kerry made the right choice to concede this afternoon. It’s wishful thinking that the provisional ballots were going to change anything, and this way he looks classy instead of like a sore loser.

It’s looking like the Republicans will have 55 seats in the Senate. That should be enough that they take a two-seat advantage in all the committees, up from one in the current Senate. That’s significant, because in the current Senate, moderate Republicans like Snowe and Chafee as well as mavericks like McCain were able to essentially veto legislation in the Senate. (For example, Snowe wouldn’t let the welfare bill pass the Senate Finance Committee until she got a promise from the leadership to let her bring up her amendment to add $6 billion of child care spending on the floor.) That won’t be the case this year.

On the other hand, 55 seats isn’t enough to invoke cloture, so the Senate Democrats will still be able to put the brakes on a lot of Republican proposals. The talking heads on CNN this afternoon were predicting that there would be a brief "honeymoon," when the Democrats would be more inclined to compromise, but I find that highly unlikely. The atmosphere in the Senate has been totally poisonous the past couple of years, and I don’t see anything in the election results that will change that.

It’s worth noting that essentially all of the Republican gains in the House are due to the Texas’ legislature’s highly partisan off-year redistricting, masterminded by DeLay. If a genie granted me a wish of a single electoral reform to implement, I’d let the electoral college stand and go for non-partisan redistricting. The way it’s currently done, the vast majority of House seats are totally noncompetitive, making voting for them a pro-forma exercise.

Yikes. I just almost deleted everything I’ve written tonight by hitting the wrong button. I’m going to call it a night and get some rest.

3 Responses to “Post-election thoughts”

  1. Elise Says:

    I just stumbled on your blog and I’m enjoying it a lot. I share your disgruntlement about the results of the election. It is a little hard to believe that so many people support the status quo. But I was encouraged by the fact that even though we lost, we didn’t get clobbered, and almost half of the people who voted agree with me. Hopefully this means we aren’t on as certain of a path toward fundamentalism and destruction as I thought when I woke up yesterday morning. But I suppose that remains to be seen.
    On another note, I wish I had time to read because I would immediately start going through your book list. Maybe this summer when I’m on a break from school….

  2. Jimbo Says:

    I don’t know if invoking cloture too often is an effective strategy. It will just allow the Republicans to run against obstructionism rather than on their record. Certainly it should be used when needed—the Supreme Court in particular—but I just don’t see it as an effective legislative strategy. Just look at how effective the Dems have been the past two years using it. No, they need to be thinking two, even four years ahead. What do they want for the country?
    jwb

  3. Jheka Says:

    I have a copy of the 1989 Indicator here in front of me, opened to page 242, where you signed it next to the “I Like Mike” club picture (the more things change …). I was looking through it for some reason the other day and I thought, hey, I bet that somewhere on the web Liz has an opinion about politics and a whole bunch of other things and hey, here you are.
    Drop in and say hi, on my blog or in person and, of course, give my very best to Tony.

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