Methinks The Rumor Of My Demise Are Greatly Exaggerated
Since the very narrow 51% November 2004 win by Bush, right wing blogs have been blindly hammering a message to their faithful that the conservative philosophy and the very conservative republican candidates they support have achieved some sort of permanent electoral majority status. Yesterday's election put a huge crink in that armor.
In recent times democratic governors and senators in the South have become an endangered species, so the victory of democrat Tim Kaine in Virginia as governor was indeed welcome news for the democrats. It at least shows a slowdown of republican control of major Southern offices, and that some sort of democrats can still win in the South. These Southern democrats may not be quite as liberal as democrats in other areas of America, yet it still proves the party can field successful candidates in all regions if they can find the right candidates that appear to be centrist in philosophy. And a last minute bid by Bush to promote the republican candidate was the final political kiss of death. With high gas prices, Iraq, Katrina response questions, White House corruption, and 58% of Americans not trusting the honesty of Bush, the visit by Bush did no good at all for the republican candidate, and only helped to further seal his defeat.
In New Jersey, two multimillionaires spared with one another, but democrat Jon Corzine appeared to be have much better personal connection qualities with the public, while republican Doug Forrester painted himself in a corner with his mean and negative campaigning that reminded some voters of the mean nonsense that is at the heart of the Karl Rove-Dick Cheney-"Scooter" Libby's vindicitive efforts to get even with an ambassador by exposing his wife as a CIA officerbecause of his Iraq War opposition. Nothing could possiby be politically worse than for a republican to paint themselves as the same sort of mean and rotten vindicitve type of personality that characterizes some in the current White House who are under question, yet Forrester thought this was the way to go and sunk his political fortunes with it.
In New York City, millionaire democrat turned republican, Mike Bloomberg was able to claim a win. But most democrats don't really view Bloomberg as a true republican, so the tag didn't hurt in a very poor year to be a republican.
In California, every single statewide ballot measure failed, including the four promoted by the "Governator". Even one very partisan one to prevent union dues from flowing to democratic candidates was voted down. Another ballot measure requiring the pemission of parents for a minor to seek an abortion was also voted down, which must prove that American public opinion is not yet in a position to want to overturn Roe v. Wade quite yet. Even for minor restrictions on abortion, public support is thin. Bans on late term abortions have more support though.
In Texas a constitutional amendment made it more difficult for Texas to ever approve the right of Gay community members to marry. Action from the U.S. Supreme Court overturning such laws would be necessary. But that the antiGay amendment pased by such a huge margin is not surprising. Texas has a very conservative and sexist sentiment on laws dealing with the individual's right to sexual self-expression even in their own home. A woman was recently charged with a felony crime for possession of five adult novelties in her car trunk. Another woman was charged with a crime for offering "tupperware" style parties involving vibrators and similar items for personal use by women. And many adult video and DVD shops have been shut down in Texas with felony obscenity laws. And some in the state still lament that homosexuals cannot be arrested for private conduct in their own home. Anything dealing with private sexual expression is not popular in Texas. Married persons used to face felony charges for "sodomy" in their own home. But then again there's still many in the state that probably think that Bush is a brilliant president and would support a third term for him if given half the chance. In Maine, more tolerant voters rejected a bid to repeal Gay marriage.
In Washington state, a ballot measure sharply limiting public smoking won by a landslide and will no doubt promote similar such laws nationwide. Many of persons most likely to feel compelled to smoke in crowded public places such as drug addicts, homeless people, mentally ill, criminal personalities and others are notorious for not voting, so the vote against this ballot measure was expected to be weak. And the public smoking of many "undesirables" in highly inappropriate locations is further proof of their terrible lack of judgement. Public smokers are often viewed as "immoral" by many nowadays, and besides significant health damage to some nonsmokers and children from secondhand smoke that elevate public anger against smokers, many Americans are fed up with increased air pollution and are increasingly turning to healthy living styles such as expensive organic foods. Many who are health conscious absolutely do not want the 4,000 poisons from secondhand smoke forced on them and defeating all their healty living efforts. And despite high gas prices, an attempt to roll back the state gas tax and cut back on highway repairs may be turned back. Paying over $20,000 for a car only to tearup the front end because of bad roads doesn't appeal to many persons. Many prefer to pay a few cents more per gallon for good roads rather than some repair shop for worn out front ends.
Overall, voters have proven themselves not to be conservative like the political right like to proclaim. They are not entirely liberal either. But there is roughly a 39% core for liberals and conservatives in most places with a solid 20% of moderate swing voters who hold the balance. If democrats can carefully hold to moderate and populist policies they can manage more wins in 2006 and 2008. If democrats can borrow any popular phrase, it must be that the "rumor of my demise are greatly exaggerated".