Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Random Musings on a List

Barack Obama is the next president. The vote was not close, he has twice the electoral college votes and is the first president to have won a majority of the popular vote in thirty years.

While the Dems are celebrating, the Reps are wondering what the hell happened, and the post-mortem begins. I was over on Pajamas Media this morning and saw a list of the Top Thirty Errors That Doomed McCain. The jist: Ayers, Wright, and co. should've been hit harder, Palin should have been emphasized more and those who criticized her silenced, and the spectre of big government exploited much harder.

Holy crap, that's wrong. Not only is it wrong, it could lead to a long stretch of Dem control of the government. I'm just going to do a bit of a brain-dump here as to why I think that.

As it will not surprise everyone, I voted Obama. I analyzed the proposals, thought about what would help the country most, and factored in the "who can you trust" angle, and came out solidly in Obama's camp. Yes, there are risks with some of what he's proposing, and there were some negatives about him that I didn't like. But I honestly believed, after careful research, that there were more risks with what McCain was proposing, and his character cred had deteriorated over the course of the campaign to the point I believed Obama was being more honest.

Thing is, I used to vote Republican. Back when they didn't consider a tax cut for the middle class a socialist idea, but one of the tools in their fiscally conservative kit. When the abortion issue was important, but still in balance with the rest of the platform. Not a litmus test of whether you were good or evil, in or out. When they talked about incorporating work into welfare, to make it a hand up, not a hand out, but didn't dismiss all welfare recipients as thieves. When I could read transcripts of what their VP pick was saying and not giggle. Much. Okay, I giggled at Quayle with the "potatoe" thing. But I didn't think he was utterly incompetent, he didn't have people praying over him that witches would stay away, and they didn't try to sell me someone who really didn't know what they were talking about, and I voted for him. Back when the campaign was about what the Reps could do for us, not just how evil the Dems are - while demonizing some policies that they themselves had once espoused. When the far left-wing looked like moonbats, not sane in comparison.

The list on Pajamas media only underscores all the reasons why I ditched them this year. And if they keep going that direction, I will continue to vote Dem.

I left a comment over there, to the effect of: If you want to know how you lost the election, why don’t you try asking people who started out thinking McCain was a decent pick and ended up thinking there is no way they will vote for him? That’s your target audience, the people you lost. If you buy into the fallacy that they are simply sheep who fell under the spell of some mezmerizing messiah, rather than asking them where they diverged from the Republican issues and what it would have taken to persuade them to come back, you will only compound the error and increase the exodus from the Republican party. From what I can tell, they're not going to listen. The few comments after mine refer to RINOS (Republican in name only) and how those who try to temper the ideology will lose the base and lose the election. Good lord. They don't get it.

They started out, back when I came of voting age, as a primarily fiscally conservative party. Then back around the time of GWB, they tapped into an evangelical streak that put them over the top and thought they had a gold mine. Which they did. They had grafted on a new group of people, who were uber-psyched about electing Christian leaders, and worked hard to get the vote out. Those of us who are more separation of church and state types, but still thought the fiscal policies were good, kept with the program. With some reservations, but still. Then the war came, and they cobbled in the Hawks. That worked, too. We were all shaken up by 9/11, and we were all very patriotic.

But now . . . the Hawks are ignoring increasingly divergent opinions as to how this war should be run. The evangelicals are talking about purging the party of those who don't truly believe. Even the fiscal conservatives are talking about not just reducing government, but ditching some very necessary controls on the free market, and putting it in terms of good and evil, not simply economic theory. The add-ons have co-opted the entire message. If you're not for criminalizing abortions (not just pro-life, but pro- criminalization), you're a baby killer. If you're not pro-war, and pro-war in exactly the same way that the handbook says you must be including pro-torture and pro-warrantless wiretapping, then you're pro-terrorist. And those fiscal policies? They're no longer about what works and what doesn't, they're about good and evil, thieves and communists vs. hard-working Amercians. Corporations are now the good guys, and any controls imposed on them are attempts to steal freedom. The thing is, how many people believe exactly what you do on all these issues? How many people do you think are simultaneously rabidly evangelical, and big into warrantless wiretapping, and unadulteratedly free market? According to this vote, not enough.

They'll continue to dismiss what I say, many of them. They'll write me off as a former RINO, and talk about energizing "the base" instead of pandering to my ilk. And if the Dems really screw things up by taking this historic victory and ramping up the policies to be too far left, the Reps might win a comeback in 2012 without making any changes at all. I might even vote for them, if the alternative is bad enough. But that will be a loss for all of us, because then we'll once more be left looking at two extremes, not liking either, and going "okay, whose worse?" It also takes the momentum and gives it squarely to the Dems, because if they don't screw up, they'll be no opening for the Reps.

Wouldn't it be better to do some studying of what really happened? Obviously you've lost a bunch of voters. Why presume we're idiots who just didn't get the memo? Realize we got the memo, didn't like it, and sent it back for revision. So revise. Ask us where you got off track. Then give us a candidate in 2012 who really represents what the people want, not just what you think they'd better believe in, or else. I have a silly dream that we might one day have two good candidates with good ideas. Different approaches, but both excellent choices, and have a hard time choosing which one is better. I know, I'm naive. But couldn't we try for it? Just once? And meanwhile . . .

Dems: you haven't got a liberal mandate. You have better proposals on how to handle the current situation. Stick to them. The Reps didn't, and look what happened to them. Don't take this election and decide that your left-wing fringe has the right message and you need to hit the extremes even harder. This is a scary, scary time and we're counting on you. For now.

Just an idea.

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