Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Three Quick Thoughts

Happy post-Election Day!

(1) I'm looking forward to seeing some in-depth post-mortem analysis of the Brown-Warren race.  Here's the big question I'm hoping to better understand: How much of this result centers around the candidates themselves?  Specifically, how many people who might otherwise have tipped to Brown were put off by the negativity of his campaign, the frequent 'put-downs' (i.e. the "I didn't need a GPS to get here" line that he pulled out at every campaign stop), and the candidate's positions and statements?  Then, how much of the result can *just* be attributed to the fact that it was a Presidential election year and the strong union support for Warren?

As others including Gerry Nutter have pointed out, the fact that Tierney still hung on and beat Tisei out on the North Shore helps point toward the latter explanation.  Still, I'd like to think the former matters, because then I'd have more faith in the electorate.  In the end, I still voted for Brown...but after having had the chance to meet both of them in Lowell in one-on-one settings, I blogged here on this site to say that the whole "Brown is a man of the people" and "Warren is an elitist out-of-touch academic" was completely turned on its head for me.

(2) Seeing the diversity last night at the Masonic Center (my polling place) was awesome.  It spanned huge differences in terms of age, ethnicity, appearance, language, etc.  It is my hope that the election and re-election of President Obama -- someone 'other' than a middle-aged white male, helps increase the sense of 'buy-in' that many Americans who might otherwise be disengaged feel toward the political process.  One of the most disheartening things I heard in the run-up to the 2008 vote was that "they won't let him win," with the 'they' referring to a small, mysterious cabal of WASP males pulling all the nation's strings, and the 'him' referring to then-Senator Obama.  Then Obama surprised them all -- he won.  In the run-up to this election, I heard a lot of chatter about 'the difficulty of re-electing a black President.'  (Aside:  Has anyone considered the difficulty of re-electing ANY President?)  For the second straight time, Obama then went and defeated a wealthy, middle-aged, Protestant white male.

It's one thing to say "the system isn't rigged, I swear!" to people who are stuck on the outside while you're perched up on a balcony inside.  It's quite another to be able to show that, and then take the wind from the sails of the racists on both sides of the aisle (the right-wing fear-mongerers and demagogues who make a living trying to scare people into keeping others out, and the left-wing fear-mongerers and demagogues whose living depends on a huge group of people believing they are not really allowed to participate in the system).

The Obama re-election undercuts both of those groups of people in a way that I love.  Once all of the major voting groups feel like true stakeholders, we'll be much closer to eventually seeing a system in which monolithic group voting patterns are broken, and those same people aren't taken for granted anymore.  
That has huge implications for both major parties, and for the whole country, and I love it.

(3) The last time we had a marijuana-related ballot initiative, there was a lot of Chicken Little-ism immediately before and after the vote.  Still, life went on across the Commonwealth, pretty much the same as it did before (minus all the time and energy spent treating small-time marijuana possession as a criminal offense).  Here, again, there were a lot of dire warnings...and yet again, the people spoke to the contrary.  Many of the same nonsense arguments (the 'marijuana is bad because it is illegal so should therefore stay illegal' tautology) and the old 'gateway' standby (how many Ph.D's do you know who didn't finish 12th grade, eh?  Motorcycle riders who started with two-wheeled bicycles?) were brought out, but the crowd spoke.  Loudly.  I am predicting a sky that will remain fixed in the firmament much as before, save for the perspective of some suffering glaucoma patients or maybe chemotherapy patients in need of 'appetite stimulus.'  They might see some relief. 


kad barma said...

I neither saw nor sensed "union" behind Warren's electoral support, except to see and observe it in many conversations before the election *for* Scott Brown and not against him. (That whole barn coat pickup truck thing vs the lecture-mode Hahvahd professor). Which is not to say that union money isn't contributory--just to say it's not decisive by any stretch of any imagination, and the rank and file never votes in lockstep like the leaders like to threaten they do. They just don't. I hear this union excuse a lot among Republicans these days, and it's getting rather tiresome.

I'd put my vote on the negativity of Brown's campaign. His slanders were rebutted effectively, yet he continued to play them right up until the very day of the election. I know a LOT of people who concluded from it that he was really just one of those Republican empty suits in the end, and such opinions were often expressed with wistful memory of idealistic support for his prior more-humble and civil bi-partisanship. Warren truly did not take big business' side against those asbestos claimants. The lie that she did was compelling confirmation not to believe anything else Scott Brown was saying, and that's all she wrote.

The polling diversity at the Masonic center was indeed stunning. I has a conversation with the City Solicitor on the continued problems with handicapped access and she indicated there is a strong look being taken at alternative locations to better handle the crowds and their needs in the future. Downtown is a growing neighborhood, and it would be great to get a top-quality polling location to go with it.

I'm with you on the pot thing. People are already getting ahold of it and smoking it. Nothing much changes, other than the incarceration rate, which I would suggest will be a good thing. The rest of us need to amp up our insistence on education so that kids understand the negative cognitive consequences of early use. In the end, that education will always be more effective than illegality to influence behavior.

The New Englander said...

Kad, thanks for adding those thoughts. The negativity was certainly ever-present, from the GPS comments, the constant harping on the Native American thing (he overplayed his hand), the frat boy sort of lines "I'm glad SHE didn't pose naked," etc.

I can't try and play it both ways -- admittedly, I voted for the guy, and I do wish our region were represented by more than one party. Still, I had some conflict on this vote...although I never considered a Warren vote, I was considering a write-in option right up until Tuesday afternoon.

As I've said a few times here and on other blogs, anyone who needs to tell me he's a regular guy (esp. when he does it two dozen times in a 15-minute stump speech) is anything but.

The more sense I get that people in the "convincible middle" -- moderate Ds and Rs, as well as the Unenrolled legions -- saw all of the things you mentioned and tilted towards Warren, the more encouraged I am.

If it's just about people blindly voting along party lines because of messaging that says only a certain group is "for" you, then I worry.