Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election Reflections

I have never felt as cynical at the polls as I did yesterday, even after listening to Copland's Lincoln Portrait (complete with narration by Katherine Hepburn) at lunch. Here's why:

  • Discrimination. This is the second time I've had to vote on a proposition to legislate discrimination. We lived in California when Proposition 22 passed, stating that the state would not recognize same-sex marriages contracted outside of California. As if that wasn't bad enough, now good old Tennessee has decided (by a landslide, no less) to write discrimination into the state constitution. The state cannot discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation when hiring persons for state jobs. The state cannot discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation when admitting students into state schools. But by golly now we've decided that the state can discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation when two people of the same gender want the same rights that married heterosexuals have. And we wrote it into the state constitution. Are you kidding me?
  • Dirty Campaigns and Demonization. Our senate race was dirty. It was mentioned on NPR no less than five times (that I heard) as an example of one of the nastiest campaigns in the country. And it wouldn't be so bad if I had really been able to get behind one or the other of the candidates. As it was, however, I felt that I was picking the lesser of the two evils. On top of that, I am so tired of the sweeping, demonizing generalizations. Republicans claim that the Democrats have no "family values" and that Democrats "hate our soldiers." Democrats claim that Republicans want America to be a theocracy. When it comes right down to it, nothing much is going to change regardless of who controls the House and Senate. As a nation, our priorities are still completely out of whack and it isn't the politicians who are going to put things back together again.
  • Screwy Priorities. And speaking of priorities that are out of whack, I am more than a little disgusted by the amount of money spent on the Tennessee senate race alone. (The figure I heard was in the millions of dollars). That makes my stomach turn. It is absolutely sinful (and I mean that in the most theological of ways) that there are children going to bed hungry in this state and yet there is that much money going into a political campaign. I'm disgusted.
  • Two Parties? Jonathan posted about Chris Lugo last week, which prompted me to consider voting for him (Chris, not Jonathan). But of course, "a vote for Lugo would be a vote for Corker" By voting for Ford, though, I essentially said, "Hey, Harold Ford, I agree with you! Or at least I agree with you enough to want you to represent me!" But I don't agree with him on a lot of things. He just happened to be the lesser of the two evils (who had a shot at winning). How many other people who would've voted for Lugo voted for Ford instead because "a vote for Lugo is a vote for Corker?" If they had voted for Lugo would it have sent a strong message to the Republican and Democratic candidates that, hey, a lot of us think you're both full of baloney? If we're voting for the lesser of the two evils instead of the person that we think is right for the job how are we ever going to break free of the two-party system? Are we just being cowards if we don't vote the way our consciences dictate? I don't know.
  • Stupid Voting Machines. The ones where I voted worked fine. I even got a lovely tutorial on how to use it properly. But it seems like everyone was just waiting for the machines to screw up. Ford started hollering early about how a polling place in Jackson had to turn people away because the machines were broken. Turns out that was wholly untrue. It seems that the voting machines are just another thing that the candidates can make a stink over if things don't go their way.
I'm done now.


Mom said...

Well, you have 2 more things to consider as a result of the election-Rumsfeld resigned. Seems as tho' it was due to the mandate from the people on election day.
And even tho' Corker won the state the US Senate will have a new look. Sometimes just voting sends the message.

jga said...

Democracy is the worst form of government --except for all the others.

Although I'm not sure a Decentralized, Democratic Anarcho-Syndicalist model has been tried yet though.

Jennifer said...

Aw come on, Mary Beth! A great thing has happened here. Let's bask in it a while. :-)

Kat E said...

Great post...though I'll second Jennifer's comment (especially in light of the recent news that the VA Senate race has been called in favor of Webb!)

Anonymous said...

Here in Montana, we seem to have turned from Red to Blue, although Burns has yes to concede the rate to Tester

What concerns me more are the little things that crept in. There were three ballot issues whose wording was so crazy you could not tell what you were voting for or against. They all had to do with forcing the state to adopt a certain behavior with respect to budgets, property or other things.

The interesting thing about these ballot issues is that a judge struck them down the day before the election. It seems all the money for the petition drive came from out of state. Also the signature collectors were from out of state and they were caught using some very deceptive practices.

It turns out several other states had similar ballot issues as well.

My question is, what is the bigger picture here? Who is trying to legislate the way Montana manages its budget, and why do they care?

Jenny said...

My biggest issue with our race is, now that the balance of our statehouse has shifted, the first issue our legislators want to revisit is DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME! Come on! We've been on Eastern Time (with DST) for less than a year and we've got to yell about it again!
For me, I grew up in this grand old non-DST state and I think it's sort of silly, but having light in the evening when the hubby came home from work was WONDERFUL: it meant the grass got mowed.
I can't for the life of me see that DST is the first issue the newly-elected Dems want to take on. How about the budget? How about the governor's weird plans they think are bonkers?
Indiana politicians are loopy in general.

Ruth said...

I'm with you MB & Montana Dave! Nebraska had the same problem as Montana - we also had similar budget measures on the ballot, one in particular a spending lid that in effect, would have raised my State University tuition by about 52%! It also came from out of state (although it seems that this one must have used local petition workers). So I'm glad that a judge stepped in on those before you had to vote on them - and that ours was defeated as soundly as Pete Ricketts.

FYI - Ricketts was our Rep candidate for Senate who spent $12M (yes that's right - 12 million dollars!) of his own money and got his rear end chased back to the private sector. I was having a conversation at work on election day in which we pondered all of the wonderful things $12M could have done for the state.

TLS said...

I was at a clergy meeting this week where everyone was ELATED about the elections. And while there is some good news, it is tempered by the fact that alot of other really awful things happened.

The marriage bans break my heart. Just two days after the election, I had to spend 12 plus hours at the state house here in MA (where same-sex marriage has been LEGAL for 2 years) to protest a proposed vote on marriage. It was only narrowly defeated.

I also do not believe that the shift in power will create any radical change. Sure, it will stop the bleeding on the environment, minimum wage, war on gays, and other issues, but I am hesitant to believe it will move left of moderate.

The Thief said...

The reason that things won't change is because all of the politicians say what they think will get them elected while all they're really interested in is personal power.

And though our politics are quite different, we're on the exact same page regarding campaign spending. It's ridiculous. It's sinful. Here in Ohio there was a measure to allow certain places to have slot machines, ostensibly to fund college education (yeah, just like the Lottery was supposed to do), but with the amount they spent on campaigning for it, they could have funded more than they ever could had their bait-and-switch measure passed.