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November 7, 2014

i hate us: it was the candidates stupid

Okay, let's hit this in small bites, because there is an awful lot to unpack from the results of the election on Tuesday.

Let's start with a little bit of Why the Democrats Lost.  Well, in many cases, vote suppression, but we'll get to that later.  Actually, I think a large part of the problem is that they had shitty candidates.

This is not universal, of course — Colorado's Mark Udall was about as close to Russ Feingold as we have now (other than Franken), and I can't think of any obvious defects of Alison Grimes in Kentucky.  So maybe not shitty candidates.&mbsp; More like really shitty strategy.

True, the Republicans ran on nothing other than dislike of Obama, but the Democrats ran on pretty much nothing other than running away from Obama, and that is not a strategy.  When a candidate (Grimes) is actually afraid to admit that she voted for the President, who is also a card-carrying member of her party, then that is a strategy problem.  That's a character problem, and that's a candidate problem.  When you have Mark Udall running around the State of Colorado basically only talking about a woman's right to choose, that's a strategy problem.

Obviously all of these campaign deficiencies were advised by the current generation of election svengali's, backed by reamed of polling and data-micromining (and it totally worked in the presidential elections of 2008 and 2012), but, much like a cure for the hiccups, it stopped working, and made candidates seem timid and almost privileged.

For example, unemployment is under 6%, the economy is righting itself (well, at least on paper) and millions more people have health insurance that did six years ago, but you never would have known that from any of the Democratic Senate candidates.  That's just dumb.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:49 AM

November 5, 2014

i hate us: great wave of 2014

Wow, I hate waking up to mornings like this.  Anyone remember 2004?  That was another bad one.  I'm sure I'll have something to say about the Great Wave of 2014 (on the Internet they call something to say a take!), but right now I'm just gonna luxuriate in all this misery and see what kind of fire that kindles.

In the meantime, did you know that yesterday morning the New York Times published an op-ed about how Americans vote in their self-interest?

Most people aren't ideologically pure, and most don't derive their opinions from abstract ideologies and principles. People are more strongly influenced by the effects of policies on themselves, their families and their wider social networks. Their views, in short, are often based on self-interest.

Now you and I know that the past thirty-five years of American politics has been predicated on everyone voting AGAINST their own self-interest.  Just ask the Middle Class.  Oh right you can't ask the Middle Class because the Middle Class ain't there no more!  But hey, a couple of academics got a hold of some numbers that actually a fraction more poor white households vote blue than vote red, so, yeah, sure, our economic self-interest has clearly been to give away all the wealth to the ten or fifteen families who really really deserve it, like the Waltons and the Kochs.

Well, cheers, everyone, here's to everyone voting their self-interest yesterday.  I hate us.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:05 AM

November 4, 2014

get out your vote

Okay sure, it looks grim.  All the traditional news outlets have been screaming about a Wave Election for the Republican Party (when they're not screaming about the plunging toxic popularity of President Obama) so it's a sure thing that the Senate falls to the GOP and then on Inauguration Day in January the ACA will get overturned and only landed gentry will be allowed to vote and Lena Dunham will be deported.  Meanwhile our own personal governor will sail to reelection even though his castle in Albany is festooned with the severed heads of liberals, and our public school system will soon be run by the Walton family who will prepare our children for a lifetime of helping normal folk get Big Big Savings for a buck above the minimum wage.

Really, the atrocities that may befall after today are innumerous.  It's a wonder that we'll be able to get out of bed.

But still: we vote.  There's a whole lot of people on this planet that don't get to, or don't get to in a meaningful way.  And you can argue that we Americans don't get to vote in any meaningful way, thanks to the paucity of candidates and the many similarities in the major political parties, bought and paid for by wealthy business interests.  Fair point, and not one that I'd argue against too hard.  But, we get to vote, and because of that, the craziest things happen, good and bad.  Just take Minnesota, for example — fifteen years ago they elected a pro wrestler as guv, and then six years ago an SNL writer as a senator.  It's possible for the unexpected to happen.  Very difficult, but possible.

So you gotta vote.  Just to keep in practice, just so you can say you did, just to cleanse the cynicism from your soul so that when that actual candidate, one that can make a difference, comes along, you are receptive.

Chances are good tomorrow morning's news will suck, just as it did four years ago.

Go vote anyway.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:27 AM