I've been spending a lot of time thinking about politics lately. That might have something to do with the recent election. I've kind of been analyzing what I think happened on Tuesday, and the biggest conclusion I've come to is this: I really like analyzing politics.
That probably makes me a geek. And if that doesn't, this story certainly does:
I was re-arranging my office at work the other day, getting myself set-up for my new job. I was trying to plug in the computer, and as I was reaching under the desk to push the plug into the outlet my hand slipped off the safe part of the plug and touched the metal tines. Let me tell you, getting electrocuted hurts. This is where the "geek" part of the story comes in: , immediately following the gigantic "OUCH!" that ran through my head, my first thought was, "I wonder if I got super powers!?!"
Unless you count my powers of political analysis. I am super at that. Or not. But I do think a lot of people see eye-to-eye with me politically. And more essentially I think most people agree with my overall political view, though we may differ from issue to issue. And those differences might be big (e.g. pro-life vs. pro-choice), but even within those differences there are very often some substantial points of agreement (e.g. it is important to prevent the pregnancies which lead to abortion, it is important to do everything we can to provide for pregnant and new mothers, etc.).
So here goes my quick analysis of last Tuesday's election:
The Republicans are clearly worse off. They've lost congress, they're no longer able to simply rubber-stamp Bush's policies, and they're really going to have to work hard to re-take Congress. The Democrats, on the other hand, aren't necessarily better off. This election wasn't a sign that our country is ready for a sweeping change to Democratic governance, but rather it was a market correction of sorts, where the public realized that they no longer wanted Bush to operate without a strong check from Congress. This election was about balance.
What's especially interesting to note is that I think in the long run, if the Republicans play their cards right, this election will turn out better for them - or at least for a particular brand of them: the "values republicans." The ones who run on pro-choice platforms, anti-gay marriage platforms, no embryonic stem-cell research platforms, etc. Because Republicans have been largely ineffective over the last 6 years at addressing any of those platforms the centrists who elected them weren't willing to give them another shot. Instead the centrists had big issues with Bush, issues they would have overlooked if their values were actually being advanced politically.
What's especially fascinating is that many of the Democrats who won were Democrats who embraced - or at least were more moderate on - those centrist values. Moreover, Republicans are starting to see new blood coming into their party - new blood like Michael Steele, who embraces those social values but also agreed with Biden's (D) plan for Iraq, disagreed with Bush on No Child Left Behind, and wanted to see the minimum wage raised. For centrists, Michael Steele is pretty much a dream come true; he's got both the social values and liberal policies that appeal to centrists. Most people want to see the minimum wage increased, but they also want most abortions to be illegal. Most people want us to devote plentiful resources to education, but they also want to make sure our scientific research is ethical (i.e. no embryonic stem cells when just-as-good alternatives exist).
In my mind then, which ever party does a better job infusing themselves with those types of leaders, then that party will rule the country. What's good for Republicans is that they just had a massive bloodletting, and a lot of the old guard has been eliminated, and it looks like new people will be filling into prominent leadership roles, to take the party in that direction. What's interesting for the Democrats is that they have some of those same people in leadership roles already (Harry Reid, new Senate majority leader), and a lot of those people were just elected, but they've also got a bunch of the old New England-Liberals still running the party (for example, Nancy Pelosi (yes, I know she's from CA, but she fits the New England mold), House Majority leader). If the Democrats really want to keep their power, they're going to have to be responsive to the centrist public that has given them a chance, and not to the more extreme liberal base.
Ok then, that's my analysis. In summary: for Democrats things went good, but there's no reason to expect it in the future. For Republicans things went bad, but there's plenty of opportunity out there for them to become even stronger.
Oh, and I'm seriously considering starting an all political blog, as sort of a grass roots way for expanding my political views, providing a stronger voice for centrists like myself, and developing my policy ideas. But I need a good name for it. Anyone have any thoughts?
Oh, and big points for getting the song:
Here's something for your firstborn
George Bush Junior sing along