Nov 9, 2006
I was driving back from San Diego the other night, and Adam and I were chatting about the upcoming mid-term elections. We were agreeing on the importance of electoral reform. I think that -- if we are ever going to make a real dent in the problem of voter participation and also begin to undo some of the disillusionment created by the last two presidential elections -- the electoral process needs to be overhauled so that it is possible for a layperson to actually understand how it works. The way we do it now, I don't think I would be able to audit my precinct, much less a national election, even if I was given the chance to do it. I don't really know what's supposed to happen. I think Adam agreed with me, if I recall correctly, and he went further to talk about the problem of disenfranchisement among the poor and immigrant populations. He was talking about how requiring a driver's license would disenfranchise the very poor in particular, as they are less likely to have such identification (correct me if I'm wrong, Adam), and that previous leadership would never allow such a requirement to be imposed. And, while I completely agree that we need to make certain that one party does not seize or maintain power expressly by keeping the groups who are likely to vote against them from getting their ballots in the ballot boxes, I had to admit to him that I'm growing more and more tired of being a member of the party that relies on the poor and immigrant populations to win. Because like it or not, the poor and immigrant populations are generally less educated and have less influence, and needing them to come out to the polls en masse in order to win has begun to make me feel like we're riding some sort of Democratic short bus. What we need is for the white, affluent, English-speaking citizens to vote on our side, too. What we need is for more people to give a shit about more than just themselves and for Democratic campaigns to call out and trump the six-year-long keg stand that has been taking place in the Oval Office since the hanging chad became a part of the cultural lexicon. Because that seems to be the key policy-making difference between Republicans and Democrats. Republican policies -- that decimate social services, line the pockets of the richest of the rich, foresake the environment, protect the assets of the largest corporations, chip away at healthcare and educational infrastructures, and pay the robber barons of the war machine instead of the soldiers at war -- seem to have one overarching value, and that is that these policies are plainly shortsighted and don't consider the plight of future generations at all. And Republican voters have gone to the polls repeatedly and reiterated this value. "I don't care about the environment. Let them worry about it when I'm gone. I don't want the estate of my wealthy family to be taxed. Let me spend that dough now, and fuck you, schools. I don't care what the rest of the globe thinks of us. I won't be alive to need their help in the next international crisis. Plus, when am I ever going to France? I don't want to pay teachers a decent wage or give public schools the funding they need. I won't be around to be robbed, raped, and murdered by the kids who don't get the proper education. I don't want women to be able to have abortions, because that makes me feel bad NOW. Instead, I want to force them to have their babies and then just not fund the social programs that will help them raise those babies with the proper healthcare and education, because that will happen LATER, and I won't be watching when it does. I'll probably be in Montserrat."
And then the election happened.
And I'm happy to say that I'm encouraged today. For the first time since November of 2000, I'm encouraged. I'm hopeful that a Democratic Congress can restore some sanity in a system much in need of it. I was never terribly partisan before the 2000 election. I never felt I had to be. But I almost feel as if the divisive partisan tactics of the Republican campaign engineers backfired on them this time. Because I would have voted a straight Democratic ticket, no matter who had been running, just to try and restore the balance of power. Which means the issues are lost and the conscience of the voters is lost, and that is a scary precipice to be perched on. I voted this time in the spirit of triage, but I really look forward to being able to vote one day soon armed with just my intellect and powers of reason.
I don't think the mandate of the voters can be selectively honored. But I wouldn't be surprised if Republicans choose to instead find another way to say "mandate."
I echo Adam's sentiment: "I haven't been this hopeful since Bill Clinton."
I'm happy for my party, and I pray they don't fuck it up.
Labels: Adam, Bill Clinton, politics
posted by Mary Forrest at 5:40 PM | Back to Monoblog