Back, with some thoughts on the election

First things first: my apologies to all for the lack of blogging. The extended break had nothing to do, as some of you have surmised, with policies at The Boston Globe with regard to blogging by columnists. What happened was a very labor-intensive work project combined with travel and some stressful personal matters. I should have posted to say I was going on hiatus, but I kept hoping I’d get back into the groove. Hopefully I have now; it has just taken much longer than I thought.

Now I’m back, with some thoughts on the election that was.

Over the course of my life, I’ve voted Republican more often than Democratic. On most issues, I consider myself a conservative-leaning libertarian. I’m also glad the Democrats have taken Congress, if for no other reason than that undivided government (as we have seen over the past several years) breeds arrogance.

In October, The Washington Monthly ran an interesting feature: essays by several prominent conservatives/Republicans on why the Republicans deserve to lose in November. These essays are worth reading today, particularly the ones by Jeffrey Hart, William Niskanen (president of the Cato Institute with which I am affiliated in an unpaid position), Bruce Fein, and Christopher Buckley. I don’t agree with them on everything, but I do think they make, collectively, a pretty strong case that Republicans under Bush have not been the party of common sense or the party of liberty.

Personally, I think the GOP deserved to lose Congress just for the “vote Democratic and get killed by the terrorists” scare ads. Sure, there are scare tactics on the left as well (see, for instance, this rant by Keith Olbermann about how any one of us could be declared an unlawful enemy combatant and indefinitely detained), but at least such rhetoric was not, as far I know, routinely deployed in Democratic campaigning.

I think the terrorist threat is very real, just like the Communist threat was real in the 1950s. But the Communist threat did not (pace Ann Coulter) justify McCarthyism; and the terrorist threat does not justify a mindset that equates disagreement with treason or disloyalty. Sadly, such implied equations now emanate from the upper echelons of the GOP. See, for instance, Lynne Cheney’s October 27 CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer, in which the Second Lady transparently accused CNN of wanting the terrorists to win, or this exchange from Bush’s post-election press-conference:

QUESTION: A little earlier, you said that you truly believe that the Democratic
leaders care about the security of this country as much as you do. Yet just about at every campaign stop, you expressed pretty much the opposite. You talked about them having a different mindset…
BUSH: I did.
QUESTION: … about having a different philosophy, about waiting, about being happy that America gets attacked before responding.
BUSH: No, what did you just say? Happy?
QUESTION: You said they will be satisfied to see America…
BUSH: No, I didn’t say “happy.” Let’s make sure…
QUESTION: You left that impression. Forgive me.
BUSH: With you. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Well, I’m wondering: Looking back at the campaign and previous campaigns, do you think that it’s been harder to pull the country together after the election by making such partisan attacks about national security?
BUSH: I do believe they care about the security. I disagree — I don’t — I thought they were wrong not making sure our professionals had the tools. And I still believe that. I don’t see how you can protect the country unless you give these professionals tools. They just have a different point of view. That doesn’t mean, you know, they don’t want America to get attacked. That’s why I said what I said.

In addition to the hair-splitting between “happy” and “satisfied,” there is also the underlying charge itself: the other side is not patriotic enough.

And that’s partly why I’m glad this message has been rejected. I don’t believe the new Democratic Congress will put America in danger, particularly when its Democratic ranks include conservatives such as Joe Lieberman and James Webb. What actual policy changes will take place, particularly with regard to Iraq, no one knows yet. But the party in power has been humbled; and that’s a good thing.


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8 responses to “Back, with some thoughts on the election

  1. joloco

    Your comments are well thought and insightful. I believe our Founding Fathers understood the glamour of power and set in motion a system of checks and balances that have served our country well.

  2. LetMeSpellItOutForYou

    Good to know you’re back. I hope all is well.

    Concerning the election, I consider myself somewhere on the conservative/libertarian spectrum, and I’m fairly satisfied with the result. The GOP was getting very stupid, and they deserved getting whupped. I’m concerned it might affect our military stance for the worse, but I think common sense will prevail in the end. I have little on which to base any predictions for the future, though, since a lot of it depends on the Democratic party acting more responsibly, which I think they will if they hope to repeat their good fortune.

  3. reader_iam

    I just about fell over when I got the alert that this blog had been updated.

    It’s made my night, though.

    A warm welcome back, Cathy. I hope it’s to stay awhile.

  4. Cathy Young

    Glad to be back, folks. 🙂

  5. Superdestroyer

    Two comments:

    1. There seems to be little reporting or discussion about the impacts of McCain-Feingold. I believe that McCain-Feingold was a boom for the Democrats and will be a bigger boom in the future. How can an election be about issues when issue ads are prohibited. If the only groups that can run ads/media campaigns are the parties, then all elections will quickly become national elections. Thus, politicians can avoid having to answer questions from single issue voters.

    2. I think you are underestimating the overwhelming virtory by the Democrats. There was not one competative senatorial election north of Virginia. With the Democrats demographic and media advantages, I would suspect that the Republicans will have problems maintaining themselves as a national party. I wonder if all of the people cheering divided government will be expressing concern in January 2009 when Hillary Clinton is sworn in and has a senate of more than 60 Democrat senators.

    The more interesting question is not whether the Republican can make a come back (they probably cannot) but what will the US be like with one party rule.

  6. Anonymous

    Great blog with good informations and pictures.
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  8. Anonymous

    Cathy you are a freak of nature and not a conservative bone in your body.get off your lying ass ways and be honest for once you prig

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