Category: Election 2012

The Election Post Mortem

You can always count on Americans to do the right thing—after they’ve tried everything else – Winston Churchill

I think our Constitutional Republic is the least worst form of government. That sounds like damning with faint praise but it’s not. It’s a triumph. We can argue and disagree and governments can change hands (or not) without a drop of blood being spilt. No matter what the result, that is preferable to the previous hundred thousand years of human history. No matter how bad you think Obama or Romney are (or would be), there is no country and no time I would rather be in than American in the 21st century. We stagger and take wrong turns — see the Churchill quote. But the arc of American history, while tangled, is still toward progress.

Whatever the results last night, we Americans will soldier on and do our best, as we always have. I think it was one of the Reason commentators last night who said it’s ironic that we vote in the real bastions of civil society: schools, churches, community centers, etc. We are the strength of this country, not the men in expensive suits thinking they can change the world.

So what did I think of the results?

Ballot Initiatives:

On the whole, I was pleased with how things went on the ballot initiative front. Virginia passed reform for one of the worst imminent domain regimes in the country. Gay marriage won in Maine, Washington, Maryland and Minnesota, consistent with a rapidly shifting public opinion on the issue. Marijuana was legalized in Colorado and Washington and for medicine in Massachusetts, which should give us some amazing legal battles. And issue 2, which would have given unions perpetual power, was defeated in Michigan.

The big blight was California, which continues its slow decline. They passed issue 30, which will “temporarily” raise taxes. They defeated issue 32, which would have limited union payroll deductions. They defeated issue 34, which would have ended the multi-hundred-million dollar death penalty regime that has resulted in zero executions recently. They passed issue 35, which could lead to heavy sentences on anyone connected with prostitution and they passed issue 39. The redistricting issue 40 passed and issue 36 passed, which will only impose three strikes on felonies. But overall, this was a horrifying slate of voting for California.

The House:

This was probably the single most important fight of the election and the Republicans won. This means they will control the purse strings for at least the next two years. They can force a deal on the deficit, although I suspect they will have to cave a little bit on taxes (I’ll have more on this later).

Allen West and Joe Walsh went down in flames while Michelle Bachmann barely held on. Alan Grayson is apparently back in. So the clown college contingent is unchanged. But I can’t tell you what a relief the Republican victory in the House is. If it were a choice between Romney and a Democrat House vs. Obama and a Republican House …

The Senate

I’ll have more on this below when I talk about Romney. But I want you to think of these names: Sharon Angle, Christine O’Donnell, Richard Murdouck, Todd Akin. Right now, the split in the Senate is 52 Democrats, 45 Republicans and 2 independents, both of whom are likely to side with the Democrats. Let’s posit a Berg win in North Dakota. That’s 54-46. Had it not been for those four looney tunes blowing extremely winnable seats, the Senate would be tied. Hell, without their bullshit, we might have seen Thompson pull out Wisconsin or Allen pull out Virginia and Republicans would have the Senate.

Just to be clear: I like that the Tea Party is challenging the establishment. I do not like that they have put up four far religious right lunatics in winnable races. The problem is not that they put up conservatives. The problem is not even that they put pro-life religious right people. Sane pro-life conservative christians have won their races. It’s that they put up people who were so far out on the wing that even Republicans didn’t want to touch them. A Republican senate would have been very nice things to have for the next two years, particularly when it come to SCOTUS.

That said, we at least have enough senators to filibuster. Although I think the filibuster abuse needs to stop, I’m not against it’s occasional use to stop bad laws.

I’m disappointed that Scott Brown lost but I really think he should come back in two years to try to take out John Kerry. Kerry’s an institution but I don’t think he’s invulnerable, especially after two more years of Obama. And wouldn’t you just love to see another Kerry concession speech? Come on, I know you would.

The President

Ah, the big one. I know we’re going to have a long discussion about this. But here are my initial thoughts.

I do not think Mitt Romney was that bad a candidate. I think he’s a good man and a capable manager and he ran a solid campaign. That really came across in his short but gracious concession speech last night. And the surge in the polls he enjoyed was a reflection of America realizing that. I think his flip-flopping hurt him. We’re used to politicians tacking to the base in the primaries and the center in the election; but Romney completely reversed on many issues. That did not go unnoticed by the electorate. I spoke to at least one person last night who voted for Romney because she wanted something different but admitted she didn’t knew what she’d get with him.

Romney’s being criticized for not attacking Obama enough, but I find that absurd. He spent three debates raking Obama over the coals. In the closing days, they ran ads in Pennsylvania that were all about the President and barely mentioned Romney. If you want to get tactical, the problem was not that he didn’t attack Obama enough. The problem was that he didn’t give people enough to vote for except vague promises to balance the budget in about 10 years, maybe.

I’m reminded an awful lot of the 2004 campaign. The Democrats thought it was enough to just run against Bush and his unpopularity would carry the day. But Kerry never gave us an idea of what he wanted to do.

But I think the problem is far deeper than that. We seem to be missing the writing on the wall, which is that 2008 was not an anomaly. The Republicans have now lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. Why? Well, check out the Presidential cross-tabs. Check out which groups Obama and Romney won:

Obama: women, everyone under 40, blacks, latinos, asians, liberals, moderates, catholics, jews, muslims, non-religious.

Romney: men, everyone over 40, whites, conservatives, protestants (especially evangelicals).

There’s some overlap in those, of course, but the message is clear: Republicans are rapidly becoming a party of old white protestant men, the one demographic that is not growing. What’s particularly alarming is the plunge in certain demographic groups. Republicans used to get 80% of the Muslim vote; now they get less than 5%, almost certainly because of anti-Islam rhetoric from the party fringe. Bush 43, to his enormous credit, made great efforts to court the Latino vote and regularly polled in the mid-40’s. Romney got 27%, almost certainly because of anti-immigrant rhetoric. The drop in Latino support alone is basically Obama’s margin of victory. Young people have been driven away by anti-gay rhetoric. I’ve said that I think the near-record 18-point gender gap is more a product of different philosophies than the “War on Women”. But the remarks of people like Akin certainly didn’t help.

Just to be clear: none of that is Romney’s fault. He dropped culture issues as fast as he could. He tried very hard to be inclusive. I think it very likely he would have governed as a social moderate. But the simple fact is that Republican brand has become toxic in many segments of our society. And this isn’t about pandering. These people are Americans; their voice matters.

There’s going to be a lot of soul-searching over the next four years and certainly cries to avoid “moderates” and “RINOs” in the future. But the way I see it is that the Republican Party needs to focus itself like a laser on fiscal and economic issues. Mitch Daniels had the right idea: declare a truce on culture issues. Try to maintain the existing framework of abortion law (parental notification, no public funding, etc.) while not extending it. Move to a neutral position on gay issues while protecting religious freedom. Come out in favor of serious immigration reform with the difference from the Democrats being rigorous enforcement. Purge the Todd Akins and Michele Bachmanns of the party to find people more like Marco Rubio or Paul Ryan: conservatives who are religious and proud of their faith but not crazy; men who embrace immigration but reject law-breaking.

Ed Morrissey:

We do not need to change our values, but we do need to find ways to communicate them in an engaging and welcoming manner. We need to think creatively about big issues, philosophy, and how we can relate conservative values to the needs of a wider range of voters. Conservatism cannot become constrictionism, or the realignment will continue, and it will become ever more difficult to win national elections.

This will require a new set of national leaders for the Republican Party and conservatism. We need men and women who can think creatively, produce a positive agenda that isn’t defined by an oppositional nature, and who can eloquently communicate that agenda and the values that drive it. That should be our focus over the next two years before we start thinking about who to nominate as the party’s presidential nominee — and if done properly, that process will naturally produce the right leader for conservatism. And if that is done properly, too, perhaps we’ll be in position for another realignment four years from now.

As I said during the convention, I see hope on the horizon. Nicky Haley, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Susanna Martinez, Scott Walker — these are serious conservatives who are more interested in governing and leading than in demonizing the opposition. These people are making serious changes on the state level, rescuing entire regions from fiscal apocalypse and putting together broad coalitions. These are the men and women who can rebuild the GOP into the center right party it is supposed to be: one focused on fiscal responsibility; one that believes in a hand not a handout; one that respects and sustains faith while not pushing it.

And this works. Scott Walker won his recall and the Republicans took back the Wisconsin legislature last night. Christie may have a tough fight next year, especially if the very popular Cory Booker runs; but he remains popular. Other Republicans are finding equal support and success with this approach.

(And, in fact, I would say Mitt Romney was a part of that renewal. He did earnestly try for a broader appeal. Had he not, this would not have been as close as it was.)

The GOP has now spent six years wallowing in the darkness, trying to find its voice. Its only unification was a hatred of Democrats and of Obama in particular, interrupted by the occasional circular firing squad and ritual suicide.

We literally can not afford that anymore. I’m cooking up a post on what I expect for the next four years, but the short story is that, while I don’t expect apocalypse, I don’t expect things to improve much either. I think we might be able to limp through to 2016, but not much beyond that. Beyond that, we really do need change we can believe in. And that requires a much healthier GOP.

Random Post Scripta: Anyone notice that, apart from a few idiots, Romney’s Mormonism never came up? I am extremely grateful for that.

Gary Johnson is polling at 1% right now. The media will ignore this obviously. But I’m not sure the politicians will, especially if Johnson can build on that in 2016 (preferably at Clinton’s expense, not Daniels’).

In the end, we spent billions of dollars to flip two states over to the GOP. This was a status quo election. What was the message from the electorate? I have to think it was a lack of confidence in either party. It was mostly a “come on now, grow up” message.

I find the talk that this was a fundamental shift in America to be hilarious, especially the talk that this is fundamental shift to the Democrats or to dependency. There was very small shift last night — and it was to the right. NYT’s cover page has an awesome graphic showing how the country moved redder this time. But I think the insanity of the GOP fringe tempered that rightward shift just enough to keep Obama in office.

I’ll post more analysis as I come by them. I linked to Morrissey’s essay above, which is worth your time. Here’s Ken at Popehat and Bernstein at Volokh and you should read everything Doug Mataconis is posting at Outside the Beltway..

I didn’t say much about Obama because there’s nothing much to say. He held serve. He had a formidable ground game, just like he did in 20122008. But I have to think he’s looking at a narrow re-election (he’s the first incumbent to lose popular vote be re-elected while losing popular vote share since Roosevelt in ’40 and ’44), zero coat-tails, a Republican House and a slight rightward shift nationally. If he wants any sort of legacy other than a massive pile of debt, he’s going to have to work with the Republicans. There’s simply no other way.

Obama Wins and Plots Revenge

If you’re reading to find some rah-rah encouragement or a “silver lining”, well, I don’t have any. I’m also short on bitter tears and angry rhetoric. Sorry to disappoint everyone on both sides of the partisan divide.

I posted a song that expressed my feeling overall about the election result in 2008, back on the VO. It was “Who’s Gonna Save Us?” by the Living End. They say, “Who’s gonna unite us?/Who’s gonna divide us?” As it turns out, the answer to their questions was respectively “Nobody” and “Everybody”.

Continuing that tradition, here is my post-election song for 2012.

Maybe it’s sour grapes, but I have long felt that no matter who would win the 2012 election, it was too late to reverse the economic catastrophe this country is facing and probably has been since Obama blew it with the Stimulus. Now that Obama has won, I don’t feel as bad about the fact that we have this doom looming. The American people have chosen that fate. As I’ve been saying over the past week, it’s Obama who is now holding the bag of shit that’s going to burst. It’s only fair since 1/3 of the shit in there is his.

I defied the polls and got burned. Again. A slow learner, I guess. We can dissect what happened as more information comes in, but I have to say I’m still surprised. Romney ran a good campaign and Obama had nothing to run on. The American electorate, in their inexplicable way, have chosen to preserve the status quo (Democrat President and Senate, Republican House) that has paralyzed the federal government for the last two years even though they should know full well that the fiscal cliff and debt ceiling fights are coming. Obama failed in his first term at uniting Americans. The election proves that it’s only more divided, but still a bit in his favor.

God damn it, something should have given there. I have absolutely zero idea what message the American people have sent. Why did Obama deserve re-election? What is he supposed to do now? What is the House supposed to do? They’ve all been rewarded for partisan point-scoring while accomplishing jack shit.

This is definitely one for the books: Nobody has a mandate or even a plan to carry out with that mandate. Why in the fuckity fuck did we even have an election, really? I’m not angry or even anguished today. The 2008 loss was crushing and broke my heart but this is just…stupid.

Can it be that we really do have a Democratic majority in the US? I mean, Obama lost independents, based on the pre-election polls. He ran a negative, divisive campaign. He was totally focused on turnout from his liberal base. He converted no McCain voters to his side (seriously: I don’t think he got a single person) and lost states that he’d won in 2008. He was repudiated firmly in the midterm election of 2010 and probably will be again in 2014. The GOP had its highest party ID in the history of presidential polling coming into this election.

And he still won.

I don’t want to point fingers anywhere just yet, but I can’t see any sense or wisdom in these results. It’s like the Casey Anthony verdict of election results. People happily voted for a ridiculous outcome and can’t really tell you why they did it.

As I see it, the status quo was chosen and embraced. People turned out in massive numbers, this time to prevent change. Neither side has anything to offer and no need to compromise with the other. We’re sleepwalking into something really, really bad and seem to be pretty copacetic about it.

Half of the electorate still doesn’t understand that we’re in a crisis period that is waiting to gain strength. A paralyzed government guarantees that it will. This is not something I look forward to, even on “I told you so grounds.” Obama insisted on putting off the debt ceiling and taxes until after Election Day and he got it. But I don’t think it occurred to him that he was simply postponing having to deal with the exact same fight as before, now arguably worse for his side.

So yeah, I ignored what the pollsters were showing me. I thought that the American people were ready to come to terms with our fiscal and economic problems and would recognize that Obama is obviously not up to the job. I was wrong. Call it misplaced optimism on my part.

After the 2004 election, Michael Moore curled up into his bed and all but wept hysterically with his boxers twisted up his fat, smelly crack for a couple of days as the pizza boxes and Faygo bottles piled up around him. Got that visual in your head? Good. Don’t do that shit.

I’m going to finish this post and go back to work with dignity. We’re not a bunch of libtards who base our happiness on elections are we? We don’t blame our own difficulties and setbacks on larger forces beyond our control, do we? Of course not. Had the other side lost, they’d have burned a couple of blocks of real estate and thrown temper tantrums to one degree or another. Not us. Nothing is settled yet.

We’ve lost an election, but not our country. I don’t know what “revenge” Obama and his people have in mind now, but our own will be to continue resisting his class warfare, statism, and attempts to tear this country apart along every line imaginable. Our revenge will also be Liberty’s.

Stick with us here as we document it all. And go to work, assholes.


Here is your Grand Election Day Open Thread, courtesy of the Daily Thrill

It’s 6:30 AM in the Midwest and the polls are open. I’m going to go take care to vote.

Help me out today by sharing what you see at the polls (US only, of course, you smartasses), read, watch on tv, and come across on the Webz.

At some point tonight, we’ll know which of these two candidates wins the Presidency and gets all the blame for everything that goes wrong without having enough sole power to actually accomplish anything. The winner can look forward to the implacable hatred of half the population while his agenda dies in Congress to laughter. He will be a broken, exhausted, and aged creature in four years. As he deserves.

God Bless America.

The Endorsements We Don’t Need

Thankfully, our long national nightmare is about to end. (And, two days later, another will likely begin). I won’t make predictions. I’ll just repeat what I said in the comments: if the polls are right, Obama will win. If they’re wrong, Romney will. Polls are interesting, but they are not reality. We know the shape of the wave function. But it won’t collaps until tomorrow.

I’ve made my choice clear and I think it’s pretty clear who everyone on the blog is going to vote for. But the thing that always amuses me when we get to the endgame are the endorsements.

First, you get the newspapers. Why should anyone care who they endorse? Some have endorsed Romney; most have endorsed Obama. But these endorsements are often less-informed than your typical voter. Check out the NYT’s endorsement: no mention of crony capitalism; no mention of how financial criminals got off scott free; no mention of drones or kill lists; no mention of the ramping up of the war on drugs (in fact many in the media have falsely claimed Obama has backed off of the war on drugs). It reads, as almost everything from the NYT Op-Ed page does, like it was cribbed from a Democratic Party press release. Anyone who votes based on NYT’s endorsement should have their head examined.

Then you get the celebrity endorsements. The only time this gets interesting is when you have something like the Stacey Dash situation, where a black actress had invective — including racial invective — thrown at her for having the temerity to endorse Romney. But I would submit that if you are basing your vote on whom Sam Jackson endorses or whom Lindsey Lohan endorse, you really should have your franchise taken away and given to some 11-year-old-girl who can be bothered to pay attention.

The third category are not really endorsements, per se, but the preferences of foreign countries. I am not going to say these are completely useless. Staying on friendly terms with countries is, after all, the President’s job. And I don’t subscribe to the theory that foreign countries want an American leader who is weak; they need our aircraft carriers in their seas more than we do. You’ll notice when some country gets whacked, they don’t call France for help. However, these preferences are going to have precisely zero influence on the electorate. If anyone ever told me they were going to vote Romney but decided on Obama because 81% of India supported him, I’d call the guys with straight jackets.

In the end, we can talk about soccer moms and swing voters and who has endorsed what. But it’s going to come down to one question:

Which of these guys is going the fuck the economy the least?

We just have to hope that our fellow citizens’ choice turns out to be the correct one. And whatever the verdict tomorrow, our job as citizens has just begun.

EPA is at it again: Obama promise to kill coal industry.

Obama and his donkey cohorts are certainly not happy that anyone is pointing out how radical environmentalist assholes at the EPA are actively taking measures to keep Obama’s promise to destroy the coal industry, but the plan exists. And they are in a hurry to foist this massive pile of dung that will cost our economy some $700 billion out of fear of a Romney presidency.

President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency has devoted an unprecedented number of bureaucrats to finalizing new anti-coal regulations that are set to be released at the end of November, according to a source inside the EPA.

More than 50 EPA staff are now crashing to finish greenhouse gas emission standards that would essentially ban all construction of new coal-fired power plants. Never before have so many EPA resources been devoted to a single regulation. The independent and non-partisan Manhattan Institute estimates that the EPA’s greenhouse gas coal regulation will cost the U.S. economy $700 billion.

The rush is a major sign of panic by environmentalists inside the Obama administration. If Obama wins, the EPA would have another four full years to implement their anti-fossil fuel agenda. But if Romney wins, regulators will have a very narrow window to enact a select few costly regulations that would then be very hard for a President Romney to undo.

WTF? The EPA passes regulation and congress again is side stepped? Is this shit even legal?

Hey people in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia! That asshole that says we should stay the course with him, because he has done such a great job for the last 4 years – everything bad is Boosh’s fault too! – on the economy and energy, plans to shut down the coal industry your state so depends on. Obama meant it when he said he was going to kill coal as a source of energy, and we are seeing it in Technicolor. Of course the usual idiots will pretend this is not going to kill the coal industry, because it doesn’t explicitly spell out that’s the intention, and argue the same stupid semantics they did the last 4 years to pretend these environmental radicals do not give a flying fuck how expensive energy becomes for the serfs.

At the risk of being made fun off, I have to say that as a Redskin’s fan I rooted yesterday for the Carolina Panthers to win, because of this. Don’t worry. Obama has a job prospect when he is sent packing after tomorrow.


I’ve made my position on the voter fraud thing very clear: 1) I think it does happen; 2) with the exception of close elections (e.g., Al Franken), I don’t think it happens enough to swing elections. Hypothesis number one keeps being confirmed:

FBI agents arrested a woman Friday in Las Vegas on charges that she tried to vote twice in the presidential election, Secretary of State Ross Miller said.

A criminal complaint accuses Roxanne Rubin of casting a ballot at an early voting location in Henderson on Oct. 29, then trying to vote again at a polling site in Las Vegas on the same day.

Miller said poll workers questioned Rubin when they found her name in a database that showed she had already cast a ballot, but she denied having voted and insisted she be allowed to vote.

The election workers did not allow Rubin to vote and reported the incident to the Clark County registrar, who notified the secretary of state.

One little quirk here: she’s a Republican. Yes, it’s possible that voter fraud takes place on both sides. It will be amazing to watch the Left twist themselves into a pretzel on this issue as they cry “Republicans are trying to steal the election!” while still trying to pretend that voter fraud doesn’t exist.

(The second part of that hypothesis — that voter fraud is not enough to decide all but the closest elections — comes from the same source as my lack of belief in 9/11, lunar landing or bigfoot conspiracy theories. Voter fraud on a massive scale — thousands or hundreds of thousands of votes — would involve hundreds if not thousands of conspirators, all of whom have maintained an amazing silence. It would also have to involve Republican poll watchers, poll workers and canvasing boards and likely several Republicans Secretaries of State. I just don’t see that kind of conspiratorial masterpiece emerging from the Cavalcade of Clods.

So why should worry about vote fraud if it doesn’t involve zillions of votes? Because it’s wrong and illegal. And because it could swing a very close election and probably has.)

The flip side of voter fraud allegations is voter surpression allegations levied by liberals. I’m not a big believer in those either. As with voter fraud, it’s not that voter surpression effort don’t exist; it’s that it’s a small effect. Over at Moorewatch, we repeatedly took apart the most famous claim of voter surpression: Michael Moore’s wild allegations about the 2000 election and Florida “strike list”.

Nevertheless, I wish Republicans wouldn’t do shit like this:

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, whose decision to try to restrict early voting was thrown out first by an Ohio judge, then a federal appeals court and denied a hearing by the U.S. Supreme Court, will be back in court again this month after he issued a last-minute directive on provisional ballots that not only contradicts Ohio law but is also in violation of a recent court decision and the opposite of what Husted’s own lawyers said he would do.

As reported by Judd Legum at ThinkProgress, Husted ordered election officials not to fill out a section of the provisional ballot that verifies what form of identification that the voter produced and that, if it is incorrectly filled out, the ballot will automatically not be counted. However, under the law establishing the provisional balloting procedures, according to the lawsuit filed against Husted on Friday, it is election officials that are supposed to record the type of ID provided, not the voter — and that election officials are supposed to attempt to resolve any questions on the spot.

Husted, frankly, needs to shitcanned. He has provided immense fodder for liberal conspiracy theorists with crap like this. He narrowed early voting from five weekends to one, which is resulting in huge lines and chaos at Ohio polls this weekend, especially in Democrat-heavy inner cities. And it is absolutely unconscionable that he would give pollsters incorrect orders on how to deal with provisional ballots (of which there may be several hundred thousand). Filling out a provisional ballot form is not difficult — it’s a pretty simple form. But the appearance of impropriety is not something we can afford.

(It also contradicts what we said in 2000. You may remember that one of the things the GOP argued in Bush v. Gore was that it is unfair and illegal to make up the election rules as you go. The rules for running an election should be set months in advance and everyone should stick to those rules. Ad hoc changes — whether it’s counting hanging chads in a third recount or changing the rules on provisional ballots — are an open invitation for bullshit.)

One of the most aggravating things that could come out of Tuesday’s election would be the refusal of either side to accept the result if it’s close. Republicans might scream about voter fraud; Democrats might cry about surpression. There is little evidence that either of these is powerful enough to swing the election unless Ohio 2012 turns into Florida 2000. But these conspiracy theories are fed by Democrat refusals to countenance the reality of voter fraud and Republican efforts to monkey with election laws at literally the last minute.

We don’t need this.

Administration Expectations

I’m more interested in what happens after Inauguration Day than what happens on Election Day. As much as I want Obama out of office, I wonder how much it would really matter if he loses. My own sense is that his election is all about who is going to be holding the bag of shit when it finally breaks.

As I’ve said in another thread, I think Romney is going to win on Tuesday (assuming that the ballots are all counted and there aren’t any court challenges to deal with). I like Romney and even favored him in 2008. Not that I had any special love for anti-gun, big capitalist, Mormon governors from liberal states. I simply thought he was the best qualified because of his executive experience. His positions are a bit (to put it mildly) flexible and I can easily see him being a Bush-style disappointment on the domestic policy front. But I’m not here to give reasons to vote for or against him. Hal has done an utterly thorough job of it already. Obama could win too, sure. Sometimes my foresight is blinded when I confuse what is happening with what I hope will happen. It’s why I try to stay emotionally unattached. Maybe enough people believed Bill Clinton when he said at the DNC that nobody could have reversed the damage in four years and Obama will pull it together if we just give him another term.

One of these two assholes is going to win, that’s all we know. If Romney wins, he comes into office with a Democratic Senate Majority (or Minority, not sure what to expect here) Leader who has already vowed not to work with him. He will also have a hostile press that will suddenly start noticing again how jacked up our economy and foreign policy are. The potential for a quagmire is limitless. What can he do?

Obama will suffer with an uncooperative House and maybe a Senate. Reid has been, at best, unhelpful to Obama so I have to wonder how much good it would do for Democrats to hold the Senate with an Obama win. Worse, if he wins, it will because of the angry, fearmongering campaign he ran. The divisiveness is not going to fade away just because he squeaks by in a narrow win. Bush made this mistake in 2004 and paid for it dearly the minute he tried to accomplish anything. He was right that something needed to be done, but the other side found that it was better and safer to reject compromise. They turned out to be right–for their own political gain.

Traditionally, presidents in their second terms face scandals and don’t seem to accomplish much. Reagan had Iran/Contra, Clinton had his privates made public, and Bush was simply ground down by Iraq and Katrina. Obama already has Benghazi percolating, even though most of the news media is helpfully keeping the story quiet and not asking a lot of pesky questions until the election is safely over. Obama will do what what he has been doing for the past two years: throwing up executive orders with zero permanence beyond 2016. I suspect that if he wins, he’ll leave a hollow legacy and ultimately destroy the Democratic brand for at least 12 years (to the extent he hasn’t already; we’ll know soon enough).

That’s not a reason to want him to win, but it just highlights the impossibility for either one to accomplish anything with his bag of shit. That bag contains the long-awaited double-dip recession, more credit downgrades, the possibility of inflation, rising threats overseas, and on and on and on. Gridlock is great when we want to avoid the kind of populist overspending that drives us further into debt, but when the government is so dysfunctional that it refuses to pass a budget for four years even as credit agencies continue to warn it about its recklessness, we should worry.

The questions I have are:

1. Are Americans just too divided and partisan to work with those on the other side of the aisle to solve major policy problems? If so, we are well and truly fucked.

2. What sacrifices does each side need to make to effect a Great Compromise to seriously address the economic and debt crisis? I say that the GOP needs to allow some of the Bush tax cuts to expire since they’re clearly not having any stimulative effect at this point while the Democrats need to give up some of their sacred cows.

3. What the hell is it going to take to get away from this 47% vs 47% nonsense where both parties favor their base and win elections by lying to independents? Are we really that divided or is there common ground somewhere?

Recently, Matthew Dowd wrote a fantastic article about the need for a “peace accord” after the election between divided Americans and I like his thinking. We are way too obsessed with seeing points scored against the other side while ignoring the fact that nobody is driving the bus. This isn’t going to change just because Romney or Obama wins and will only get worse if the outcome is seen as questionable. Somebody needs to win BIG and it just isn’t in the cards.

But how do we do this peace accord thing? Are there any people in government/media/anywhere who have the credibility and know-how to even negotiate this? We can’t seem to quit looking past getting our team into office to realize that the people we elect aren’t governing.

I’ll do my part and turn out to vote, but I’m keeping my expectations safely low until I see evidence that the electorate even wants leadership. Right now, I’m not seeing it and that’s why we’re going to be stuck with nothing but the fool who wins.

Rahm Emanuel was right about not letting crises “go to waste” and it’s obvious that nothing is going to happen until disaster is staring us in the face. In the end, I guess I’m only voting for Romney because I’m less afraid of what he’ll do with it. Anyway, sorry to fill your weekend with darkness!

Split Decision

There has been a lot of discussion recently about a potential split between the popular vote and the electoral college this year. Obama is leading in the polls in several critical swing states while Romney has been holding a lead in the national polls (caveat: Nate Silver points out that the math doesn’t work out. If the state polls are accurate, Obama should have a national lead (and indeed, the RCP average is now tied or has Obama with a very slightly 0.1% lead). One set of polls is likely off. Come Tuesday, we’ll find out which ones).

I’d kind of like to see a split this year since it would weaken the President and create the glorious spectacle of every pundit arguing the precise reverse of what he said in 2000. While it does now appear unlikely, it remains possible. And given that we’ve had two such splits in our history, a third will likely happen at some point.

(There is a very tiny chance of an electoral tie as well, which would throw things to Congress, assuming we don’t have any faithless electors. That would, given the composition, result in a Romney-Biden administration; almost like the worst of both worlds.)

I’ve made it clear that I oppose switching to a national popular vote, but we’ve never really had a discussion. So I want to throw this open before Tuesday’s vote. Should we abolish the electoral college? Should we go to a popular vote?

One of the things that make me hesitate is this: to the best of my knowledge, we have never had a national vote. On anything. All three high offices — the House, Senate and the President — are elected at the state level. Amendements are passed by Congress and state legislatures. In fact, reading the Constitution, you can’t help but be struck by how the Founders went to great lengths to avoid anything approaching a plebiscite.

This wasn’t just because a national election would have been difficult in such a large nation in the 18th century. And it wasn’t just federalism speaking, either. They cleared regarded direct democracy as dangerous (as do I). The beauty of a Constitutional Republic is that the people do not always get what they want. Elections do not give us what we want; elections create accountability.

Because we have never had a national vote, creating one is a lot more complicated that just adding the tallies from the states. Different states have different voting laws and that will create some power disparities. States with stricter voting requirement will lose votes relative to more liberal ones. States that don’t worry too much about counting every single Presidential vote because of the huge margin (e.g., Utah) will have to be more strict. And how do you reconcile the widely varying laws on early voting, absentee voting and electronic voting? What happens if online voting becomes a thing?

No, we’re not just talking about having a popular vote. We are talking, in the end, about federalizing the vote. We are talking about creating uniform voting standards, uniform early voting and absentee policies and, most likely, a national voter registry and ID card. In fact, I can not see that national vote would possible be compliant with Bush v. Gore unless it created uniform standards.

Maybe that’s preferable to the 50-state patchwork we have now. But if so, make the case. Why should we abolish the electoral college? Why should we nationalize the vote?

Poll Fatigue

All of the Serious Conservative Blogs have been killing me with annoyed boredom over their obsession with polls. Not since high school have I given fewer fucks about the use for math. The only thing I can tell from pollsters like Rasmussen is that Romney is either going to win in a glorious landslide or suffer a heartbreaking but very close defeat.

For my part, I think Romney will win comfortably (for whatever that’s worth; look for a post on this over the weekend). But I get that from my own sense of the country’s direction and the behavior of the two campaigns. Is Obama really defending his record? Is he laying out a coherent 2nd Term plan beyond “I’m Not Romney and Not Me From the Past Four Years Either”?

Also, I look at the most meaningful quantifiable measurement: Money! One campaign is bringing it in and spending it in states that the other won comfortably last time. The other one is taking out loans and pulling ground operations out of certain states that it won in 2008.

Polls are great for filling a slow news day, but what exactly do we get out of it that we can’t see for ourselves? When I read the comments sections on some stories about polls, I want to laugh at the people who say, “Hey, I counted X Romney signs in my neighborhood and only X Obama signs here!” Not because they’re ignorant, but because I’ve also found that to be a reliable indicator of how a state will probably vote. In 2004, I travelled the country a lot on business. I noticed the signs and accurately predicted the way each state would go except Pennsylvania. In the end, my method was more effective in identifying the winner than Zogby. It doesn’t require the hard science and money that Zogby spent either.

There’s a lot of noise out there this week and will be until Election Day. Leave the polls out of this. What do YOU see coming? I don’t care if it’s a gut feeling. Who’s going to win?

She Won’t Haggle

I just read on Drudge that Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) won’t debate her challenger.

Ostensibly, it’s because her opponent has nothing substantive to say; but the truth is that Feinstein is doing it because she can’t possibly lose the election according to the polls. As we learned from Obama v Romney Debate I, these debates that we used to think are meaningless can be huge game-changers for a challenger that the electorate hasn’t gotten the chance to know yet.

I don’t have any admiration for Feinstein and you could blast her for arrogance, not wanting the voters to be informed, and all that. However, I do appreciate her ruthless cynicism.

When you consider that Obama barely holds press conferences, avoids going on hard news shows, and prefers to spend his time at celebrity-worshipping venues like The View; it becomes obvious why. It really does him no harm. If he had done the same thing to Romney that Feinstein is doing to Emken, he might be clearly ahead right now. And there would be nothing anybody to do to make him go.

I have to wonder at what point we’ll see an incumbent president do this too. It wouldn’t be a good thing, but there’s no doubt that incumbents have a lot to lose by having to answer questions.