Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Suppose they held an election ...


This being a political blog, I suppose I should say something about this election. It will take some time to digest, even though the general contours of what was going to happen have been obvious for awhile. Tonight I'll just throw out some items:
  • I have always been skeptical about campaign finance reform laws. Politics is about power and and money is power in our society, so interested money is always going to get into the process, somehow, legally or illegally. But the Citizens United decision of the Supreme Court which allowed corporations massively and secretly to run attacks on candidates they don't like is going to make any politician cringe. This is likely to be especially potent not so much in high profile races like Senate contests, but in Congressional and state races where unexpected outside money can make a big difference. We've seen only the warning shots this time around.
  • Self-financed candidates -- McMahon in Connecticut, Whitman and Fiorina in California -- bombed out. This has been a pattern in California -- remember Al Checchi or Michael Huffington? Cash strapped political parties think these people are a cheap date, but this seldom works out. The engagement with others required to raise campaign cash seems to be part of what makes a candidate. Those who evade that chore miss a vital seasoning process. And they never have to demonstrate they have any friends. It takes vast human networks to win elections.
  • Race matters. Senate candidate Sharon Angle in Nevada dared people of color to snub her with vicious ads showing threatening dark-skinned hoodlums. They responded. According to exit polls, the Latino fraction of the state's electorate reached a new high of 16 percent and Harry Reid got over two thirds of their votes. He got 7 in 10 votes from people of Asian origin and 8 in 10 Black votes. He survived.
  • People still want and need change. One set -- young, Black, Brown and white urban types -- voted for change in 2008; another set -- old, white, and yes, bitter -- voted for change this year. With a different electorate, there was a different outcome.
  • This wasn't some kind of repeat of 1994. That Republican wave election was essentially a geographical realignment, the delayed consequence of Democrats throwing down for civil rights and becoming the party of the racially excluded as well as of lower income people. This year was a generational election. Young people under 30 chose Democrats by a 20 percent margin while elders over 65 chose Republicans by the same margin. But the young were just 10 percent of the 2010 electorate, while the old were fully 24 percent. Chait, TNR.
  • Republicans can win when most people voting are old and white. That's not sustainable. The current generation of old white people will inevitably die off; the more racially diverse younger cohort will be the core of the electorate as early as 2020 because there are a lot of them, a demographic bulge such as Boomers once were.
  • Because the divergence in cultures and interests -- in the changes we want -- is so great, we are likely to see outbreaks of cross-generational bitterness over the next decade. Example tonight from a blog comment: "Generation 'I got mine -- you go die in a ditch!' has gotten what it wants..." Older people (yes, I'm becoming one) would do well to realize that youth always wins!
Enough for now ... it's been a long night and a long couple of weeks.

3 comments:

Darlene said...

I am a very old elder and I voted the straight Democratic ticket this time. Some of us did learn something as we advanced in age.

The hope for this country is truly in the youth. I sincerely wish that they keep their idealism and don't become jaded with age.

janinsanfran said...

Me too, Darlene. I too worked for a Democratic ticket as a younger elder. The thing is, even when our age peers are being part of the problem, that still leaves some 40 percent of us who think differently. Those of us who think differently have a special platform from which to encourage other elders to let up already and let the young live ...

sfmike said...

Great analysis, as usual, and it looks like your candidate may squeak through again. I'll put in a prayer.

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