Sunday, September 26, 2010

Too Little, Too Late?

Today's Times has a front-page story about attack ads now, finally being launched by Democratic Congressional candidates. It seems that these campaigns have finally recognized that many of the Republicans running against them are sleazy, corrupt, tools of big business, or out 'n out lunatics.

The question, of course, is whether it is too late to alter the dynamics of these races. Had they been run right after Labor Day, perhaps; in the last week of September, I dunno.

At the risk of stating what is so obvious it is cliche, the issue now is voter turnout. There is no question who the angry motivated voters are: they are the roughly 30% of Americans who are, in their own way, fascists. I don't use that term glibbly - we ought to be forthright that a sizable portion of the tea baggers, the Palinites, the Bachmann-ites, were they a political movement in a European country, would be described as "far-right" "ultra-nationalist" and "neo-fascist." Like the National Front in the UK or the Le Pen movement in France. In this country, however, we call them a major and respectable political party.

So will these ads wake up the rest of us and get us out to the polls? It is too late to change minds, I suspect, but it isn't too late to turn out voters.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Choose Your Narrative

For six or more months now the political story line playing in the media has been the crumbling of the Democratic party and the newly resurgent and confident conservatives, embodied by the Tea Partiers. We've all accepted this story more or less and as a consequence in the run-up to the midterm elections the question being debated is only whether the Democrats will suffer a defeat like they did in 1994 or will it be worse?

There has been another version of events out there, needless to say, and only in the week or so has it started to appear in the mainstream. Rather than witnessing a conservative revival, we are actually watching the implosion of the Republican party as it eats its own young.

The recent Republican primaries in New York and Delaware were the events that put this narrative on the media radar screen, but the story has been out there ever since Rand Paul won his Republican primary in Kentucky, and Earl Grey Aficionado Angle won in Nevada. While all politics is indeed local, taken together this Republican primary season demonstrates that the party has been hijacked not simply by its very right wing - which is true - but by its genuinely lunatic fringe.

As a result, the Republican mayor of Reno, Nevada has announced that he will be supported Harry Reid; Charlie Crist is running as an Independent for Senate in Florida and has a good chance of winning; the right-wing vote for governor in Colorado is deeply divided now that former Congressman Tom Tancredo - a nut of the highest order - is running on the American Constitution Party ticket; and most recently Lisa Murkowski has announced her write-in campaign for Senate in Alaska, after she lost to a right-wing Tea Bagger in the primary.

All of which is good news for Democrats - or it ought to be. What confuses me is why Democrats seem so beaten and dispirited right now. And, more to the point, why the predictions are that they won't turn out to vote. President Obama has scored more major legislative victories in his first 18 months than all but a handful of presidents and we have our tails between our legs.

Republicans will always have the advantage of money, and of a party discipline that Leonid Brezhnev would have envied. But the opportunities right now not simply to retain control of the House and the Senate, and to strangle the Tea Party in its crib strike me as quite good.

So c'mon folks - the only way to ensure that my second narrative, the story of GOP self-destruction, prevails is we all energize and turn out the vote to repudiate the Tea Party.