Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The L Magazine's Guide to Not Panicking Over the Massachusetts Senate Election

Posted By on Tue, Jan 19, 2010 at 1:01 PM

This post will be, alas, a bit shorter than The L's Guide to Panicking Over etc etc. Keep cool, my babies:

-Nate Silver, Predictor of Elections, hedges his prediction: "There are a lot of reasons why I might be wrong, and here they are, so that if I am wrong, I will get credit for being right about being wrong." (I'm paraphrasing.)

-High turnout is expected statewide, which helps the Democratic candidate in a Democratic state. Early turnout in Boston, which is essential for a Democratic victory, is outpacing the fairly high turnout for this past November's mayoral election, according to David Bernstein of the Boston Phoenix, though he's not sure if it's enough.

-Healthcare reform will actually still pass one way or another, be it through a sped-up process before the results are certified, reconciliation to avoid a procedural filibuster, further negotiations to get Olympia Snowe on board, or actual flame-breathing dragon-monster Nancy Pelosi whipping the House into voting through the Senate version of the bill. (John Cohn, the New Republic's estimable health care correspondent, runs all this down here.)

-In my previous post I talked about how it only took a year of a black wealth-redistributor as president to reenergize a conservative base, and scare the inattentive and easily convinced. The flip side of this, of course, is disillusionment: It is fucking hard to get anything accomplished in a system of governance as sloggish and fucked-up as ours; it is doubly hard when your agenda involves solving the problems left by your unpopular predecessor, while also trying to effect a significant against-the-tide leftward shift in the way Americans think about their government and the world.

This post is predicated on an assumption about who you are, reading this, but I think I'm right. Dig: Unless you were old enough to vote for Bill Clinton in 1996, this is the first time you've watched a guy you voted for run the country. Unless you were old enough to vote for Clinton in 1992, this is the first time you've watched a guy you voted into office run the country. Unless you were old enough to vote for Reagan in 1980, this is the first time you've watched a guy you were genuinely excited to vote into office run the country—but also fuck you for voting for Reagan!, I only mention him because I'm not sure any modern Democratic candidate inspired comparable levels of excitement. (I couldn't say, Obama's my first president.)

It is reasonable to fume at held-over Bush-era policies, and to second-guess legislative strategies. It is equally important, to remember, that this frustration—as opposed to the funnier, impotent kind that leads to secessionist Facebook groups and you traveling abroad and defensively apologetically joking with strangers in bars that it's not your guy who's fucking the world with a curling iron—is what you voted for, so get off your ass and volunteer for the next election cycle.

Democrats will still control both houses of Congress after the 2010 midterms; for this reason (as well as for personal and intangible ones), Obama will have less resistance from Congress than Clinton did. And Clinton was a quite effective two-term president whose anointed successor won the popular vote and probably would have won in 2004, too.

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