And the Republicans got a big dose of Viagra.
I've been irresponsibly watching CNN since... before 7pm. I have a test tomorrow (which I've kinda been simultaneously studying for) and a late assignment that I'm way behind on.
Generally speaking, the Democrats have their tails firmly planted between their legs. They picked up just one senate seat and lost a few, with South Dakota and Minnesota still in dispute.
What went wrong? I'll agree with the folks on Crossfire and say that the Democrats, by and large, didn't stand for anything. They've not stood up to Bush on anything from rights and liberties to Iraq to tax cuts. Campaigning, they didn't provide anything exciting or compelling to draw their traditional voter base or to attract centrist and right-leaning voters. The Democratic Party didn't want to oppose Bush because he's been so popular. Perhaps he's so popular because nobody with a big voice has been complaining.
There are still lots of Democrats working on important issues true to the party's roots and liberal base. I'm particularly glad that my Representative, Mark Udall, was not bullied into voting for a bill because of its acronym. But the party's big guns and major leadership has been taking the left for granted and moving to the center and right.
There's nothing in principle wrong with a center-left political party, but they must deal with apathy and disgust on the part of those further to the left. In order to restore healthy discussion, debate, and politics to America, the people firmly on the left must get better organized and louder. My preference is for a jump-ship of Democrats to the Green Party -- a party built on grassroots politics with strong stances on nonviolence, the environment, corporate power, and decentralization.
This works both ways, though. The Republican Party is abandoning the "keep guvment outa my hair" constituency. The Libertarian Party is better organized than the Greens and has clearer positions than than any other party. In Colorado, there was a Libertarian in almost every race. The state election page
hasn't included results from most of the counties, but the Libertarians have a ways to go before they start winning State House and Senate races, but give them a few years. The Libertarians certainly better represent the interests of a lot of Republicans in the West. We'll see what the GOP does with control of both Houses of Congress and the Presidency. Will the Religious Right jizz pink?
So what needs to happen? "Third" parties need to be taken seriously by the media. Your typical political news article talks for a couple paragraphs about donkeys and elephants, but doesn't give readers any hint that other people are running. As Jesse Ventura showed, someone outside the major parties can be elected if people hear the message. Newspaper articles and TV news pieces need to include information about other candidates, starting as soon as they've announced their candidacy. They MUST be included in debates and public forums. American voters deserve to make a decision based on information about all possible choices. I think candidates should receive free airtime on the airways owned by the people, but I think Greens and Libertarians can win given proper respect.
Case in point -- CNN showed results for many (but not all) Green Party candidates, but lumped Libertarians (if they reported any) as Independent. I suspect this is due to Ralph Nader's high profile. Who's heard of Harry Brown? But Libertarians are (I think) the third largest party in the country. (Aside: I'm kind of disappointed that with two major candidates that nobody wanted to vote for, the California Green candidate for Governor only pulled 5%.)
With four parties on roughly equal footing, real coalition-building must occur to get things done. Real debate can occur which challenges conventional wisdom. (I think the Senate should be transformed into a nation-wide proportional representation body, but that's beside the point). Almost every other country with a thriving democracy has several parties in play.
What's the next step? The Greens need to get better organized and make their position clear. They're not just about environmentalism -- they're also strong supporters of entreprenurialism, smaller (more localized) government, and some other traditionally right-wing values. They need to get their whole platform out in a big way in the 2004 presidential election. My fingers are crossed for open debates. They need a candidate other than Ralph Nader who's just as tireless and better spoken. In tandem, they need to run more candidates for state congress and in areas that traditionally go Republican.
The Libertarians need to work on publicity. Their message can be convincing to a lot of people, but it needs to get out there. They need to use some of those free market forces they believe so strongly in to get some cash and do some hard-nosed advertising. They need to get endorsements and op-eds from economic powerhouses -- so-called small-l-libertarian think tanks, Wall Street Journal, etc. Perhaps their biggest boon would be support from the NRA, which seems to be balls deep in elephant ass, but the Libertarians are much closer to the organization's message and (I think) constituents. If my campus is any indication, Libertarians are doing an excellent job spreading their message at colleges. Greens need to do a better job on campus.
Will the new campaign finance rules make a difference? I'm not holding my breath.
A side effect of stronger Green and Libertarian parties would be increased support of drug legalization. I'm disappointed in Nevada voters -- only around 40% supported legalized recreational pot use, and Arizona voted down medical marijuana after several victories in the west (CA, CO, OR...). This issue may be the best way to get youth voters turn out.
Geez. CNN just keeps going and going and going. Chalk this one up to inappropriate TV watching.
(Oh, and polonius
, Fulton County is where most of Atlanta (or at least its suburbs) is. Thanks for your pre-election posts, they were quite informative.)