Sunday, November 19, 2006

Election 2006

I know it's a little late, but I wanted to say a few things about the mid-term election before it became so late that doing so would make me into a complete, rather than merely a partial, tool.

Is it bad that I was disappointed with the outcome? Don't get me wrong, I am nothing but pleased with all of the potential bad things that didn't happen. Republicans didn't retain control of either house. People like Rick Santorum weren't reelected. The problem is that it gets harder and harder for me to get enthusiastic about the Democrats winning these days. They're better than the Republicans to be sure, particularly in a few key contentious areas, but is that really saying a lot? Being slapped is unequivocally better than being punched, but can it really be said to be good?

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I'm not supposed to feel this way. The Democratic victory is supposed to bring me great joy. Finally! The liberals will sweep in and clean out the corruption of congress! We'll get accountability and oversight for the president. Rumsfeld is out, and we might even get some troops brought home. We will get a say in how things go in the country.

The problem is that I'm not part of that "we." I often joke that the liberals are too conservative for me, and I'm certainly not a moderate. The Democrats had a resounding victory numerically, but philosophically, this election was a referendum on Bush and Republican corruption and the continued occupation of Iraq. The Democrats that were elected were, for the most part, the same moderates that make up the bulk of both parties. The difference between a typical Democrat and a typical Republican is one of small, but important, degrees. We can cheer for the admittedly good news that the people running Congress are broadly against preemptive war, are broadly for abortion rights, are broadly against Constitutional amendments for issues like gay marriage or flag-burning. But scratch a Democrat, and you have a Republican Lite.

Show me the Democratic majority that wants to truly change the way the system works instead of regulating away the most obvious defects. Show me the Democratic majority that doesn't actually take corporate money, and doesn't think that economic growth is more important than social justice. Show me the Democratic majority who is against the systematic oppression of people worldwide that claims the name "free trade." Show me the Democratic majority that thinks the Kyoto treaty wouldn't go far enough even if we'd signed it. Show me the Democratic majority who doesn't just want affordable health care but free health care. Show me the Democratic majority who will stand up and say that women have the absolute right to choose whether they gestate a fetus for nine months inside their bodies or not without resorting to mealy-mouthed concessions about how horrible that choice is.
Show me the Democratic majority who will point out that it is a complete and utter travesty that despite women being half of the population both the House and the Senate are 84% male. Show me the Democratic majority who isn't trying to prove that they can win the war on terror better than the Republicans, the majority who thinks "tough on defense issues" isn't a good thing, the majority who thinks that spending more money on war than the rest of the world combined is not something to be proud of. Show me the Democratic majority who doesn't want to begin the process of setting a timetable for troop withdrawal but wants actual goddamned withdrawal and closing of the bases we built behind us.

It can't be done. There might be individual Democrats who support each of these things, but aside from those few issues that have been deemed the deciding factors, there is no discernible difference between the two major parties. So I am happy that the Republicans are out, but I can honestly say I'm not thrilled that the Democrats have to be the ones who are in.


  1. Rachel and I had a conversation shortly after election day where I said some of these things. The problem is, the American people don't think like you want them to, so their government isn't going to. From that conversation with Rachel:

    "The Democrats are cowards. Take the issue of gay marriage (which is nothing but a distraction that both sides are more than happy to keep going); the whole issue is retarded. If marriage is legal for anyone, it's legal for everyone. Plain and simple. But the Dems don't say that. They give us the "states decide" bullshit, or the civil unions line. Neither of these are the right answer, but for the Democrats to give the right one would be political suicide, so they sell out their principals for power. That, or they are ignorant and discriminatory. Neither one is a good thing. This is one example of why I'd just rather no government involvement be there. they've screwed up something as simply as two people saying "I do," and you trust them to educate millions of children?"

    I'm not optomistic that anything that I really think needs to change is going to anytime soon. More likely, the two sides are going to work together on something like the immigration "problem," where they can claim bipartisan progress while continuing to ignore the real issues.

    The Democrats are not what I would call liberal.

  2. My problem is that even if the Democrats were liberal as a party, the traditional liberal positions on many issues fail to impress me. "Liberal" and "conservative" represent relative positions within the framework of the dominant system. While true liberals tend to align much more closely with my views on many social issues, I fear on other topics I spin wildly out of control from liberal to radical.