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  • The Five Things You値l Hear Every Election Year

       September 24, 2008

    Forty-one days and it値l all be over. I知 so looking forward to November 5th. No more political ads. No more no-CAN-SPAM-required political email. No phone calls from distinguished liberals and conservatives. I cannot wait.

    Back in the heady days of the 1992 election, I couldn稚 get enough. As a political science major, I even had an Election Campaign Practicum class. We had to work on a campaign (any campaign we wanted, Wisconsin is no UMass ;-) and participated in a computer-simulated Senate race. I loved every second of it. Now, part of that may have been because my computer campaign team included a hot Hoofers sailing instructor simply known as 鼎ute Will (as an aside, 鼎ute Will is the only man that both me and my friend Amber find attractive. Actually, wait, I have to take that back now as we致e both succumbed to the charms of a certain employee at the France 44 liquor store.)

    Anyway, part of my election fatigue is simply a case of been there and done that. The specifics change, but the storylines don稚. These five stories simply won稚 go away.

    1. 的f so-n-so wins, I知 moving to Canada.

    No you池e not.

    We heard it from Alec Baldwin back in 2000 and numerous celebs and libs alike in 2004. Just a few days ago, Susan Sarandon threatened (promised?) to move to Canada or Italy if McCain wins. The Canada threat is so popular that it痴 officially something white people like. And, it痴 even been spoofed by The Onion.

    Again, you池e not moving to Canada. Even if the dreaded, TEH EVUL, Grumpy McOldGuy wins, Canada is still a cold land of muzzled back bacon eaters. After eight years of promises, this is an empty threat. Stop teasing us.

    2. 的f my candidate doesn稚 win, it痴 because of something negative about the electorate, not my candidate.

    The meme for 2008 is that if Barack Obama loses, it痴 because America痴 渡ot ready for a black President. You got that? If you vote for McCain, you池e a racist. I just thought you should know. Similarly, if you voted for GWB, it痴 because you池e a Jesus freak. Isn稚 it easy? Not so fast, my friend. I値l treat you to Kris condensed version of who won & why in her Presidential election lifetime:

    1972: McGovern was a 派alf-crazy radical in an era when the people who actually vote (see #4 below) were really frickin sick of hippies, so Nixon easily won.
    1976: People thought Nixon was a crook now, so they voted for squeaky clean Jimmy Carter
    1980: Carter was a disaster, so the electorate wanted change in the inspiring form of Ronald Reagan
    1984: Everything was going pretty well, so Reagan got four more years
    1988: Everything was still pretty good, so George H.W. Bush got an extension of the Reagan presidency
    1992: Voters punished George H.W. Bush for 迭ead my lips, no new taxes. Voters didn稚 vote for Perot or Clinton as much as they voted against Bush
    1996: Everything was going pretty well, so Clinton got four more years
    2000: By all accounts, this should have gone to Gore, but there really wasn稚 much of a difference between Gore and George W. Bush (which is why Nader got some votes) and Bush is actually more like Clinton (the laid back Southern governor) than Gore is, so he got the narrow win
    2004: The economy was okay and Bush was more trustworthy as Commander in Chief, hence the win
    2008: Both candidates are running against Bush, so it really could come down to a decision by the electorate over whether solutions to America痴 problems are best implemented by a big government or free markets.

    Actually, that makes 2008 sound kind of interesting, doesn稚 it? But, that痴 probably not what it痴 going to come down to. The election will probably be decided by who promises the most to aging Baby Boomers. But that痴 just me being cynical.

    3. 的f my candidate wins, the incumbent will declare martial law to stay in power.

    A simple Google search for 釘ush martial law turns up thousands of wacky posts about how 田learly scores of brown shirted fascists are even now planning to take over the country in the event of an Obama victory in November. Actually, if you want to read even more wacky posts, you can also do a search for 韮ush marshall law ;-).

    Anyway, in the spirit of non partisanship, it痴 not just the Left痴 crackiest crackpots that believe this. The wingiest wingnuts on the Right thought the same thing about Bill Clinton. Hell, some people are even preparing for the inevitable onslaught of Hillary痴 pant suited brigades in 2028.

    4. 鄭merica痴 youth will 喪ock the vote this year!!!

    Every election, the mythical 土outh vote is supposed to make a difference, change the world, blah blah blah. Every election, the actual 登ld fart vote decides things. I love this quote on the topic:

    Waiting for the youth vote is like waiting for Godot," said Steven Schier, a political scientist at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. "Obama is trying to invalidate that perception.

    Exactly. Sure, a slightly higher percentage of Americans age 18-24 may vote in 2008. Or maybe not. Maybe it値l be too cold or the lines will be too long or they won稚 get around to registering or they can稚 figure out where there polling place is or they池e too busy playing Guitar Hero. You get the idea.

    Having witnessed the inane political commentary on Facebook recently, I can稚 say that I really want some of these people voting. Do you?

    5. 典he other party will steal the election just like they did before.

    Eight years later, we池e still hearing about how Bush 都tole the 2000 election. Likewise, even 48 years later, it痴 commonly held mythology that Kennedy defeated Nixon only because of the support of Chicago痴 finest dead folks.

    People pass around stories about road blocks suppressing black voters, wicked Diebold machines, slashed tires and smokes-for-votes schemes without any proof. What they lack in truth, they make up for in truthiness. And at the end of the day, isn稚 that what really matters?

    Sometimes I feel like Hiro Nakamura. I can skip over the next six weeks because I already know what痴 going to happen. Wouldn稚 it be something to be surprised? Wait, not an October surprise, but a really surprising and substantive election. A girl can dream

    Posted by at September 24, 2008 11:39 PM

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    #  September 25th, 2008 8:28 AM      Squibbly
    I would say that the one election that was really "stolen" was the 2004 gubernatorial election in Washington state.

    That said, I can't wait until this whole election is over and done with.  
    #  September 30th, 2008 5:02 AM      TheUnabrewer
    You and Amber sound difficult to please.  
    #  October 8th, 2008 3:16 PM      ice
    I feel compelled to comment. Your blase coolness is quite inaccurate.

    - There is a difference between "nobody ever does this even though they say it" and "usually when people say this they don't follow through".

    Most of the time that a smoker says they are about to quit, they don't. However, millions of people do quit smoking.

    Similarly, dieting.

    In my limited circle of friends and acquaintances, I've known one individual and one family that left the US because of the current presidential administration. One went to Norway, the other to Sweden.

    - Are you denying that racism exists and it will affect the numbers in this election? If so, you're really ignorant. When people flat out state that they won't vote for Obama because he's black, are your ears plugged?

    Stop being a douchebag. Some people are racists. It's not everybody, or even close, but in a very close election it can easily be the difference.

    Is it the _only_ reason a candidate will lose instead of win? Of course not. But there are different levels of causality, and if Obama loses by a few thousand votes in a big state, I'm perfectly comfortable stating that racism was the difference. You should understand that also.

    - You're right, martial law is very unlikely.

    - Youth vote isn't mythical. It's very clear. It's really stupid for you to say it doesn't matter, since if you take out the under-25 vote in the Democratic primary, it's rather likely that Hillary Clinton would be the current Democratic nominee for president. Why are you pretending that this isn't different?

    Going back to the first point, saying that "X is not as important as most people think it is" is a lot different from saying "X doesn't exist". Learn that difference.

    - Spoken like someone who didn't have to wait 8 hours to vote in urban Cleveland in 2000. You need to get out more, Kris.  
    #  October 8th, 2008 3:34 PM      kris
    1. Your anecdotal evidence does nothing to dispel the fact that there was no upsurge in Americans leaving the country after the 2000 or 2004 election.

    2. If Obama wins, I can just as easily attribute his victory to racists blacks who voted for him just because he's black, or, alternatively, to whites who voted for him out of a liberal sense of white guilt. That take would be just about as accurate as yours. My sense is that the racists on either side will pretty much cancel each other out.

    4. We shall see about the youth vote. This isn't the first election that we've seen a big "rock the vote" push. The under-25 set has, however, historically not rocked that vote. It doesn't seem unreasonable for me to believe that something that hasn't happened isn't going to happen.

    5. Waiting in line to vote isn't voter suppression. If you didn't vote because you had to wait in a long line, nothing was "stolen" from you. You robbed yourself.  
    #  October 8th, 2008 4:38 PM      ice
    - Gee, nice strawman. I didn't say "there was no upsurge in Americans leaving the country".

    What I actually did was refute what you said. You claimed that nobody leaves the country because of how an election goes. So in this case, my anecdotal evidence is actually quite sufficient to prove you wrong.

    - You can "just as easily attribute" blah blah blah. Unfortunately, the situations are not equivalent, because blacks do, and have, and have been forever, voting for white candidates in presidential elections. In every single one where they've been allowed to vote, as a matter of fact, at rates over 99.99%.

    So you should take your false equivalancy and chuck it.

    When local Democratic leaders in the Carolinas demur and explain how they are going to sit this election out because they aren't comfortable voting for a black man - how the fuck are you going to reverse engineer those words?

    Find me a bunch of black voters who say they'll never vote for a white candidate. OK? Then we can begin this discussion and see what's cancelling what out.

    - As I've already pointed out, people who say that the youth "rocked the vote" to get Obama nominated are, actually, correct. Check out the breakdowns. Again, in very close races, the difference between 24% turnout and 29% turnout is a big difference in the margins.

    - You can come up with your own definitions of "robbing". Eight hours to vote is unreasonable, and when it's done intentionally to suppress a particular demographic, it's criminal.

    Also, I suppose you're one of the people who wasn't surprised by the Buchanan vote (only eight or so sigmas off) with the butterfly ballot?

    Do you act like this about everything in your life? Cuz like, we're all going to die anyway, so who cares, right? Jeez.

    #  October 8th, 2008 7:54 PM      kris
    Do you act like this about everything in your life? Cuz like, we're all going to die anyway, so who cares, right? Jeez.

    No, not at all. I think you and I, ice, are just very different. My impression is that you think things are generally pretty awful and that you believe that if Obama is elected that could change.

    I, on the other hand, believe that we're essentially okay and that, in any case, things really aren't going to change too much no matter who wins this election because the candidates aren't all that different from each other.

    So, it's not a "we're all going to die" it's more of a "things are okay and they're not going to change that much so there's no need to get all worked up and start foaming at the mouth" thing.  



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