Hope on Election Day
Conservatives have spent the past 6 years doing everything they could to wreck the US economy – from obstructing stimulus programs, to slashing valuable government services and education at the state and local level, to opting out of Medicaid expansion, to delaying appointments to crucial executive branch positions, to hamstringing Congress on critically needed pieces of legislation, like immigration – even when there was strong bipartisan support for a solution. And now instead of receiving the electoral flogging they’ve earned, they are almost certain to gain seats in the House and Senate, and perhaps even win a majority in the upper chamber.
Obama stands to reap a whirlwind not of his making – and that’s because the great swath of America’s electorate that stumbles, misinformed, into voting booths on Election Day is sometimes large enough to carry the day. This is why it’s critical that liberals turn out and vote, to ensure that the voice of reason is heard above the din of ignorance.
In the end, a lot of good may come out of it. Several truly nasty GOP governors may be shown the door, paving the way for new states to expand Medicaid, which will be of enormous benefit to millions of working poor.
In Florida, the defeat of incumbent Republican Rick Scott will likely lead to a change in Florida’s absurd, regressive and anachronistic felony disenfranchisement law, which currently prevents about one-third of adult black men in Florida from voting in state or federal elections. Such a change would transform Florida overnight from a swing state to one that is solidly democratic, just in time for the 2016 presidential election.
Four years ago Sam Brownback became governor of Kansas with more than 63% of the vote. But in his campaign for reelection, he’s trailing Democratic challenger Paul Davis – and rightly so. Brownback’s massive tax cuts for the rich have forced the state to reduce public services, including deep cuts in public education. The state’s fiscal crisis is so bad that Kansas has seen its credit-rating downgraded, with red ink projected far into the future. Many Kansas Republicans have come out in support of Davis, whose election would be a big win for Kansans, but perhaps an even bigger win for sanity.
People in Wisconsin have grown disaffected with the extremist right wing policies of Governor Scott Walker, and the deficits that follow conservative policies whenever and wherever they’re put into effect. His defeat by Democrat Mary Burke would be a big win for Wisconsin’s working poor, who might at last gain access to Medicaid; and as well to Wisconsin families who stand to see reductions in education spending reversed.
While Brownback, Walker and Scott have all earned voters’ scorn through their terrible policies, Pennsylvania’s Republican Governor Tom Corbett is simply a poor politician. While he holds a conservatives’ typically medieval views on gay marriage and marijuana legalization, his administration has not been very effective at doing much of anything, good or bad – his reelection campaign’s failure is part of Corbett’s larger ineffectiveness. Heading into Election Day down double-digits, Corbett will almost surely lose to Democratic challenger Tom Wolf, to become the first incumbent Pennsylvanian Governor to lose a reelection bid since 1854.
On the Congressional level, winner-take-all elections suck because they diminish the marginal value of each individual vote. Imagine if a party gaining n% of the vote for Congress actually got n% of the seats. That style of election obviously correlates with much higher turnouts, because every last vote – and failure to vote – makes a difference. But whether you’re in a state or district that’s close or not: please, if you’re a liberal, get out today and make yourself heard. At least you can spend the next two years reminding everyone you know that at least you tried.
The Liberal Field Guide eschews the politically correct position that everyone should vote. Surely everyone reading this post should vote – such people are almost surely much better informed than the ordinary voter. The unfortunate fact is that the price of careless, uninformed voting falls on everyone equally – if its effects were concentrated on the individual malfeasor, people might be more diligent about researching candidates and issues. And so if a conservative asks you today – do your nation a favor and tell them that the election is next week. They’ll believe anything.
This is a special Election Day dispatch – the Field Guide will return on Friday.