A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Election Day Reflections

I have been on vacation the last few days, which is why I haven't posted much-- it is not because I am in mourning over the election results. Though I was more disheartened than heartened, I will admit.

On a national level, the election leaves me fairly pleased. Government is once again divided, and I think that's a very good thing. Checks and balances that have been stretched and/or rode rough-shod over by President Bush will once again have meaning and substance. I have some concerns over the Pelosi's and Murtha's of Congress wanting to bail on Iraq as soon as possible, but I have confidence that there are enough reasonable voices amongst the Dems to make wholesale abandonment very unlikely. And Rumsfeld is gone, so thank the Lord for that. Rummy's ouster alone would make the national election results a plus for me.

On the state level, I am far less pleased. Really, it was the worst of all-worlds for me-- Jim Doyle was re-elected AND both the referendum advocating banning gay marriage in the state constitution and the referendum advocating a limited return of capital punishment passed. Which is totally mind-bending to me-- how anybody could vote FOR Jim Doyle and FOR the Death Penalty and banning Gay Marriage is something of a mystery to me. But maybe it shouldn't be-- I voted against Jim Doyle and against both referendums. My hope here is that Doyle will follow the same path W. did-- keep on keeping on with his power grabs, and his pay for plays and his shameless pandering to the teacher's union and the Native American tribes and the residents of the fine state of Wisconsin will recognize him for the bald-faced liar that he his and take him down next time around. It would help if the Republicans would put up a challenger who wasn't an empty suit like Mark Green was this time. We'll see.

Two things did come out of the state elections that brightened my outlook a bit, though. J.B. Van Holland won the Attorney General election over Doyle toadie Kathleen Falk, so at least the Dept. of Justice won't be at Jim Doyle's disposal to cover-up his many and varied scandals and quid pro quos.

And in the U.S. House of Representatives race in District 8 (the Green Bay area), Democrat Steve Kagen defeated Republican John Gard. Why does that make me happy? Because I was up in that area for the last four days prior to the election, and I never heard Steve Kagen run a negative ad against Gard. The closest he came was to say, "If you like how things are going, vote for my opponent-- if you don't, please consider voting for me." How refreshing! Gard, by way of contrast, ran nothing BUT negative ads-- "If you vote for 'Dr. Millionaire' you'll lose all your Medicare benefits, he'll kill your pets, and you might as well move to Canada." Okay, not that bad, but they were relentlessly negative. And I am sick to the TEETH of negative ads. All the pundits say they work, and maybe they have in the past, but it was refreshing-- almost exhilarating-- to see someone actually talk about what they wanted to DO instead of how terrible their opponent was. And the voters rewarded him. So maybe, just maybe, people will take note of that and realize that the negative ad can be overplayed and that positive ads have a place in politics, too. That would be nice.

For the record, my opposition to amending the state constitution to ban gay marriage is two-fold. One, the concept of amending our constitution for an issue as minor as this one-- of all the problems and issues of import in our state, whether or not two men or two women get married is the ONE issue worth amending the constitution?-- is perposterous in my mind. Two, the prospect of writing discrimination into our state constitution is appalling. Bear in mind, there is already a law in Wisconsin that prohibits marriage between anyone other than a man and a woman, and while I personally think it's a silly law, that's how it's supposed to work. Laws are passed to reflect the will of the majority of the people. Why do we need an amendment? Because the Supreme Court might, some day, decide that the law is unconstituional and force the legislature to rewrite the law. What a joke.

Finally, on a local level, nothing much changed, which is okay. Paul Ryan was re-elected to the U.S. House from my district, and I have mixed feelings about that. Overall, I think he's doing a pretty good job, but he's been in the job for 6 years now, and it may be time to start looking for some new blood. John Lehman (D) beat out Tom McReynolds (R) for the local state senate seat, but I don't really like either of them, so, eh. And Robin Vos won for my state House of Reps. seat, and he seems to be pretty good, so I'm okay with that as well, though he was an incumbent.

Finally, tc declined to take me up on my offer to vote for my brother for Governor, claiming my brother would make a lousy Governor because he has:

No middle ground-ness. Not willing to compromise, to sell out his ideals in
order to achieve short-term gains....

...ummm, wait. That's integrity.

Do you write these things just to get my goat, tc? Or do you honestly believe that slop? I will grant you that "selling out your ideals in order to achieve short-term gains" would show a decided lack of integrity, but finding middle-ground and being willing to compromise are a FAR FAR cry from selling out. God forbid people should have to actual WORK with each other and try to find common ground to achieve policies that, while not wholly pleasing to everyone are acceptable and viable to all! Because listening to only a small handful of voices that all agree with you and never attempting to find sufficient common ground for all to agree upon is what our country is built on, right?

If the Founding Fathers hadn't been able to find compromises between the agrarian South and the commercially driven North we wouldn't BE a country. Did George Washington SELL OUT when he brokered a deal with Jefferson and the Southern delegates and Hamilton and much of the Northern delegates to place the national capitol in Virginia in exchange for a national bank? Certain principles must never be abandoned, but blind partisanship is not the same thing as principle. The middle ground is where people meet, mingle, exchange ideas and figure out how to make things work while still satisfying as many people as possible. It's why I'm a big fan of split government-- without that tension, there is no incentive to compromise, to work with people who think differently than you do and to find solutions that are good for as many people as possible. A perpective that brooks no possibility of error is not idealism-- it is fanaticism. An approach that brooks no compromise or questioning is not idealism-- it is intolerance.

Anyway, I voted for my brother regardless. I think he'd make a great Governor-- because he does listen to all sides of an issue, and is willing to consider other viewpoints. And, as many conversations around the campfire or in the wee hours of the night have shown me, he is adroit at getting others to express themselves while keeping his own council mostly to himself.


Minnesota's 5th District elected Keith Ellison to the U.S. House of Representatives last week, apparently the first muslim elected to the office. Take a moment to check out Fox 9 News live coverage of Ellison's victory speech on Election Day.

After the crowd starts chanting "Allahu Akbar," they quickly cut back to anchors Robyne Robinson and Jeff Passolt, and Robyne tries to brush it off as no big deal.

"Allahu Akbar" is chanted at a victory speech for a U.S. Congressman-elect in the Midwest, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq and the supreme religious leader of Iran believe that the results of the recent mid-term elections were good for them, and Democratic leaders have already started talking about the need to start pulling out of Iraq within the next several months.
More Americans rank Iraq as the top priority of the new Democratic-controlled Congress, but nearly three out of five say the party does not have a plan to deal with the war.

That's happy news. Americans don't believe that the politicians who they just put in charge of Congress have a plan to deal with a top priority issue for the federal government. Great.

And that comes on the heels of this news:

New traces of plutonium and enriched uranium - potential material for atomic warheads - have been found in a nuclear waste facility in Iran, a revelation that came Tuesday as the Iranian president boasted his country's nuclear fuel program will soon be completed.

I wonder if our government has a plan to deal with Iran before they create a nuclear weapon? More importantly, what is the 110th Congress willing to authorize the military, under the command of the Executive, to do in response to failures of Iran to comply with the international body, or upon the acquisition of a nuclear device by Iran?

Further, do you think that they might be contemplating that fissile hemispheres could be smuggled into the U.S. through our porous borders? A basic device could always be constructed once the fissile material is acquired and person sympathetic to their cause (one who has also studied nuclear physics) is available to direct them.

Maybe that person who understands the nuclear physics angles could have the added bonus of having studied such at a U.S. university on a diversity scholarship or at the expense of a foreign government. Considering where the 9-11 attackers learned to fly passenger jets, that would just seem fitting.

That's all probably nothing to worry about, though. After all, everything will be fine if we just get our troops out of Iraq, take care of the poor, tax the rich, and just engage Iran, Syria, and North Korea in talks.

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