Tuesday, November 07, 2006

endorsements, predictions, pleas

I know you have all been waiting for this, just not knowing what on earth to do or who on earth to vote for until you heard from me. Well, I’m going to make it easy for you: vote for the Democrat.

Though I have plenty of problems with plenty of the Democrats running in many races here in New York, and in all of the other races I’ve been following, in almost every case—no, make that in every case—what is at stake in this election far outweighs the differences I might have with any one candidate on any number of issues. It is essential to restore Democratic majorities to both houses of Congress, but just as importantly, it is crucial to restore (or make sizable gains towards restoring) Democratic rule to statehouses as well.

Democrats should make gains across the board today, but when it comes to the sate elections, for legislatures and Governors, the importance extends past this election, and past any specific laws that might come down the pike in the next couple of years. What is at stake, state by state, is electoral redistricting. Redistricting, by law, will happen again after the 2010 census, but, because of a seriously questionable decision by the US Supreme Court in a recent case stemming from Tom Delay’s corrupt mid-decade gerrymander in Texas, Congressional districts may, in some states, be reshaped before then.

While the High Court did not specifically endorse political gerrymandering, they didn’t completely outlaw it, either. By allowing most of what Delay and his cronies did in to Texas, the Supremes left the door open to more off-year shenanigans. It is the majorities in each state legislature that control the shape of newly drawn districts. What Delay engineered in Texas cost the Democrats five seats in the US House of Representatives—therefore, it is extremely essential that Democrats and not Republicans have the upper hand in this process.

Further, in most states, there is an office that controls the nuts and bolts operations of each election (in many states, it is the Secretary of State), and this too has been politicized and corrupted by Republicans. The myriad irregularities and blatant voter suppression that occurred in Ohio in 2004 was engineered by partisan Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell (currently running far behind a Democrat in his attempt to become Ohio’s next governor). Many fear similar events this year. As states and localities struggle to comply with HAVA (the euphemistically titled Help America Vote Act), there will be countless opportunities for partisan Republicans to influence the system in countless ways. Be it paperless touch screen voting machines, cleansing voter rolls, absurd requirements for registration forms and voter ID, or the closing of polling places, the Republican party has worked overtime to bias the system to produce Republican victories. So, when it comes to these down-ballot offices, again, make sure to vote for the Democrat.

In New York, we do have another option. New York State allows candidates to run under multiple party banners, with all votes for a candidate counting toward the total. With that in mind, we can vote for Democrats here, but remind them that our vote is for a more progressive agenda by pulling the levers under the heading for the Working Families Party.

WFP usually endorse the Democrat in the race, but not every time. In this case, they have chosen to endorse Hillary Clinton for Senator and Elliot Spitzer for Governor, and, in this case, in this year, I can hold my nose a little less tightly by voting for these “moderate” Democrats as candidates on the Working Families line.

WFP has also endorsed embattled state controller Alan Hevesi. Hevesi has been caught up in a scandal about use of state employees to chauffer his seriously ill wife that has made his once 30-point lead in the polls almost completely evaporate. Make no mistake, what Hevesi did was wrong, but it is a little less cut and dried than the tabloids would make it seem. I will spare all of you the details, and just say that Hevesi’s opponent is not only unqualified for the position of state controller, he has some absurdly unworkable plans for New York’s finances. Hevesi, on the other hand, has done a respectable, if not perfect, job with a Republican Governor Pataki-designed tax code and state finance scheme that can only be called, like the Governor himself, stupid and incompetent. Vote for Alan Hevesi on the WFP line.

In my particular neighborhood, I do have a choice, between long-time Democratic State Senator Martin Connor and WFP candidate Ken Diamondstone. Not only is Diamondstone likely the more liberal of the two, Connor, once the minority leader, has been on autopilot for years. My dealings with his ineffectual and amateurish office over the last thirteen months has only confirmed my belief that Connor has more than used up his allotted time on the public payroll.

* * *

As for predictions, there are people far more expert than I who will make far more accurate predictions, but after reading what a lot of them have to say, I tend to buy into the general line—at least as far as the US House goes: the Democrats will take control, picking up between 20 and 30 seats. I would hope for more, and a 35 or even 40 seat pick up is possible, but given the shape of the districts and the generally low quality of establishment media coverage in many of these districts, that big a wave seems unlikely.

As for the Senate, I will be more definite. I expect a Democratic pick up of five seats, resulting in a 50-50 split. In a way, this is my worst nightmare. This gives the Democrats no real power, but it gives Republicans something to point to and run against two years from now. And, should one of those 50 Democrats be Joe Lieberman, I fear that the Senate will, in a short time, shift to become 51-49. . . Republican.

Democrats should also make gains in gubernatorial races, but without guessing exactly how many the Dems pick up, let me just say that I think they should have picked up more (I am thinking specifically about the lost opportunity in California).

Let me also just give a shout out to the so-called Fifty State Strategy put into action by Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean. The reason Democrats have been able to capitalize on the Republican meltdown to the extent that they have—the reason some 45 or 50 House seats are in play—is, in large part, because Dean made it a point to build infrastructure in every state, and recruit competitive candidates even for races that were supposed to be safe for Republicans. Had the DNC pursued its old strategy of targeting only the most competitive races from their early 2006 standpoint, and then pumping all of their money into those races, the Democrats would be praying to pick up 15 seats at best. Kudos to Howard Dean. May the folks at the DCCC and the DLC understand this, set their egos aside, and also reach out to shake the hand of the Party Chair.

* * *

Finally, vote, get out the vote, and protect the vote.

I would like to urge everyone to call friends and family today to make sure they have all done their civic duty. You can, and should, urge them to vote for Democrats, but above all, urge everyone to vote.

If you need help finding your polling place, use this great web resource.

If you see anything you think is untoward or irregular at your polling place, don’t hesitate to point it out to a poll worker and, if possible, to a Democratic poll watcher. If you have a camera, take a picture or a video, and then send it electronically to Video the Vote. Georgia over at dKos has also posted great advice and a list of vote protection resources.

Thank you, and. . . go team!


Post a Comment

<< Home