Monday, November 01, 2010

Some Thoughts on Tomorrow's Election

First of all, I'm voting a straight Working Family's Party line except for Governor I'm voting for Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins (because I won't vote for union-buster Andrew Cuomo) and for Senator Colia Clark also a Green candidate (because I swore I would never again vote for Charles Schumer when he supported the nomination of Bush's 3rd Attorney General Michael Mukasey).

I know that no one I vote for tomorrow is going to change anything, but I think fighting the right is an important thing to do. I also know that whatever disaster the Democrats experience tomorrow is to a large extent of their own making. But it is, if it's not already too late, the first pitch of the 2012 presidential election. Having ceded the narrative of this election to the Republican Tea Party the question is can they reclaim it for 2012. Although the media - not surprisingly - has fallen hook-line-&-sinker for the line that this election is a referendum on the Obama presidency, that could hardly be the case. It's not entirely clear when the Tea Party was born but it was some time between February 27 and April 15, 2009. If you remember it was only January 20, 2009 when Obama was inaugurated. So it would have been very difficult for him to have done enough to lead to the creation of a genuine grass-roots opposition. Here's a little of the early history of the Tea Party by Judson Berger on April 6, 2009 from Fox News online.
The Sons of Liberty of today is led by people like Rick Santelli, the CNBC reporter widely credited with helping spark the tea-party fever nationwide (though tea parties were being held before Santelli plugged them).

During an infamous on-air rant on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in February, Santelli called for modern-day tea parties to protest the economic trends in government.

He stirred up traders by shouting that the government was promoting "bad behavior" with its mortgage rescue plan. "This is America," he said. "How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor's mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can't pay their bills?"

Though he was mocked by the White House, Santelli might as well have yelled, "Give me liberty or give me death!"

Jenny Beth Martin, a Republican activist who's helping organize one of the higher-profile tea parties in Atlanta, said Santelli's rant led shortly afterward to a conference call of 22 activists, including herself.

From there, she said, organizers put together 48 tea parties -- from St. Louis to San Antonio to Chicago -- on Feb. 27.
The conception of the Tea Party "movement" long preceded its birth. But it also clearly long preceded the Obama presidency. It clearly takes more than a month to create a real movement. But puppeteers like long-time Republican operative Dick Armey were able to snow the media into believing the Tea Party phenomenon was spontaneous. And, suddenly, the Democrats were fighting back from behind from the first inning. It will be interesting to see if the Democrats can set the narrative for 2012. People like Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky have given them lots of ammunition:
The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president
There are Americans (and Iraqis and Afghanis) with their lives on the line but for the Republicans "the single most important thing we want to achieve is for Obama to be a one-term president;" we are in the middle of the greatest capitalist crisis sin ce the Great Depression, but for the Republicans "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." If the Democrats can't make something out of that they need to hang up their spikes.

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