Tuesday, November 07, 2006

It's Election Day

It's kinda weird living in a house where most of the residents don't have a real vote in Congress. Well, there's the District's Congressional representative, who has limited voting rights in Congress (she can propose legislation and vote in comittee). And, apparently, no one is running against her.

Speaking of this election, Christopher Hitchens had a quirky, if amusing piece in yesterday's Time's (UK) on Americans' and voting: The elections? It's about the Redskins, stupid!
How am I to explain, to listeners in New Zealand and Argentina, that a Congress that makes big decisions for the entire world is being selected in this way? This audience is educated enough to have heard a great deal about President Bush, whose policies might be assumed to be an important element in the discussion, but recently the chief executive announced that he did not consider himself to be an issue in the election at all. (This may be an historic first: I shall have to check the political almanacs.) More astonishingly still, candidates from his own party and from the Democratic side appear to concur. They would all much rather talk about something else.

I live in the nation’s capital, which isn’t allowed representatives in Congress, so the nearest race that concerns me is in neighbouring Virginia.Here, a rich menu of issues confronts the electorate. The incumbent senator, George Allen, a Republican, was considered until recently to be a safe bet for re-election and a possible standard bearer for his party in two years’ time. Now he is in the deepest of trouble because — let me see if I have this right — he isn't “really” from the South, wears cowboy boots though there are no cowboys in Virginia, made a cryptic remark to a questioner from the Indian sub-continent and reacted oddly to the news of his mother’s hidden Jewish parentage.
And then, of course, a neat summary of what this day is about is from our friends at the Economist. Whichever way you look at it the Republicans deserve to get clobbered next week. [Subscriber only so here's a tidbit]:
Much of the blame rightly attaches to Mr Bush. He may not be on the ballot this year, but mid-terms are in large part a referendum on the president. Iraq, Katrina and Guantánamo have become globally recognised one-word indictments of an administration that has been simultaneously incompetent and cavalier. At home, he has failed to get government spending under control, especially when it comes to the “entitlements”, principally health care and pensions, that will overwhelm America's finances as its population ages. He has also pandered to the religious right, opposing stem-cell research and promoting a federal amendment banning gay marriage.
[Of course, yours truly and the Economist part company when it comes to "social conservative" issues. The problem isn't stem-cell research. It's the utilitarian destruction of human embryos.]
None of this amounts to an enthusiastic endorsement of the incoherent Democrats. There are a few independent-minded Republicans, especially in the Senate, who deserve to keep their seats. But sometimes ruling parties become so addled and incompetent they need to be punished. “Depart, and let us have done with you,” Cromwell told the Rump Parliament. The Republicans deserve the same next week.
Come on, who else could have built Oliver Cromwell into this? Here's a current story that's open access: Americans go to the Polls. Finally, Don Jim (who's got real voting rights across the border in Arlington, VA) has some thoughts on voter guides that proliferate at this time of the year.

Of course, all of this is coming from someone who has no voting rights in his country of residence (or of citizenship for that matter!). A few more years, folks, a few more years. :-)

1 comment:

assiniboine said...

Oh, it's always easy to bring the English Civil War and the Puritan Commonwealth into these discussions. Sometime when you've got a spare minute or two, do check out Geoffrey Robertson's "The Tyrannicide Brief," a compelling apologia for John Cooke, the prosecutor at the trial of Charles I: its relevance, of course, is the large-scale abandonment of habeas corpus and innocent-till-proven-guilty and the inadmissibility of evidence obtained under torture and all those other 300 year-old hard-won English liberties that the current US administration appears to have succeeded -- let us hope temporarily -- in abrogating.

(Alas, the book shows signs of having been dictated in the car mornings and evenings on the way to and from Robertson QC's chambers.)