First, Florida. Do you think we could learn to hold an election here? Palm Beach County, the largest in the state and home of the infamous butterfly ballot and hanging chads from the 2000 election, still hasn’t finished counting its votes. Not that it really matters. Obama won, and Romney has now conceded Florida, so let’s just get it over with, shall we?
On Thursday, two days after the election, Miami-Dade County finished counting its votes. They blamed the delay on the number of “provisional” and “absentee” ballots they had to count. So says the Supervisor of Elections for that county, who followed it up by saying, “Still, am I embarassed? Yes.” That was entirely refreshing.
Okay, due to Hurricane Sandy, many people in New York and New Jersey had to vote using provisional ballots (for my non-U.S. friends, this means you are voting in a different place from where you are assigned. An absentee ballot is one you mailed in rather than appearing in person). On election day, some people in New York and New Jersey were voting in tents, by flashlight. And they called it. So why hasn’t Florida been able to get it together? There is a simple answer to that: because it wasn’t as close in New York as it is in Florida. It’s dangerous to jump to conclusions. Once it got to a certain level in New York, the rest of the ballots were essentially unnecessary. It isn’t whether Obama won, it’s by how much. Not so in Florida, where we are a tidy microcosm of a divided country.
Much has been made of the fact that this year the Republican Legislature reduced the number of days you could vote early from 14 to 8. Early used to mean two weeks before election day, which was November 6th. And indeed, I’d say it caused problems. Long lines for early voting. I personally waited in line about 45 minutes, which is nothing compared to people who waited in line for 5 or 6 hours. However, again, it’s dangerous to jump to conclusions.
Bill Cotterell, the now-retired political reporter for the Tallahassee Democrat, occasionally writes guest columns. He pointed out the following facts: We’ve known the number of days were going to be reduced for almost a year. While the number of days were reduced, the number of hours were not. The polls were open for 96 hours in both scenarios. (Not really a good argument in my view, but it is a point.)
Yesterday, political writer Paul Flemming had an article in the newspaper headlined “Lord have mercy, Florida voters are sane”. He is referring to the 11 Constitutional Amendments put on the ballot by the (Republican) state Legislature. Only three were approved, and they had to do with tax relief for wounded veterans. low-income seniors, and the surviving spouses of veterans and first responders. As for the rest, Flemming says Florida repudiated the “cynical shenanigans of the Legislature”. He was surprised. Me too. But happily.
Also in yesterday’s newspaper, I learned there is a serious movement afoot to amend the U.S. Constitution to overrule the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. I think this will work.
And now for the Presidential election. There is an amazing amount of hand-wringing and tooth-gnashing going on in the Republican Party. Why did we lose? Also in yesterday’s newspaper there was an editorial by Michael Reagan, son of the late former President Ronald Reagan. Essentially he argues that Republicans today are not “real” conservatives like his father (well,that’s an arguable point), and that the campaign was a mess and focused on the wrong things (okay, no argument there).
One of the things he said was this: “First they tore each other to shreds in a bitter primary, smearing their eventual nominee in debates as a rich, uncaring profiteer who put working people out on the street and shipped their jobs overseas”. Well….?
He more or less concludes with this comment: “But give credit to Obama’s Chicago Gang. They ran a much better campaign–on the ground and in the air. They got out his message of class envy and federal entitlements for all, without any trouble from his toadies in the media [more about toadies in a minute].
Now bigger deficits, higher taxes, and a stagnant economy lie ahead for as far as the eye can see. And socialized medicine–which my father warned was coming to America 50 years ago–is going to soon become a reality via Obamacare.”
Um, no Michael, that’s not quite right. Here’s what the deal is: we are breaking up with the Republican Party. You know that awkward moment when you break up with someone, and you say, “It isn’t you, it’s me”? In this case, it’s you.
What kept puzzling me throughout the election process was how certain conservatives were that they would win. I just couldn’t see it,and thought they were wrong. But I wasn’t certain. Part of it is the tendency of the media to imply that all points of view are equivalent. So fringe ideas get airtime or column space, and you never have a real feel for how many people actually agree or believe in ideas other than your own. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It forces you to come to an independent decision. But therefore, I really had no certainty of how the election would go, just an impression.
But there is a group of people who are married to the idea of only listening to other people who agree with them. The people who invented the term “Mainstream Media”. And now we are back to toadies. The media people whose main goal was to keep their watchers/readers happy so they would keep coming back. I leave you with this incredible article from The Atlantic.