Last Thoughts on the Last Day of Election 2010

My Election Day was destined to be a quiet one.  I voted almost two weeks ago.  My main responsibility was in answering a question by wife and son had about one of the ballot issues.  They already knew pretty much who they were going to vote for.

I had the opportunity to make a quick $150 to cover the election results for The Columbus Post newspaper but I turned it down flat.  Though I used to be a reporter and ended up as the Post’s editor, that was a decade ago and the guy who is running the paper into the ground isn’t one of my favorite people in the world.  In fact, he’s something of a gaping asshole.  I’d rather not work for people I dislike so intensely.

Besides, given between the choice of hanging around in a hotel ballroom with a bunch of disappointed Democrats or raucous Republicans, I’d rather stay home and catch up on the movies recorded on the DVR.  Do I really need to sit in front of the television all night while a bunch of talking heads on CNN, MSNBC and Fox tell me what I already know?

Because if I hear one more word about how this election is a referendum and repudiation of President Obama’s agenda, I’m gonna have to hurt somebody really bad.

I wasn’t aware the President was on the ballot, but the “referendum on Obama” is the story that’s being pushed by the media and GOP, and that’s the one we should expect to hear repeated ad nauseum in the post-election analysis.  Sorry.   Don’t wanna hear it and I’m not buying it anyway.   The only referendum on Obama that matters doesn’t take place for another two years.

In every election there’s big winners and losers.  The biggest winner today will probably be Sarah Palin.  Progressives should take today’s results not as the end of the game, but simply the end of THIS game. The wealthy and corporate interests that lost their grasp on power in ’06 and ’08 are serving notice they are back with a vengeance and will go all-out in 2012 to turn out Obama and replace him with some blandly ambitious and useful stooge like Romney, Pawlenty, Palin or some other moron of that ilk.

Obama has to understand that he can’t buy into this “move to the center” crap. It’s a trap and won’t enhance his reelection chances. The Republicans have made it clear their ambition is to make Obama a one-termer.

The coalition that elected the president can re-elect him, but Obama has to give them the reason to do so. Fear of a Palin presidency alone is not enough of one.

Withholding your vote from ONE candidate that annoys or disappoints you also withholds your vote for EVERY candidate on a ballot and that strikes me a totally counter-productive. I get that one would prefer not to hold their nose and choose between two fatally flawed candidates, but there are often progressive and forward-thinking people running in races further down the ballot. Deciding not to vote because ONE specific candidate arouses your ire, denies a candidate who may be running for city council, the school board or a judges seat the support they need as well.

Fight the power then take the power.

Becoming an informed voter who has an understanding of what is at stake, acquiring a grasp of the issues, attending debates, and making an informed choice between competing candidates is hard damn work.

Sitting back on the sidelines and voluntarily choosing to do NONE of these things is not. It’s much harder work to be an informed voter than it is to do nothing.

James Baldwin wisely observed, “the only thing White people have that Black people should want is POWER, and no one holds onto power forever.” How does one get that power if they choose not to participate in the processes through which power is obtained?

There’s too much money, too much media manipulation, and too many special interests screwing with our electoral process, but it’s equally true there’s too many disaffected and disinterested voters who don’t vote. The refusal of ordinary Americans to participate in the political process leaves them subject to find themselves subordinate to those that do.

To paraphrase Plato, the penalty one pays for being too smart to be involved in politics is to be ruled by those who are dumber.

Cheer up folks. Things could be worse. And soon might be.