Saturday, October 28, 2006

Election Karma

Bush is out campaigning for Republicans in Congress while many Republicans are trying hard to keep the president out of the minds of their constituents. The party would seem to be dying on the same sword they've used to slay the Dems in recent years: the war. Although it was widely agreed today that the invasion of Iraq was a bad idea from the start, for many it's a realization made in the rear-view mirror. Two years ago, it wasn't uncommon to see signs and bumper stickers reading "I Support President Bush and The Troops," as if the two were the same. That was back when we were sold a war that required no "sacrifice."

When I saw the same bumper sticker this week, it struck me that now the distinction is much clearer. People are sending their kids off on second and third tours, with the danger increasing each round. American soldiers are dying more, not less. There is the unforeseen (by some) sacrifice. I can't get over hearing Karl Rove on NPR this week bringing out the line about the unpredictability of war. Thanks, Karl, but you're about 4 years late on that little epiphany. But really, it's the American people who are late to the table, isn't it?

But now that we seem to have arrived (if you pay any mind to the polls), on the other side of the issue, I don't think it means that there is any added nuance to the thinking of the voters. It can be costly to underestimate the intelligence of the American people, but I don't believe that we've learned that much over the past 6 years of the Bush administration's buffoonery and the botched war. After all, it only took 35 years to repeat the quagmire scenario of Vietnam, but this time the outcry doesn't seem nearly at virulent as I imagine it was back then. It seems to me that we have gotten pretty good at blocking it out, and I'm as guilty as the next guy, but try as we might to ignore it, Iraq just keeps coming back up. The alleged about face of the voters in America is reactionary. We're suffering from fatigue, and it's hoped that the other party is the cure. The turnaround isn't sparked by ideas, it's much simpler. It's birthed by a headache looking for relief.

So the tide is swaying Democratic for better or worse. But here in Michigan, there is an issue which is taking precedence over even Iraq. The auto industry's fever is felt all across the state and there is some ire directed against the otherwise popular Democratic governor Jennifer Granholm. Though still leading in the polls, Granholm is getting a run for her money from a guy who she should be able to squash like a bug. The fact that the race is so tight makes me question the intelligence of the voter who believes that Granholm could have single-handedly saved the Big Three and the jobs of those they employ(ed). Here again is the same dynamic. We here in Michigan haven't learned a whole lot yet from the death of American automobile dominance, as evidenced by belief held by some (and propagated upon them by political rivals) that Jenny G somehow dropped the ball on auto jobs. And those folks have a lot in common with the former Bush voters now sore over Iraq.

So despite the pleasing change that the polls suggest is imminent, I'm not exactly optimistic on the capacity of the American people for seeing the big picture. That is, seeing what steps need to be taken on what is an issue of greater long-term import than automotive jobs or Middle Eastern wars; and that, folks, is global warming and the environment. And when that bill comes due, I think it will be much more difficult to ignore. But if we are to cushion the shock, we all need to agree to make a few sacrifices. The problem is that sacrifice is exactly what we don't want.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home