Thursday, November 4, 2004

The Mourning After

True to form, there’s a lot of analysis going on about the election. A quick scroll through the internet gets you to articles blaming everything from the choice of the candidate to the turnout of evangelicals and anything else you can come up with. I’m sure there’s someone out there blaming the alignment of the planets. And then there’s the election-night blame game; why did we all get our hopes up early in the evening only to have them crater later on? Well, get this: the networks are blaming the bloggers! Gee, for a bunch of rag-tag and disparite loose cannons hunched over their laptops in dark corners of bedrooms and living rooms all over the country, we sure are important now – at least in taking the rap for Wolf Blitzer getting all breathless about the returns. Nice try, guys.

So now what? Well, there’s plenty of helpful advice out there, too, including everything from the “let’s reach out across the aisle” crowd. Hmm. Sorry, we tried that the last time and basically pulled back a bloody stump. There’s the “let’s revamp the Democratic Party to be more accessible to the ___________ ” (fill in the blank). I think we’ve seen that the party that tries to stand for everything stands for not much. Oh, and for those of you who threatened to leave the US if Bush won another four years and head to Canada, I hate to break it to you, but that’s not as easy as it sounds. I wouldn’t consider it; I like Canada and the Canadians, but they still have winter up there and I have yet to find a place there where I can get a good plate of huevos rancheros. (Come to think of it, I can’t even find that in Miami. Well, at least you don’t have to shovel the heat.) My suggestion is that we remain vigilant, remain calm, and take our stands with the firm belief that losing by two points is not a disaster for the Democrats or the progressive cause. It will not be easy, but nothing ever worth having was easily obtained.

The edifying news out of any of this is that second terms of presidents have been better known for either scandal or wheel-spinning. Cases in point: Wilson and the League of Nations; Roosevelt and the dismantling of the New Deal and court-packing; Eisenhower and Sherman Adams and the U-2; Nixon and Watergate; Reagan and Iran-contra; Clinton and Impeachment. While it may seem churlish to wish ill for the administration and therefore ill for the fortunes of the country, perhaps we can see that history more as a function of the natural order of checks and balances. The Democrats who held power in the House and Senate for forty years learned that the hard way ten years ago, and they didn’t have a radical leading their charge. The Republicans may find that they’re going to wish for a more moderate course if they want to hold on to power for such a long time; radicalism requires a great deal of enegry and discipline, and already the wheels are starting to come off for people like Tom DeLay. And while the Republicans may have increased their hold in the Senate and the House, it’s still not a locked majority – as in 60 votes in the Senate to break a filibuster – and they are five hundred and thirty-five different people from fifty different states whose first item on the agenda is “What’s in it for me?” Yesterday was the first day of the 2006 mid-term election campaign. The more things change…. Right, M. Proust?

Okay, so I said I wasn’t going to do a lot of analysis. I held off for twenty-four hours. Besides, I have the day off to help prepare for the Memory Lane exhibit at the South Florida International Auto Show at the Miami Beach Convention Center, and I needed to get that out of my system before turning to something really important, such as how to park twenty-eight classic cars – from a 1939 Packard Victoria convertible to a 1959 Ford Skyliner – in a tight space and still leave room for 600,000 spectators. Now that will be fun.