Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Primary Results

There were no surprises in the primary results from Indiana, North Carolina and Wisconsin yesterday. Dick Lugar lost his senate bid, North Carolina enshrined marriage inequality, and Wisconsin Democrats set up a rematch of the 2010 governors race for the recall of Scott Walker. Like I said, no surprises.

I don’t have any pundity insights as to why Indiana Republicans decided to go all in with the nutsery in choosing Richard Mourdock to run for the Senate. What was ironic was that I heard a number of Indiana Republicans being interviewed as to why they decided to vote against Mr. Lugar, and they all sounded like old white people who still had rotary phones and drove 1972 Plymouths saying that it was time for a change.

Mr. Lugar went out with more of a bang than a whimper, slamming his opponent and the take-no-prisoners mindset of the Tea Party that defeated him.

He and I share many positions, but his embrace of an unrelenting partisan mindset is irreconcilable with my philosophy of governance and my experience of what brings results for Hoosiers in the Senate. In effect, what he has promised in this campaign is reflexive votes for a rejectionist orthodoxy and rigid opposition to the actions and proposals of the other party. His answer to the inevitable roadblocks he will encounter in Congress is merely to campaign for more Republicans who embrace the same partisan outlook. He has pledged his support to groups whose prime mission is to cleanse the Republican party of those who stray from orthodoxy as they see it.

That would have had a bit more punch if Mr. Lugar had not spent the last year or so basically trying to court the rejectionist orthodoxy voters to keep his job, but even that was not enough. The race is now set between a hard-right winger and Rep. Joe Donnelly, a conservative Democrat, and Mr. Lugar basically handed the Democrats their opening salvo in the campaign.

The only surprise from North Carolina’s adoption of Amendment One was that I assumed that the state already had a constitutional ban against marriage equality. After all, this is the state that gave us Jesse Helms and Billy Graham; how could they not already have enshrined that element of gay-bashing into their state’s foundation?

I know it’s not fair to judge an entire state by the cultural stereotype of Southern redneck Kluxers and evangelical Jesus-shouters, but they’re not helping with votes like this. I also feel sorry for the people who worked so hard against the tide to keep the amendment from passing, but when you’re engaged in a battle between enlightenment and acceptance and fear and loathing, the bad guys always have the advantage of fighting downhill. It’s easy to win when you don’t have to make your argument any longer than what will fit on a pick-up truck’s bumper next to the Confederate flag.

And then it’s on to Wisconsin. Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett will go up against Gov. Scott Walker on June 5. Mr. Barrett did not have the backing of the unions in the primary, but I have a feeling there will be plenty of union support for him in the next go-round. Right now polls have them in a very close race. Mr. Walker is counting on a lot of money from outside the state to keep him in his job, and I’m pretty sure we’re going to see a race that runs into the multi-millions in the the next month.