Category Archives: Election 2008

Election Reaction, Part II

If I were Governor of California, and had a cooperative legislature, and didn’t mind being recalled, I would make the following declarations:

  1. That, with the passage of Prop 8, all same-sex marriage are null and void.

  2. That, due to the California Constitution’s declaration of equality among all citizens, I have no choice but to render all marriages in California null and void.
  3. That the State of California henceforth considers marriage to be a religious matter. In order to respect religious freedom it will no longer issue marriage licenses to anyone, and the definition of marriage will therefore be up to individual churches.
  4. That the State of California is establishing a civil union status, available to any two consenting adults, to encapsulate certain legal benefits formerly associated with marriage.
  5. That all couples whose marriages were recently nullified by Prop 8 or government decree will automatically receive civil unions.

Needless to say, this would never actually happen, and it would do nothing to placate the anti-gay bigots who voted for Prop 8 (although it sure would be fun to take away their marriages too). But I do think getting government out of the marriage business entirely is the right move. Supporters of small government should be all for it!

Election Reaction, Part I

When I was a kid I always heard that “in America, anyone can be President”. But after seeing Americans pick a total incompetent just because his dad was president, I figured that was just a myth. Something we tell children to try to convey values like equality and social mobility. A black guy with a foreign-sounding name doesn’t have the slightest chance at becoming President, right?
Turns out some myths are true after all. We really do live in an amazing country.
[My election reactions are a little late in posting… I’ve been busy.]

2008 Election Thread

I’m at an election night party tomorrow, so I’m posting the election thread tonight. I might check in on the comments via iPhone, however.
Endorsements: My support of Barack Obama is well-known to any reader of this blog so a formal endorsement at this point is unnecessary. And in the downballot races I’m generally endorsing the Democratic candidates as well. After years of failed governance, it’s time to send the Republican Party into the wilderness.
I’m no longer registered in California, but I will still endorse Yes on 1, No on 4 and 8. (I haven’t looked at the others.)
Predictions: Obama wins the Kerry states plus CO, FL, IA, NM, NV, OH, VA for a total of 338 electoral votes.
The Democrats pick up 7 Senate seats: AK, CO, MN, NC, NH, NM, and VA. Convicted felon Ted “Series of Tubes” Stevens loses in AK by a small margin; Norm Coleman barely holds off Al Franken in MN. In the House, the Dems pick up 30ish seats.
Races of interest:
Obviously, the presidential race, but I think the outcome is pretty certain at this point.
Of the Senate races, the aforementioned AK and MN races will be the most exciting. I’d love to see Minority Leader McConnell lose in Kentucky but it doesn’t seem likely.
In the House, my own representative is Jerrold Nadler (D). I don’t think he’ll have much trouble getting re-elected in solidly blue Manhattan. I don’t know much about him yet, though. Anyway, it was pretty funny to hear McCain say that New York City isn’t “real America”; my district alone (NY-8) contains such un-American landmarks as the Statue of Liberty, the New York Stock Exchange, and the World Trade Center site.
Likewise, my previous representative, Barbara Lee of CA-9, is in a pretty safe seat. I’ve moved from one of the bluest counties in America to another. But one of my past residences is the location of an interesting race:
CT-4: My old district in Connecticut, home of the last House Republican in New England. As Republicans go, Chris Shays is not that bad, but we’re still talking about a member of a party that enthusiastically supports torture. I’ll be rooting for his opponent, the awesomely-named Jim Himes.
Meanwhile, if I can stay up late enough, there are some ballot initiatives to watch in California. Prop 8 is the big one, which would actually revoke marriage from thousands of couples. It’s been close in the polls so this will give you Californians a reason to go out and vote even though the state’s electoral votes aren’t in question.
Tomorrow morning I’ll go find out just how long the lines are to vote in Hell’s Kitchen. I never had to wait very long in North Berkeley, but the population density is just slightly higher here…
Go out and vote! Then come back here and comment.

Fusion research

I have a confession to make: I haven’t decided which party to vote for in the presidential election next week.
Of course, I phrased that statement carefully. As any regular reader of this blog knows, I long ago decided which candidate to vote for. But this month I changed my voter registration to New York from California, and here in New York there are two ways to vote for Barack Obama.
What’s going on is that New York is one of the few states with an active fusion voting system. Here a political party is permitted to cross-endorse another party’s candidate, so that voters can express different preferences from one of the major parties without feeling that they’re throwing their votes away. So there are two lines on the ballot with Obama’s name: one for the Democratic Party, and one for the Working Families Party. Similarly, John McCain’s name appears three times, under the Republican, Conservative, and Independence party lines.
The result of this is that, while California’s minor parties are pretty much all total crackpots, the electoral system in New York has the potential to reward serious and pragmatic third parties that align with a major party most of the time, but can withhold an endorsement in a close race and thus have an influence on the outcome.
For a while it seems that this created an effective four-party system with the Conservative Party to the right of the Republicans and the Liberal Party to the left of the Democrats. Recently (in 2002) the Liberal Party failed to qualify for the ballot (you need 50,000 votes in the gubernatorial election) and the Working Families Party became the sole progressive alternative. Meanwhile the Conservative Party is still around, and there’s also the Independence Party which appears to have no ideology and seems to endorse whoever is the most mavericky, so they’re backing John McCain.
So, back to my dilemma. Back in 1998 when I was first qualified to vote (having turned 18 just after the ’96 election), I was only leaning Democratic. After eight years of Republican governance, I have become a staunch Democrat, and if I were still in California I’d vote a straight Dem ticket. But since I’d like to see more leadership from Dems on progressive issues, a vote on the Working Families line would help send that message.
I’ve thought of a compromise. I’ll vote Democratic on the federal offices, since this is a year when I’m not just voting for the least bad alternative: I’m proud to be a Democrat and I have no reservations about supporting our presidential ticket. But in the elections for the state legislature, I’ll vote Working Families to keep them honest. (Either way I’m voting for the same candidates–in all of the races on my ballot Working Families has endorsed the Democratic candidate.)

Palin in comparison

Some days, not being able to post to the blog from work can be frustrating. Now that I’m home, let’s talk politics.
I was not one of the 38 million people watching Obama’s speech last night: I watched the speech on PBS, whose viewers weren’t counted in that number. As almost everyone has said today, it was a great speech. Indeed, it so unnerved John McCain that he pulled up the wrong name on his cell phone and accidentally offered the VP slot to Sarah Palin instead of Tim Pawlenty. (To be fair, newfangled gadgets like cell phones give McCain trouble in the best of times.)
As Michael Bluth would say, “Her?” I was hoping for a more obviously and hilariously bad choice like Mitt Romney or even the ridiculously unpopular Joe Lieberman, but figured the McCain campaign was too smart to think either one was really a good idea. Palin was an option I wasn’t even aware of, and I kept going back and forth on whether it was a politically shrewd move or a bizarre, impulsive mistake.
I’ve decided on the latter. One of the biggest themes of McCain’s campaign is experience, and by picking Palin they’ve given up any ability to claim that experience matters. Her political resume consists of being mayor of a small town, followed by two years as governor of a small state; compared to this, Barack Obama is a senior political veteran.
The whole thing is obviously a cynical ploy to win over disaffected Hillary voters, in the apparent belief that they will vote for any candidate with ovaries regardless of whether or not they happen to oppose everything Hillary stands for (as the pro-life, ultraconservative Palin does). And yet, if the campaign really wanted to reach out to Clinton supporters with a pioneering female nominee, McCain advisor Carly Fiorina was the obvious choice. Kay Bailey Hutchison was another possibility that has been mentioned today, although she’s pro-choice, and the social conservative wing of the GOP has made it clear that a pro-choice VP was not an option.
The vice-presidential debate should be interesting; all Joe Biden has to do is demonstrate that Palin is out of her league, something that should be an easy task for him given his extensive policy knowledge and skill as a debater. I would have much preferred to see him debate Lieberman or Romney, either of whom he would have utterly demolished, but this matchup will probably be worth sitting down with some popcorn.
However, Biden does have a bad habit of making offhand comments that come back to bite him (remember when he referred to Obama as “articulate”?) and it’s quite likely that, at some point in the campaign, he’ll get in trouble for some unfortunately-worded attack on Palin. Hopefully he’ll be careful about this.
(This could be part of McCain’s plan to attract Hillary voters: rather than nominating one of the experienced and qualified women in the GOP, pick a total lightweight and then accuse the Obama campaign of sexism when they point out that she’s a lightweight. This plan does have its downsides, though.)

Super Tuesday: a competitive election for once

Tomorrow’s Super Tuesday, so don’t forget to vote (if applicable)! I think it’s well-known at this point that this blog is endorsing Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination. He’s more progressive on policy issues, and he has an ability to inspire people that I’ve rarely seen in politics. He’s also better positioned to make the case against John McCain, having opposed the Iraq war from the beginning—with the war as unpopular as it is now, it doesn’t make sense for the Democrats to nominate someone with Clinton’s record when an Iraq war opponent could make a major line of attack against the Republican nominee. Hillary isn’t too bad otherwise, and I’ll certainly support her in the general against McCain if she wins the nomination, but I find Obama to be better along almost all dimensions. (Plus having the presidency held by only two different families over 20+ years isn’t really a good thing.)
Candidates aside, it’s exciting to be involved in an election where the outcome isn’t known beforehand: when I’ve voted in primaries before, the nominee has already been established by Iowa/New Hampshire/South Carolina, and in general elections the direction of California’s electoral votes has never been in question. (Even going downballot, I live in one of the safest Democratic districts in the country.) But this time the Democratic race is far from over, and since delegates are assigned proportionally rather than winner-take-all it’ll likely go on after Tuesday. So be sure to vote!

Iowa caucuses

I haven’t been blogging politics lately but let me just say that I’m pleased with the outcome of the Democratic caucuses in Iowa. Obama and Edwards are both candidates I really like and I’m happy to see them do well at the expense of Hillary Clinton, whom I don’t like very much. (However, she’d still be vastly better than any of the Republican alternatives.) I think Edwards is unlikely to win the nomination at this point but I hope Obama can maintain his lead in the coming primaries.
Meanwhile, on the Republican side, the idea of a President Mike Huckabee is terrifying but since I don’t think he can win the general election I’m not too worried. Better that he win the primaries rather than someone more electable but also scary like McCain. Personally I’m hoping for a Mitt Romney nomination, since he’s not only the least-bad Republican in the field (still pretty bad) but would get trounced in the general election when the evangelicals stay home rather than vote for a Mormon.