The election will not be close, and while the West will contribute many electoral votes to an Obama victory, so will all sections of the country. This will be a watershed election.
The economic headwinds facing the incumbent party have reached gale force. Even Alan Greenspan’s faith in “self-regulating markets” has been shaken. Eight years of Republican control of the White House, six of them with Republican control of Congress, have not been a happy affair. War, economic crisis, and arrogance in governing, including a cavalier attitude towards Constitutional balance, have taken their toll on the country. The economy and our economic prospects for the next several years are much worse than we thought just a few months ago. The policies of the past eight years, which in some ways go back two or even three decades, wedded as they were to an ideological demand for deregulated markets and tax cuts for our richest citizens, are now discredited. The phrase “worst since the Great Depression” has become commonplace. Try as they might the McCain-Palin ticket cannot run away from the Republican brand and has failed to articulate how Republican “mavericks” differ from regular Republicans. They have not been able to reach out simultaneously to the GOP base and the centrist independents. Senator McCain’s campaign suggests an erratic Republican response to our economic crisis and a continuation of our current foreign policy in the Middle East.
Senator Obama has an opportunity not only to change the direction to our politics, but by virtue of his intelligence, his personal history, and his temperament he has the opportunity to be a president who can inspire the nation as few presidents have done. Kennedy, FDR, and even Lincoln come to mind in this regard. Given our current predicament, he will need to employ his considerable talents to their fullest extent. Rebuilding our banking system, restoring confidence in our markets, remaking our energy policy, reforming our health care policy, and rethinking our educational policies are all now urgent tasks. At the same time, we need to extricate ourselves as best we can from costly foreign wars that have alienated our traditional allies. All these tasks will no doubt be done imperfectly, but we must attempt them as best we can, and the architects of the new policies should not be the architects of the policies of last eight years or even the last twenty years. Senator Obama was prescient enough to see that this year’s election would be about change. Nine out of ten Americans now believe the country is on the wrong track. Indeed, the question is whether our economic engine has fallen quite off the tracks. Senator Obama was also able to see that the election will also be about hope, because hope will be in short supply for many in the next few years. Senator Obama is the candidate most capable of articulating America’s hopes and uniting the country in the pursuit of those hopes through some very tough times.
The election of 2008 is haunted by two ghosts. The first ghost is the ghost of the Republican past, namely Herbert Hoover. The oldest voters will remember President Hoover. The youngest voters can Google up facts on the Great Depression. President Hoover was an honorable man with an impressive record of public service, but he was out of his depth when it came to handling the Great Depression, and the election of 1932 accordingly marked the end of a long Republican-dominated political era and the beginning of a long Democratic ascendancy.
The second ghost is the ghost of the Republican present, namely George Bush. President Bush, unlike President Hoover, has taken some very bold steps recently to curb the freefall of the financial markets, but too late to save his already crumbling legacy or to prevent what looks to be a very serious and long-lasting recession. His popularity has fallen to historic lows, and he is unable to command the confidence of the people.
The McCain-Palin ticket cannot run away from these ghosts, try as they might. The election will be a very scary night for a lot of Republicans.
…remember where you live. You live in a nation of gun owners and hunters. You live in a country where one out of three girls get pregnant before they are 20… Knock Palin for having kids, for having a kid who's having a baby, for anything that is part of her normalness -- a normalness that looks very familiar to so many millions of Americans -- well, you do this at your own peril.
Sarah Palin’s Alaska gave every Alaskan an extra $1,200 from oil revenues, and the GOP loves her. Alaska has no income tax and no sales tax. Alaska’s tax revenues come from taxing oil
Actually, I am warming to Sarah Palin on this. Maybe we ought to do more of this nationally. Maybe this ought to be a plank in the Democratic platform. Shouldn’t every citizen, not just Alaskans, get $1,200 from a tax on oil?
Per dollar of federal tax collected in 2005, Alaska citizens received approximately $1.84 in the way of federal spending. If only we could do that nationally. How is your state doing?
You can find out at this link.
The Aspen Times has on its masthead:
If you don’t want to see it in print, don’t let it happen.The sad stories of Republican Senator Stevens of Alaska and Democratic presidential aspirant and former Senator John Edwards are recent reminders the wisdom of that warning.
These two scandals are neither identical nor equivalent. Each is bad in its own way. Senator Stevens maintains his innocence. Senator Edwards no longer does. Senator Stevens is under indictment. Senator Edwards is not. But what they have in common are highly embarrassing reports of activities that would normally be considered mortal wounds to a political career. Senator Stevens will certainly have a tough challenge to retain his Senate seat. Senator Edwards will not be the Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee. The tree of trust and credibility, once felled, can only be re-grown slowly, if at all.
The scandals also have in common a warning about the temptations of high office. By historical standards, these scandals are not the most shocking cases. Given human frailties, they will not be the last. Against scandalous behavior there is the power of self control, the power of the law (when it applies), and the power of the press. When the first two fail, the third is there to remind us that “If you don’t want to see it in print, don’t let it happen.”
Seven of the thirteen Western states have Senators up for election this year: Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, New Mexico, and Wyoming. The Republicans are defending six of these seven Senate seats. Montana’s Max Baucus is the sole defending Democratic incumbent in the group, and his seat is considered safe. Colorado, Idaho, and New Mexico will be open seats, and Wyoming will have both their Senators up for re-election, due to the death of Senator Craig Thomas in 2007.
Colorado and New Mexico look like the best opportunities for Democratic pick ups, and both states are considered swing states in the 2008 presidential contest. Our candidates, Mark Udall in Colorado and Tom Udall in New Mexico, are cousins from the long prominent Udall family.
The remaining campaigns are still shaping up. The contests in Alaska and Oregon could be particularly interesting. Senator Stevens (R-Bridge to Nowhere) is the poster child for pork gone wild and an opponent of transparency in government. The Iraq War puts Oregon’s Gordon Smith in a bind. He voted for the war and has been a Bush enabler. Yet he has broken with the Bush administration on the war, and hence will be at odds with Senator McCain on that issue.
I met Mitt Romney once, years ago. I liked the old moderate Mitt Romney. The new hard-core Mitt Romney, not so much. As the campaign went on, his positions and rhetoric reminded me of why I left the Republican Party. Nothing personal, mind you. I can still like Mitt as a person, just not as a candidate. Whether the moderate Mitt or the conservative Mitt was the real Mitt Romney, who can say? Maybe both were in turn.
Imagine if Mitt Romney had instead, like Michael Bloomberg, left the Republican Party and charted an independent course. Such a move would have freed Mitt from the seemingly insurmountable hurdle of a Latter-day Saint getting past the powerful Southern Evangelical wing of the GOP, an obstacle that would likely have derailed a Bloomberg candidacy as well. Could a moderate, independent, and well-financed Bloomberg-Romney ticket have emerged to capture the imagination of the country and some Western electoral votes? It would have been interesting.
To return to the campaign that was, whispering attacks against Romney in the Bible Belt may have sobered Mormon Republicans and caused some of them to question if the GOP should be their permanent home. Harry Reid and Mitt Romney share the same religious faith, but not the same party and political outlook. The Democratic Party hasn’t had a problem with Harry Reid’s faith, and that contrast may resonate with some Latter-day Saints. A message of principled moderation, inclusion, and real compassion could go a long way in the Mormon West. The Udall family is a prominent name in the Democratic Party in the West and an old Mormon family name. Maybe years from now the first Latter-day Saint in the White House will be a Democrat.
Check out some interesting links on related topics:
This year Super Tuesday will be the closest thing America has yet seen to a national primary, with 24 states holding primaries or caucuses on this date. 52% of all pledged Democratic Party delegates and 41% of the total Republican Party delegates will be at stake. The GOP contests are often “winner take all,” whereas the Democratic delegate results are awarded by proportional representation, with a minimum 15% threshold required to receive delegates.
The leading candidates (Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the Democrats and John McCain and Mitt Romney for the Republicans) have been campaigning all over the country including the West. Their respective websites proudly list their appearances and endorsements. Here in California, my phone has been busy with calls from both the Republican and Democratic campaigns.
The conventional wisdom, polls, and fund raising by state suggest Hillary Clinton will do well in the East and Southwest and Barack Obama will do well in the Midwest and other parts of the West. The Clinton polling lead nationally has been eroding, and Obama has momentum. At least one poll has them tied, but the polls have missed some surprises this year. Given proportional representation, expect both Clinton and Obama to split the delegate totals fairly evenly. If Obama breaks through in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Missouri, New Jersey, or Connecticut and meets expectations elsewhere, then the momentum will have definitely swung his way. On the Republican side, the conventional wisdom and the polls have McCain leading, but Romney has pockets of strength in the West.
As noted previously, Western Democrats are rightly concerned about Clinton’s high negatives in the West. I’m voting for Obama.
Check out the Democratic alternative, Larry LaRocco at this link.
LaRocco is the kind of plain speaking, common sense western Democrat whom America needs.
I saw this in a local Idaho paper last month.
U.S. Senate candidate Larry LaRocco worked a sweet shift Wednesday, stacking five-pound bags of sugar onto pallets at Amalgamated Sugar Company in Nampa as part of his statewide “Working for Senate” campaign.
Beginning in June, LaRocco started taking jobs all over the state to learn what life is like for Idahoans from all walks of life…
This link goes to our Larry's Act Blue page.
I know, I'm a couple of days late and a dollar or two short, but I was out of town with no internet access (despite the hotel advertising it).
As you probably know by now, embattled Idaho Senator Larry Craig has resigned, effective September 30. Boise local, Red State Rebel, has posted an account of Craig's press conference, with links to other local blogs covering the resignation.
Sen. John Ensign told MSNBC today that it would be best if Craig resigns, MSNBC reported at 1 p.m. MDT.
Ensign's turning away from Craig is especially significant because he is chairman of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Senate GOP's campaign arm that raises money and develops strategy to elect Republican senators. Ensign's statement suggests that Republicans fear that a prolonged battle by Craig to keep his seat will harm other GOP candidates in 2008.
They're scared. They know Larry LaRocco is a great Democratic candidate who can win Larry Craig's seat, and this situation has become John Ensign's worst nightmare, especially with the Club for Growth trying to persuade Congressman Bill Sali (R-Way Out There) to run for the Senate seat.
The word from Washington, D.C. is that there is high-level buzz that Larry Craig will resign as soon as today.
Reporters in Washington, D.C., are hearing high-level talk that Sen. Larry Craig could resign as soon as today.
The Associated Press cites "Republican activists." News stations including CNN and Fox started reporting Thursday that national Republican leaders and White House officials were huddling to find a way to persuade Craig to step down and limit the damage his scandal could cause to the party's election hopes in 2008.
Here's to a bloody Republican primary and Larry LaRocco winning in November 2008.
Update 2: Larry Craig will resign tomorrow.
Idaho Republican Sen. Larry Craig will resign from the Senate amid a furor over his arrest and guilty plea in a police sex sting in an airport men's room, Republican officials said Friday. Craig will announce at a news conference in Boise Saturday morning that he will resign effective Sept. 30, four state GOP officials told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity.