What's All This Then?
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
POST ELECTION THOUGHTS
On local results and on Nader and Lieberman…..
I had a few more thoughts about the election - but they didn’t fit in with the theme of what I wrote on November 4th and 6th - so I’ll express them here.
First of all, not everyone that I voted for was elected and frankly I didn’t expect them to be elected because we’re talking about the Democratic stranglehold on Cook County, Illinois - a place where political offices are more like businesses - in some cases family businesses!! It’s virtually impossible to oust the entrenched office holders in the county and in the city of Chicago and this election was business as usual. About the only way office holders get removed in this part of the world is when they get indicted and convicted.
I don’t know how it is in the rest of the country but I would imagine that similar conditions exist in other counties and states where one party has been in power for decades. For example, in Cook County, we elect our judges and I have no doubt that 99% of the people who elect them have no idea who they are and what skills they have. The concept is so disingenuous that we have had lawyers change their surnames so that they could appear on the ballot as someone with an ethnic background that would appeal to a large segment of the electorate. And once judges are elected, they run on a "retention ballot" which would require a huge number of voters to vote "no" for them to lose their jobs - something that almost never happens.
We have just had a national election that has resulted in a shift of power to the left and where strongly entrenched incumbents have been ousted by an aroused electorate. But none of this has trickled down to the local level - to the kind of local offices that should be appointed rather than elected - so they continue to be part of the "ownership society" - the "ownership" of local political offices by a single party, able to manipulate the voters to do their bidding, election after election. It gets frustrating voting against these entrenched office holders but I keep doing it, hoping that one day I’ll be joined by more than a token number of fellow protesters.
Less frustrating - actually pleasurable, was the total non-effect of Ralph Nader on the outcome of the presidential election. Unfortunately - and here I’m making a prediction - it won’t convince him to stop his emergence every four years to declare that there’s no difference between the two major presidential candidates and that he is the answer to America’s future. The ego of this man is truly something to behold. We used to have someone in the Chicago area who ran in election after election - for whatever office might be available to run for. His name was Lar "America First" Daly. He would campaign driving around town proclaiming his nonsense from a sound truck, wearing an Uncle Sam suit. He was a nuisance but also a local joke for years. The only difference between him and Nader is that Nader only runs for one office and only does it every four years. Daly didn’t see himself as a clown and neither does Nader - which is why I predict he’ll be back. You can insult the man to his face and point out the illogic of his quadrennial quest in seventeen languages - and he will tell you that you’re the one who doesn’t understand our democracy and our electoral process. With a withering look yet.
Totally frustrating is the possibility that Joe Lieberman will not be dealt with as he should be dealt with - as the sole member of the Lieberman party - motto "Lieberman for Lieberman." I have pretty much approved of the moves Barack Obama has made since he won the election. He’s looked and sounded comfortably presidential. But there’s no way I can agree with his belief that "bygones should be bygones" and that Joe the defector should keep his committee chairmanship and continue to caucus with the Democratic majority.
I know Lieberman was Obama’s mentor when he arrived in the Senate - but he didn’t just endorse a Republican for president - he campaigned for him and for Sarah Palin and attacked Barack Obama. And this after he ran for vice president on the Democratic ticket eight years ago. Forgiveness may be divine but I think Joe would more likely be facing wrath than forgiveness if he was pleading his case to a deity.
I know the Democrats have not yet reached the magical, filibuster proof 60 number in the Senate and that they would like to have as many votes as possible available to them on critical issues where Republicans are likely to disagree - but there has to be a limit to the behavior they will tolerate just to rack up one extra vote - and then only when it suits the Senator from Connecticut to vote with the majority. Remember, this is a man who cares little for the will of voting members of his former party. A more principled man would have bowed to the will of those voting in Connecticut’s 2006 Democratic primary and allowed the winner to run against the Republican candidate. But Joe refused to abide by the will of the voters and - with George W Bush’s blessing - won re-election against the Democratic and Republican candidates with the votes of Republicans. He is a man not to be trusted and the Democrats should be happy to let him go and practice his brand of democratic principles with the Republicans.
I know the Democratic members of the Senate want to be as supportive as possible of the newly elected president and don’t want the relationship to get off on the wrong foot. But forgetting or ignoring the fact that they are a separate and equal branch of government would also be getting off on the wrong foot. The vote on Lieberman’s future with the Democratic caucus is by secret ballot. The senators should vote their conscience - and I hope it will be to add a bedspread to the bed that "Lieberman for Lieberman" Joe has made for himself to lie on.