Thursday, November 8, 2012

On politics...

I'm going to momentarily step out of the role of amateur astronomer and comment on the election of a couple of days ago. In my state of Minnesota the Republicans got a severe thrashing, losing both houses of state government and seeing two amendments they promoted be denied. A very conservative house member was voted out after his first term, and the radical Michelle Bachmann barely won reelection to another term.

The Republican error--and a common one made by most of us these days--was inflating their own sense of moral and practical rightness. They gained control of the legislature only two years ago, selling themselves broadly as the party of jobs, and to a narrower constituency as the party of morality. The honeymoon was brief. Many of the new members were inexperienced at participating in government at a high level, and they quickly found themselves being outmaneuvered by the Democratic Governor. A sexual scandal erupted that became messy because of legal fees.
Failure to work with the Governor led to a shutdown of state government. The state Republican party outspent their resources and hardly looked like the party of fiscal responsibility. Republicans then dithered on a contentious stadium-building issue (managing to look both obstructionist and disorganized).

Republicans sealed their fate with two state constitutional amendments. The marriage = one man + one woman amendment was a slap at GLBT families, liberals, and libertarians, the latter being a significant portion of the Republican base. The voter ID amendment addressed a non problem and was perceived as oppressive and self-serving.

Republicans apparently judged themselves so popular and their mandate so large that they thought their base would carry them to any victory they sought. It worked out otherwise.

Democrats would do well to remember this lesson as they sweep back into power, lest they repeat mistakes they've made in the past. I consider myself an independent, and I hope that the Republicans can regroup around a more moderate base and continue to advance the ideals of conservatives.

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