Last year on the first Tuesday of November, I did what I always do. I stopped by my local polling place and voted. Some people may be scratching their heads, thinking “there was an election?” Well, yes. In New York, the “odd years” are when we have local elections. It’s when we select mayors, town boards, and a host of other local elected officials. Democrats did very well around here. A “reliably Republican” town near here has a Democratic supervisor. Our town board has two more Democrats on it it, giving us a majority. All well and good, but what does that have to do with the “big picture?” In most ways, not much. But those officials will have a much greater impact on people’s daily lives than most of the national offices. Which is something the “Professional Left” and the “purity progressives” ignore.
Consider all the things around you, as you go about your daily life. The streets of your town, with their streetlights. The local police and fire departments. Water and sewer treatment facilities, garbage pickup. parks, and schools. All things that most of us take for granted, that are necessary to how we live. But you know what? The President or Congress doesn’t handle those, and they don’t set your local tax rates. Those are all handled by a local government! The things you take for granted, whose presence or absence has a great deal of impact on your daily life are handled at the local level. In other states, it’s also a time for state-wide elections, selecting governors, state legislators, and other elected officials. All of whom make policies and laws that also impact your daily life, in ways that you’ll see more often than the federal legislation or policies.
Besides the impact on people’s daily lives, these offices also serve another function. They’re “feeder pipelines” for higher offices. When parties are looking for candidates for state office or a national office, the local and state level are the places they look. If you look at the candidates in the past few elections, even for the Tea Party, most of them held some form of local office before running.
That’s why I said it’s important to vote. Not just in the national elections, but in every election. Even in the national elections, people tend to forget that it’s not just one office being decided. We don’t have one election for President or for our Congressional representatives, and schedule another for everything else. When I went to the polls in 2010, I wasn’t just voting for who was going to be my Senator or Representative. I was also voting for my state legislators, governor, attorney general, and state comptroller. All of whom were on the ballot at that time.
Which is why it was particularly stupid of the Professional Left and the frustrati to advocate staying home and saying not voting was “sending a message.”
they were saying how it would be so much better for the Democratic Party if the Republicans won. Which is what happened, and they tried to paint it as a ‘good thing’. Now that reality has struck and it’s worse than any of them ever dreamed, they’re retreating further into their fantasy world of “purifying” the Democratic Party.
The harsh reality is that any chance of advancing a progressive agenda, pure or not, went out the window when the new Congress took office. Bitching about ideological purity is a waste of time, and totally meaningless. The real problem is trying to keep the damage that the House Republicans want to do to a minimum. None of the attempted rollbacks of LGBT rights, women’s rights, environmental legislation, food safety, and education among many others are because of the Blue Dogs. It’s not because of anything that the President is doing.
That was just the House of Representatives. But, one other thing to take note of from that election. While they were all saying people should be staying home, to not vote to “send a message” to the President, they forgot that there were state and local elections going on. Lower voter turnout in Democratic and independent voters, helped along not just by the Tea Party rhetoric but by the messaging from the “professional left” and their minions, served to allow Republicans to capture a number of governor’s chairs, and state legislatures. In my post “NOW do you think there’s no difference between parties?”, I said this:
At the state level, Republicans are doing their level best to implement it. It’s not just women, Republicans are moving across the board when it comes to attacking progressive policies. We’ve all watched Wisconsin and Ohio and their assault on unions. Michigan with its “Emergency Manager” law. Arizona, Georgia, and Alabama passing restrictive immigration laws. Voter ID laws in states.
All of that was possible because people sat at home. After all it was a mid-term election, “unimportant!” They were “saving their votes for the big ones,” or “sending a message to Obama!” Because their focus was on the national elections (House and Senate), everyone forgot that there were all those other elections – the ones which have a big impact on your daily life. Even worse, it handed Republicans control of redistricting in a number of states. The “solid Blue” (a mistake, if ever there was one) state of New York saw control of the state Senate revert to Republicans, resulting in battles over redistricting here.
Which is why 2010 was such a disaster for progressives, aided and abetted by various people who claim to “speak for the Left.” Just an example: Michael Moore. He’s been big on attacking the President, and saying why people – particularly youth – should “stay home.” He’ll pontificate at length on the “message” of the 2010 Congressional elections. But did you ever notice something? His home state of Michigan went Republican. I can read Eclectablog or watch The Rachel Maddow Show and see the consequences of that election. That’s why I know his supposed home town of Flint is now being run by an Emergency Manager. But you won’t see or hear anything from Michael Moore about it. No, he’s too busy outside the state talking about the Occupy movement. In other words, he’s busily doing everything he can to avoid talking about Michigan. You see, he’s rich, so he doesn’t have to stick around and suffer the consequences of his advocacy of not voting.
He wasn’t the only one, and that’s the problem. They all promulgated – or bought into – the idea that people were sending “a message” by not voting. The litany from them along those lines served admirably to help depress voting turnout. They just ignored a few things. First, there is a real difference between the two parties. If the actions of the Republicans since the 2010 elections haven’t made that point clear, their actions in the past two weeks definitely should have. Second, elections have consequences. The message they thought they were sending, and the consequences they thought would be the result wasn’t the message they sent, and it most definitely had consequences they didn’t think of. Finally, and most importantly: There are NO unimportant elections. They all matter, whether it’s to pick who is going to be on the school board or who is going to be President. That’s the lesson they should have learned from 2010, and if they haven’t before, they should learn it now.