There Are No “Unimportant” Elections

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.

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “There Are No “Unimportant” Elections

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Exactly what I always say.
    One reason why I hardly ever go to that orange place was that “sending a message” crap.
    The same people can’t post a comment without including a swipe at the Texas School Board (“erasing Thomas Jefferson from the history books” and similar hyperbole) ignored a perfectly sane person when she was running for said school board and wrote a number of diaries asking for support.
    But no, they couldn’t be bothered. They were too busy “sending a message” to the one person who wasn’t on the ballot. Besides, Democrats from Texas are not to be helped; they are hit up for money for candidates from other states and told to go secede already.

    • You’re welcome. My attitude has been “if you’re not helping to change it, you need to be quiet.” Absolutely, I’d prefer if Texas had a … sane … School Board, or at least a majority of it. The way that gets changed is to run people for it and back them. I said back in my “politics 100” series that you only win by winning.

      One of the “magical thinking” things they seem to all possess is that somehow “real progressive candidates” will spring up out of nowhere. The reality of politics is that they all start at the local level and work up. They don’t just wake up one day and decide “hey, I think I’ll run for Congress!” 🙄

  2. Vic78

    People should get it now if they didn’t in the past. They’re taking it back to the Inquisition days now.

  3. ♥ ♥ ♥ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    If I could “like” this one million times I would!

    My mantra is also EVERY ELECTION COUNTS! VOTE!!!

  4. “The way that gets changed is to run people for it and back them. I said back in my “politics 100″ series that you only win by winning. ”

    I have been lurking here for weeks now and I agree with your stance about politics. Firebagger purist have cost us elections probably since 68 with thier non sense.

    They cannot understand that regular progressives of all races, genders and classes are not purity masters and in order to get anything done that can be called progressive its going to take 60 votes in the senate.

    Thier bomb a@s, superior ideas (such as the almighty public option) will never see the light of day without 60 progressive/Democratic senate votes.

    To get 60 progressive senate votes the firebagger purist will have to make it thier business to elect Democrats.

    • Well, they’ll whine that “we had sixty senators!” 🙄 Seriously, they’ve run that one into the ground. That the “60” figure was only in place for a very, very brief time, and only if you ignore that both Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd were terminally ill, and not on the Senate floor for most of 2009. It also assumes a remarkable amount of “lockstepping” from every other Democratic Senator, which anyone with a functioning brain should have seen was not the reality.

      Milt Shook has a great primer on Politics 101 which should be mandatory reading for all the firebaggers. Not that they get it. 🙄

  5. ” Seriously, they’ve run that one into the ground. That the “60″ figure was only in place for a very, very brief time ”

    Not just that you had Joe Lieberman stating plainly that he would never vote for a health care bill with a public option.

    As for the firebaggers idea of stripping Joe (the asshole ) Lieberman of his commitee assignments, he said if they Democrats did that he would caucus with the republicans.

    Also as bad as Joe Lieberman has been Democrats still needed him in order to strike down dont ask dont tell.

  6. Milt shook has a great blog by the way, also I wish you had an edit function (my spelling sucks)

    • Don’t worry about it. 🙂 WordPress only allows one person to edit comments, and that’s the blog owner. I could add an edit function if I were to take the blog to hosted solution, and use WordPress.org (instead of .com), but I’d have to pay for it then. 😉

  7. “but I’d have to pay for it then”

    Free is always better.

  8. I just came back from lurking in a German forum where people commented on the upcoming presidential election, complaining that the people don’t get to elect the president directly. “The politicians just go ahead and nominate someone, and we’re not even asked,” one commenter wrote.

    The German president is elected by the Federal Assembly, which consists of members of Parliament as well as representatives of the individual states. How many representatives each party can send is determined by the majorities in the state legislatures.

    So, if people vote in local elections, they get to decide who will be in the Federal Assembly. Funny how that works. In fact, if they become active in politics themselves, they might even BE in the Federal Assembly one day.

    • Well, we don’t elect our president directly either. 😉
      Most local parties I’ve seen are always looking for people who want to pitch in and work, and there’s quite a few who are looking around for candidates to fill the slate on any number of local ballots. It might not be all that glamorous or have “national importance” but it can make a big difference down the road.

  9. Cappadonna

    Norbook – pragmatic liberals have been saying that politics is a contact sport and not fantasy football. The problem is that the PL and their Emo-Prog minions ain’t listening.

    We said it during Reagan v. Carter in 1980 and they didn’t listen
    We said it during the 1994 Mid term Election and they didn’t listen
    We said it during Bush v. Gore in 2000 and they didn’t listen
    We said it during Bush v. Kerry in 2004 and they didn’t listen
    We said it during the Healthcare Reform and they didn’t listen
    We said during 2010 Mid term Election and they didn’t listen

    …..and we’re saying it now and they probably still won’t listen.

    Problem is that the Left has had cotton in its ears since the 1968 election. Just as the Right has become crazier, the Professional Left has become more strident and out of touch with the rest of the country. As another blogger once said, if the Right still wishes it were 1950, the far Left still thinks its 1970.

    Fortunately,Team Obama realizes the Professional Left think they know better (despite having an 0-30 record) and probably won’t listen. So, they are doing their damned to circumvent the Emo-Prog pout-rage to make sure we don’t have the Tea Party Army of Darkness in 2012.

    So No, I’m not shocked – but I also realized this is not a game. I have missed general election in my life – and that was when I moved to New York and wasn’t registered yet. Democracy matters.

    Unfortunately, too many on the Hardcore Latte Left are willing to pay footsie with federal and local politics just to ‘bitch’ about it later. And far worse, too many folks in ‘the vast middle’ are too concerned about American Idol and who is Snooki’s Baby Daddy to actually realized that politics requires continual engagement and then bitch that ‘government doesn’t work’.

    • What I’ve found about the PL and their minions is more of an “entitlement mentality,” in that they expect politicians and the Democratic Party to cater to them, without actually doing anything to earn it.

      At its core, politics is fairly simple. You want something, you persuade enough people to put you in a position to do it, and then you try to do it. Someone may have a different idea, and they may also be in a similar position, so the two of you figure out something that’s acceptable (more or less). The only way to get everything is to either have an overwhelming majority of people behind you, or to be in a dictatorship. Since we’re not – delusions of the extremes on either side to the contrary – in a dictatorship, the first option is what you need to do.

  10. “the far Left still thinks its 1970. ”

    Thier like the Nation of Islam in some ways. What I mean is this, the Nation of Islam has been around since the 1930’s but they were still kicking that goverment conspiracy and evil white man trope during the 90’s.

    Instead of learning to develop an actual pholosophy that could help African American they choose to be demogogues against the system, the man and christianity. I guesse it made them feel really good over a period of 50 years to parrade around spewing strident, militant, non productive Rhetoric.