In the down-ballot races, you find the real damage done to American government and culture when sane, rational people fail to vote. I can't think of a better example than the Texas State Board of Education. At Netroots Nation this year, I met two women, Judy Jennings and Rebecca Bell-Metereau, who aim to take that institution back this cycle. More after the jump...
EDIT: Video was corrected for spelling at 775 views and 29 downloads.
Movement conservatives can take more such offices around the country this cycle. Indeed, many probably will, and many will probably be the same people thrown out in 2006 and 2008. We can let them control state houses and redistricting, or not. It's our choice.
We're all frustrated at the pace of change (and slow job growth). It's natural to think that staying at home will "send a message" to the majority party, but this is the same exact plan that gave us Nixon, Reagan, a GOP Congress, and George Bush Jr. In other words, bad plan.
I have a better plan, which is that you vote and then get out your cell phone, text or call friends, and encourage them to vote. For extra credit, you can share this post via the social network of your choice. Your goal is simple: get yourself and someone else to the polls today, and you determine which story appears in the morning papers tomorrow.
It can be the story where Democrats lose fewer seats than expected, and Republicans manage to pick off mostly Blue Dogs -- diminishing that group's power to play "conservative" and stymie reform. The story can be that the Chamber of Commerce has just flushed $200 million down the crapper. We can all stop watching the pundits explain to us what we think and tell them what we think instead: that we're mad as hell about the lack of an adult conversation in American politics.
One party has used every possible means of slowing down the process of necessary change. One party has curb-stomped activists and intimidated voters and hyped fear and lies. One party has spread birther nonsense, racial resentment, and eliminationism. That party can say on Wednesday that pandering and selling out are the keys to victory in elections, or it can be explaining why the results are not what they wanted and hyped. The choice is yours.
Loss of the House of Representatives would mean that Nancy Pelosi, the political leader with the best track record of moving the majority's agenda through Congress, loses her job. That's hardly a scenario for making the majority less timid. But on Wednesday, the House could be shorter by Blue Dogs without significant damage to the majority. The Senate could have enough Democrats to change the filibuster rule and new, progress-minded majority members to move debate. The choice is yours.
You may want more choices. Some third parties are smart enough to follow the example of the Working Families Party; others insist that the left stop being a coalition before the right. Some candidates, like Jesse Johnson of West Virginia's Mountain Party, may be the only choice on the ballot worth a damn. But in most of the country, these choices are not on the ballot.
We may complain that American elections are a choice between douches and turd sandwiches, but douches are at least sanitary. The American right has very committed people running for office who, if questioned, might not be averse to questioning the germ theory of disease. It's only a theory, after all, like evolution; and isn't AIDS God's own vengeance on Teh Gay?
Modern conservatism is full of such crap. Conservatives have no credibility in governing because their faith-based politics always end in disaster. For many, especially those of the C-Street school, this is because their focus is power itself. They will see America fail, and help it fail, in order to retake power. The politics of division and culture wars are just devices for winning that power. When in power, they do little; John Boehner & company promise an absolute lack of cooperation with the White House if they win power back.
I take them at their word, and say such people should not win. They should fail -- and all their nontroversy should fail with them.
I want the tea party and Sarah Palin to fail. I want FOX News to fail. I want Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh to fail. I want the Chamber of Commerce to fail. I want Rand Paul and Joe Miller to fail. I want the leviathan of think tanks and billionaires and networks and corporate titans and useful idiots -- that entire industry devoted to right-wing politics -- to fail.
More importantly, however, I want people who live in a fact-based universe -- i.e. empirical reality -- to run things and decide on textbook standards. I want the rational center to hold. I want to forestall idiocracy.
How about you?