04 November 2022

Some final thoughts on the election

Polls:  I stand by my post last week about polling uncertainty.  While they are sometimes wrong, in most cases polls provide information accurate enough to be of real value, otherwise campaigns and political parties wouldn't spend millions doing them.  However, error rates have increased in recent years as response rates to polls have fallen.  And for this election, the eventual aggregate impact of the threat to abortion rights, and perhaps of the threat to Social Security, upon voter turnout is impossible to predict and potentially large.  We really don't know what's going to happen.

In any case, no matter what you expect the outcome to be, it makes no practical difference; all you can do is work for your preferred outcome.  For Democrats, here are some ways to contribute to get-out-the-vote efforts.

o o o o o

Violence:  The horrifying attack on Paul Pelosi is the most prominent example of this growing menace, especially given the wingutosphere's propagation of disgusting innuendo and conspiratardia against Pelosi.  One could also cite the 2017 Scalise shooting and at least one case of a politician mocking an earlier violent attack on Rand Paul.  This week, a Democratic candidate in Pennsylvania was viciously beaten, and a gunshot was fired through the window of relatives of a Republican candidate in North Carolina, narrowly missing sleeping children.  Such incidents are probably inevitable in a society where large numbers of people openly assert that threats of violence, or actual violence, are a legitimate response to differences of opinion.

So in this context, the mainstream media's pushing of a "red wave" narrative, at a time when the outcome is actually unpredictable, is potentially dangerous.  If the Democrats do win, the more unhinged elements on the right, having expected victory, are all the more likely to believe the election was stolen, and to react with further violence.

o o o o o

The claimed threat to democracy:  Sorry, but I'm not buying this.  In every election cycle since at least 2016 I've been seeing claims by supporters of both parties that democracy is in danger, or even flat-out doomed, if their side doesn't win.  Since then both parties have racked up some substantial defeats, and democracy is still here.

The public is also skeptical -- 71% of Americans say that they believe democracy is in some danger, but by far the greatest number cite the media, not either political party, as the main threat -- and many are actually referring to problems like the Electoral College or losers failing to accept a result, not an actual overthrow of the democratic process.  Only 7% of respondents said that the danger to democracy is the most important issue facing the country, suggesting that not many people believe the actual end of democracy is a serious possibility.

At various times the political site Electoral-Vote has analyzed the often-cited nightmare scenarios (such as state legislatures disregarding the popular vote and choosing their own slates of electors) and concluded that they are highly implausible in practice.  I've linked to their posts on this in the link round-ups as they appeared.

Democrats need to fight this election on policy.  Keep talking about abortion rights and Social Security and Medicare.

o o o o o

The country needs a landslide.  Given the uncertainty of polling, the outcome next week could be a narrow victory for either side, or a landslide for either side.  Whichever side wins, the bigger the margin, the better.  Generally, it takes a crushing defeat, an unambiguous rejection by the voters, to make a political party seriously re-assess its positions and rein in or repudiate its extremists.  And that's what our polarized and dysfunctional political world needs.

If the Democrats win, then let it be scenario suggested by the August Kansas referendum -- the downfall of Roe drives a huge blue wave and Democrats sweep all the close races, greatly enlarging their House majority and ending up with 55 or 56 Senate seats, and flipping some governorships and state legislatures.  Only such a result has any hope of snapping the Republicans out of the miasma of Trump-worship, election-result denial, Christian nationalism, forced-birthism, global-warming denial, attacks on Social Security, and all the rest of it.  Much, probably most, of the party leadership knows that such conspiratardia and extremism is dangerous nonsense, but the whole Trump episode demonstrated that they are too gutless to say so openly and try to take any serious action about it.  A crushing repudiation by the voters might embolden them.  At this point it seems clear that nothing else will.

And if the Republicans win, well, a large Republican majority won't be too much more dangerous than a small one, but a really comprehensive Democratic defeat might at least jolt the left out of its serene contempt for voters' concerns about its own lunacies (scroll down to "People seem to think they can get away with....."), forcing it to abandon its "all lecturing and no listening" mode, to develop the introspection it now so conspicuously lacks, and to quit brushing off such concerns as merely Republican talking points and calling voters names ending in -ist and -phobe for speaking out about them.

That's one of my hopes for this election -- that it eventually leads to us having at least one fully sane political party.

o o o o o

A few last reminders.....

The broad mass of Americans are far less polarized than the hysterical extremists who dominate our discourse would have us believe.  The majority, both liberal and conservative, is fed up with the politics of scorched-earth demonization of opponents.

When a party loses an election, the problem lies with that party, not with the voters.

The non-politically-engaged masses are not dumber than you are.

No one person can bear the weight of fretting about all the problems of the country or of the world.  Give yourself some down time and allow yourself to pursue other interests.  Nothing terrible is going to happen just because you stop worrying for a while.

The best you hope for will not happen.  The worst you fear will not happen.


Anonymous spirilis said...

Excellent! None of this behavior is new and the masses are appearing to wake up. I do think that there will be less mass protest and the attacks becoming more violent. The boyz do want to test their guns.

04 November, 2022 06:01  
Blogger yellowdoggranny said...

they are already posting police guards outside Jewish synagogues in New Jersey

04 November, 2022 07:06  
Blogger SickoRicko said...

I need to take a deep breath and take your last two paragraphs to heart. Thank you for them.

04 November, 2022 07:37  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Spirilis: And if they do test those guns for political violence (well, beyond what's already happened), the same people who are now encouraging violence with their extreme rhetoric will claim it's a false flag or something similar. They never own up to this stuff when it actually happens.

Granny: Very wise. Anti-Semitism is reaching frightening levels these days.

Ricko: I hope so. Too much fretting about politics rapidly gets toxic, and doesn't really do any good. Take what action you reasonably can, and let yourself move on to other things.

04 November, 2022 07:55  
Blogger Lady M said...

I voted - it was counted yesterday!

04 November, 2022 08:20  
Blogger whkattk said...

Now, if we could only get the Dems to vote.... During early voting here in NV the Republicans have outvpaced the Democrats by a margin of 1.5:1.

04 November, 2022 09:21  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Lady M: Good! I dropped off my ballot last Friday.

Whkattk: That's odd -- in most cases it's the Democrats who vote early and the Republicans on election day.

04 November, 2022 10:07  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

I do hope your assessment is correct.

My pessimism is because I've never experienced a time when an ex-president, senators, representatives, governors and other political leaders from his party along with even a military general and several para-military groups all were working to stop the certification of the electoral vote, (based on a lie) - with an ensuing attack on the U.S. Capitol by our own citizens -- a first in the history of our country. All of that has shaken me to my core.

I don't know what Tuesday will bring; all I can do is vote.

04 November, 2022 14:44  
Blogger Jack said...

If this election doesn't see much better than usual voter turnout on the left, I'd be tempted to suggest that it is time to try some new approaches to persuading left-leaning folks to vote. Midterm elections never have great turnout, but many recent events suggest that this one should be different. If not, it may be time to admit that much of what we've been doing isn't effective.

05 November, 2022 05:55  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Shaw: It's true that the situation is concerning. The people at Electoral-Vote were aware of all those factors when they addressed the various scenarios where democracy could allegedly be threatened. And don't forget that the 2020 election was generally rated one of the fairest and most problem-free ever.

We got through four years with a pretty much straight-up fascist (albeit a rather inept one) actually in the presidency. Overall that strikes me as a more dangerous situation than today's.

Jack: Based on most accounts of early voting, Democratic turnout is already very high by historical standards. I don't know whether anything can realistically be done to drive it even higher. What the party needs to do is do a better job of appealing to swing voters in the center. They do exist, and in huge numbers. That's where elections are won and lost.

05 November, 2022 09:32  

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