Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Reflections on Yesterday's Elections

Oh my, what a night!

I stayed up longer last night than I had in years. Part of it was because of the partying. There was no way Dan and I were going to go home at our usual 10 or 11 o'clock. Dan, especially, had worked hard on the labor to labor GOTV at Northern Virginia's Central Labor Council. There was a great deal for us to celebrate.

And this morning, we were getting phone calls from friends from as far away as New York and Florida congratulating us on Virginia's wins.

Of course, it was closer than we would have liked. And some races that we should have taken, we didn't. And in one case the results still aren't known.

The Oleszek-Cuccinelli race is still up in the air, heading to a recount. In that district, it never should have been that close. Even Ken acknowledges that he is far more conservative than the constituents he represents. However, he is an excellent campaigner, intelligent, charming and likable. And he was a superb, sharp, witty debater. All of that helped him.

Janet ran a great ground game and she's far smarter than a lot of the rightwing blogosphere gives her credit for. I still hope she can pull it off based on the absentee ballots as well as the official recount. Most people will agree that recounts don't usually lead to a reversal of the original results but they are necessary to ensure the fairness and integrity of the process.

Having said all that, I actually once worked in a very close race in Fort Lauderdale where my candidate was winning on election night in a real squeaker very similar to the contest in the 37th District. And once the absentee ballots came in, it got even closer, right down to the wire. And in a heartbreaking reversal in the recount, we lost by single digits.

I don't think that will happen this time, but you never know.

Having said that, I'm not going to do the usual "winners-losers" recap, though I will have something to say about winners and one loser later on. Nor am I going to agonize, as a few progressive bloggers have been, about the ones we lost or that were too close and should have gone better.

Instead, I'm going to savor the victory that we did win. There will be time to sit down with the numbers and analyze the results when we prepare for next year's elections. And taking a hard look at what we did wrong as well as all the things we did right will be a necessary prelude to picking candidates and setting strategy for the next round. There's always room for improvement.

But for this time, the Democrats were pumped, energized, and ran an excellent ground game which is the envy of state-wide Republicans. In addition, we really utilized some significant technological enhancements to our GOTV effort, some of which I've heard will still not be talked about publicly. And I think we also dominated the blogosphere.

Progressive bloggers were disciplined, had a coherent message and stayed on it.We worked to help candidates across the state. And when the mainstream press fell short in covering a story adequately, the blogosphere was able to step into the breach and get out the facts that newspapers, radio and TV tried to ignore or squelch. The days when a corporate press could act as the only gatekeeper and prevent one side's message from getting full coverage are over. Voters have a variety of resources at their fingertips when they sit down to gather the facts and make their choices.

As far as the winners, in this election, the real winners are the people of Virginia for having given Tim Kaine a majority, albeit a slim one, so that he can enact legislation that will truly benefit the whole state. Hopefully, we will be able to implement a pre-K school program that will benefit our children, provide more adequate mental health services, and do more to solve Virginia's transportation problems and also protect the environment.

Another big winner is moderation. Republicans on their blogs are consoling themselves that Virginia is basically a conservative state that will not be happy with the the Democrats they've chosen. I think those bloggers are wrong. Virginia Democrats are not uber liberals. They are moderates and centrists who are interested in pragmatic solutions not social wedge issues that divide people. The big loser of the night was demogoguery in all it's forms.

The illegal immigration issue did not deliver the blow out victory that Republicans had hoped it would. It seems they are running out of boogy men to scare the voters with. That does not mean that Democrats should ignore the issue of illegal immigration. Far from it.

Gerry Connolly had the right idea. By focusing on limiting the impact of illegal immigrants' activities, such as gathering at 7/11 stores to pick up day labor jobs, or crowding into illegal boarding houses, Fairfax County was able to protect the property and quality of life of its residents without breaking laws or running afoul of the Constitution.

In addition, Fairfax has concentrated on curbing gang activity and has lowered its crime rate making our area one of the safest suburban regions in the country. A pragmatic focus on outcomes that are possible and legal trumps grandstanding and demonizing a whole group of people every time.

As the Democrats rightly noted, the solution to the problem of illegal immigration must come from the national level. So, next year, I'd like to see proposals and solutions from the Democratic candidates running for Congress, the place where this problem will truly be solved. And the proposals I want to see are those that will secure our borders, discourage businesses from hiring illegal immigrants to depress wages, and provide some sort of amnesty to those who are otherwise law abiding and have lived in this country and held jobs for years. They deserve humane treatment as a part of any solution to this problem.

Finally, every candidate who ran is a winner. Whether they won or lost, they helped to make ours a stronger democracy through their effort, hard work, and sacrifice to run for elective office. I say, thank you to every one of them. And thank you to everybody who came out and voted. You are all winners because you participated in the electoral process and made our democracy stronger for it.

And thank you to both sides of the blogosphere for the spirited, sometimes heated, and always fascinating converstation. May it continue!


Scott Nolan said...

Thank you for this brilliant, calm, and positive analysis.

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

Your welcome! And thank you for your comment.