Reliable Conservatives and Occasional Liberals

Thomas FrankLooking at the polls, it is hard not to get depressed. Right now, it looks like the Democrats are as likely to hold 47 Senate seats as 48. And if the polls are off in the Democrats’ favor, this could be a chilling election from a liberal point of view. Of particular interest is Georgia, where Michelle Nunn is now trailing and David Perdue may win outright. This is not because she’s doing poorly. Support for the libertarian candidate has cratered. And like I always say: libertarians are just embarrassed conservatives. When push comes to shove, they are reliable Republican voters.

All hope is not lost, but most is. What bugs me is that our entire political system is subverted by these off-year elections when only the most conservative voters bother to show up. It isn’t just that we have to deal with oscillating power structures. The bigger problem is the effect that it has on the Democratic Party. It provides a reason for it to remain its usual economically conservative self. I still hear liberals claim that we have to be “moderate” in order to win elections. But this is madness. The truth is that during presidential election years, people are eager to vote for actual liberal policy. And during off-year elections, no amount of “moderation” is going to make the conservative electorate vote for the Democrats.

If I were set up for the rest of my life, I would be inclined toward a philosophical position, “The people don’t care about our republic, so what are you going to do?” But I am not set up for the rest of my life, and so I see the lack of interest in the simple act of voting as evil. I’m reminded of young Carey Wedler who thought that all she had to do was vote for Obama and he would fix all our problems. Who thinks it is enough to vote for president and then ignore politics the rest of the time? Such people don’t even deserve a president as good as Obama.

Of course, the problem isn’t just with the young and other liberals who can’t be bothered to vote. The bigger problem is that roughly half of the citizens of this country continue to support the Republican Party that has clearly gone off the rails. Thomas Frank wrote about this over at Salon this morning, Righteous Rage, Impotent Fury. In the article, he returns to Kansas to see what is going on. I suspect when he set out to write the article, he was planning to write a positive piece about how the people of Kansas were finally throwing off their knee-jerk acceptance of any candidate who had an “R” after his name. But the polls have gotten tighter. The Kansas Senator Pat Roberts could very well win this election. And the truly disastrous governor Sam Brownback could win in the polls are a little off. Regardless, Daily Kos gives Brownback 49% of the vote. This is after he brought in Art Laffer to justify an enormous push of resources from the poor and middle classes to the rich, bankrupting the state and most especially its educational system.

Frank is more colorful in describing what is going on. He references rotten boroughs, where low population allowed the seats to be effectively bought. This is more or less what we have in the Senate with states like Wyoming. But now the seats don’t even have to be bought. The people willingly vote for officials who actively harm them.

The logic of the rotten borough may well assert itself one more time, as Kansans march to the polls and dutifully pull the lever the same way they always have. In fact, in what will no doubt be hailed a great Republican wave election, it is possible to discern a whole host of rotten boroughs all across America, places where the media doesn’t really care about a candidate’s proposals or the glaring contradictions in their highly moral views — where billionaire TV commercials and sheer terror carry all before them. We will elect a whole platoon of empty, defeated men to the Senate on Tuesday, and then, two years from now, we will search out another company of hollow heroes to champion our righteous rage — and do it again and again, slowly sinking into our impotent fury.

So we liberals will tough it out through this election and look forward to 2016 when Democrats are likely to do better. But the Democrats on offer will be the usual moderates. If we are very lucky, two years from now, there will be a “not quite as bad as the Republicans” wave. Hooray.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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