The Election Was a Wash

by Will on November 3, 2010

Do you remember the 2000 elections? I do. Gore got a narrow victory over Bush in the popular vote, but an insufficient victory in the electoral college, necessitating a lot of attention on Florida. In Florida, the vote was so evenly split that little trivial voting errors became matters of much debate. The senate split, literally, 50-50. The house of representatives also was nearly evenly divided.

As a young person watching that election, I concluded that modern electioneering techniques had become exquisitely sophisticated, to the point where both parties could mobilize almost exactly half the voters, and vie for precisely the few people on the margins who might go either way. I concluded that we would have a long period where neither party would have a decisive majority, and where politics would increasingly cater to those annoying median voters.

Events proved me wrong, very quickly. But it’s quite possible that many of those events were extraneous to our electoral system, and that over the long run I was right. In 2010, we’re looking at a narrowly Republican house and a narrowly Democratic senate. Most Democrats who lost their seats — with three glaring exceptions — were conservatives who had been voting with the Republicans already. So for all the sound and fury about how meaningful this is, I see it more as a return to trend.

And in California, my side won nearly all prizes on the table. The left here is muscular and confident. With newly won power, and with the ability to rule by simple majority, we can and ought to set an example of confident progress, as people elsewhere return to the hoary, dusty thinking of Andrew Melon and Herbert Hoover.

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