Today’s Courier Herald Column:
Tuesday’s election results in Indiana, North Carolina, and West Virginia are the latest Rorschach test for pundits to impose their political views upon facts as they are revealed. The states are all somewhat conservative, though Indiana and North Carolina gave their 2008 electoral votes to Barack Obama.
Indiana contained the least surprise of the night. As polls had suggested, 6 term Senator Richard Lugar was recalled by voters, opting for State Treasurer Richard Mourdock as the Republican nominee. Left leaning pundits are wasting no time decrying Indiana Republicans for not returning a man who hasn’t lived in Indiana for over three decades to represent them in Congress. Lost in the argument is that after 36 years in the Senate whether Dick Lugar still connected with the needs and desires of individual Indiana voters.
In North Carolina, voters easily approved a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The measure also nullified many aspects of civil unions, making it strikingly punitive at the arrangement many have used to support civil unions without breaching the concept of marriage.
Many responses to the overwhelming vote have been to label North Carolina “bigoted”, but then there’s this fact. African American voters overwhelmingly supported the ban as tweeted by former AJC editorial board member and now UGA professor Cynthia Tucker, citing NBC News. It’s going to be interesting to see the reaction of many African American North Carolinians to learn that they are bigots.
Perhaps cheap disparaging labels aren’t what’s needed to analyze cultural changes going on, as well as the backlash to them. But for instant analysis at the superficial level, it apparently serves opponents of the bill to name call and move on.
The most interesting story of the night comes from West Virginia, where federal prison inmate Keith Judd took 40% of the vote in the Democratic Presidential Primary against President Barack Obama. Judd is technically qualified to receive at least one delegate to the Democratic National Convention, though it appears he will be tied up and he did not file a list of potential delegates to attend on his behalf.
With those results in, there are a few observations about the big picture.
Most clearly, voters are angry and they are angry at incumbents. When 40% of those voting in a Democratic primary reject the incumbent of their own party for President, it’s hard to point at Republicans rejecting a 6 term Senator who only comes to their state to visit on occasion as being reactionary hyper-partisans.
When the Democratic Governor of West Virginia Earl Ray Tomblin and Democratic Senator Roy Manchin refuse to say whether they voted for the President or a convicted felon in their state’s primary, then it’s hard to blame the Dick Lugar defeat on a narrow band of ideologues.
The voters are angry, and with good reason. Democrats have spent the past few years telling them everything will be OK if only someone else other than them would pay higher taxes. Republicans have spent the past few years telling them that everything would be OK if only all taxes were cut and we balanced the budget through spending cuts – all the while voting for very few actual spending cuts.
Voters and politicians learned that for a while, we can have it all. We could spend freely at the federal level and cut taxes and the world bond market would support the deficits. Because other world markets are in worse shape than ours the party has continued, but it is clear that it will be winding down.
We as voters are now taking it out on politicians of our own parties because they can’t deliver the utopias that they promised us.
And at the end of the day, voters who are paying attention are also angry at ourselves, because we know, deep down, that neither party can deliver on the promises that we demand from them.