Certainly Not Politics As Usual

Today is the Midterm Elections here in the United States. If the pre-election day polls are to be believed, it looks like good news for the Democrats and bad news for the Republicans. The big question is whether the news is good/bad enough for Democrats to take control of one or both houses of Congress. I guess we’ll know by tonight.

But this post isn’t about the midterms. Don’t get me wrong, I hope the Democrats take back both houses of congress. But whoever ends up controlling Congress will have a thin majority at best, which will limit their ability to accomplish much. Frankly, the only area that I would expect to see much traction is on issues where moderate Republicans can reach across the aisle and vote with the Democrats in order to distance themselves from President Bush’s abysmal approval ratings.

I’m much more interested in the 2008 presidential campaign. For the first time in over 50 years, it will be a wide open race for both parties. Neither the sitting president nor the vice president will be running for president in 2008. The last time this happened was in 1952. President Harry Truman (D) dropped out of the race after losing the New Hampshire primary and Vice President Alben Barkley never had enough support to win the nomination. The Democratic nomination went to Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson who lost to General Eisenhower in a landslide. Since then, the incumbent president or vice president has always been his party’s nominee for president.

Until now. Well, until two years from now at any rate. So while not completely unprecedented, this is the first time we’ve had a completely wide open race since the start of the Information Age. In other words, it’s the first time we’ve had a wide open race since the advent of cable TV, personal computers, 24 news networks, Rush Limbaugh, the Internet, weblogs, Wikipedia and YouTube. I’m sure some have already started calling this Politics 2.0. And while I’m tired of the “2.0″ moniker, certainly big changes is underway in the political arena.

So what happens when you combine the harsh sunlight of a decentralized and demassivied media with a wide open race with no clear favorite from either party? I’m guessing a very ugly race, especially from the Republicans. Both parties do negative ads, but they have become a “key strategy in the Republican political arsenal“. (The NRCC apparently spent “more than 90 percent of its $50 million-plus advertising budget” on negative ads this year.) I expect 2008 will be even worse. And not just the presidential race itself, but also the race for each party’s nomination. In some ways, the nomination race will be worse, since you expect politicians to have bad things to say about candidates from the opposing party.

If the next two years are filled with party infighting with every detail chronicled in the blogosphere and/or the mainstream media – and I fully expect that’s what will happen – we are in for a very ugly campaign ahead. Brace yourselves.


I'm looking forward to the 2008 primary races. It could prove to be healthy (though perhaps ugly) as both parties try to find their way forward.
Considering that Harry and I are on opposing ends of the political spectrum I find it interesting that I agree with this post. While one party or the other will end up with a slim majority I am not confident that it is enough to get much done in the next 2 years. Of course, the cynic in me doesn't think this is a real bad thing. I am definitely a proponent of a small, less intrusive government. I also agree that the 2008 Presidential race should be very interesting. An idea that we were discussing earlier would have Dick Cheney resigning following this election, and getting one of the leading candidates into the VP position to get some free campaigning over the next couple of years. I don't see that as likely, but at least it’s an intriguing possibility. Since I can't post without a small dig at Harry I will say that the DNC doesn't have to spend as much on negative ads since they have the mainstream press to do their dirty work for them. :-)
Sadly, I think this is the first posting of yours that I have fully understood since I am much more politically savvy than I am technically. Whassup!!! Kiss the kids, the meema, and the wife for me. :-)
I totally agree with your sentiments. When the presidential race doesn't have a former VP who is hanging his hat on previous accomplishments, the only thing they will have is mud to sling. And Dale: "Of course, the cynic in me doesn't think this is a real bad thing. I am definitely a proponent of a small, less intrusive government." You said you are on the other political end of the spectrum, Republican I deduce, maybe a more than slim majority can reduce the Republican's changes the last 6+ years to create a larger, more intrusive government. :)
Yes I am a Republican and notice I didn't say it was a bad thing that they were getting voted out. I totally agree that over the last 6 years they have spent money like it was nothiing, and grown the government. Personally a little gridlock in Washington D.C. is perfectly OK with me.
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