01 November 2010

The Elections: I Have No Expectations

Tomorrow's Election Day.

It seems that actual and would-be voters can be more or less divided into the following categories:

  • the ones who aren't happy with the way things are but don't blame the incumbents
  • the ones who aren't happy with the way things are and blame certain incumbents, e.g., Obama
  • the ones who aren't happy with the way things are and blame the incumbents
  • the ones who aren't happy, period.
Now, I can't blame anyone for not being happy about the state of the economy and international relations.  I feel the same way.  I also can't blame anyone who isn't happy with whoever's in power.  That's how I've felt almost continuously since I knew who was in power, or knew what it meant to be in power.

But, I'm also not disappointed.  How could I be, when I had such low expectations.  That's not hard to do when the Presidents under whose rule you lived during your adult life are Carter, Reagan, Bush pere, Clinton, Bush fil and Obama--and the other two Presidents of whom you have any clear memory are Nixon and Ford.  

Clinton was probably the last President--or elected official of any sort--for whom I had any real hope.  Of course, almost anybody looked good after Reagan and Bush I.  But at the time, it seemed that this country just might have a chance at a less invasive and interventionist foreign policy.  And civil liberties might just become part of the public discourse once again, I thought.  Then again, in those days I was still confusing civil rights with civil liberties.  In my own defense, I'll say that most people still confuse the two.

Some people say that Clinton wasn't as effective a President as he might've been because Republicans took over Congress midway through his first term.  If being effective means passing one's own agenda, I think the mid-term election was only so much of an excuse for Clinton's record.  Then again, I'm not sure that anyone knows what Clinton's agenda actually was.  After all, he did support "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the so-called Defense of Marriage Act before the Republican takeover.

But apres lui, la deluge.  After him, we got Bush the Younger.  If you're reading this, you know how that went.  

The only candidates for whom I had any flicker of enthusiasm in the 2008 election were Hillary, Obama and--as much of a contradiction as this may seem--Ron Paul.  Of them, the latter was the only one who seemed to understand that we were headed for economic trouble that couldn't be headed off or ameliorated by government policy.  And, while he wasn't the most LGBT-friendly candidate, at least he opposed marriage--for everyone.  At least, he didn't think that marriage should be defined by the government.  What that would amount to, in practice, is that every couple, straight or gay, could have a civil union.  And those who wanted their unions sanctioned by whatever God they believed in could find a clergyperson and institution who would wed them.  Finally, he has always endorsed a "humble" foreign policy in which the US wouldn't have military bases all over the globe.

Some of his supporters could be pretty scary, though.

Once he was no longer on the ballot, there were nothing but establishment candidates left.  Hillary is very smart, but I still felt she cared more about her own personal ambitions than about the causes she  claimed to espouse.  And, while I ultimately voted for Obama, the change that I really expected was that he would be in the White House and Bush The Second wouldn't be.

Nearly two years into his administration, about all we ever knew about him was that he was, or was supposed,   to represent "change."  And change he has:  namely, his positions on gay marriage as well as other issues.

The thing is, I don't know what any non-incumbent candidate can offer besides the fact that they're not the incumbents.  Yet that will get more than a few of the so-called "Tea Party" candidates elected to Congress and to a few governorships.  While I'm glad that Carl Palladino has about the same chance of winning as a mango tree has of surviving a Buffalo winter, I have no enthusiasm for Cuomo, much less the minor candidates.