Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Few Musings on the Electoral Season

1. Why do the media talk incessantly about the GOP's failure to attract women, but rarely talk about the Democrat's failure to attract men? There's almost as much of a male gender gap favoring the GOP as there is a female gender gap favoring the Democrats, but we never seem to hear stories about how Democrats need to do more to reach out to men.

2. What does it mean that people like Congressman Charley Rangel are accusing Republicans of favoring slavery and Senator Mary Landrieu of LA insinuating that her constituents are racist and sexist? Rangel's claim is simply bizarre, but Landrieu's is both bizarre and amusing. She serves in a state that has, in recent memory, had a female governor, an Indian governor, and a female senator (her). Are her allegations in fact an act of desperation to try to salvage a campaign showing signs of sinking?

3. Is it also a sign of desperation that one Republican senatorial candidate, Corey Gardner of Colorado, has been accused by his opponent's supporters of wanting to make condoms illegal, of all things, even though the candidate has called for making birth control available over-the-counter? Do serious people make such allegations? Do serious people believe them?

4. President Obama, in referring to voter ID laws said a week or so ago that attempting to win elections by limiting the number of people who vote is a sign of weakness. Is it not also a sign of weakness that the Democrats depend for electoral success on dragging to the polls the least engaged, most uninformed, and most apathetic segments of the voting public (single women, poor urban minorities, and disaffected young people)? If the base of the party consists largely of people who don't know what's going on and/or don't much care, certainly not enough to take the trouble to obtain an ID card, then what does that tell us about the party?

5. Why will Democrat candidates for office not tell enquirers who they voted for in the last presidential election? Why do they not want Mr. Obama to be anywhere near them as they campaign for office? Is it because he's black and they're white? Lest you scoff we've been told for six years that the Republicans' refusal to cooperate with Mr. Obama is a symptom of racism in the Republican Party. If so, why is it not racist for white candidates to treat the president as if he has Ebola? Why else will they not admit their vote for him? If they do oppose his policies, as some of them are claiming, which of them, exactly, do they oppose and what would they, if elected, be willing and able to do to change them?

6. In Pennsylvania the man who shot and killed a young state trooper and seriously wounded a second before taking to the woods to hide for 48 days from the police has finally been apprehended. The prosecutor has declared that he will seek the death penalty. Every candidate for state-wide office in Pennsylvania, including Governor Corbett and his challenger Tom Wolfe, should be asked to publicly declare whether he/she supports or opposes that decision and why.

7. Every election there's much hand-wringing over how much money is spent to elect the various candidates. This year over $1 billion has been spent on political advertisements, a lot of money, no doubt, but it's less than half of the $2.2 billion dollars Americans spent last month on Halloween candy. Looked at that way the money spent on political advertising doesn't seem like such a big deal.

8. The Democratic state committee in New York has sent all registered Democrats a letter that essentially tells them to vote, or else.... The letter says specifically that “We will be reviewing voting records . . . to determine whether you joined your neighbors who voted in 2014....If you do not vote this year, we will be interested to hear why not.” Democrats in New York have been outraged at what they see as blatant voter intimidation by their own party. What is the "or else" that would follow a failure to vote, and are people who use such threatening tactics the sort of people we want in positions of power? Come to think of it, is this not the sort of thing many Americans are afraid is happening in the NSA, the IRS, and the DOJ? It seems to be of a piece with Mr. Obama's rhetoric about the need to punish one's political "enemies."

9. Hillary Clinton isn't running for any office just yet but she is campaigning for sundry Democrat candidates. However, she went some distance toward disqualifying herself from being taken seriously, whether as a supporter of candidates or as a candidate herself, when in a prepared speech she declared recently that businesses don't create jobs. If businesses don't create jobs then who does? Perhaps Ms Clinton would be willing to undertake this little thought experiment. Imagine that every business in the U.S. suddenly closed its doors. What would happen to the unemployment number? Perhaps she was telling the truth when she later tried to walk her comment back and make it more palatable, or perhaps she's trying to out-Warren Elizabeth Warren, her prospective rival on the left in 2016.