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11/6/2002

Election Fallout

Filed under:General — eric @ 7:34 am

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When people ask me about my political leanings, I have two answers. Each is true, yet (to most people) each conflicts with the other. One one hand, I am a progressive. On the other, I am a libertarian. The two really do blend well, and it’s a more common belief than you might think. I believe the government should “establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” and nothing else. I believe society should work toward making life better for everyone, including future generations. I also believe that the individual should be free to do as he chooses, so long as another is not harmed.

I think I’ve stated that so simply that most everyone would say “I think that way too!” The devil’s in the details — how do you define “harm”, “general welfare”, “better”, and “individual”? to a large degree, those definitions are what separates the parties. Between the two major ones, I tend to agree more with the Democrats more than the Republicans. This is in large part because, despite professing to the contrary, the Republicans tend to have no respect for the rights of the individual. But there is plenty to take the Democratic party to task over as well, so at election time I vote based more on the candidate’s beliefs than the party represented. More often than not, minor parties get my votes.

Yesterday in Georgia, the Democrats fell from power. It was an odd campaign season, kicked off by the Democrats legally redistricting the state in closed door legislative sessions (without the Republicans present), emerging with textbook gerrymandered maps. Local interests were sacrificed for the single goal of extending the Dems control over the state, and they had no apologies. The governor spent an obscene amount of money on TV, radio, and print ads that credited him with everything good that had happened in Georgia, even those things that he had opposed before they happened. They were insulting to anyone with a memory. On the other hand, you had a Republican challenger whose initial campaign was fueled by anger over the change in the state flag. Though he distanced himself from racism, his vocal supporters weren’t so tactful. [He blew all that tact away, however, when during his victory speech, as the first Republican governor-elect in over 130 years, he exclaimed “Free at last! Free at last! Thank god almighty, Free at last!”]. The greens had a candidate I should have voted for (but didn’t).

As went the governorship, so went the state senate. The Athens-area senator was a great progressive in his first term. He stood for environmentally friendly smart growth and other progressive causes. His opponent was a real estate developer. The developer ran a brilliant negative campaign, focused his efforts on the extremely Republican suburban areas, and was helped a lot when the senator claimed he had an endorsement that was easily shown to be false. The Republican victory here, coupled with the (still not officially announced) switch of three senator’s party affiliations, have helped the Republicans take control of the state senate for the first time.

In Athens proper, there was a complete progressive sweep. The mayor and all the council positions up for grabs landed on the progressive side. Good things may happen in town.

Oh… Athens was in one of the newly created congressional districts, carefully engineered to be in Democratic hands. They then proceeded to get a truly horrible party hack through the primaries and managed to lose the seat altogether. I’d rather be represented by the left in Washington, but I was glad to see the Dems get what they had coming. Actually, since the district was so tightly drawn, I wasn’t a part of it. The district I live in is concentrated Republicans.

The US Senate race here was odd, too. The Republican won, but only after he questioned the courage of his opponent, a standing senator who lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam. His win helps put the Republicans in charge of the US Senate. Given how the Democratic senate caved on most everything, I don’t suspect much will change. Except for the appointment for life of judges who don’t seem to respect the rights of the individual, that is.

So, that’s my recap of the election. How’d things go in your neck of the woods?