04 November 2008

Truman Defeats Dewey

Congratulations to President-elect Barack Obama. He ran a smart, centrist campaign.

I am actually much more encouraged by two aspects of national voting patterns — based on incomplete returns, admittedly, but I seriously doubt that any changes from the incomplete returns to the final counts will affect these conclusions. First, and perhaps most obviously, the "solid South" strategy is dead. On the one hand, one might argue that concentrating on the slave states, with their continuing tradition of antiintellectualism and ethnic, racial, and religious bigotry, still provides an excellent base for a national campaign. That argument does have some validity; however, playing to it wasn't even enough to carry the CSA (Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina all appear to have voted for the damned Yankee).

The other encouraging corollary, though, is that the bullying appears not to have worked. Since Nixon's campaign in 1972, there has been one unifying characteristic of the national Republican party: The playground bully approach to leadership. It's not just the attack ads and Canuck letters; it's the continuing treatment of those with whom they disagree as somehow unAmerican. That reminds me far too much of the House Unamerican Activities Committee, which had a distasteful role in American politics and government all the way through the Ford administration. I would like to think that getting away from this little episode of playground bullies just might indicate that we're growing up, at least a little bit.

The whole point of democracy, or a democratic republic, is that dissent is not just tolerated: it is embraced as the ultimate test of an idea's or policy's merit. This is also the point of our adversary system of justice. Both the political and judicial systems have their flaws, and sometimes they are more than merely frustrating. Nonetheless, they beat the alternatives.