Sunday, November 05, 2006

36 Hours to the Midterm Elections

I've been seeing, hearing about and reading a lot of activity in the last few days as the Tuesday election approaches and the hard work of democracy will continue right through Wednesday morning as the results come in from around the nation. I've noticed some sites have a drop-off in blogging simply because Democratic bloggers are out rounding up the vote. A lot of people are devoting hours to this election because they believe it's important.

One of the important themes of this campaign, besides Bush's failures, is that the Republicans have no accomplishments to brag about and no issues to run on. So they have to make things up as they go. Voters have an obligation to pay attention.

In some cases, Republicans are turning to pure dirty politics. One of the schemes is reported by Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo who has been getting tips on the election activity on the ground:
In the post I just did, I said I didn't know what there was to do about these 'false flag' harassing robocalls. But a friend points out that's not the case. There definitely is something you can do. If you've gotten one of these calls, write down as much information about it as you can (time, phone number, etc.) and call the 'metro desk' of your local paper.

They're looking for political stories in the final days. And this is a good one.

Again, what we're talking about here are calls which purport to be from candidate A when in fact they're from candidate B and which call back repeatedly if you hang up before the call is finished. They're intentionally harassing calls -- meant to stick the blame on the other candidate.

You can help get the word out if you act now.

A few basic pointers, which are basically common sense: Be polite. Just give the facts. And just say what you yourself have experienced.

This is a form of election sabotage that everyone should know about -- not three weeks from now, but now, when voters are still making up their minds.

There are several blogs on the right sidebar of this page that are keeping tabs on things but I definitely recommend the posters at Talking Points Memo and their affiliate sites.
Here's one other quick note on Josh Marshall's blog:
USAToday-Gallup is out. A seven point spread for the Democrats on the congressional generic, 51% - 44%.

Like the other two polls out today, that's a substantial tightening. But still a marked edge for the Dems. That's exactly where the congressional generic was for the Gallup poll for the Republicans in 1994.

The chances of taking the House are excellent, but only if the voters turn out on Tuesday. The Rasmussen poll, which is essentially a Republican poll, is saying the Senate is too close to call, so every vote is going to make a difference. It's also important to send a message to Bush that's loud and clear: enough is enough.

The New York Times (via Truthout) has come a long ways from its support of President Bush and his war in Iraq. Sunday's editorial is another powerful statement about the failures of Bush and the need to address them:
On Tuesday, when this page runs the list of people it has endorsed for election, we will include no Republican Congressional candidates for the first time in our memory. Although Times editorials tend to agree with Democrats on national policy, we have proudly and consistently endorsed a long line of moderate Republicans, particularly for the House. Our only political loyalty is to making the two-party system as vital and responsible as possible.

That is why things are different this year.

To begin with, the Republican majority that has run the House - and for the most part, the Senate - during President Bush's tenure has done a terrible job on the basics. Its tax-cutting-above-all-else has wrecked the budget, hobbled the middle class and endangered the long-term economy. It has refused to face up to global warming and done pathetically little about the country's dependence on foreign oil.

Republican leaders, particularly in the House, have developed toxic symptoms of an overconfident majority that has been too long in power. They methodically shut the opposition - and even the more moderate members of their own party - out of any role in the legislative process. Their only mission seems to be self-perpetuation.

The current Republican majority managed to achieve that burned-out, brain-dead status in record time, and with a shocking disregard for the most minimal ethical standards. It was bad enough that a party that used to believe in fiscal austerity blew billions on pork-barrel projects. It is worse that many of the most expensive boondoggles were not even directed at their constituents, but at lobbyists who financed their campaigns and high-end lifestyles.

The entire editorial is worth reading. A growing number of people are recognizing that there is a fundamental breakdown in our government and we simply cannot afford the mess to go on any longer. Note that right wing Republicans have not only been working to shut out the Democrats from all discussions but they have been working more and more to shut out the moderates in their own party. Democrats have ideas different than Republican moderates but at least it is possible to have real dialogue with Republican moderates. For six years, right wing Republicans have not only been shouting down their critics outside their party and even inside their party as they string up failure after failure in our national affairs, but they also have been making many important decisions behind closed doors. It is no way to run the greatest democracy in the world.

I'm optimistic about the election on Tuesday but nothing will happen unless the American voters make it happen.

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