10/28/2008

In Which My Experience from 2006 Colors My Opinion of 2008

In 2006, I wrote a couple of blogposts that gathered a good bit of attention. They both turned out to be completely and totally mistaken. In the first, written in February, I argued that the Republicans would actually gain seats in 2006. (Yes, I was serious.) In the second, written on the night before election day, I argued that while the GOP would lose a little ground, they would maintain control of both houses of Congress. That post included the line "I know 1994. 1994 was a friend of mine. And 2006, you're no 1994." Oh well.

I give you that background to explain what I'm feeling about next week (and to have one more helping of crow). It's commonplace to call an election "the most important of our lifetime." But this one really is. We're on the brink of making major negative structural changes to the framework of our government that won't be easy to undo. We're still living with the fallout from FDR and LBJ. Once those massive programs are put in place, they don't go gently into the night. And BHO is a more radically committed big government guy than those two put together.

So is there any room for hope? (Keeping in mind who's saying it...)

Short answer: I have no idea.

Long answer: Today Gallup's traditional voter model (they have no idea either; they're issuing three sets of numbers!) has the race at 2%. Today Pew (the second most accurate poll in 2004) has it at 15%. Obviously they can't both be right. Take your pick.

There are so many straws floating in the wind that it's simply impossible to know which one to grab. You can read stories on blogs across the Internet of Democrats who have never voted Republican doing so this year...and vice versa. Will those groups cancel each other out? How big are they really? Does the parity in early voting indicate a close race? Will the Democrats really outnumber Republicans by 15% on election day (as Pew shows)?

I want John McCain (though he was my fifth choice among the Republican candidates in the primary) to win so badly that it's hard to be objective. I look for hope where there may be none. The odds were always long this year. Only 4 times since 1880 have we elected a new President from the incumbent President's party after eight years or more in office (Taft, Hoover, Truman, Bush 41). The war and the incumbent are both wildly unpopular. I would like to think that I live in a country where a man who attended a church that hates our country for 20 years would not be elected our leader. I hope the PUMAs really are prowling; that the Shy Tories are lurking; that election night will cause Keith Olberman's head to explode.

I was sadly and badly mistaken in 2006 in what I convinced myself would happen. And yet...

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin'd from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.


-Alexander Pope,
An Essay on Man, Epistle I, 1733

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