The Lonely Centrist

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Was the 2006 Election Stolen?

Yes, we're still nearly 3 months away from election day 2006, but it's not too early to ask the question. Why? Because we know that, if Republicans actually gain ground in 2006, or even hold their own, we will have another round of "the election was stolen" hysteria from the left.

In today's press, as basically every day, I find the usual type of column about how unhappy the public is, and in particular how unhappy it is with Congress. Apparently, all of the polls show Republicans nose-diving this year. I can certainly believe that this will be the case. I'm an independent voter who, in recent elections, has tended to vote for Republicans. But in these pages, I have expressed dissatisfaction with the GOP, and when you see polling data over and over pointing to substantial Democratic gains, you ignore that data at your peril.

And yet, I'm not so sure that 2006 will be a big year for Democrats. Because frankly, Democrats have nothing much to offer - something else I have complained about in these pages. It is hard to take the Democrats seriously on fighting terrorism, where they have opposed profiling, opposed even the most modest surveillance measures, opposed detaining terrorists captured on the field of battle without providing them the full array of American criminal protections, opposed, it seems, every measure to improve security. It is hard to take them seriously on controlling government spending, given that, when you actually ask what they would do about spending and budget priorities, everything seems to be to spend more and tax more. On immigration, the current unrest seems to come from those who want stricter controls on immigration. I don't agree with that view, but frankly, nor do Democrats. Even more than Republicans, they want fewer restrictions on immigration. Ned Lamont, the current Democratic poster boy, still thinks national health care is the ticket - I think that that's a nuttier position than anything he's said on the war in Iraq.

Meanwhile, there are other voices. Jay Cost argues, I think with some persuasiveness, that too much attention is paid to the generic ballot numbers. Cost also argues, less persuasively, in my view, that fund-raising numbers are being misread. Micahel Barone, a very serious vote counter, thinks that the primary election returns may show a lot more Republican voters than the polling data is revealing (later hedging a bit, but not too much, in this post). An astute sounding observer from across the pond makes a similar argument. Whistling in the dark by folks who simply want a GOP win? Certainly that's a strong possibility.

Yet I feel much the same way. Beyond the failures of the Democrats to articulate an opposing agenda of any resonance, I just don't feel this unrest. Most people I know seem more apathetic than anxious or angry. Being honest, the economy is in great shape, and there have been no terrorist assaults in the U.S. since 9/11. Is that enough, in the face of frustration in Iraq and high gas prices, bipartisan corruption in Congress, and no immigration policy? I don't know. But I certainly don't sense the anger. Rather, I suspect that the constant bout of news and opinion stories proclaiming how unpopular the Republicans are may be having its own effect on how people talk - folks know they're supposed to be unhappy, so that's what they tell pollsters. A few years ago a friend of mine introduced me to this concept, which sociologists call, "preference falisification."

Let's suppose that the doubters are right, that 2006 is not a Republican disaster. Does anyone doubt that the looney left will refuse to accept the results? No matter how much their theories are debunked by facts? As in Mexico, it seems we have reached the point where a sizeable percentage of the public is refusing to accept any election result in which it does not win. This is not a good state of affairs.

Frankly, for me it is one more reason that, despite my dissatisfaction with the GOP, I won't be voting for many if any Democrats this fall, because I believe this nonsense - dangerous and damaging nonsense - can be traced in large part not just to the looney left, but to the failure of the mainstream Democrats to accept election results, and their willingness, every since the November of 2000, to indulge and encourage the conspiracy theorists.

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