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Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Stream of Semi-Consciousness: Scattered Post-Election Thoughts

Winners, losers, turnout, 2010, and other thoughts, as they occur.

I'd call this stream of consciousness, but stream of semi-consciousness might be more like it. In any case, here are my current post-election thoughts, organized according to the order in which they appear here. (Sorry, bad joke. What they really are is not organized at all.)

I'm delighted that Mike Lee won yesterday, but hardly anyone expected him to lose. Getting into and through the primary was the real battle. I think he'll make a fine senator.

I'm disappointed that Morgan Philpot lost to Jim Matheson in the 2nd Congressional District. I hope Philpot runs again in two years. He's the best candidate the Republican Party has found to run against Matheson yet, and he ran the best campaign I've seen in the district. Besides that, I like his politics and principles.

Tim Osborn's defeat in his Alpine School Board race is a personal disappointment and a political one, but everyone will get over it, I think. I'll spare you my analysis of that one -- at least most of it, and all of it for a while.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada was beatable, if the Republicans had found a better candidate -- and I don't necessarily mean the guy who lost the Republican primary there to Sharon Angle. Delaware may also have been winnable on the same terms.

I cannot imagine what California was thinking, in electing Jerry Brown to lead them out of fiscal ruin. Didn't he say during the campaign that the state government there was spending too little money, not too much? I wish them luck with Governor Moonbeam, the Sequel. I suppose they expect the US taxpayer to bail them out.

Senator Murkowski of Alaska, lately of the "It's Mine! Mine! Mine!" party, now depends on the ability of about 83 percent of her supporters to spell her name correctly on a write-in ballot. Alaska law reportedly requires that, and it's perfectly understandable, because a line has to be drawn somewhere. I hope she loses, but I still think it would be silly not to award her the votes for "Murkowsky," at least -- unless someone by that name steps forward to claim them. (Wouldn't that be fun! Come to think of it, what if another Alaskan named Lisa Murkowski claimed some of the others?)

Jim Matheson's victory proved that dirty, shallow campaigning still works if you have a big enough campaign treasury. The Matheson Stimulus Package certainly provided a lot of work for print shops and mail carriers for a while.

I'm thinking that, when dirty campaigning works, it's the voters' fault.

Turnout was about 30 percent in Utah County. That seems low to me, for this election. I'm not a big fan of the idea that everyone should vote, though. The decision not to vote is a decision to defer to the preferences of others, who care enough to vote. For someone who doesn't understand the issues or hasn't studied the candidates, that could be the most responsible course.

Meanwhile, lines were still long at my precinct. Unfortunately, it wasn't because so many voters came to vote. First the machines didn't work, and then certain other processes went very slowly. In other words -- and I've been waiting to say this since yesterday, not to mention since the 20th century -- it was due to electile dysfunction.

There are a lot of good, intelligent people out there on both sides of virtually every political race. There are also people who lack the ability to discern between routine political disagreements and unadulterated evil. If you try to explain it to them, they think you're evil, too.

The most offensive political ad I encountered during this election cycle wasn't any of Jim Matheson's. It was the radio ad that began to play a few days before the election, in which a woman sounds like she's talking to mentally challenged five year olds. She lists some of the good, old-fashioned values her parents instilled in her. Then she says that they also raised her to believe the Constitution is inspired. (Among others, Mormons teach and believe that -- about the United States Constitution.)  She says that some people want to put some things into the Utah Constitution that don't belong there. She says it's inspired, and we shouldn't amend it. The ad is paid for by Save Our Utah Constitution, whatever that is.

I'll tell you what I think is going on here. Someone who did not wish to be identified wanted to defeat one of the proposed amendments to the Utah Constitution. I suspect it was organized labor, because who else had both a motive to defeat one of the proposed amendments and a compelling reason to hide while doing it? Anyway, I've never heard anyone claim or teach that the Utah Constitution is inspired -- the ad deliberately creates a little confusion there -- and even if it were, it's absurd to think that means it should never be amended. After all, part of that "inspired" document creates and describes the process for amending it! The ad is an anonymous abuse of both logic and religion.

There's also a historical argument to be made for amending a document one believes to be divinely inspired -- at least if you mean the United States Constitution. I'm not saying we should amend the Ten Commandments. But if the US Constitution hadn't been amended, we'd still have slavery, and we wouldn't have the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, or Tenth Amendment, or any other amendment anyone cares about.

In any case, the amendment to protect secret ballots passed, so it appears that appealing to five years olds with diminished logical capacity didn't work very well. Now that I think about it, not very many of them are registered to vote.

Before you decide that the results last night for US Senate races look a lot different from the landslide with which the Republicans took over the House -- some of the talking heads were saying this last night -- stop and think about the math. Within the one-third of the Senate seats which were up for election this year, the change was just as cataclysmic in the House, even if the result is not a Republican majority in the Senate. For that we'll need 2012.

Speaking of things on Capitol Hill, the Republican establishment will be working overtime to coopt the new rookies. It doesn't like their rebellious thoughts about changing the party or the way the House and Senate work. It will try to get the rookies to hire seasoned and reliable staffers from the establishment. It will try to teach them how things work in the Senate -- and more to the point, how things are done. I hope some of them will have the intellectual strength and moral courage to learn what they need to know and reject the rest.

What I'm saying is this: The conservative takeover of the Republican Party opens a new front sometime between today and January, inside the House and Senate Republican Caucuses. Expect battles. And don't think one wave of invaders will be sufficient to complete the operation. They may be able to establish a beachhead, but we'll need another wave in two years, and another in four, and another in six, and . . .

Sorry to wrench you around so much geographically, but let's finish locally.

The public's takeover of the public schools in the Alpine School District didn't experience a total victory yesterday, but it did advance. Beginning in January, there will be two school board members who believe that the board needs to be more representative of the people than it has been, whereas now there is only one such member.

And I suspect that the Jason Chaffetz for US Senate campaign will be under way any hour now, if it isn't already. Please don't mistake my lack of enthusiasm for . . . enthusiasm.  We'll talk of this more as it develops.

Meanwhile, this campaign manager is exhausted and ready for a nap, and it isn't even noon yet. It's a good thing I'm taking the day off work.

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