Wednesday, November 08, 2006

About Arnie and the Next Wave

Arnold kept the governorship of California, but he only did it by following the path of the Swedish Moderates.

In Sweden, the only way the Moderates were able to eke out even a slim win from the Social Democrats was by moving virtually every party position sharply to the left and promising to reform and protect the social safety net, not dismantle it. They have to rule in coalition with smaller right wing parties and they needed the confluence of events presented by scandal in the ruling Social Democrats who still won the most overall seats. Scandal already taints the new government.

The lesson clearly taken by Schwarzenegger, who obviously still keeps an eye on European politics, was that trying to be a right wing ideologue in a liberal state was just stupid politics. After a disastrous first half Arnie banked hard to the left and towards a conciliatory approach with the Democrat controlled legislature. His environmental policies are his most public rebuke to his president and party. In all but name, Governor Schwarzenegger is a Democrat now - in fact he's further to the left today, than a lot of the people elected as Democrats last night.

The thing to remember about last nights razor edge margins, CNN has called Montana for Tester, so we're now down to a few thousand likely Democrat votes in Virginia before the Democrats can claim the Senate, is that these close Democrat wins come after years of frantic gerrymandering and pork-barrel spending by the Republicans.

Despite engineering what senior Republican strategists like Rove and Norquist gleefully called a permanent Republican majority, they still lost.

Commentators have talked endlessly of scandal and sourness over the war and distaste towards incumbents who just happened to be Republicans. All relevant, but the real story is a generational and geographical demographic shift towards the left. The MSM really, really wants you to believe that this election is bolt from the blue, a perfect storm that freakishly shifted the electorate and besides, the Democrats elected a lot of conservatives.

This is whistling past the graveyard of the right wing surge of the last several decades. The swing to the left, to progressive policy alternatives will start accelerating now - expect more election nights like this one.


Larry Gambone said...

Another aspect of the demographic componant are Latino immigrants. Those that can get citizenship, while conservative on some issues like abortion, are social democrats on most other issues. As the Latino population expands so does the progressive electorate. I suspect this one one of the reasons for the right's xenophobic attacks on Latinos.

Cliff said...

That and the expansion outward from the cities of the urban middle class as the rural population drops. A young generation that's indifferent to progressive on social issue (I haven't met a lot of people under thirty anywhere who give a crap about gay marriage.) and a growing sophistication about the positive role of government in the general population.

And of course just the massive economic, military and social failure of the conservative agenda around the world.

This election was an outrider, not an anomaly.

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