Saturday, September 25, 2010

'If you thought the 1994 election was historic, just wait till this year'

Just what I've been saying all along.

From Peggy Noonan, "
The Enraged vs. the Exhausted" (with a feminist twist):
This election is more and more shaping up into a contest between the Exhausted and the Enraged.

In a contest like that, who wins? That's like asking, "Who would win a sporting event between the depressed and the anxious?" The anxious are wide awake. The wide awake win.

But Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee suggests I have the wrong word for the Republican base. The word, she says, is not enraged but "livid."

The three-term Republican deputy whip has been campaigning in Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Carolina. We spoke by phone about what she is seeing, and she sounded like the exact opposite of exhausted.

There are two major developments, she says, that are new this year and insufficiently noted, but they're going to shape election outcomes in 2010 and beyond.

First, Washington is being revealed in a new way.

The American people now know, "with real sophistication," everything that happens in the capital. "I find a much more knowledgeable electorate, and it is a real-time response," Ms. Blackburn says. "We hear about it even as the vote is taking place."

Voters come to rallies carrying research—"things they pulled off the Internet, forwarded emails," copies of bills, roll-call votes. The Internet isn't just a tool for organization and fund-raising. It has given citizens access to information they never had before. "The more they know," Ms. Blackburn observes, "the less they like Washington."

Second is the rise of women as a force. They "are the drivers in this election cycle," Ms. Blackburn says. "Something is going on." At tea party events the past 18 months, she started to notice "60% of the crowd is women."

She tells of a political rally that drew thousands in Nashville, at the State Capitol plaza. She had brought her year-old grandson. When the mic was handed to her, she was holding him. "I said, 'How many of you are grandmothers?' The hands! That was the moment I realized that the majority of the people at the political events now are women. I saw this in town halls in '09—it was women showing up at my listening events, it was women talking about health care."

Why would more women be focusing more intently on politics this year than before?

Ms. Blackburn hypothesizes: "Women are always focusing on a generation or two down the road. Women make the education and health-care decisions for their families, for their kids, their spouse, their parents. And so they have become more politically involved. They are worried about will people have enough money, how are they going to pay the bills, the tuition, get the kids through school and college."

Ms. Blackburn suggested, further in the conversation, that government's reach into the personal lives of families, including new health-care rules and the prospect of higher taxes, plus the rise in public information on how Washington works and what it does, had prompted mothers to rebel.

The media called 1994 "the year of the angry white male." That was the year of the Republican wave that yielded a GOP House for the first time in 40 years. "I look at this year as the Rage of the Bill-Paying Moms," Ms. Blackburn says. "They are saying 'How dare you, in your arrogance, cap the opportunities my child will have? You'll burden them with so much debt they won't be able to buy a house—all because you can't balance the budget.'"

How does 2010 compare with 1994 in terms of historical significance? Ms. Blackburn says there's an unnoted story there, too. Whereas 1994 was historic as a party victory, a shift in political power, this year feels more organic, more from-the-ground, and potentially deeper. She believes 2010 will mark "a philosophical shift," the beginning of a change in national thinking regarding the role of the individual and the government.
I'm reading the influence of the tea parties here as well. What an amazing year in politics.


aldo said...

Hopefully there is a big enough turn out to change what is going on, and hopefully it will stay that way!

The biggest problem is the people of the lower class, or at least a majority of them, as they seem to vote the same way, liberal! They do it because the libs are like FREE this, FREE that, FREE blah! Where is our free stuff? How about NO ONE gets free stuff, and they work for themselves! Get up off your a** and get to work (well, I am not COMPLETELY against welfare kind of stuff... but I think the government needs to check up on them more, make sure they are as poor as they say they are [not like those Mexicans who have their OWN BUSINESS and not reporting it to the IRS!] or as disabled as they say they are...)...

Stupid, ignorant, and oblivious people annoy me. A lot.

Oh, and I don't have a job, which I have been trying to get for well over a year. Haven't heard back from any job yet!

Brad said...

If Ms. Blackburn is right (and I'm not disputing her), then we're seeing a shift in the concerns of women voters as well.

For the past several elections, women have been thought to prefer the Democrats because they were the party that was going to "protect" them from the world (unemployment, divorce, deadbeat dads, etc.); Democrats were thought of as the "Mommy Party" for a reason.

Ms. Blackburn's observations suggest (1) there's a point at the Democrats efforts to "protect" us from ourselves become smothering, counterproductive, etc. even to women; and (2) they've passed it.

Grizzly Mama said...

Interesting, Brad - your comments about women. I agree to a point, but I'm wondering if it's more that the Democrat party pushes welfare as an entitlement to women, as well as their gimongous 'women's issue': abortion.

For most women - the right to kill our unborn baby is just not a pressing issue. For a lot of women, abortion is what it is - we don't like it and wouldn't 'choose' it, but many don't want it to be totally illegal. There are bigger issues, in other words. The future of our country, the viability of our economy, the protection of America's sovereignty, the training and equipping of our sons and daughters in the military - and how those most precious assets are utilized, the protection of our children from forces who wish to curtail our freedoms, the education of our kids, respect in the workplace AND in the home, parents rights, the valid choice a woman might make to be a mother/homemaker. The democrat party is on the wrong side of all of those issues for us - for me anyway.