Thursday, November 09, 2006

Post-Election Observations

Just a few observations from the past couple of days:

1) Where is Howard Dean?

I haven't been glued to my television lately, but I didn't see much of the DNC Chairman in the Democrats' post-election celebrations.

2) Some politics is very local

I was surprised by the Democrats' gains in the state governments. For example, in my home state of New Hampshire, the Democrats gained control of both chambers of the legislature, in addition to the two Congressional seats. Other states experienced similar shifts. This may have large ramifications in the years to come, as the state legislatures are the training ground for many candidates to federal office and play an often partisan role in redistricting.

3) Being on the winning team

During the Presidential primaries, I absolutely hate to hear phrases like, "we should vote for this candidate because he is 'electable,'" as if what other people think should change the way we vote. That's a recipe for herd behavior and a very fragile outcome. The whole point of an election is to aggregate individual preferences. Not revealing your own preference defeats the purpose.

But, from a purely self-interested point of view, I think that the prospect of Democratic majorities in Congress does lead people to want to vote for Democrats in their own districts. Consider New Hampshire: if the voters had stuck with Bass and Bradley rather than Hodes and Shea-Porter, we would have two representatives in the minority rather than the majority. Given the advantages (through committee assignments and leadership, primarily) conferred on the majority party, there is some logic to "going with the herd" here.

4) Intra-party battles

Via Powerline, I am directed to Tony Blankley's column about how the various factions within each party will now do battle and to this "Dear Colleague" letter by Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, offering himself as the new minority leader. Here's the key excerpt:

I am running for Republican leader, because I believe that we did not just lose our Majority-we lost our way. We are in the wilderness because we walked away from the limited government principles that minted the Republican Congress. But there is a way out. "The way out of the wilderness," author Mark Helprin wrote, "is the truth; recognizing it, stating it, defending it, living by it." Here is the truth as I see it.

After 1994, we were a Majority committed to a balanced federal budget, entitlement reform and the principles of a limited federal government. We delivered on balanced federal budgets, welfare reform and responded to a national emergency with defense spending, homeland security and tax cuts that put our economy back on its feet.

However, in recent years, to the chagrin of millions of Republicans, our Majority also voted to expand the federal government's role in education by nearly 100% and created the largest new entitlement in 40 years. We also pursued domestic spending policies that created record deficits, national debt and earmark spending that has embarrassed us and caused many Americans to question our commitment to fiscal responsibility.

This was not in the Contract with America.

Our opponents will say that the American people rejected our Republican vision. I say the American people did not quit on the Contract with America, we did. In so doing, we severed the bonds of trust between our party and millions of our most ardent supporters.

For a Republican, it's hard to argue with that.


Andrew Seal said...

Dean was on the Daily Show last night, but Stewart did make fun of how absent he has been the past week or so.

Anonymous said...

Great stuff from Mike Pence.

If the answer the the question is good perhaps he is a guy with a national future.

He has been a member of congress since January 2001. As the majority party veered off on a spending binge, an earmark binge... a power binge, what did he say and do?

TStockmann said...

During the Presidential primaries, I absolutely hate to hear phrases like, "we should vote for this candidate because he is 'electable,'" as if what other people think should change the way we vote. That's a recipe for herd behavior and a very fragile outcome. The whole point of an election is to aggregate individual preferences. Not revealing your own preference defeats the purpose.

This seems a very odd stance for an economist. Regardless of whether "the whole point of an election is to aggregate individual preference," each individual's goal should be maximize his/her own preferred outcome. Since the purpose of the primaries is for two self-selected groups to offer for competition against presumably disfavored alternatives to a more general electorate (both nonmembers and the type of less-committed members who tend to skip primary elections), then avoiding a loss is very much the point, and this looks like a standard game-theory outcome. That the candidates and immediate supporters may have even stronger interest in the outcome doesn't mean the party electorates don't share that. "The worse, the better" was not a democratic slogan.

Andrew Seal said...

Also, I should have mentioned that Pence is the Congressman from my home district. From reading local news periodically (no pun intended), he seems to me to be a total true believer, almost on the level of a hardcore Trotskyite, someone who finds in Reagan everything that was ever good in America, and who wishes to create a permanent revolution from the principles that drove Reagan.

Basically, he worries me, though, a propos of Professor Samwick's original post, I suppose there is something eerily intriguing about the prospects of a national political figure coming from my hometown area.

Guy Barry said...

Good stuff from pence,don't you think?

bakho said...

The Republican Party of today is not the Party of Lincoln or the Rockefellers. The Yankee Republicans built the canals, built the railroads, funded the land grant colleges, enacted the Homestead Act. The modern Republican Party has been taken over by Southern Rednecks intent on re-instituting the plantation economy on America. The Republicans have turned away from the party that helped industrialize America to the party of do-nothing government. A party that believes that government can do no good will run a government that does no good. A party that believes that government is the problem not the solution will squander government resources on corruption and cronyism because they don't believe in solving problems. Because they do not solve problems, they create problems. Public funds are used in a corrupt manner to maintain power, because the leaders don't believe in using the funds to solve problems.

The Southern-Redneck-Republican ideology may work as an opposition party philosophy. As governing principle it is useless. The Republican Party should stay in the minority until they come up with a workable governing philosophy. Until then, they should stay out of the way of progress.

Another problem with the GOP is the Christian conservatives. Those people hold beliefs that are not debateable, are dismissive of the beliefs of other Christians and are frequently at odds with good policy. There is a tension between the Chamber of Commerce Republicans and the Religious Right. CoC wants fiscal responsibility and Religious Right is composed of huckersters, hipocrits, frauds and incompetents. Because they believe they are right, they don't listen and don't refine their ideas. They trust that God will fix the details. Bush is the poster child for religious right incompetence. Bush is doing to American Government what Lysenko did to Russian wheat breeding.

Charles Ponzi said...

And let us not forget that Democrats now hold every post at the Hanover Coop!

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