Good News / Bad News

I’ve got bad news and good news.

The bad news is that it’s too late to get a cool sticker like the one at the top of the post–the rare, three-word special edition.

The good news is that there’s still time to get the regular edition, which is almost as rare. It doesn’t have that third word, but that third word is the least important of the three.

Go exercise your franchise. It’s the Right Thing To Do.

Okay, so you’ve voted. Now what?

I’m going to dump some depressing news on you here, because I want to get it all out of the way at once and save Thursday for something cheerier.

The message is this: even if there’s a massive blue wave that give Democrats control of both the House and the Senate, we don’t win anything.

Don’t get me wrong. Taking control of Congress is a necessary step to repairing the damage done to the country over the last two years (and the fifty years before that). But in itself, it’s not enough to fix anything. At most it’ll prevent more damage.

Because, while Congress can block a judicial or cabinet nomination, it can’t make nominations. Suppose Kavanaugh gets hit by a bus. A Democrat-controlled Senate can block whatever conservative candidate the White House picks–and hand the Republicans another talking point about obstructionist Democrats–but they can’t offer a liberal candidate.

A Democratic Congress can pass laws, but can’t force the president to sign them. There’s no way to get enough Democratic congresscritters to establish a veto-proof supermajority in both houses. Not in 2018, anyway.

Nor, and let’s be brutally honest here, would a two-thirds majority in both houses do any good. The modern use of a signing statement to, in essence, say “This law doesn’t apply to me,” gives the White House an out, as does the option of simply ignoring any inconvenient legislation. Remember the Russian sanctions of 2017?

Don’t forget, as well, that newly-elected representatives don’t take their seats until January. That still leaves the current administration a couple of months to rush through as much legislation as they can.

As I said, flipping Congress is a necessary step. But it’s a holding action. This is the beginning of a long, hard fight, not the end. See you at the polls in 2020, 2022, 2024,…

Happy Election Day

It’s Election Day, and about damn time. If I see one more ad, pro or con, about Proposition 61*, I’m going to throw a shoe at the TV. I really don’t want to have to buy a new set, especially not quickly enough to follow the returns this evening.

* For those of you outside of California, 61 is an initiative intended to lower the cost of prescription drugs. Naturally, the pharmaceutical industry is fighting hard against it. But the supporters enlisted Bernie Sanders, and they’ve been running ads that make personal attacks on pharmaceutical company executives.

There’s a popular perception that this year’s election is the nastiest ever. Don’t believe it. Yes, it’s been ugly, but it was just as bad, if not worse, in the nineteenth century.

Don’t believe me? You don’t need to look any further than the election of 1884 for proof. The Republican candidate, James Blaine, had in 1876, survived a Congressional investigation into accusations of influence peddling, thought it appears he did so by buying off his accusers and suppressing evidence. Despite his exoneration, the Democrats made much of the case.

Meanwhile, the Republicans promoted rumors that Democratic candidate Grover Cleveland had fathered an illegitimate child–according to some reports, the party paid children across the country to sing scurrilous songs aimed at Cleveland. The candidate’s response was to admit that he had had a relationship with the woman in question, and that he had given her son his name. However, he also indulged in slut-shaming, claiming that he had only acknowledged the boy because he was the only bachelor among the men who had relationships with the woman at the time.

So, anyone claiming that the current election proves that lawbreaking and illicit relationships are no barrier to becoming president has no leg to stand on.

Pity Gary Hart, obviously a victim of bad timing. He should have either run a century sooner or a few decades later. But I digress.

So anyway, happy Election Day. The odds say that not all of your candidates and propositions are going to win, but even if none of them do, rejoice in the realization that we can look forward to a break from the campaigning.

That break should last at least a week before we start seeing ads for the 2018 mid-term elections.