Thursday, December 20, 2007

It's The Ethics, Stupid!

This election is going to turn on ethics and values, and who the voters feel genuinely intends to do the right thing by us as a people and as a nation. Here are two indicators, and what I think they imply.

Paul credits anti-war stance for size of his war-chest

DES MOINES — GOP presidential hopeful Ron Paul credited his stance against the war in Iraq for his hefty fund raising haul over the weekend when he raised more than $6 million in a single day.

“I believe the war has been the igniting factor to the campaign from day one,” Paul said.

Paul is drawing support from a demographic no other candidate has seriously tapped, to my knowledge - people who either have never voted, or were not intending to vote.

Paul supporter Jessica Borgnis of Des Moines came to see him Monday. Borgnis voted for George Bush in 2000, but said she became disillusioned after the country went to war.

“I switched my vote to a third-party candidate in 2004, and wasn’t going to vote this election year, and when I heard about Ron Paul, I just regained confidence in the system,” she said.

read more | digg story

But Paul's support does not come from nowhere and nothing. Frankly, "It's Karma, Baby." This story from Burnt Orange Report seems to underline the principle that "Cheaters never Prosper."

What Dan Barrett's Victory Means for Texas by: Matt Glazer

Dan Barrett's victory tonight has implications beyond better representation for Fort Worth residents. To relay its importance, we have to look at what brought us to this point.

In 2001, Republican's drew a map they thought would elect 102 R's and 48 D's. They were wrong as only 88 Republicans and 62 Democrats were elected in 2002. Still, it was a striking blow to Democrats as we had lost our majority, the Speakership, and control of the operation of the Texas House. That was a low point for Democrats in Texas as well as nationally. The result was the rise of the neo-conservative, uber Republican Tom Craddick who slashed the budget and cut social programs like CHIP and education funding. To this day that funding has never been restored even with surpluses in the state budget.

In 2006, Democrats won 6 seats plus Donna Howard's special election. In 2007 we welcomed Kirk England to the Democratic Party and now we have Dan Barrett as member of our caucus as well. We've not even yet had a single vote cast the 2008 primaries, and there are now 71 Democrats in Texas House- a stunning and speedy reversal based on the same map that was drawn to have only 42 Democratic seats.

A number of factors are no doubt at work, but I don't think we can dismiss principled outrage at the behavior of Tom Delay and Texas Republicans in so conspicuously and arrogantly gerrymandering the state. And then, well, there's everything a certain former Texas Governor has been up to since then. At some point, party allegiance becomes an embarrassment rather than a point of pride. I'm guessing that either Republicans have been staying home in droves, or they have been crossing party lines.

Here's something to note in reference to Ron Paul's campaign, and Kucinich's run for the Democratic nomination.)

In addition, Barrett was dramatically out spent. According to the 8 day out reports, Mark Shelton spent over $100,000 and raised (and presumably spent) another $10,000 from TexPAC before the election. Barrett on the other hand spent a little over $45,000 according to his 8 day report. Again, according to his telegram reports, raised an additional $4,000 in the final week of the election from Texas Parent PAC and two individuals.

Breaking it down, that means Barrett spent $9.13 per vote compared to about $23.40 per vote for Shelton.

Money doesn't seem to be talking as loud as it used to. I don't know how well Barrett used the Internet to gather attention, so it's hard to compare that aspect of his campaign to Ron Paul's, but it could well have been a significant passive factor.

Unlike the elections of my youth, where it was next to impossible to gather enough information for an average voter to make a decent choice, today a voter is just a Google away from everything a challenger wants them to know, and everything an incumbent hopes they have forgotten.

Somebody should do some polling on that.

But for the majority party to lose to an under-funded challenger in a district gerrymandered in that party's favor - that should be as close to an impossible as politics allows.

But then, losing at least half of the military vote that Republicans have come to rely on has got to sting. There's this Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll which is dissected here .

Nearly six out of every 10 military families disapprove of Bush's job performance and the way he has run the war, rating him only slightly better than the general population does.

And among those families with soldiers, sailors and Marines who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan, 60% say that the war in Iraq was not worth the cost, the same result as all adults surveyed.
And then there are rumblings within the ranks of evangelical and conservative Christians. who seem to have finally noticed the wide gap between stated principles and evident actions. This may lead to some internal upheaval as well as a real problem for most Republican candidates except Ron Paul, who's gotten the most military donations of any candidate and is respected for his forthright Christianity, even if he's unwilling to legislate his morality.

All told, it's looking more and more like Paul's campaign has the potential, in terms of both actual and potential supporters, to go all the way to the finish line. Not a "spoiler" - as some would like to portray him - but as the logical, viable and popular choice for the Republican nomination, and win or lose, a far more significant stature within the party.

I'm sure that idea is making certain established Republican figures crap ice cubes. Moreover, imagine the funk sweat on K-Street. Lobbyists don't even bother knocking on his door any more. But here's the logical outcome of this; the big money has to go to the more "credible" candidates - that is to say, the ones willing to be bribed to bend the rules.

Clearly the "smart money" of that sort is backing a Guliani/Clinton match; a win/win proposition for K-Street and big business. But as we have seen, money doesn't seem to count for as much as it did, and it may even be that huge campaign chests and slick, triangulated, focus-grouped campaigns might be a net negative.

I personally think it is a negative, or at best a neutral, because neither campaign is going to be saying what voters want to hear. And meanwhile, they may well be doing direct political calculus of their own: Elect a solid Democratic majority to ensure Health Care (You don't need Hillary for that) - and Ron Paul to get us out of Iraq. Because for that, you need someone with the authority to say "wind it up and ship them home."

I'm not one to make bets or give odds, but I'm thinking a bet on a Democratic near-sweep of open seats in the House and Senate is far better than even odds, while the idea of Ron Paul becoming President is, while still a long shot, not at all inconceivable.

It's not so much Paul's race to win as it is for all the others to lose - but they all seem well-positioned for that outcome.

Illustration: It's The Ethics,Stupid!, by webcarve
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