All in Election

The Hunt For Red November: Explaining Republican Successes at the State Level

Despite the usual flak from conservative news media, the Democratic Party is starting to find reasons to celebrate. Barack Obama is running a victory lap of sorts as his second term approaches an end, and the party a good chance of retaining the White House after President Obama leaves office. On the other side of the party line, the circus of conservative candidates vying for the presidency is led by a neurosurgeon who is quickly showing that medical acumen does not necessarily translate into political savvy.

We, the members of the Congressional Tea Party caucus, present our first formal list of demands, which we will soon introduce on the floor as HR-666. Our nation is in peril and for it we can no longer stand. We face mounting debts at the state and national level, we have government entering every home, school and church in America, and we need change.

In the Silicon Valley town of Los Gatos, California, many residents work in the headquarters of high-tech companies such as Google, Apple, and Facebook. The town boasts a median family income of $150,000 and is known for its upscale housing developments, which even now sell for $1 million a piece on average. The town is also a hotspot for marijuana-related violence.

A few years back I, too, was a hardworking, idealistic college student who, like many politically active students, thought I might run for office one day. Friends of mine would join me to discuss politics as I tended bar after class at the West End (now Havana Central). We talked about political races the way most people discussed football stats. To us, watching Meet the Press on Sunday mornings was as exciting as Monday night football (well, almost as exciting). The idea of running for office one day was something we all dreamed about.

“You can sleep after election day,” I heard one volunteer say, and this battle cry seemed to capture a truth of the 2008 presidential campaign — that the election mattered, not only because of the president it would elect, but because of the sense of belonging and meaning citizens gained from their participation in it. But it also hinted at another truth: that come November 4th, for most people, the work would be over. Even though this year’s presidential primaries marked the highest voter turnout in over three decades, less than one-fifth of Americans expect to be involved in political issues after the election. It would be Obama’s job from there on out.

We seem to love to consume the myth that some man will lead us to the promised land absent any real struggle or sacrifice on our part. In this, as in other aspects, Barack Obama is a product of the politics of our day. We not only adore the myth that a man will give us a good speech and lead us to progress, we adore the idea that we won’t be required to do any real work or make any real sacrifice ourselves.

It has become a liberal truism that Muslim Americans would not want to vote for the party of the administration responsible for the violation of their civil liberties, but—surprise —Muslim Republicans exist. Columbia Political Science Professor Robert Shapiro notes that these assumptions are rooted in liberal attitudes, rather than an analysis of voting trends and the motives behind them.