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November 8, 2006

The real meaning of the election; in 16 parts

Posted by David Postman at 1:53 PM

"[W]hen it comes to both the House and the Senate, we obviously always knew this would be a tough year. ... But look, the American people sent a message. We, as Republicans, need to spend time making sure we understand that message, receiving that message." Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman (NBC's "Today Show," 11/8/06)

The presidency of George W. Bush ended last night.

Just as this election wasn't a defeat for conservatism, it wasn't a victory for liberalism. Democrats intentionally avoided a publicized "Contract With America"-style platform advancing a progressive agenda in favor of making the campaign a referendum on President Bush.

The results also confirmed a historic opportunity for Democrats to retake the abandoned political center, and it showed their renewed ability and determination to do so.

Based on the tone taken in a number of comments from liberal (aka Republican hater) readers in various recent posts, they have not grasped the point that Democrats captured Congress because people are disgruntled about Iraq. They did not capture Congress because voters writ large share the venom the far left holds for Republicans and all things conservative.

We knew before the election that the mindless centrists who brought us twelve years of hell would immediately try to throw progressives under the bus. And sure enough Rahm Emanuel has already started that attempt.

Let's be clear — this wasn't just a good night for Democrats. It was a good night for progressives, and no media spin that these new elected officials are "conservatives" changes who they are.

The netroots won yesterday, and we won big. There will be ups and downs, but yesterday was the first step towards rebuilding the Democratic Party and a new, national progressive majority.

Yet regardless of the remaining results and recounts, the fact is the netroots' favorite candidates did not perform as well as the Democrats targeted by party leaders. And they were never supposed to. Many of the bloggers' picks were aggressive Democrats in long-shot districts who were neglected by the Beltway establishment. There is no doubt that bloggers leveraged money and political buzz to make races more competitive and put Republicans on the defensive, but it was simply not the decisive factor in the elections.

A rising spirit of nationalism is evident everywhere in this election, not simply in the economic realm. Americans are weary of sacrificing their soldier-sons for Iraqi democracy. They are weary of shelling out foreign aid to regimes that endlessly hector America at the United Nations. They are tired of sacrificing the interests of American workers on the altar of an abstraction called the Global Economy.

What Americans want is a full-blown solution to the immigration crisis. And that will come only when Republicans come together on a "comprehensive" measure that not only secures the border but also provides a way for illegals in the United States to work their way to citizenship and establishes a temporary worker program.

Voters in every corner of the country made it clear that they are tired of divisive attacks on a woman's right to choose and don't want politicians interfering in our personal, private decision making.

But 2006 showed that Americans will reject political tampering with the courts if they understand the threat.

One of the most significant revelations to emerge from the 2006 election is the Democrats' enormous success with faith-based outreach.

And it's a particularly important moment for spiritual progressives who have been working hard these past two years to revive a religious left.

The message is that values are not just something you talk about at election time; values should guide public policies and personal conduct.

Less clear is that Democrats deserved to win — or that they would have done so absent Republican missteps. The Democrats won the House, and, as of this writing, at least narrowed the GOP majority in the Senate, but not because voters necessarily agreed with their program. How many voters, we wonder, could name even one of the Democrats' vaunted "Six for '06" legislative proposals? As they prepare to wield power, Democrats don't have capital from voters; at most, they enjoy a line of credit.

UPDATE: The Orb notices some rethinking perhaps from one of the above sources.

UPDATE: Andrew Villeneuve of Northwest Progressive Institute says the above link mentioned by the Orb was edited for clarity only, not substance and "absolutely did not tone it down."

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