A Report from the Front

I have lived through more elections than I would like to be reminded of, and I have survived in Michigan through two midterm elections and a Presidential election prior to this one. But I have never encountered anything like what I have seen this year.

Michigan is, of course, a battleground state. The polls suggest that Mitt Romney may win here, and the Romney campaign evidently thinks that he has a real chance, for in the last couple of weeks we have been inundated with calls. Mitt Romney has called. So have Sarah Palin, Michelle Malkin, Pat Boone — and the list goes on and on. On Sunday, they left us alone, but on Saturday there was a robocall every other hour. Were I not persuaded that this is a crucial election, I would be voting for Barack Obama out of resentment that my day had so often been interrupted by Romney’s campaign. The Romney people evidently have more money on hand than they know what to do with.

I do not have a working television, so I cannot say anything about the political advertising to which my fellow Michiganders are being subjected. But my bet is that both sides are spending like drunken sailors, and I would guess that nearly everyone here will breathe a sigh of relief when the damned thing is over.

I do, however, have a mail box, and in it I get one political advertisement after another. This has, of course, happened in the past — but never on this scale. As I mentioned in an earlier post, entitled What About Michigan?, we have as our governor a Republican businessman who thought that all would go well if he placated the unions. Sensing that he was a weakling (which he is) and that he has divided his own party (which he has), they are now going for broke.

Their aim is to get a series of amendments written into the state constitution forcing home-care workers into the Service Employees International Union and denying the state the right to limit in any way the sphere of collective bargaining for the already existing public sector unions. The radical environmentalists want to do the like with an amendment forcing the public utilities to provide “at least one quarter of their annual retail sales of electricity from renewable energy sources,” such as “wind, solar, biomass, and hydropower,” and to deny those utilities the right to pass on the cost to their customers.

Not to be outdone by the unions, an unscrupulous businessmen in league with the unions (who owns a bridge linking Detroit to Canada) wants to write it into the state constitution that Michigan cannot spend any money building another bridge that might compete with his without a referendum. The left is also attempting a judicial coup d’etat by running three radical feminists for the Michigan Supreme Court, each of whom are conducting demagogic campaigns against the sitting justices. On the radio, one hears advertisement after advertisement. One’s mailbox is inundated. There is a very ugly fight going on.

The local polls, for what they are worth, suggest that all of the ballot initiatives are likely to go down to defeat. I would find this gratifying if they did not also show that the worst of these command support from 40% of my fellow citizens. I am also dismayed that Debbie Stabenow, who may be the least intelligent member of the United States Senate, seems poised for an easy victory. I have not received in the mail a single item from her Republican opponent.

From all of this I conclude that, in the last four years, there has been a dramatic change in American politics. Barack Obama has ushered in a new style of political confrontation — one in which the aim is to shut down opposition, silence criticism, and crush forever those who think that the public sector’s only justification is the service it supplies to those who work in the private sector. The tone in Michigan is not as ugly as it was the last couple of years in Wisconsin. But it is ugly enough, and I suspect that the same is true in Ohio. I am not persuaded that Barack Obama has succeeded in setting rich against poor. But he has clearly succeeded in setting the labor aristocracy that works in the public sector (and most of the time controls the legislature) against the rest of us. We have entered, I fear, a new political era, and the leading figures on our side (such as Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan) are not prepared for the fight that is required.

What’s it like where you hang your hat?

  1. Frederick Key

    In New York, the wicked Kirsten Gillibrand has all the money; Wendy Long is an excellent candidate with no money and no TV spots. I figure if New York stuns everyone and goes Romney with huge coattails we can finally get the wicked Gillibrand out of the senate. Lawn signs are the only evidence of Wendy Long’s candidacy, and I’ve seen more signs for the state assembly candidates than for her.

    Gillibrand started out as a marionette for Chuck Schumer, then, like a twisted Pinocchio, was allowed to become a real senator if she would only stab her moderate friends in the back and become the senate’s most insane liberal. She still calls herself a Catholic, I think, which is so much chutzpah that the classic orphan who killed his parents would be shocked by her. Hard to believe now that she was the middle-of-the-roader that David Paterson selected to make everyone happy after Caroline Kennedy washed out. That’s the big news here (but! on this morning’s drive I saw 3 Romney stickers to 1 Obama — something weird going on….).

  2. Susan in Seattle

    It has been bad in Washington State, although we’ve had few robo calls.  The television advertising is appalling on both sides, particularly for the offices of governor, state attorney general, and the 1st Congressional district which is newly apportioned.

    One quibble I would have with you, Professor Rahe, is that Patty Murray is without doubt of lower intelligence than Debbie Stabenow.

  3. Paul A. Rahe
    C
    Susan in Seattle: It has been bad in Washington State, although we’ve had few robo calls.  The television advertising is appalling on both sides, particularly for the offices of governor, state attorney general, and the 1st Congressional district which is newly apportioned.

    One quibble I would have with you, Professor Rahe, is that Patty Murray is without doubt of lower intelligence than Debbie Stabenow. · 2 minutes ago

    I will be my Debbie Stabenow against your Patty Murray and up you an Al Franken.

  4. Duane Oyen

    I hadn’t seen a single presidential race commercial on TV till last night, when I learned that Mitt Romney is going to chain all women to bedposts and force them to breed.

  5. Susan in Seattle
    Paul A. Rahe

    One quibble I would have with you, Professor Rahe, is that Patty Murray is without doubt of lower intelligence than Debbie Stabenow. · 2 minutes ago

    I will be my Debbie Stabenow against your Patty Murray and up you an Al Franken. · 15 minutes ago

    Alrighty!  I’ll see you an Al Franken and raise you a Maria Cantwell,

  6. Matthew Gilley

    Here in South Carolina, you hardly know there’s an election on.  Trey Gowdy will cruise in my district against token opposition.  Thanks to our new Congressional seat (donated, I suspect, by Ohio) we will add another Republican to our delegation.  We sit at 49 of 50 on the rate of unionization, and our governor explicitly tells unions they are not welcome here.  BMW has been expanding for several years now, and Boeing and Continental are expanding their presence in the state.

    I still can’t figure how the rest of you managed to screw things up so much….

  7. The Mugwump

    New Mexico is an anachronism.  You will remember from your histories that Spain never enjoyed either a cultural renaissance or a religious reformation like the rest of Europe.  The Spanish arrived in the New World with a medieval mindset.  This condition explains a lot about current conditions in New Mexico (45% Hispanic) and Latin America in general.

    Hispanics will typically back El Patron.  It’s a fine tequila, but a lousy way to run a government.  The landed gentleman of the past levied justice, provided for the common defense, and dispensed favors to his supporters.  His role today has been taken over by the Democratic party, the provider of jobs for “our people” (read that as you like) and the dispenser of patronage.  The party is utterly corrupt, and New Mexico remains a political backwater.

    We’ve been completely ignored in the current election as befits our significance nationally.  Hispanics will sometimes vote Republican in the cause of ethnic chauvinism as they did in 2010, when they put Susanna Martinez in the governor’s mansion.  One statistic says it all:  More people work for the government (national, state, and local) here than the private sector.

  8. Paul A. Rahe
    C
    Duane Oyen: I hadn’t seen a single presidential race commercial on TV till last night, when I learned that Mitt Romney is going to chain all women to bedposts and force them to breed. · in 0 minutes

    Ah, those Mormons!

  9. Paul A. Rahe
    C
    Susan in Seattle

    Paul A. Rahe

    One quibble I would have with you, Professor Rahe, is that Patty Murray is without doubt of lower intelligence than Debbie Stabenow. · 2 minutes ago

    I will be my Debbie Stabenow against your Patty Murray and up you an Al Franken. · 15 minutes ago

    Alrighty!  I’ll see you an Al Franken and raise you a Maria Cantwell, · 15 minutes ago

    I fold.

  10. M1919A4

    In my home State of Alabama, every State-wide public office but one now is held by a Republican; our Legislature, for the first time since Reconstruction, is firmly (veto-proof majorities in both houses) in the hands of vigorous young Republican legislators; we have two reliable US senators (one of whom, Jefferson Davis Sessions, is a real star); all but one of our congressmen are Republicans (and the Democrat seat is held by a black lady, for whom it was reserved by the DoJ); the Legislature is busily deconstructing the power of the teachers’ union and putting our fiscal house in order; and,  tomorrow we will give Mitt Romney a handsome majority.

    Perhaps, Professor Rahe, Hillsdale ought to remove to a more congenial political atmosphere and temperate climate.  And, you can watch in person Southeastern Conference football on the weekends!

  11. Songwriter
    Paul A. Rahe

    Susan in Seattle

    Paul A. Rahe

    One quibble I would have with you, Professor Rahe, is that Patty Murray is without doubt of lower intelligence than Debbie Stabenow. · 2 minutes ago

    I will be my Debbie Stabenow against your Patty Murray and up you an Al Franken. · 15 minutes ago

    Alrighty!  I’ll see you an Al Franken and raise you a Maria Cantwell, · 15 minutes ago

    I fold. · 10 hours ago

    What? Don’t fold. “Senator Al Franken” is the joker – a trump card. Nothing beats it.

  12. Nick Stuart

    Here in the kakistocratic People’s Republic of Madiganistan (formerly known as Illinois) there are some hotly contested congressional races (Dold, Walsh, Biggert).

    If Judy Biggert loses by a whisker, she might reflect that being ardently pro-abortion, anti-school choice, and all mommy-issue all the time was not ultimately a winning strategy for her with the conservative base that actually does exist in this part of the state.

  13. Songwriter

    Here in Tennessee, the Obama campaign is running a very modest number of TV ads. Romney will sweep the state, so the campaign is probably spending its money elsewhere.  Senator Bob Corker (R) is running unopposed, as far as I can tell. My Congresswoman, Marsha Blackburn (R), will retain her congressional seat with no problem. (She has run zero advertising.)

    There are a few contested  down-ticket races running ads on TV. The cities of Nashville and Memphis will probably skew left. The rest of the state is as conservative as Texas.

    But for the most part, it’s pretty quiet here.

  14. At The Rubicon

    I live here in Arizona. The place where the ‘ROMNEY’ skywriting appeared over the weekend. ’nuff said.

  15. Scott R
    Duane Oyen: I hadn’t seen a single presidential race commercial on TV till last night, when I learned that Mitt Romney is going to chain all women to bedposts and force them to breed. · 40 minutes ago

    Those “I’m going to chain all women to bedposts” quotes are 18 years old – from the 1994 senate debate when Romney was positioning himself left of Kennedy here and there. Kinky stuff, but none of that’s in his platform any more.

  16. M1919A4

    Professor, further to my earlier post about the situation here in Alabama, pray note  that the Jefferson County (includes Birmingham) victory party will be at a local shooting range:

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/11/05/shoot-while-wait-alabama-gop-plans-election-night-party-at-gun-range/.

    I am confident that the bar-b-que will be excellent.  What a way to celebrate, loosing a few thousand aimed –we believe in gun control– rounds (unlike the Mohammedans)!

  17. Paul A. Rahe
    C
    M1919A4:

    Perhaps, Professor Rahe, Hillsdale ought to remove to a more congenial political atmosphere and temperate climate.  And, you can watch in person Southeastern Conference football on the weekends! · 39 minutes ago

    I’m game. Winter is a-comin’ in.

  18. Scott R
    Matthew Gilley: Here in South Carolina, you hardly know there’s an election on.  Trey Gowdy will cruise in my district against token opposition.  Thanks to our new Congressional seat (donated, I suspect, by Ohio) we will add another Republican to our delegation.  We sit at 49 of 50 on the rate of unionization, and our governor explicitly tells unions they are not welcome here.  BMW has been expanding for several years now, and Boeing and Continental are expanding their presence in the state.

    I still can’t figure how the rest of you managed to screw things up so much…. · 56 minutes ago

    So that’s where Kucinich’s seat went. It’s all yours, Mathew — you’ll make better use of it than we did.

  19. Schrodinger
    Susan in Seattle
    Paul A. Rahe

    One quibble I would have with you, Professor Rahe, is that Patty Murray is without doubt of lower intelligence than Debbie Stabenow. · 2 minutes ago

    I will be my Debbie Stabenow against your Patty Murray and up you an Al Franken. · 15 minutes ago

    Alrighty! I’ll see you an Al Franken and raise you a Maria Cantwell,

    I suggest a new Survivor series with the above mentioned Senators plus ‘Don’t Call Me Maam’ Boxer called Survivor Antarctica.

  20. Matthew Gilley
    Scott [roy-sir]

    Matthew Gilley: Here in South Carolina, you hardly know there’s an election on.  Trey Gowdy will cruise in my district against token opposition.  Thanks to our new Congressional seat (donated, Isuspect, by Ohio) we will add another Republican to our delegation.  We sit at 49 of 50 on the rate of unionization, and our governor explicitly tells unions they are not welcome here.  BMW has been expanding for several years now, and Boeing and Continental are expanding their presence in the state.

    I still can’t figure how the rest of you managed to screw things up so much…. · 56 minutes ago

    Sothat’swhere Kucinich’s seat went. It’s all yours, Mathew — you’ll make better use of it than we did. · 37 minutes ago

    Happy to help.  You oughta think about following it down here.  Lots of landscaping to be done here – just sayin’.