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Opening Arguments

What happened?

OK, let's do an election once-over before moving on to more important things.

Nope, not bitter. I'm certainly disappointed in the outcome, and worried about the future of this country in general and the next four years in particular, but there's no reason to be bitter. I voted my conscience and did as good a job as I could of arguing for my position, and the results are what they are. We fight the good fight and move on -- that's the wonderful nature of our "peaceful transition of power." Besides, the election hit during one of the family reunions my brother and sister and I periodically manage to pull off, so I was able to put the whole thing in perspective by understanding what truly matters. (To your point about no one being here at a crucial time, Andrew. There's crucial, and then there's crucial.)

And of course, I am bewildered by the outcome. I can't begin to fathom why the country voted as it did. This column pretty much captures my sentiments.

 Ronald Reagan called the 1964 election "a time for choosing." Tuesday's election yielded a time for bewilderment.

Given his record, it is astonishing that President Barack Obama won re-election. He should have lost, big time. Despite an $833 billion stimulus and $5.6 trillion in fresh national debt, the economy crawls forward with 2 percent growth. Shovel-ready projects were not shovel ready. The Department of Energy has generated some 60,000 "green" jobs -- at $578,333 each. When Obama arrived, the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent. It's now 7.9 percent. Nonetheless, Obama is the first president to get re-elected with joblessness above 7.2 percent since FDR in 1936.

[. . .]

A majority of Americans voted for big government. Now, we all must share the bed that they made. Unfortunately, as Reagan once said, "If you get in bed with the government, you'll get more than a good night's sleep."

That's the opening and closing of a piece by Scripps-Howard columnist Deroy Murdock. I don't run across his work very often, but this column caught my attention in The Indianapolis Star Friday. I recommend the whole thing as a good overview of what went on.

Maybe I really do have a glimmer of the implications of the election results, and I just don't want to think too hard about them right now. The conversation I have always wanted in this country is one between those who favor more and bigger government and those who do not. That's the great dividing line running through every major issue of the day, and figuring out where everybody stands in relationship to that line is the key to knowing where the country is going. But we obviously haven't been having that conversation -- the choices lately have been between big increases in government spending and slightly less increases in government spending. What's the conversation going to be now, a choice between bigger government and more spending and even bigger government and even more spending?

The longer this goes on, the worse it gets, and the more desperately we will need that more vs. less debate, and right now I'm not sure who will carry the other side (my side) of the argument. I can't seen it being the Republicans -- they can't decide whether they want to be principled conservatives or the moderate, Democrat Lite party, and there are signs their social issues constitute baggage Americans no longer want to carry. The Libertarians have the purest economic message without the social-issues baggage, but they have a hard time breaking out of the single digits. Perhaps the country has moved beyond the point of wanting a fiscally responsible government because a majority of us are now too invested in what the government provides, never mind whether it can be paid for. That's the implication that scares me the most and the one I least want to think about right now.

I do think one interesting battleground in the government-power struggles over the next decade or so will be the issue of federalism. An increassing number of states are beginning to insist on going their own ways despite the edicts from the federal government. A couple of states approved recreational marijuana use in defiance of federal anti-marijuana laws, and three out of four gay-marriage referendums passed, the federal Defense of Marriage Act notwithstanding. The cases are different, certainly. On marijuana, when you add in all the states that have already approved it for medical uses, there is a clear loosening of attitudes across the country. Will that spur some movement on the part of Congress and/or the president at least toward decriminalization? On gay marriage, this is the first time voters have actually appporved it as opposed to judges or legislatures ordering it. Voters in other states have approved the one-man-woman standard either by law or in their constitutions. This is an issue the Supreme Court is likely to have the final say on, and sooner, rather than later.

I don't mean to imply that there will be a sudden resurgence of state power, but it is something to watch. These liberal issues like marijuana and same-sex marrigage might open the states' rights door, but conservatives are there ready to walk through, too. There has been a movement building -- mostly under the radar but gaining strength nevertheless -- of trying to tame the federal government on a wide variety of issues. The nullification movement seeks to give state legislatures the power to invalidate federal laws to which they are opposed.


* The one result that truly shocked me was the defeat of Republican Sueprintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett -- did not see that one coming. I think it means the Indiana State Teachers Association is back as a highly influential lobby, if indeed it ever went away. I don't think it means the end of the education reform movement here -- that effort is still in the hands of the General Assembly, which is even more Republican than before the election. But it certainly means a probable slowing down of new initiatives, possibly to the point of zero, as Republicans consider the ISTA's power. New Superintendent Glenda Ritz can't refuse to implement the things already on the books, but she can be, well, difficult to the point of obstructionism about the pace of implementation. This should give us time to evaluate the effectiveness of the bewildering array of changes already enacted, so maybe not altogether a bad thing.

* Speaking of the General Assembly, what I had written about as "a possibility but a long shot" has come to pass -- absolute power for Republicans. They retained the governor's office and their supermajority in the Senate and gained a supermajority in the House. They can literally do anything they want to -- Democrats have lost the ability to prevent a quorum by staying away, the only weapon they had left. Though I generally favor the GOP's approach to state government over the Democrats', this is still worrisome. People who have the ability to abuse power are too often tempted to do so. I think House Speaker Brian Bosma (and to a lesser extent Senate President Pro Tem David Long) might now have the most difficult job in state government, that of looking beyond his party's powers to the needs of all Hoosiers, while restraining some of his more boisterous colleagues.

* Too bad about Richard Mourdock, but that wasn't exactly a stunner. He was, in fact, caught up in a perfect storm: 1. Richard Lugar die-hards perhaps did not flock to Joe Donnelly's campaign, but a lot of them skipped the Senate race when they cast their ballots. 2. The Libertarian made a stronger-than-usual showing; 3. Mourdock had an inept way of saying things and an inability to keep his mouth shut when he should have known better. 4. Donnelly was very successful at painting himself has a work-across-the-aisle moderate, despite his votes for Obamacare, the stimulus and other big-government programs. Whether Mourdock is "too extreme" for Hoosiers is a matter for debate. I did notice that Marlin Stutzman won the 3rd District by 34 percent, and he's pretty much the same as Mourdock on most issues.

* As mentioned, Libertarians did pretty well in statewide races. They got twice as many votes in the Senate race as they did four years ago and three times as many in the gubernatorial race. I wonder how they'd do if they concentrated on one race, put some real resources behind it, and recruited someone really well-known (several magnitudes greater than Rupert Boneham)? Let's end the discussion on that pipe dream, shall we?
As I said at the beginning, on to more important things, at least until we can catch our breaths. I recommend for everyone who is right now sick and tired of politics (whether your candidates won or lost) to get immersed in something you really like for awhile as a way of clearing your head. For me it will be the NFL and and the new James Bond movie, the franchise of which Daniel Craig has breathed new life into.
Here's the best scene  ever, from Craig's first outing in "Casino Royale." When you think about it, it can be a metaphor for, well, just about everything, including this election:






tim zank
Sun, 11/11/2012 - 7:20pm

In a nutshell? HeHimself, Teh Won assured the "takers" more free stuff in exchange for their vote..and since they now outnumber us "makers" it was inevitable..happened sooner than I thought it would though...



Andrew Jarosh
Mon, 11/12/2012 - 11:06am

The majority of the country chose a direction other than the one espoused on these blog pages i would suggest wisdom and humility dictate listening to them and not coming across they r stupid and u, the minority point of view, know better. Your ideas lost in the big picture so adapt

tim zank
Mon, 11/12/2012 - 1:29pm

Yeah well, one mans "majority" or "mandate" is another mans "squeeker"....407,000 votes is not a very big win at all now is it?


Mon, 11/12/2012 - 2:28pm

Tim, Dubya lost the popular vote in 2000 yet claimed "political capital." You can't have it both ways. You've been boasting forever about how your "ham sandwich" would beat Obama - even offering bets. Don't you have the decency to take it like a man? Get drunk or something.

Mon, 11/12/2012 - 4:15pm

Sorry Tim, I voted for President Obama, not the Messiah, or the won, or what ever you call our president.
I voted for Obama, because I knew what I was getting.
With Romney, wasn't so sure.
Was he the patriot, for rallying for the Vietnam war? Or the coward that went to France?
Was he the job savior at Bain? Or the job destroyer, outsourcer at Bain?
Was he a tax cheat, or have illegal tax shelters? Will not know, since he would not release more tax records.

I am also not a taker, have worked my entire adult life. Unlike you teapartiers, I do not mind paying taxes, I feel it is patriotic duty. Somethings my taxes go to, I do not approve of. If this happens, I can talk to my senator, or congressman about it. Instead of whining on blogs about it.

Andrew Jarosh
Mon, 11/12/2012 - 4:19pm

Last i checked more than 3 million chose the prez over the other guy. So did the majority of states.

Harl Delos
Mon, 11/12/2012 - 8:14pm

The election isn't until December 17.  And Obama is expected to get 62% of the vote.

tim zank
Mon, 11/12/2012 - 10:22pm

LittleJohn, I didn't ask for anything both ways...I merely pointed out that 407,000 votes in those states would have been an entirely different outcome..read the link I provided...

Andrew, 3 million out of 115 million is how big of a percentage? (.026%) wow...stunning

Harl, thanks for another Professor Irwin Corey moment, you never disappoint.

I congratulate you all on your victory, I'm confident the next 4 years will be every bit as successful as the last 4 years... it's called the new "normal" 47 million on food stamps,15% real unemployment, millions of new disability claims, a trillion more a year minimum borrowed, then spent, waves of more foreclosures, gas at $3.50 a gallon, companies closing by the hundreds, health premiums soaring again (mine went up 2k last year, can't wait to see this years) good times boys, good times!


Tue, 11/13/2012 - 2:37pm

Tim, it's a shame you voted the wrong way. We'll be sending you to a re-education camp soon. Meanwhile, I'm enjoying my Free Stuff. The government truck just dropped off a big screen TV and a huge bag of crack cocaine. Party time! Now, let's raise some taxes on white folk!

Andrew Jarosh
Wed, 11/14/2012 - 12:16pm

My uhc insurance renewal going up about 3.5%. Sounds ok to me and the fact insurance premiums up about 4% next year in fla

Harl Delos
Wed, 11/14/2012 - 10:45pm

Tim: "3 million out of 115 million is how big of a percentage? (.026%) wow...stunning"

You need a new calculator.  Even 1% of 115 million would be more than a million.  0.026% of 115 million is a paltry 29,900.

Bobby Jindal said that bizarre, offensive comments was turning the GOP into a Balkanized 'stupid party".  I'm not sure why your comments brought that to mind, of course, but Republicans used to be the responsible party, instead of an anarchist party.  Even Barry Goldwater could have won the white house this time around, because even Democrats were none too thrilled with Barack, but the party members with enough appeal to win the general election weren't willing to toe the ine of the "stupid party".