Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Election results

No global statement on the not-yet-midterm elections here, we make only modest observations. 

John Dickerson, posting in Slate just after midnight, offers nuance, rejecting the notion of Obama coat-tails one way or another.  "But," he adds... 
... all this talk about Obama also obscures a better message: For the GOP, the stronger argument coming out of the 2009 elections is that voters are embracing Republican ideas. The GOP won in a purple state and in a solidly Democratic state.
Ideas matter.  Peter Bienart (Daily Beast) points to the economy -- which, by the way, is an idea (so, not just an "objective" reporting of facts, it's a concept, it's numbers in a specific context, we have an image of how it functions, etc.), and to the fact that culture war talk didn't seem to be much of a factor.

For example, the culture war didn't get much traction in Virgina (Palin was not invited to visit and rally the Republican troops). But, sleeper alert:  yesterday's Washington Post had this short profile on the Catholic formation of the Republican winner (coming soon to a national race near you?) in the Virginia governor's race:   Bob McDonnell.  I note that while he was a Domer as an undergrad, his graduate work in law and public policy was in the Pat Robertson mode, so don't blame us.  Seriously, though, this evangelical-Catholic combo is very common outside the Northeast, and merits a lot of attention.  There are ways in which it is problematic -- for example, it too easily reduces Catholic social teaching to a list of neo-con talking points.  But this sensibility has also re-engaged Catholics in many parts of the U.S. in terms of core Christian beliefs, which is good.

Same-sex marriage lost, narrowly, in Maine.  We recall that this was a test of whether the general public, not courts or legislatures, would vote to make same-sex marriage legal. It's not unprecedented to have the courts "ahead" (guess that's a loaded word) of the general sensibility on social change.  I, for example, would consider voting in favor of same-sex marriage at the state level only if there really were a firewall between the civil and religious orders, because I think the Catholic hand should not be forced here -- if same-sex relations are to be part of the Catholic Christian sacramental imagination, this will take time.  In a similar way, as marriage is a question of civil community, it is important that we allow some time for the community sense about gays and lesbians to emerge in the civil order. So I disagree with Linda Hirshman who, confining the question to "equal rights," says we should "Get Gay Marriage Off the Ballot."

UPDATE:  In terms of how this is framed as a "loss" -- check out the thoughtful tmatt:  "Maine Point:  Someone Loses, Someone Wins."

I announced the strong Republican showing to the spouse, who muttered darkly about someone named Huns (perhaps a consultant of some kind?).