As the hours tick down until the returns start coming in, I’m having some thoughts.
One: my exurban, southern California polling place was hopping this morning. I voted quite early, but there were quite a few people there. Biggest turn-out I’ve seen since the 2004 election.
I managed to mismark my ballot the first time, but had no trouble getting it replaced and starting afresh. We voted on paper here, although my precinct has voted electronically before. My marking error occurred when I was voting on the retention of judges: I marked one judge “Yes,” then half-marked a “No” for the same judge, by mistake. The very sympathetic poll workers, glancing carefully at the error I was pointing to, agreed among themselves that they didn’t know if the machine would reject my ballot for the half-mark. So they destroyed that one and gave me a new one.
A sheriff’s deputy showed up at the polling station while I was there, and was speaking genially as I left to the poll-watcher standing outside. He clearly wasn’t there to vote. I’ve never seen that before.
I am seeing, today, a predictable but noteworthy loss of “message” from the usual suspects in the left-wing punditry. I can’t tell if they think they’re saying the most powerful things they could say – making their best case – or if they’re just lapsing into a fidgety, impotent annoyance. Poor Paul Krugman thunders that the “moralists” who hate debt want to, like, make everybody stop borrowing money, which apparently is an obvious mark of insanity in his world. It seems like a really lame point at this moment.
Michael Kinsley, as Hot Air regulars have seen, makes the case that America is not – is NOT – the greatest country ever. Um, whatever. The point of making that case on Election Day 2010 would be…?
Back at the Grey Lady, Roger Cohen says Obama should be more like Lula da Silva of Brazil. Cohen attends Upper East Side parties, and at the most recent one, people were saying that what we need is a Michael Bloomberg type, a manager, not a loner. “Well-heeled Obama supporters” is what these folks were. They don’t seem to have gotten any brighter in the last two years. But thanks for sharing, Roger.
David Corn, yesterday, came not to bury or praise (Jon) Stewart for the Rally for Irony on the Mall. “Politics in America,” says Corn, “is a long war. On an [sic] Election Day, 2010, it will get longer.” OK, sure.
Arianna Huffington, bless her heart, wrote about the rally (obligatory, I guess, since she had sponsored buses to take people to it). Her summation: “I came away from the rally feeling, as Stewart put it, ‘strangely, calmly good’…”
I do think Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown has outdone them all with these words evocative of some really meditative cud-chewing:
“My father used to tell me about Aristides the Just, the Athenian politician that was exiled because they got tired of hearing ‘Aristides the Just,’ ” Brown told reporters after casting his ballot. “You gotta remember name recognition is good, but name repetition and the repetition of ads can be very debilitating, and I think that’s a lesson I learned a long time ago.”
There’s a constituency somewhere that this would appeal to. I doubt it’s on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where I hear they’re looking for some more muscular, fiscally responsible moonbeamism these days.
I take it that David Brooks, muddling around somewhere in the political center, does not think the muscular, fiscally responsible moonbeamism will be found in a Republican Congressional majority. It’s kind of hard to say; Brooks seems as deflated by the approaching tsunami as any out-of-the-closet left-wing Democrat. Modesty is what he’s on the hunt for, in the GOP candidates who celebrate in the coming days. I’m thinking we tried that with McCain in 2008.
Pundits. What can you do. They don’t seem to get it. Millions of Americans are voting today as if their lives depend on it. This isn’t an experiment. It isn’t a drill. This is a real emergency. People are worried, and for good reason, about their own economic prospects, but they are worried even more about America’s future as an organized guarantor of individual liberties. I think the people are much wiser than the pundits on this autumn day: the people are well aware that one vote won’t magically change everything. P.J. O’Rourke has called today’s election a “restraining order” from the people on HopenChange, and he’s right. The people don’t even all agree on what needs to be done – and that’s OK, for now. For now, we just have to stop the bleeding.
UPDATE: Wow. I just drove by my polling place on an errand. Overflowing parking lot, voters going in and out, cars on the move, people talking in the parking lot — perpetual motion machine. It wasn’t even like this in 2008. I passed it twice just before 2:00 PM.