2006 Election: A Political NON-Lesson
by Michael Cloud
Lessons are easy to see.
NON-lessons are far harder to recognize.
Because NON-lessons require us to notice what is NOT seen. What is NOT heard. What is NOT there.
The November 7, 2006 Election was a great political NON-lesson.
"What does the Election mean?" ask some pundits. "What's the message of this Election?" ask others.
"The Republicans lost control of the US House and Senate," say some. OR: "The Democrats gained control of the US House and Senate."
Some commentators tell us that the American voters rejected the Republicans. Because of the Iraq War. Or the Bush Administration. Or Republican corruption or arrogance. Or the Religious Right. Or simply because we were tired of the Republicans.
Other analysts tell us that the American people accepted and responded to the Democrats. Because we finally got the Democratic message. Or because of Democratic proposals and values. Or Democratic tolerance and compassion. Or we were longing for the better days of the Clinton era.
Conservatives claim that voters rejected Republicans, not conservativism. They claim that Republican politicians were tossed out because they "lost their way" and "strayed from conservative values." They lost because they weren't conservative enough.
Progressive liberals claim that their message finally got through "the Corporate Media Establishment." That Americans are finally waking up to the clear and present danger of Global Warming and Corporate abuses.
The Christian Right. The Civil Rights Establishment. Each draws a very different lesson from the Election.
And they are all wrong.
The Election was a political NON-lesson.
The human brain is brilliant at recognizing and responding to patterns. It seeks out patterns. It's a human survival mechanism. And it has enabled the human race to climb from subsistence to civilization.
But sometimes it fakes us out. By projecting patterns where there are none.
Rorschach Ink Blots are just ink blots. But when we're asked, "What do you see in the ink blot?" we "see" many different pictures, patterns, and meanings.
We project a pattern into the ink blot.
That's also how we make lessons out of NON-lessons.
Item: If less than 80,000 voters switched from Democrat to Republican, the Republicans would have retained control of the US House and the Senate. 80,000 out of roughly 80,000,000 votes! Less than 1/10 of 1%.
Item: Ballot Initiative and Referendum Results are all over the political map. They are NOT liberal, NOT conservative, NOT populist, and NOT libertarian. Look at Ballot Initiative votes on curtailing eminent domain, increasing minimum wage, limiting increases of government spending, government bonds, abortion, gay marriage, animal rights, and tobacco. What's the pattern? There's no pattern. Fact source: Initiative and Referendum Institute.
When Americans send politicians a message, we need no political tea readers to decipher it. It is crisp and clean and clear.
Real trends are not dim, dark, or obscure. They are bright and shining.
The Election was a political NON-shift. A NON-trend.
The Election was political static, not signal.
The Election was a political NON-lesson.
Where to go from here
Is there any insight we can take from the non-lessons of the 2006 Election? The non-shift, non-trend of voting in America?
One thing we know: The Election was Big Government as usual. Almost all of our choices were limited to more Big Government or holding the line on Big Government.
The mainstream media continued to keep election commentary and debates firmly within the box of Big Government. Very few proposals for small government were publicized anywhere.
You can bet that the Democrat majority will not cut back, much less repeal, any of Bush's Big Government initiatives of the past six years. The Patriot Act. No Child Left Behind. Faith-based Initiatives. Medicare Prescription Drugs. These major expansions of Big Government are already fixtures in American government.
Even the quagmire in Iraq will drag on possibly as long as, or even longer than, it would have if Republicans stayed in the majority.
The many Big Government programs in place before George W. Bush's presidency are all the more ossified. Under Democratic leadership, they won't budge.
There were a few modest small government initiatives that made the ballot such as the estate tax repeal in Washington State. Unfortunately, it lost. Nonetheless, hats off to the main backer of the initiative, Howie Rich, and everyone who helped.
Of the rare candidates who ran on some variation of small government, few offered specific, substantial proposals to dramatically cut big government. Nonetheless, some put in a great effort and campaigned for small government. Hats off to them and everyone who helped and supported them.
Where does that leave us?
We must dramatically change the debate in American politics.
We must advance a bold agenda for small government. With conviction. Determination. Passion. Confidence.
Making government small must be our #1 political priority. It trumps every other issue - because Big Government is the cause of almost everything that's wrong with government today. It's way too big, too powerful, too nosy, too bossy, and way too costly.
We must end Big Government Programs and make government small. Big Government-induced problems will start to evaporate. Replaced by free markets, free people, and abundant opportunity.
Please help us make government small. Please help us advance a bold agenda for small government in America.
You can help in one of two ways:
Sign the Small Government PledgeSM
Donate to the Center For Small Government today.
Small government is beautiful!