This is not an endorsement article, per se. There wouldn't be much point, since in terms of the man I want to win the top job, everyone who knows me has known my answer since the MN caucuses back in February.
But there's more to what I want to see on 4 November than just that the least evil should win.
For one thing, I don't just want Barack Obama to win the presidency, becoming the first black President, and only the second non-WASP President (the first being Kennedy, who was Catholic) in US history. He'll be more than that, by the way. Think about every European and European-descended country that has a white majority. Have any of them had a national leader who hailed from one of their minority populations? Many have had women, but all have been white. Can you imagine France electing a black premier? Or Germany?
No, I don't think so. For good or ill, the very fact that we're even seriously talking about the possibility (and a strong possibility at that) that Barack Obama will be President 44 is an example of and testament to American Exceptionalism.
But I digress.
I don't just want Obama to win. I want him to win big. I want him to pull something close to 350 electoral votes. I want him to crack 50% of the popular vote. I want there to be absolutely no question, as there was for Bush's first term, about whether he "really" won. I want it to be clear and unequivocal that better--even if it's only slightly better--than half of those who bothered to turn out favoured Obama.
I also want some of the third-party candidates to manange to crack a percent or two, each. Yes, I realize that especially in the case of Nader, that's a couple of percentage more that Obama might have been above 50%. But more to the point, if Obama cracks 50%, and Nader and other other whackjobs take, say, 4% total, than that demonstrates that noticably fewer than 50% of the electorate liked McCain. In other words, he can't say that he almost won. Again, I want Obama's win to be clear and unchallengable. I've said repeatedly over the last 8 years that Gore lost, in the end, because he failed to inspire a sufficient margin so that the hanging chads wouldn't matter.
I want to see Al Franken take the Senate seat currently held by Norm Coleman. I know a lot of DFL partisans who really, really loathe Coleman, and I can see why: he turned coats, he's staunchly pro-life, he's fiscally conservative, and for the first two or three years of his term he was a Bush zombie.
I don't loathe him, but I don't really like him much, either. Mainly because of his years as a Bush zombie, but also because of a persistent sense that he's a chameleon. Al Franken doesn't inspire huge confidence in me, I'll admit, but at least he's been consistent. So I'll settle for a very narrow win by Franken...or, for that matter, a narrow enough win by Coleman that it makes him think a bit.
(Curious fact: if Franken wins, he will be the fourth successive Jew, not counting Dean Barkley's two months filling in for the late Wellstone, to sit in the "Class 2" seat from the Land of Lutherans: Rudy Boschwitz, Paul Wellstone, and Norm Coleman.)
I want to see Michelle Batshit Bachmann (R-MN 6) lose. I would prefer it to be a humilatingly huge loss, but there's no real prospect for that. I will settle simply for her to be turfed out. I don't know Tinklenberg from a hole in the wall, honestly, and I don't get a vote in the 6th District Race, anyway, so I don't care so much that Tinklenberg wins, as that Bachmann loses.
I want to see Keith Ellison (DFL-MN 5), the first Muslim ever returned to Congress, and my district's representative to that body, win again. Fortunately this seems like a no-brainer. I haven't even seen evidence of a campaign, suggesting that none of his opponents are really credible. Of course, this district is so firmly in the DFL's grip that a Republican would have to pretty much be handing out suitcases of cash to win that seat.
I want to see a 59 seat Democratic majority in the Senate. Not 60. 59. I want them to have to work a bit to stay fillibuster-proof. I don't want them utterly unfettered. I have friends reading this I know feel differently, who desperately want to see that magical 60, but I'm just not partisan enough to think that giving any party that kind of power is a good idea. Of course, as others have pointed out, even 60 isn't a guarantee of fillibuster-proof-ness. Senators tend to think a bit more for themselves.
I will also point out, as fair warning to the more partisan readers in the crowd, that if, two years from now, the Democrats have demonstrated either that they're incompetent or that their ideas are making things signifiantly worse, I reserve the right to root for a Republican majority mid-term. I don't want the Republicans out right now because they're Republicans. I want them out because they've screwed everything up. But Democrats have screwed things up in the past, too, and they will again in the future. You can take that to the bank...if you can find a bank still open to take it to.
I want to see some clear and workable ideas for stopping the bleeding in our economy. I don't want a New New Deal. The New Deal didn't fix anything; all it did was freeze things in place so they didn't get worse. I want to see a clear plan for how we're going to not just stop getting worse, but make things better. I want the Democrats to show that they can be both liberal and in favour of real prosperity and not just the prosperity of, "at least it's not getting any worse, so enjoy what you have."
Lastly: I want America to lead the world again. Really lead it, not just say we're the leader and strong-arm people into following us. I want us to innovate. I want us to shine. I want to be proud to be an American, not because it's required to pass some cultural test of patriotism or loyalty, but because the nation has earned my pride.
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