Things you should have observed regardless of final outcomes, many apparent to folks like Mencken, Royko and Twain in other eras.
Lousy campaigns and consultants — Many believe the quality of elected officials has diminished over time as campaigns become more maudlin and crude. Maybe, but the campaigns have certainly become more unimaginative and inept. Check most of what hit your mailbox. Mailers were colorful and attractive. Pretty now trumps content. Any hack can download a graphics package containing various matrixes. The problem comes filling in the content.
Almost all pieces were variations on the oversize postcard (like playing all 18 holes with one club) often containing dramatic if irrelevant photos. Some campaigns even made up irrelevant issues to fit their photo files. Radio and television spots ranged from mediocre to abysmal. Many electronic media buys were placed by out of state consultants who simply bought Arbitron ratings with no clue about local variances. These talentless methodologies could be replaced by computer programs and I suspect in the future actually will be.
Ballot prop hogwash — That the initiative process has degenerated is self-evident. Some negative arguments were as wretched and deceptive as some of the proposals. Best chutzpah was the payday loan folks spending millions attacking themselves to con you into voting for the regulations they wanted.
Initiative, referendum and recall were born in the then-sparsely settled populist West and South over 100 years ago. They work as grass roots devices in inverse proportion to population. Most states are now too big for them to work at all without a whole lot of money to pay petition passers and then run a campaign, nullifying much of their original usefulness. They have been usurped by the same “monied power” interest groups they were designed to check.
Biased media — We always had one. In prior eras they had the integrity to admit it. You knew you were reading a Republican or Democrat paper. Technology expanded with radio, television and the Internet, and they join print media in losing credibility by denying the liberal bias so obvious that 70 percent of Americans have noted it. Journalism school icon Walter Lippman supposedly upgraded and defined “objective journalism” to replace the old partisanship. Revisionist observation tells us he was nothing more than a PR flack for the Wilson administration. Likewise, the over-rated Walter Cronkite colored Vietnam war coverage like any other hack with his own agenda. A liberal colleague finally agreed most media tilts left but blamed it on conservatives for claiming that prematurely. Right — she nagged him so much he was justified in beating her up.
Democrats obfuscate their agenda, Republicans have yet to decide on one — Somewhere in a heavily Democratic district there’s a politician who actually admits to being a liberal. Liberal Democrats, regardless of how their own support groups rate them, self-define as “moderates” and “centrists.” This is the year of their hidden agenda. Good for getting votes, not good for governing later in a democracy.
Republicans have no problem claiming conservatism but haven’t determined what that really means. Modern liberalism is simplistic and fundamentally monolithic. I could teach a space alien how to pass as a liberal in a month and get him elected Democratic state chair in about a year. Conservatism is more nuanced and complex — check immigration, taxes, and business subsidies as examples. The GOP coalition cannot govern successfully until it accomplishes more internal resolution.
The long-term advantage goes to conservatives who understand liberals far better than liberals understand them. Arrogance and the ignorance about their opposition displayed by most liberals will eventually catch up with them.
Listen to Tom Danehy and Emil Franzi Saturdays 1-4 p.m. on KVOI 690AM.