Bob Franken

Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing Vote

Those who know me are aware I’ve always wanted to do the TV live shot where the anchor says “Now for a report on what this all means, here is Bob Franken. Bob, what does it all mean?”

To which I reply “Nothing, absolutely nothing”

Well the Tuesday off-year elections probably did mean something—actually somethings.

First of all, it means that those of us who think we have a clue would have new material to misinterpret in our columns and live shots

But it also says a lot about the state of play in politics right now and particularly about the players.

In Virginia and New Jersey, the Democrats displayed what it is they do best: implode. They got so caught up in their hubris after last year’s nationwide GOP forfeit, they decided it didn’t matter how dreadful their gubernatorial candidates were nor how tone deaf they had been in Washington. It mattered. What they did was send swing-vote independents fleeing in the other direction. So now there are two added Republican governors, two subtracted Democratic ones.

It’s not that Republicans are immune from self-destructive tendencies. Look no further than the Canadian border—uppest state New York where the Grand Old Party was sabotaged by the Tea Party purists. Goodbye swing voters. The voters in the state’s 23rd Congressional district were so offended they did the unthinkable: they elected a Democrat.

What this means, in other words, is that people are fed up with the whole bunch of these guys.

They reject the Democrats who are perceived as trying to cram a lot of radical change down everyone’s throat with little regard for how anyone feels about it. They disdain the Republicans, whose latest stunt in Washington has been to release a health care reform plan that is anything but “reform”. For starters it leaves in place a system that allows insurance companies to continue their abuse of any paying customer who has the audacity to get sick and file a claim. A proposal like that requires an abiding belief in the public’s stupidity.

But it is the Democrats who are in power so they were the rascals people wanted to throw out. So they held their noses and turned to Republican alternatives, particularly those like Bob McDonnell in Virginia and Chris Christie in New Jersey, who successfully glossed over their extremist pasts and ran as pretend moderates.

Come to think of it, that was probably a good idea. Where voters had a clear view of the right wingers they raced to the middle holding their noses too as they selected a Democrat.

This could mean that both parties learn some lessons for next years elections and beyond, but it probably won’t.

If they were smart, they would see that the people are searching for an alternative to the lousy choice we usually have.

And if those of us who do live shots and write columns were smart, which we usually are not, we would realize we should do a better job of explaining things. To hear us tell it, this is as good as it gets. Let’s hope not.

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