Something to grab hold of
Through the fog of disappointment and tiredness (I stayed up to 6am watching the coverage, at which point the depressing reality was all too clear), I admire the few people who seem to be able to find encouragement in the gloom.
John Quiggin paints what strikes me (and Quiggin himself) as an unlikely scenario, but we can hope:
||The future looks awful, but I thought Id sketch out the optimistic scenario, which is, roughly speaking, a repeat of Reagans second term.
||In his first term, Reagan was, in many respects, worse than Bush has been. His buildup of nuclear weapons, undertaken with the support of advisers such as Perle, ran a severe risk of destroying the entire world. In economic policy, he discarded the mainstream Republican economic advisers and went for what George Bush senior called voodoo economics, massive tax cuts undertaken on the basis of the supply-side economic theories of people like Arthur Laffer and Jude Wanniski. This produced a peak deficit equal to 6.2 per cent of GDP in 1984, considerably higher than the peak under Bush so far.
||In his second term, Reagan ignored his foreign policy advisers and signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Gorbachev. Whereas Perle and others saw Reagans rhetoric about bargaining from a position of strength as mere words, covering the creation of a nuclear capacity that could fight and win the inevitable showdown with Russia, Reagan actually believed it, and when he found a suitable partner in Gorbachev he put it into practice. START I, initiated by Reagan and Gorbachev, followed in 1991.
||Meanwhile, on economic policy, Reagan listened to his mainstream advisers and took steps to wind back the deficit. He left the US with a big increase in public debt, partially unwound under Clinton, but the outcome was far better than it would have been if he hadnt changed course.
||At about the same time, the Plaza Accords produced a concerted policy of depreciating the overvalued US dollar and reducing the trade deficit.
||What are the chances that well see something similar from Bush? In foreign policy, this would entail a shift towards bilateral or multilateral peacemaking, and in domestic policy, a serious attempt to balance the budget and the trade account. In my judgement, the likelihood is close to zero. But Id be interested to hear what others have to say.
Mark Schmitt takes a more bullish, long-term Democratic view. His vision has some chance of coming to pass, it seems to me (but look how badly my own political projections did):
||One important thing to remember: Now Bush is fully responsible for the consequences of his mistakes. He’s responsible for Iraq, he’s responsible for the budget, for Medicare, etc. What Colin Powell called the Pottery Barn Rule applies: He broke them, he owns them. That’s not good news for the world, because Bush wasn’t competent to deal with the situation of peace and prosperity handed to him in 2001; he certainly isn’t be competent to handle a mess. The dangers are profound.
||But politically, it at least avoids a situation where Kerry would have borne the responsibility and blame for Iraq or for raising taxes. All accountability now rests with Bush and his party. Everything that’s been swept under the carpet until after the election will come creeping out. And the best use of all the resources of people, brains, money, and coordination that’s been built this year, in addition to developing a stronger base of ideas, is to find ways to hold Bush, DeLay et. al. absolutely accountable for their choices. I really believe that this will be like Nixon’s second term, and thus the seeds of a bigger long-term change than could have occurred just by Kerry winning the election.
Tony Blair did a clever comic turn during prime minister’s questions today, at a moment when the US presidential election is still officially undeclared. After the formulaic recitation of his appointments, he said, “I’m sure the whole House will join me in sending congratulations to president… [pause for dramatic effect] Karzai on his election.”
Ohio is looking bad.
Maybe it was a mistake to stay up
Bad sign. At the beginning of the evening, John Simpson at the Republican headquarters couldn’t find anyone to talk to. Now they’re queuing up to chat with him. Bridget Kendall in Boston had no problem finding interviewees before. Now, not a sausage.
Stick with the day job
Well, it’s not over until it’s over, but with everything hanging on Ohio (and Wisconsin), I think I can definitely say that I won’t be giving up the day job for political punditry.
I don’t get it. What happened to the young?
Both Daily Kos and Josh Marshall report that the youth vote didn’t show up.
The BBC is suggesting Bush is going to take Florida. Apparently the actual tally so far, with lots of precincts reporting, has Bush up by 4%. That’s awfully hard to make up. So it does look like Ohio will be completely decisive. Josh Marshall rightly asks why no one is covering the Republican law suit strategy to suppress the vote there.
Jesse Jackson’s still got it
Asked about whether the long lines at polling stations would put off African-American voters, Jesse Jackson told the BBC, “We waited a lot longer in the march on Selma. Nelson Mandela was in jail for 27 years for the right to vote. We can wait a few hours.”
I’m feeling pretty buoyant
It’s early, I know, but the fact that Virginia and North Carolina are proving difficult to call (along with Ohio) makes it seem as though Kerry is doing very well indeed.
The BBC is doing wonderfully well
In 2000, the BBC did a very poor job with its election coverage. I ended up watching CNN. Now I’m zapping occasionally to CNN and CNBC, but the BBC is the one to watch. David Dimbleby is in fine fettle, and they have the wonderful find of academic psephologist Alan Lichtmann. He’s just about the first person on this kind of programme I’ve heard declare, “This means absolutely nothing.”
And I just got to hear the awful David Frum admit that he’s feeling pretty worried, not least because Bush didn’t get one of the districts in Maine. (Update: Maine looks like it’s splitting 3-1.)
Simon Schama declares New Hampshire
The BBC has historian Simon Schama in New York, but because his daughter was getting out the vote in New Hampshire, he reckons it’s going for Kerry.
Amazing photos from Philadelphia
The BBC has just shown an amazing helicopter photo from Philadelphia. The polls have closed in Pennsylvania, but there were queues snaking around for hundreds of metres outside one polling station (as long as you’re in the line, you can vote). The same is apparently the case in Ohio.
297 and 317
Here’s an analysis I haven’t seen before. Brian Weatherson on Crooked Timber notes that if Kerry gets 297 electoral votes, it would require two states to be overturned for Bush to win. With 317 electoral votes, three states would need to be overturned.