December 4, 2008
Saxby's Win: 08's Most Intellectually Pure ContestBy C. Edmund Wright
For all of the talk about "bi-partisanship," the Georgia Senate run-off was nothing if not blatantly partisan. It was, simply, ALL about the party, and by extension, was the most intellectually sound and pure election in all of the 2008 cycle.
Six years ago, Republican Saxby Chambliss routed incumbent Max Cleland by running a partisan and aggressive campaign that "infuriated Democrats" at the time. Since then, Chambliss has often wandered off the conservative partisan plantation and infuriated mainly his own base. He even got chastised for a "reach across the aisle" energy vote in an appearance on the Rush Limbaugh show when oil was over 100 bucks a barrel. (If you heard the interview, you probably remain undecided as to whether Chambliss even realized he was being mocked.)
This philosophical meandering had the conservative base less than thrilled with Saxby to the point that a libertarian candidate polled strongly and kept Chambliss from winning 50% plus one on Election Day in November.
This rightward bleeding, plus Obama mania and the attached voter drives, had him in a run-off against a charismatically challenged and unknown state legislator named Jim Martin.
As we know, it has been trendy for years for voters to claim an aggressive lack of party affiliation and to proclaim that one "votes for the man (or woman) and not the party." It sounds so darned enlightened and open minded. When turnout is high, many who fit this category vote.
But with respects to the Congress this makes almost no sense. After all, a vote for any single Democrat in 2008 was effectively a vote for one of only two people: Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi. These are the people who are mainly empowered when there are more D's than R's in the Senate and House. Chances are, for any law that might actually affect your life, the D or the R mean much more than the name of your reps.
With this in mind, what happened this week in Georgia is not so much that Saxby Chambliss beat Jim Martin -- as it is that Harry Reid lost to the Republican Party - or perhaps he lost to the fear of a Democrat super majority. Martin was irrelevant. (OK, his photo op appearance with Ludacris was relevant, but not in a good way.) Chambliss was not the issue. He was a Republican speedbump versus the prospects of a Harry Reid legislative super highway.
Sadly, one of the fruits of a government school system run amok and a leftist MSM is that only a small percentage of the voters in the country realize the critical party dynamic in congress. Well fine. Only a small percentage of voters turned out for Chambliss v. Martin. Coincidence? I think not. For all of Chambliss' flaws to the conservative base, he was suddenly critical due to the senate math to these same voters.
In this particular election, money and effort from all across the country poured into Georgia on behalf of Chambliss. Websites and national pundits like Dick Morris (via the National Republican Trust PAC) hyped the need for conservatives and Republicans everywhere to donate to the Georgia cause. And all of the pleas were about one thing: keeping Harry Reid and Barack Obama from getting a "filibuster proof" Senate. Period.
There was no mention in any of these ads about Martin. There was nothing mentioned about the need to keep the wonderful Chambliss in office. As is the case with the still on-going Minnesota contest, pleas for help were all about keeping the total of Democrats in the senate to less than 60 at any cost.
And frankly, this is brilliant and appropriate. This makes the Georgia run-off the most intelligently pure contest in the nation. This race was ultimately decided on what is really important. It was decided on what the national impact would be, which had everything to do with party affiliation. Period.
There is nothing about Chambliss, Martin, Norm Coleman or Al Franken that will have an impact equal to the enormous effect of Reid having or not having 60 Democrats --counting Joe Lieberman -- to work with. There is an extremely liberal President-elect and a very left wing Speaker of the House with a huge House majority and no procedures like cloture votes to stem the liberal tide.
The only "firewall" against an all out leftward legislative lurch is the Senate where an organized minority of 41 or more can stall the wishes of the other 59 . And the small percentage of Georgians who turned out for this run-off, be they liberal or conservative, seemed to understand that as the key issue in this campaign.
There were precious few of the now famous "Obama voters" from the John Ziegler video (and reinforcing Zogby Polls he commissioned) who were clueless about who Harry Reid is, not to mention how many Senators there are. Folks who think Sarah Palin said she could "see Russia from my house" and has "campaigned in 57 states" did not bother to show up in large numbers.
In short, the ignorant stayed home. And so did the "I vote for the man, not the party" crowd. This was all about party. It was more like a cross-primary election.
All of which led to a really good election. For years we have been bombarded with the ideas that being undecided or non-partisan is necessarily a good thing and that every living being (and then some) should vote. I have always disagreed. With so much at stake in elections, especially this one, I cringe when I realize informed votes will be cancelled by many who remain cluelessly undecided and misinformed and arrogantly non-partisan. Call me close minded, but I happen to think knowing how many Senators exists and how the Senate works is a low bar requisite for voting in a Senatorial election.
I also think partisanship is a good thing. So did our founders, by the way, as long as it was based on principles.
The genius of the American people -- if such a thing really exists -- will only manifest itself when the few interested and enlightened from both sides of the philosophical spectrum participate. Much like Chambliss v. Martin 2008, where folks voted for party. They will be free from the vote dilution of the uninformed and the distractions of the dishonest attempts to fool the same.
Perhaps we should start encouraging people not really interested to stay home on Election Day. I suspect more races would turn out like the run-off in Georgia did. Now THAT would be "change I can believe in."