Friday, November 02, 2007

Democrats have more to lose

By Libby
Updated below

For those who think I'm overstating the sour mood of the electorate, via Buzzflash, I give you as Exhibit A, this open letter to Americans by Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson [pdf].

Key quotes for the political class.

“You have acted in direct contravention of values that we, as Americans who love our country, hold dear. You have deceived us in the most cynical, outrageous ways. You have undermined, or allowed the undermining of, our constitutional system of checks and balances among the three presumed co-equal branches of government. You have helped lead our nation to the brink of fascism, of a dictatorship contemptuous of our nation’s treaty obligations, federal statutory law, our Constitution, and the rule of law.”

“Because of you, and because of your jingoistic false ‘patriotism,’ our world is far more dangerous, our nation is far more despised, and the threat of terrorism is far greater than ever before. [...]

I have drawn my line as a matter of simple personal morality: I cannot, and will not, support any candidate who has voted to fund the atrocities in Iraq. I cannot, and will not, support any candidate who will not commit to remove all US troops, as soon as possible, from Iraq. I cannot, and will not, support any candidate who has supported legislation that takes us one step closer to attacking Iran. I cannot, and will not, support any candidate who has not fought to stop the kidnapping, disappearances, and torture being carried on in our name.

And his message to Americans.

If we expect our nation’s elected officials to take us seriously, let us send a powerful message they cannot misunderstand. Let them know we really do have our moral breaking point. Let them know we have drawn a bright line. Let them know they cannot take our support for granted – that, regardless of their party and regardless of other political considerations, they will not have our support if they cannot provide, and have not provided, principled leadership.

Granted Rocky is given to grandstanding but a professional politician doesn't make such sweeping statements unless he sees a political space within which to safely make them and I remind you it is still early in the season. I doubt the voters' temperment will improve as it seems unlikely the Beltway elites will suddenly find enlightenment and start responding to the will of the people.

Meanwhile, Matt makes a vaguely snide remark about voter discontent in the context of which party will be hurt the most by it.

The only way something could be bad news for both parties would be if you believe that the country is on the verge of an unprecedented wave that's going to sweep a third party into power.

I think he misses a key point. I do believe third party voters are going to have an unprecendented effect on the 08 race and they don't have to necessarily win to skew the results in ways that will confound the conventional wisdom. We're still a year away from casting ballots. Plenty of time for the people's anger to fester and enlarge. Polling on generic candidates at this stage is largely meaningless.

Third party voting will have an impact. It remains to be seen which party will suffer the greater consequences but I'm predicting it will impact the Democrats more than anyone thinks right now. An anti-incumbent backlash, by definition, will hurt the majority party more.

Update: Exhibit B.

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