Friday, January 11, 2008

Sour Grapes

I am detecting the whiff of whine among many, not just in the punditry, over the results of our recent caucuses/primaries. An example, picked at random, comes from a briefly overheard conversation between Ed Schultz and a caller to his syndicated radio program yesterday. The caller insisted that Hillary Clinton won in New Hampshire because of tampering with voting machines. Frequent guest, commenter, and all-around good egg Democracy Lover is so disgusted at a win by Sen. Clinton, he desires scrapping the primary system all together, with a return to smoke-filled rooms (unless it happens to be in IL, where smoking in all public buildings is now banned) run by party professionals. Lord forbid we have actual voters decide who should run for public office in a representative democracy!

Here's the thing. We are witnessing how wild and unpredictable democracy can be. It isn't efficient. It isn't predictable. For all the influence of money, of corporate lobbies, of television advertising, of pundits, it all comes down to groups of individuals, standing in a voting booth, and casting a ballot. Sometimes the results of these things called elections go the way we want. Sometimes they don't. When they go our way, we celebrate. When they don't, we shouldn't have recourse to complaints about the stupidity of voters, the nefarious plots of the military-industrial-lobbying-entertainment complex bent on destroying our country's values. We should suck it up, and think about why our candidate lost without reference to such nonsense.

The last time we had a good primary season was the 1976 Republican primaries, in which then-President Gerald Ford was given a serious run for his money by Ronald Reagan. The 1984 Democratic nominating season was close, as well, as were the 1988 primaries in both parties (I still remember blue-blood George H. W. Bush putting the kaibosh on former Senator, and slightly more patrician, Pete Dupont's Presidential hopes by referring to him, over and over again during a round-table, as "Pee-air"). This year, they are actually producing real democracy, which is all to the good. Just because my candidate, or your candidate, or the punditry's candidate, or even the party's candidate, doesn't come out on top, this is more than enough reason to celebrate.

No one knows who will come out on top in either party. Rather than bitch and moan about voting machines and the horrible evil candidate's attack machines, how about accepting the fact that sometimes, in a democracy, candidate's lose. Grown-ups deal with it.

Virtual Tin Cup

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