Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Kick the bum out

Everything, all of it belongs to the people. I was just privileged to use it for a while. - Harry S. Truman

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Did you vote yesterday?

I hope so - it was primary day, a quasi-election where the cream (hopefully) rises to the top, sprouts legs, and heads to the general November election.

Let's say four Republicans are running for your state's U.S. Sentate seat. American politics says four GOP guys can't face each other in the November election - there can only be one. So the primary lets you vote for the person you want to vote for in November. Whoever wins the GOP primary will go on to face the Democratic candidate in the fall.

It's like a political tournament.

Yesterday was one of the bigger primaries I can remember, particularly because of our own 7th Congressional District race between incumbent Republican Joe Schwarz and local nutcase Tim Walberg.

For those playing at home, incumbents (those that already hold the office) rarely lose. The Congress has something like a 90% retention rate every election. If you're elected to Congress, print all the stationary you want, because you can bet you'll be there a while.

Well Schwarz lost.

Joe was a moderate, McCain-like Republican (he's very good friends with Senator McCain, ever since - as a CIA agent - he tried to rescue McCain from a POW camp in Vietnam). He was supported by all the heavy hitters in state and national GOP circles. But Walberg - an arch-conservative - labelled Schwarz a "liberal" (pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage), and the rest took care of itself.

You can't be a liberal and win in Jackson County. It just can't happen.

I received no less that six pieces of mail - one per day - lambasting Joe Schwarz as a "friend to Ted Kennedy" and "Pro-Immigration Amnesty." It's no wonder Joe lost. He tried to run a clean, "experienced" campaign, and you just can't reason with far-right loonies like Walberg.

The other big story was Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman losing his seat in the Connecticut primary to a virtual nobody, Ned Lamont. By 10,000 votes.

The issue? The Iraq war.

So in Michigan, and in Jackson, you have a guy kicked out of office because he wasn't conservative enough, while on the East Coast you have a long-term Senator (and former Vice Presidential candidate in 2004) getting the boot because he wasn't liberal enough.

What the heck is going on?

Even Doug McIntyre, host of L.A.s KABC morning show, weighed in on the Schwartz/Walberg primary. According to McIntyre, many states are swinging to the extremes in either direction left in Connecticut, right in our own 7th District.

McIntyre also pointed out one of my favorite parts of primaries where voters will switch sides to vote for the other partys candidates.

And thats true of me. During primaries, I never vote for Democrats, especially local ones. Its much more fun to vote for Republicans and pick the candidates I either like or want to lose.

I either think Which Republican can I stand? and/or Whos the dope that could get trounced by my favorite Dem?

Fill in the bubble. Turn in the ballot. Democracy rules.

But what I'm sensing from yesterday's results is a shift away from incumbent-friendly habits and a more kick-the-bum-out mentality. And how can you blame Americans? This Congress has done less and been away from Washington more than the legendary "Do-Nothing Congress" of 1948.

This is how a democracy is supposed to work. If your representative doesn't represent you, you throw the bum out. When issues like flag burning and gay marriage are all that's being talked about, the bums deserve whatever they get.

Schwarz losing was a bum deal. I liked the guy, certainly more than the born-again Walberg, who doesn't even speak the same language as me. Much as I like McCain, Schwarz represents a sort of Republican-lite (or just sensible policy making) that I can get along with. He's a smart, hard-working guy.

But I'm clearly in the minority. So now we have some goofball running for Congress, and apparently that's what the local counties wanted to represent them in the halls of the U.S. Congress.

What should be more fun, though, is the November election. Democrat, Republican, I don't care - I want to see a dramatic, national kick-to-the-curb movement, where all the bums currently in office are tossed out on their ass.

They've earned it.

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