If it isn’t a"horserace," if it isn’t "close," if they can’t go to "swing states" and warn about this or that campaign tactic, today’s political reporters don’t have a Clue.
But the size of a victory is just as important as the winner’s identity. Here is why:
- Mandate — Generally a big win is needed to create big change. The rule in democracies is a narrow win requires compromise, and only a big one lets you install your program.
- Momentum — A big win creates momentum for change. It invests the people in what is about to happen in Washington. A small margin, like that of President Clinton in 1992, is a hand that is easy to overplay, momentum easy to blunt.
- Policy — Our problems require investment by all of us, not in passing a program, but in implementing it, in making the changes in our lives and careers needed to make things better.
- Moderation — The most important point about a big win is what it does to the losing party. You can blame a narrow loss on the tactics or the candidate’s personality. A right thumping makes you re-examine your premises. Democrats did this after McGovern’s loss in 1972 (that’s why Carter won) and Mondale’s 1984 thumping (that’s when the DLC was started)
If you want a responsible and legitimate Republican opposition, you have to demand it. By voting Democratic, even if that means holding your nose as you do so.
We have to destroy the Republican Party in order to save
The Party of Rove, with its 51% politics, its routine character
assassinations, and its culture war, has lost its way. A narrow Obama
win will just guarantee a re-run of the present horror. With a thumping
Democratic win, Republicans will be forced to adjust, as Conservatives were in
England after 1997 and in Canada a few years earlier.
Those who consider me a Democratic hack don’t get it. I love this
country, both parties. I know that power can corrupt anyone, and that
absolute power corrupts absolutely. We cannot afford an illegitimate
Republican Party, one that does not recognize the requirements of
democracy, the legitimacy of its political opponents, or the need to
compromise and find consensus in the name of the common good.
You won’t get that with a narrow Obama win. You will only get more of
the same from Republicans until they are hit over the head so hard they
are forced to re-examine their political premises.
The landslide will set them free.