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The Midterm Elections and the Idiot Vote
November 4th is almost here. And since midterm elections are usually a referendum on the sitting president, 2014 ought to be a good year for Republicans.
Barack Obama really is immensely unpopular these days, especially in those Red States where Democratic senators are desperately trying to hold on to their jobs. And by now you know about Kentucky, a Red State where the Democratic Senate candidate, Alison Lundergan Grimes (running against Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell), was asked during a debate if she had voted for Barack Obama in 2012. She refused to answer, claiming a “constitutional right to privacy." That’s how toxic Mr. Obama is in Kentucky (and a lot of other places).
Despite all that, I’m still worried about the GOP’s chances. I’m concerned about three things in particular that can go wrong for Republicans and keep them from taking control of the Senate.
First, it’s still October so there’s still time for an October surprise. What it might be, I can’t say. Maybe something involving ISIS. Or Ebola. Maybe both. Maybe the president has figured out how to infect ISIS terrorists with Ebola and not have to make a decision about ground troops. I don’t know. But the possibility of some kind of stunt emanating from the White House is out there, looming over the midterms and making me nervous.
Second, there’s still plenty of time for some stupid Republican to open his mouth and say something really, really dumb. Again, I don’t know what it might be. But there are so many possibilities. Most of them would involve women, sex, rape, and birth control.
But the third possibility is the one that I’m really concerned about. It’s about the Democrats ground game – their impressive get-out-the-vote machine.
Democrats are really good at getting people to the polls. That’s how they win elections. They know where every registered (and not yet registered) Democrat lives, what time he gets up, his dog’s name and what flavor ice cream he likes the best. They know how to get every sub-set of the electorate that thinks they can’t survive without the federal government giving them stuff out to the polls.
So the Democratic machine sends vans to their houses to pick them up and make sure they vote. The machine knows that a lot of Democrats aren’t revved up, and since Mr. Obama is not on the ballot they probably wouldn’t vote unless someone made it real easy for them. They make sure these voters know which candidate is the Democrat and which one is not. If they could pull the lever (or hit the Democratic icon on the tablet) for them, they would. And probably do, more than we know.
And one of the groups they’ve targeted is a very important part of the Democratic base -- young people, who, like the others, were excited enough to vote for Barack Obama in the past but probably wouldn’t vote this time around mainly because he’s not on the ballot – and also because a lot of them aren’t especially interested in politics.
Which brings me to The Idiot Vote: The Democrats’ Core Constituency, the perfectly titled smart and funny e-book by my good friend Harry Stein (available on Amazon for $3.95).
Stein describes the youth vote as an “impressive subset of the idiot vote, possessed of an ignorance both deep and broad.” Which is precisely why they’re a prized voting bloc of the Democratic Party – and why getting them to stop texting for 5 minutes and actually cast a ballot is so important to the Dems.
“Alas,” Stein writes, "in the two generations from [passage of the 26th Amendment in 1971 which lowered the voting age to 18] to now, the responsibilities of citizenship have come to rest ever more lightly on the shoulders of the young, leaving us with more fresh faced, bright-eyed ignoramuses helping chart the nation’s future than ever. ‘Who commanded our troops in the American Revolution,’ Jay Leno asked one student in his long-running, never-fails-to-startle segment ‘Jay Walking,’ in which he tosses historical and civic softballs to members of the millennial generation. The kid replied with almost cocky assurance: ‘Churchill.’ ‘Have you heard of the Gettysburg Address?’ he asked a young woman. ‘Yes, I’ve heard of it,’ she allowed, ‘but I don’t know the exact address.’”
No, not all young men and women are so clueless. But a lot of them are.
“ … and they are also, needless to say, especially easily dazzled by shiny new things,” writes Stein. “In 2008, fully 68 percent of 19 to 29 year olds voted for Barack Obama.
“Let’s face it,” he goes on, “if only they could, the Dems would surely lower the voting age to fifteen. Or – why not? – seven, which would put on the rolls all those second graders in the videos robotically singing “Barack Hussein Obama, Umm umm umm.” Hell, the press would just regard it as another sterling example of social outreach by the party of inclusion.
“For this is pretty much what the Democratic party has come to: getting to the polls the maximum number possible of the least informed and most easily swayed, and constantly trawling for more,” Harry Stein astutely tells us.
Still, given Mr. Obama’s anemic poll numbers, Republicans should do well this November. But even though some in the young, low information crowd vote Republican, the Democrats will win a (much) bigger percentage of that group – as they always do -- if they can just get the dolts out to vote. And they’ll be trying very hard to do just that.
You see why I’m worried?