Electoral Autopsy

Trying to find some bright spots among the rubble...

I love staying up late on Election Night and, being a lifelong Democrat, I've had some grim nights (Nixon in 1968, Reagan and the so-called Moral Majority in 1980). But after watching the carnage last Tuesday night, I still managed to get a laugh in around 1:30 in the morning. Former Jimmy Carter hanger-on Patrick Caddell looked solemnly into the MSNBC camera and asked, "Is this the end of the Democratic Party?"

You simpering weasel. The election results show that this country is pretty evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans and that isn't necessarily a bad thing. People seem to forget that just eight years ago, the Democrats controlled the House, the Senate and the White House. But a stolen election here, a terrorist attack there and a plane crash in Minnesota and things have flip-flopped. It's not the end of the Democratic Party; it's just a reaffirming that George W. Bush is the undisputed poster child for the idea that it's better to be lucky than good. And luck eventually runs out.

Caddell needs to rein in the hyperbole.

I was pleased to see Matt Salmon's scant lead over Janet Napolitano in Maricopa County. There's hope for this state yet. Perhaps Maricopa County isn't becoming some giant sinkhole full of Ward and June Cleaver clones who vote Republican simply because they have this vague notion that it's the white thing to do.

Proposition 202 passed despite the tens of millions of dollars and lies that were thrown at it.

During the last few days of the campaign, I was accused by several people of supporting Prop 202 out of something they called "white European guilt." What do I have to feel guilty about? I've never once put anybody on a reservation.

Like most educated Americans, I understand that our country has a shameful legacy when it comes to dealing with blacks, Asians, Indians and Hispanics. That may, over the course of a lifetime, occasionally make me feel angry or embarrassed, but not guilty. One guy called the radio show and said, "What if they passed a law that said only white people can have casinos?" Wow, can you imagine?! Laws in America that favor white people! We should have the casino people figure out what the odds are against that.

The main point, as Emil Franzi pointed out, is that the Indians are (if you'll pardon the gambling reference) simply playing the hand that's been dealt them. The Indians didn't set themselves apart; the United States government did, with stunning brutality and ruthless efficiency. Perhaps even more importantly, the Indians are defined and set apart as a matter of U.S. law, dating back to the Constitution.

When Jim Thorpe won the Gold Medal in the 1912 Olympics, Teddy Roosevelt hailed him as a "great American citizen." Roosevelt then had to be reminded that, as an Indian, Thorpe was not a citizen of the United States, but rather a ward of the state. Black slaves were granted citizenship more than a half-century before Indians were.

If the Indians discovered and exploited a loophole in the law that had been used to segregate and subjugate them for the past two centuries, more power to them. Are casino revenues going to eradicate all of the problems that Indians face--the generations of poverty, serious health issues, unemployment and limited educational opportunities? Probably not. Does it give them a chance to break out of the old cycles, to build hospitals and schools, and to look toward a brighter future? I certainly hope so.

Now, if people don't like the duality of Indians enjoying U.S. citizenship while living on sovereign-nation reservations, they should try to do something about it. There may even be something to that issue. But if you're so inclined, change the U.S. law (including the Constitution); don't just try to muscle in on somebody else's business.

Finally, I hope that the out-of-state racetrack owners who poured money into the state take note of the fact that Prop 201 lost by nearly a 5-1 margin. That's an almost unprecedented ass-whuppin'. It did worse than the one calling for state lawmakers to get a 50 percent raise, and we all know that, among voters, legislative pay raises are about as popular as as an oozing herpes sore at a kissing booth.

Fox "News" finally put to rest its hilariously specious claim about fair and unbiased reporting when the organization took it upon itself to decide the Minnesota Senate race by running carefully selected (and horribly inflammatory) clips from the Paul Wellstone memorial service about eight million times in the week before the election. In the interest of truth in advertising, they were thinking of changing their slogan from "We report, you decide" to "All Wellstone, all the time." (They finally settled on "We slant... and then we gloat.")

My cousin Gino attended the Wellstone memorial and he told me that about 90 percent of it was dignified and respectful, and when taken in context with the way the day had gone, even the fiery speech by Wellstone's son didn't seem particularly out of place. Gino said that he and almost everybody else in attendance were disappointed that a handful of people booed new Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, who had shown up to pay his respects. But, Gino noted, Fox only mentioned--but didn't show--that part because the booing was light and scattered, and the booers were quickly shushed and then drowned out by polite applause.

Fox is incredibly one-sided, but as long as you're smart enough to know that, you can watch it without losing IQ points. They just need to drop the pretense of fairness. Besides, I don't like some cradle-robbing neo-Nazi from Australia determining the outcome of American elections. I don't know; it just seems wrong.

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