Of course for the sake of balance and accountability, I absolutely hope the Democrats can pull it off. However, there's a paranoid voice in my head that keeps whispering, "Psst! Hey. First, you're not posting enough. What's your fricking prob? And also, don't forget about Diebold and election fraud. The GOP is gonna retain control, broseph." Yeah. The voice in my head is a hipster jagoff who uses the word "broseph." But the overall theme is far more sickening.
When I hear this voice in the back of my head, I initially blow it off by rationalizing the cold hard facts. There's no chance in hell the Democrats could screw this up. The president's poll numbers are dropping back into the low 30s. The congressional Republicans have covered up a sex scandal -- a cover-up which could lead all the way to the Oval Office. Everything in the world is stacking up against continued Republican control.
Except gas prices.*
Before I detail why this is so important, let's go back to 2004. Following the debates, it seemed as if Senator Kerry could actually win. The debates were a sneak preview of the New For A Second Term "Scolding Dickhead" Bush. Snotty answers, yelling, nodding off, and that spastic jaw twitch. It was all there and the senator clearly dominated. In addition, there was a huge Democratic GOTV effort. The polls quickly shifted in the senator's favor for the first time since the August Swift Boat disaster. Come election day, the exit polls appeared to indicate a John Kerry landslide. Then at around 8PM, everything went horribly awry. And ultimately, despite widespread proof of GOP election fraud, the mainstream pundits from Tweety to Hannity opted instead to pinpoint "moral values" as the reason for the president's miraculous victory.
So if the paranoid voice in my head is correct, here's how 2006 could play out.
The Republicans, over the next three weeks, will continue to drop in the polls. Even the latest CNN poll on national security shows the typically dominant GOP falling behind the Democrats. The Foley scandal won't be dissipating anytime soon. North Korea is underscoring the the administration's inept foreign policy. Like I wrote earlier, it's all stacking up. And it'll continue to stack up.
Yet the Republicans still have a shot. They still have Diebold, ES&S, Triad, electioneering and a syllabus of Rove's dirty tricks ready to roll on November 7. Let's be realistic about what remains of modern American "democracy." Do you honestly believe that anyone in power right now will allow sacred cows like Santorum, Hastert, or Allen to be booted off the Hill? Do you honestly believe that the corporate interests -- the oil, pharmaceutical, and insurance corporations who rely on the laissez faire policies of the Bush administration will allow the Democrats to take back the Congress? Okay. Hells yeah. I sound paranoid, but some of this is based on the realities of our corporate controlled society.
Here's how it games out. The Republicans, despite a myriad of polls to the contrary, will retain control of Congress. One or two sacred cows -- perhaps Santorum -- will be allowed to go down just for show. Then, like the same-sex marriage issue in 2004, the word will spread throughout the punditocracy...
It was the gas prices.
Voters must've responded to low gas prices and figured they shouldn't mess with a good thing so the Republicans pulled it off, Chris Matthews will say to Tim Russert on election night or the next day. Poll samples will suddenly materialize and analysts will merge various voter reactions to the economy in a way that will somehow show that low gas prices boosted the GOP through the collective muck of Iraq and congressional scandals.
(UPDATE 10/14/06 - Check this article, broseph. Two years ago, Bob Woodward reported that Prince Bandar Bush assured the president that the Saudis would cut fuel prices before the November, 2004 election. Shiny happy people holding hands, indeed.)
That's how it could very well play out.
But what if it doesn't? What if the Democrats overcome the vote drifting and the machine hacking and the nonexistent paper trails? Whether they succeed or not, fuel prices will spike again before Thanksgiving. The Winter home-heating crunch will be the excuse. But if the Democrats win, it'll be their fault. It'll be the economy reacting negatively to a Democratic Congress. That's what the Republicans will say and it's a foregone conclusion that the pundits will back them on that score. But if the Republicans win and gas prices creep back towards $3/gallon, everyone will privately say, "Yeah. I thought so. Oh well. Hey -- isn't American Idol coming back soon?"
So what can be done? If you're a Democrat... vote. Participate in the GOTV efforts on election day, because if the Republican disasters continue to escalate, Republican voters won't suddenly decide to vote for Democrats -- they'll simply stay home or vote for third party candidates. Thus, turnout will be a bigger key to victory this year than even 2004. And it might even serve to overcome the fraud which, if you're reading the headlines on Brad Blog and the others, will be as rampant as 2000, 2002, and 2004 if not more so.
If you're a Republican... stay home, please. But if you decide to vote, ask yourself repeatedly: are the Republicans, the orchestrators of the Iraq War, doing a good job on the war and on national security? Do torture and warrantless wiretaps really matter if potential terrorists, more than five years after 9/11, are free to pilot single prop aircraft around major cities without supervision? Your vote for a Republican candidate means that you're endorsing a failed Iraq War policy; a misguided national security policy; and almost every form of scandal possible.
Diebold and the gas prices excuse could very well make up the difference if Republican voters do, in fact, stay home. But let's hope I'm just being paranoid, broseph.