Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The shocking election (we're screwed)

I wrote a few days ago about Indy's mayoral race. To pretty much everyone's surprise, Bart Peterson lost the race. Control of the city council also shifted parties to Republican leadership, with a strong 17-12 majority. A few thoughts:
  • I think one of the reasons Bart lost is that so few of his supporters voted. Everyone assumed the race was in the bag, but with total voter turnout so low, Ballard won the election with around 10% of Marion County's residents voting for him. His angry minority was enough, since the silent majority stayed home.
  • I'm worried about my friends (and myself). The mayor and the city-county council democrats were supporters of city funding for the arts. Arts organizations don't get a lot of money from the city, but it makes a huge difference. And, when arts organizations lose funding, they do their best to keep their services alive. Nobody wants to cut performances, or museum hours, or outreach programs, or the work they do to bring the arts into schools (often, to make up for school arts programs being cut). When they need to tighten the belt, it's their staff who gets squeezed, not the patrons. People lose insurance coverage, freelancers lose work, development budgets disappear, raises go away. No matter what politicians say, the bottom 85% of America's earners are already in a recession. Budgets have already been trimmed too close. More cuts will go beyond the uncomfortable, and start hurting a lot of my friends.
  • I'm alarmed that Ballard essentially won this election based on no actual platform or ideals of his own; his "Had Enough?" campaign was entirely that, centered not on any good ideas but on people's dislike of the incumbent. It was summed up by a Ballard supporter interviewed on election day, who said to Ballard at a campaign stop: "“I am going to vote for you. I hope you’re the right guy, because I’m voting against the other guy."
  • I'm also a bit disturbed that the big issue that got Ballard elected has nothing to do with the mayor's office. Property tax hikes were his rallying cry, and a shocking number of ignorant people apparently never connected that the mayor has absolutely no input on property taxes.
  • About 30% of the electorate will always vote for the Republican candidate, even if it's Damien Thorn running for office. About 30% of the electorate will always vote for the democratic candidate, even if it's Jason Vorhees running for office. The outcome of any election is really decided by the 40% of people in the middle.
  • I'm a little angry with the people who voted Ballard without even knowing anything about his (mostly nonexistent) platform. Come on, people -- by voting for a guy in ignorance because you're angry with the incumbent, you're tacitly acknowledging that it matters who runs the city. So realize that you can't cast a negative vote. It's not in the system to be able to vote against someone. You're voting for Ballard. At least Google the guy, or something....

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