Monday, November 9, 1998

Week of 11/09/1998

Election 98 - Winners And Losers
Some real shockers here!
- by David Matthews 2

Well the congressional election season has come and gone, and once again, the bulk majority of voters continued to play their roles as bumps on a log and stayed home. I guess they really don’t care about how much taxes they have to pay, or the kinds of laws that will further infringe on their freedoms, because in many states those kinds of initiatives were up for direct public vote. I just hope they don’t try to complain about it later on, because frankly they have no more grounds to complain.

But for those who DID show up at the polls, it was a time of a few surprises. Perhaps the biggest has to be the race in the state of Minnesota.

Okay folks, say it with me now: Jesse "The Governor" Ventura.

I know, I know, it sounds strange, but let’s try it again: Jesse "The Governor" Ventura.

Yes, that is perhaps the biggest change of them all. Who would have guessed that a former professional wrestler known for wearing a feather boa and tie-dye shirts would become the governor of Minnesota? And on a third party ticket, no less!

The upset victory of Jesse "The Body" is but one of the many changes in this election. Here now is a short list of winners and losers of the 1998 election season:

Winners: The Democratic Party

Losers: The Republican Party

The victory is more of a morale win for the Democrats. They were able to get more of their supporters to the ballot box than in previous years, and thus stopped the GOP power grab in Congress. Worse yet, big GOP names such as Senator Alphose D’amato and Governor Fob James were sent packing because of this.

Winners: Moderate Views

Losers: Conservative Extremism

There were many news events which brought the hammer down against the extremist support. The march of the Klu Klux Klan in Gainesville, Georgia, the murder of a clinic doctor in New York by an unknown sniper, the beating death of an openly gay man, and the attacks of abortion clinics by false anthrax threats all made the public very weary of hard-line conservative issues.

Yes, some conservative measures were passed in the states. Voters in Hawaii and Alaska allowed the legislature to ban same-sex marriages. Voters in Michigan rejected a law that allowed physician-assisted suicide. But four states also passed laws that legalized the use of medicinal marijuana, and Arizona voters rejected a bill that would have gutted their 96 vote to approve the substance for patients. Many states rejected "partial-birth" abortion measures, and voters in California allowed the legislature to establish gambling casinos on Native American reservations.

The message to the politicians was simple and resounding - stay in the middle and don’t rock the boat!

Winners: Jesse "The Body" Ventura and Third Party Candidates

Losers: Politics-as-usual

The election of the first Reform Party candidate in a major campaign race ends much of the drivel from Democrats and Republicans about third parties being a "spoiler" vote or a "wasted" vote. As "The Body" himself said - "Well that vote just wasted them!"

Jesse didn’t try to outspend his opponents. He certainly couldn’t afford to. He didn’t even have a television ad until near the end of the race. He got in because of name recognition and he offered the voters something they liked. Hopefully, there will be more of that in the future.

Winners: Those who voted

Losers: Partisan Mudslinging

According to some early reports, this was the most anemic voting turnout in US history, and it once again played right into what I have been saying for years - the politicians do not want you to vote!

But for those of us who DID vote, we were pissed, and we let the politicians know that. We’re tired of the mudslinging and the name-calling. And some of the biggest and dirtiest of the players involved got their butts kicked, including D’amato, and Georgia’s Guy Millner and Mitch "The Bitch" Skandalakis.

Winners: Bill Clinton and Camp Clinton

Loser: Newt Gingrich

A demoralizing draw by Republicans assures Big Bubba Spin that he won’t be impeached from office. It also means many of his liberal, moralistic programs will have a better chance of being passed through Congress.

As for Gingrich, the failure to capitalize on the 94 GOP revolution and continue it to the 98 elections has cost him dearly. Conservatives, eager to point a finger at somebody to blame for their own failures have asked Gingrich to fall on his own sword. He won re-election in his own district, but he apparently has lost the war, and it has cost him not only his position as Speaker of the House, but also his job as a member of the Congress.

Winners: Medical Marijuana

Losers: The Drug War Generals

State by state, the move towards legalizing medicinal marijuana use is growing, much to the regret of the White House and the supporters of the War on Drugs. Their forces may shut down legal clubs, they can violate the Constitution, and they can threaten doctors for exercising their right to freedom of speech, but they cannot stop the movement.

Maybe we need to brush up on our history lessons here. History as in Prohibition. Lessons as in what that "war" did to us. Prohibition did not stop liquor, nor did it put liquor distributors out of business. It did, however, cause endless troubles in terms of binge drinking and to further hinder efforts to cure the legitimate problem drinkers. We lost that war, and continue to lose it when we fail to recognize the lessons of that failure.

These are but some of the lessons that came from the 98 election season. It was a costly season, to be sure. Politicians and special interest groups paid big bucks to keep you, the average voter, from the ballot box, and to keep their jobs.

Imagine the surprises that could have come if the rest of the voters showed up!

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