Notes on a political scorecard

Public Affairs Consultant specializing in Issue Advocacy and Strategic Communications

Surely, Election Night belonged to Barack Obama. Nobody else better understood the mood of the country, which served him well along with an unprecedented amount of campaign cash.

Sen. John McCain’s gracious concession speech brought back memories of the old John McCain, the class act and dedicated public servant who was not too long ago widely respected by Americans across the political spectrum. Why didn’t we see more of the old John McCain the past few weeks?

The other winners of this election include Joe the Plumber, who I expect to land a lucrative talk-show host assignment soon, and Gavin Newsom, who coined the most memorable line of California’s election season and earned increased street cred among the state’s liberals who will select the next Democratic nominee for governor in 2010. Oh yeah, I almost forgot Tina Fey, who can now return to 30 Rock.

The losers are obviously the Republican Party leaders, or what is left of them. The GOP is in shambles and has to figure out how to rise from the ashes, or reinvent itself. The Goldwater-Nixon-Reagan era is officially over, and I am curious to see who will emerge as the person who sets a new course for American conservatives in the coming years. The "door is wide open now!" (I cannot get enough of that Prop. 8 commercial with Gavin Newsom).

Here in Los Angeles, one loser of note is KCAL-9 news, which just reported that New Hampshire Senator and former White House Chief of Staff John Sununu has lost his seat. No wonder visitors from other cities who see our local news casts on TV think we’re such idiots! And a few minutes later, KTLA has cut away from the most historic election in more than a generation and instead covers another car chase. Good grief! And how come KNBC-4’s results on the propositions are so different from the other networks?

Good riddance to Elizabeth Dole, who proved to be a lousy senator and ran a disgusting ad against her opponent accusing her of being an atheist.

With the loss of moderate Republicans such as Rep. Christopher Shays, is the GOP going to steer even further to the right? Are the Democratic majorities going to give President Obama some leeway in charting his own political course?

Prop. 8 seems to be passing, but I doubt we’ve heard the last of gay marriage. Many smart people I know were confused about what a yes and no vote meant on Prop. 8, which may have changed the outcome. If it passes, I suspect that gay marriage proponents will be back next time with a simple ballot initiative that simply asks voters to allow gay couples to wed.

On the L.A. ballot, I find it interesting how many of us love to beat up on LAUSD, while at the same time a $9 billion school bond is passing by a wide margin. Statewide, I am struck with the number of voters who would make our fiscal situation worse by passing more bonds, particularly Prop. 1A, which allocates a whopping $10 billion to build just one third of a high speed rail line.

On a positive note, a record number of people cared enough this election season to cast ballots, some of whom spent several hours in line to do so. Many of these people brought their children with them to their polling places, which hopefully shows youngsters the importance of voting and participating in America’s political process.

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