I often title this annual post “David’s Handy Little Election Guide.” I thought about swapping “tardy” for “handy” this time, since I hear that more than half of you have voted already. But then I thought, this year’s offering doesn’t rise to the level of a “guide” anyway, because I’m coming late and underinformed to a number of items on the ballot. However, I have my 2020 election ballot in front of me, I’m about to fill it out, and you’re welcome to look over my shoulder for a few minutes, if you like.
Two caveats: I’m only commenting on races and issues I see on my ballot. And I’m not bothering to comment on the races which are (quite regrettably) uncontested. I’m excluding yes/no judicial retention votes too, because I don’t have much of an opinion one way or the other about any of the judges.
The 2018 election is mostly behind us by now. In the past I usually haven’t waited a week to recap an election and inject my own mordant thoughts. In the past we almost always had firm results on Election Night. But this is the age of the mail-in ballot, when Election Day is too late to vote by mail, and Election Night is too soon to draw firm conclusions.
So locally we’re waiting for Utah County in particular, which our governor dubbed “an epicenter of dysfunction,” to finish counting ballots (not just the ones which come late but properly postmarked in the mail). The highest-profile race yet in doubt is in the Fourth Congressional District, where Republican incumbent Mia Love trails Democratic challenger Ben McAdams by a few thousand votes, with some Utah County (read: heavily Republican) votes yet to be counted. We may know that result today.
Nationally, we just got final results in a tight US Senate race in Arizona, where Republican Senator Jeff Flake’s seat has taken a bizarre and dispiriting turn to the nutty left.
We’re waiting for a November 27 runoff election in Mississippi, where neither major party’s US Senate candidate got 50 percent of the vote.
And we’re waiting on the outcome of another circus in south Florida, where gubernatorial and US Senate races apparently won by Republicans are subject to a perverse, familiar drama in – where else? – Broward County (with a sideshow in Palm Beach County), where election law is merely a set of inconvenient suggestions, to be ignored as long, as defiantly, and as comprehensively as possible. It’s anybody’s guess whether they’ll have time to “discover” enough boxes of mysteriously “misplaced” ballots to turn the results Democratic before the long arm of the law arrives.
The “what” is in my title. Here’s the “why.” Why I’m no longer a member of the Republican Party, that is.
It may help if I explain why I was a Republican in the first place — officially for one-third of a century, and unofficially for several years before that.
Reagan and Me
I conducted my first political poll before the 1976 Republican presidential primary in Idaho. I was in fifth grade. As went my poll of voters’ children, so went the actual vote in my adopted home state: former California Governor Ronald Reagan won by a huge margin over incumbent President Gerald Ford. Ford went on to win the nomination, then lost to Democrat and former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter. Reagan was elected president in 1980 and reelected in 1984.
Even in 1976 I was aware that the GOP didn’t really want Ronald Reagan. He was too conservative for the party establishment. As we saw then and more strikingly in 1980, much of the rank and file felt differently.
Reagan was the biggest reason why, long before I could register to vote, I claimed to be a Republican. In a political sense at least, I was raised on his brief daily radio commentaries. His thinking made sense to me, and it still does. In 1984 I was pleased and proud to vote for him in my first presidential election and his last.
Let’s review some election results and consider what we’ve learned and what we might foresee.
United States Senate
Republicans seized a majority in the US Senate, picking up at least seven seats. However, they don’t have a veto-proof or even filibuster-proof majority. So expect gridlock to shift around a little, and the President to have to trade his golf clubs for a pen now and then to veto some bills. But at least a lot more bills — substantive ones, I mean — passed by the House might get to the Senate floor for debate and a vote. That will be a nice change.
It appears that Senator Orrin Hatch will become chair of the Senate Finance Committee and President Pro Tem of the Senate. We’ll find out if that’s worth something (as I thought when I campaigned for him) or just a nice-sounding theory (as the opposition thought).
US House of Representatives
As I write this, we’re still waiting for some returns from the Western US, especially California, but it appears that the Republicans will increase their House majority by at least ten seats. They still won’t have a veto-proof majority, but with their different rules they don’t have filibusters, so 60% is not a meaningful threshold.
[Note: I have updated this post since writing it, mostly with links to later posts about races and issues considered here — and three proposed state constitutional amendments I didn’t realize were on the ballot.]
In keeping with my long-established (but not perfectly consistent) tradition at LocalCommentary.com, my little election guide considers the races that are on my own ballot, and few if any others. So the interest is localized. As the man said, all politics is local.
This post includes notes, numerous links (mostly to candidate web sites), and my own commentary.
Usually, I analyze candidates and issues, do some Q&A with candidates, and toss my opinions around for weeks or months. I generally report on meet-the-candidates events in considerable detail. Then, a day or two before Election Day, I list my votes, if I list them at all.
It’s an unusual year for me. I haven’t heard of a meet-the-candidates event in American Fork, which disappoints me. And I’m telling you my votes at the beginning of my (foreshortened) writing cycle this year. I’ll add more detailed treatment of some candidates and issues as time permits, between now and Election Day.