Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Elections And Other Disasters

Image credit: Dana Hunter

It's the thirtieth anniversary of one of the most important events in the Pacific Northwest's history, as Dana Hunter reminds us:

30 years ago today, I was a five year-old child watching as reporters somberly announced that Mount St. Helens had blown herself apart. It looked painful, so I made her a get well card. Kids, eh? She was my introduction to the power of volcanoes. Horrifying and enthralling, really, when you live with a volcano rather like her framed in your back window. She's responsible for both my fear and fascination. And she continues to teach me about the vagaries of plate tectonics, the power of subduction zones to create as they destroy, and that one must seize the opportunity to enjoy what's there today because it might blow the hell up tomorrow.

Happy 30th Anniversary, Mount Saint Helens

If you're interested in seeing how the Mt. St. Helens area looks today, check out Dana's excellent article on the eruption and its aftermath.

My most vivid memory of that eruption, as someone who was in his mid twenties at the time, was watching a video produced by a reporter who was trapped in the dust cloud. He was trying to find a safe place until the air cleared up. I was in what was then the Southcenter Mall, perhaps a hundred miles away, when I saw that video. Because the prevailing winds were headed eastward that day, I could go about my life as usual. People 100 miles to the east of the volcano, meanwhile, were trying to get enough dust out of their cars' air cleaners so they could get home.

What Mt. St. Helens taught me is that you can't assume you're safe because you live in a particular location. That's a subject I've written about before, so there's no need to belabor that point. That's true no matter where you live. Be as prepared as you can, and make your governments be prepared as well.

With that in mind, there are some very important elections today in Pennsylvania and Arkansas. In Pennsylvania, Rep. Joe Sestak (PA07) is running to unseat Sen. Arlen Specter, who recently jumped from the Republican Party to the Democratic. Perhaps nowhere is there a race more symbolic of the rightward drift of our politics than this one. Specter has been a loyal functionary for his former party for as long as I can remember. Yet he couldn't win a primary challenge by the even more right-leaning Pat Toomey. So now he's a Democrat, with the full support of both the Pennsylvania Democratic machine, and the White House Democratic machine, which demonstrates how little either of those institutions care for the average person. Specter has made a career of voting in the interests of the rich and powerful and against the interests of the voting public. Maybe that choice will finally catch up with him today. While Sestak isn't as progressive as I'd like, he's bound to be better than the guy he's trying to replace.

Meanwhile, Arkansas has a similarly symbolic race for the Democratic Senate candidate between incumbent corporate prostitute Blanche Lincoln and Lt. Governor Bill Halter. Unlike Specter, Lincoln has been a Democrat for her entire Senate career. That's about where the dissimilarities end, however. She was a special friend of the pharmaceutical and insurance industries during the health care "reform" effort, and was handsomely rewarded by them for her troubles. Like Specter, she has the full-throated support of both the local and national party establishment. I think it's time she was retired.

This can be a time when voters send a clear message to the Democratic Party that the same old crap is no longer satisfactory. Let's hope they do.

UPDATE: Jon Walker put the choice facing PA and AR Democrats pretty well today:

Neither Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania nor Bill Halter is a hard-core progressive. They are simply Democrats who believe in the general principles of the party. They don’t have a history of saying anything and doing anything to hold on to office.

Both Lincoln and Specter are bad choices in this anti-Washington, anti-establishment election environment. Sestak and Halter poll as substantially better candidates against the likely Republican opponents. They both have a better chance of keeping seats in Democratic hands. They’re slightly more in line with Democratic beliefs, and they increase the odds of a Democrat winning.

Dem Senate Upsets: Voting Out the Weak Links?

As Walker noted, if Sestak and Halter both prevail today, then the narrative is likely to be about how the Democratic progressives are purging the "moderates". What would actually happen in that case is that people who would have run as Republicans in a more sane era have been replaced with somewhat more progressive newcomers.

But that's a far less interesting narrative, at least to the people who own the news business these days, and the half-wits who are inclined to believe them.


Dana Hunter said...

Nice conjunction of disasters, there, although it looks like things in some races aren't so disasterous after all. Let the media frothing begin! They'll be appalled by all those extremist center-left folks invading the Democratic party, I'm sure.

Cujo359 said...

It's turned out about as well as could be expected. Even the election of Rand Paul is a hopeful sign. It shows that there's an insurgency of sorts within the GOP.

AMIT said...

Do you like elections?And are politicians there faithful?

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