Watching the liberal reaction to this Tuesday’s elections, I am reminded of nothing so much as the reaction of gullible, genre un-savvy viewers to the endings of slasher films. Having ecstatically declared conservatism dead several times, each time with an increasing level of sickening nausea, the liberal community seems to be shocked, shocked, that, like Freddie Krueger or Jason Voorhees, conservatism has once more risen from the grave, alive, well, and out for blood. Naturally, for those of us not swept along with the tide of post-Obama hubris, this election was a nice confirmation that our doubts were justified, as well as a heartening blow to strike so soon after our beloved movement’s apparent “death.” In the words of Hollywood’s Addison Dewitt, I am once more available for dancing in the streets and singing from the rooftops.
As Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi recently confided to the American people through tears, today’s political climate has keen parallels with the late 1970’s—not just in Ms. Pelosi’s San Francisco district, but also all over the country. The curious cohabitation of liberalism in power and liberalism in decline has really not been seen with such evidence since the dark days of Jimmy Carter, and really, who can say they are surprised? Obama’s level of incompetence is such that he cannot even induce his own base to agree with him, so it’s no surprise that his lending of support to Democratic candidates this fall lacked the visceral kick which it possessed a scant few months ago. As evidence of this, I refer my readers to the anemic antiwar rally which took place last Sunday, at which guest speaker Jeremy Scahill bemoaned the “fact” that Obama’s justice department was “worse” (that is to say, harder on terrorism) than Bush’s Justice Department. I suppose when you ignore the fact that Attorney General Holder’s former law partners are now taking on the defense of Guantanamo detainees, and being aided in that effort by the politicized release of confidential memos, Mr. Scahill’s case could be made. However, disregarding the validity of invalidity of his claim, surely it says something when even a rally composed of Left-wing students and former flower children turned deflowered fossils find the President’s performance unsatisfactory.
But perhaps most importantly for this column’s purpose, what of the moderate, blue collar liberals of Middletown, one of whom angrily told this author over the phone on WESU’s “The Business Buzz” that the past eight years were a disaster, and that Obama had a vision? Apparently this “vision” wasn’t sufficient to galvanize Obama’s levels of support for that famous apostle of Waterfront utopianism, Dan Drew, who found himself quickly drowned by votes for the real leadership of Middletown mayor Sebastian Giuliano. In fact, even with all the College Democrats’ railroaded voter registration drives, a measly fraction of the 700 registered students actually showed up to the polls, and some of them apparently even cast a vote for Giuliano, rather than Drew. As Pat Buchanan once said of Bill Clinton, “where do they find these leaders?” Though perhaps a more appropriate question would be, where could they find any voters?
Thankfully, however, despite the paltry showing of Wesleyan students at the polls, this Tuesday’s mayoral election marks the beginning of a new level of Wesleyan involvement in Middletown – one which is unique in that it cuts across party lines. While the College Democrats did their very best to make Wesleyan’s support for Dan Drew look monolithic (an endeavor in which they catastrophically failed, given the results), the College Republicans also made their first jump into Middletown politics by inviting the Mayor to speak on-campus, aiding in voter registration and phone banking for Giuliano at his headquarters on Main St, thus inaugurating what could prove to be a much more cordial relationship between the city’s government and the student body.
Mayor Giuliano was often criticized, especially in the desperate final days of the campaign, for ignoring Wesleyan in the past. While this was largely untrue, it unfortunately made intuitive sense. Politically, one can’t deny that in the past, the idea of a Republican mayor quoting the votes of Wesleyan students would make about as much sense as Darth Vader quoting the votes of Alderaan’s refugees. In fact, it was up against the wall of College Democrat support for Middletown’s previous incumbent that Mayor Giuliano won his first term – a campaign scenario which could only lend itself to resentment against the school responsible.
Fortunately for Mayor Giuliano, Wesleyan and Middletown generally, it has now become clear that the College Democrats do not speak for all of us – in fact, they only speak for that small, politically ambitious but unprincipled segment of the Wesleyan population which will vote for any sentient being with a (D) next to their name, rather than consider the importance of their vote. Their defeat should ring sweet in every student’s ear, especially given that some of Drew’s supporters took to threatening their peers with political irrelevance if they didn’t support Drew, a threat which was neither idle nor hyperbolic, given the latter’s cosmetic similarities to Barack Obama.
Those similarities are now no longer sufficient to win elections, as the American people, and the people of Middletown, appear to have caught on to the fact that fresh faced, idealistic and aspiration-minded naïveté is still incompetence in a pretty package. Moreover, given their involvement in the winning campaign, the Wesleyan College Republicans now have the opportunity to present a more diverse and bipartisan picture of the school to the city government, and create a positive image among people who might have previously dismissed us as the pack of freaks on the hill.
And to the losers in this fight, I must say: The hand of conservatism may have pierced the Wesleyan bubble, but if you prove willing to hear our case, there will be no need for it to strangle you.