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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Liberal Outpost

Well, we won nationally but were thumped locally. After the election returns were in, I remembered one of the reasons I had been inactive in local politics in previous years: it is hard to feel like you can make a difference in such an extremely Democratic district. There did not seem to be much return on months of canvassing. We did, however, do better than we have in any year since 1994. It will be interesting to see if the bump outlasts the Obama presidency. If the Democrats stay this far to the left, then perhaps the local GOP can win some elections.

This is the first canvass free/conference free weekend in months. It feels great. I will have my week's lectures written by Sunday evening. I expect a pop in math output too. Clearly politics do not mix brilliantly with research - too distracting.

Amazingly I have heard nothing about the election in the faculty lounge for months. Perhaps my colleagues simply preferred not to think about the approaching wave. Wednesday I heard exactly zero comments about the election at work.

In one last attempt to help the candidates, I volunteered to electioneer for 4 hours on Tuesday, after my various University commitments were fulfilled. I was sent to pass out GOP literature at a polling site uncomfortably close to campus. I saw one overt Republican all evening. I arrived hours before the evening rush, too early for electioneering. I was not joined by other electioneers for over an hour. All the others represented liberal groups. Most were pleasant, and perhaps amused at my quixotic efforts. One lady, however, responded to my pleasantries with the revealing question: ''How can someone be a Republican?" I told her that it was difficult for anyone who understood economics or who objected to the government dictating the minutiae of his life to to be otherwise. She then launched on 'the Party of No' and castigated the GOP for opposing the healthcare bill. The discussion reminded me of grad school days. When I pointed to specific features of the bill I found objectionable (although I am opposed in principle to more or less the whole package) she would more often than not deny the existence of the offending feature. Clearly ignorance and denial are essential features for maintaining the liberal belief system.

Unfortunately, her belief system triumphed over mine in the local elections that night.

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