Ethics Observations on the 2014 Mid-Term Elections

election 2014

1. After the 2006 election, in which a Republican majority in the House and Senate became a well-deserved minority, the losing Republicans, in sharp contrast to their Democratic brethren after their losses in 2000 and 2004, were remarkably frank and gracious. I wrote on November 15, 2006…

When the Democrats were rejected at the polls in 2004, they and many of their supporters in the media declared that it was proof positive that the U.S. public was stupid, ignorant, and reckless. Many claimed that the election must have been rigged; others announced that the U.S. was a lost cause and that good people should consider moving to Canada. Some actually did.

The Republicans, who were resoundingly punished at the polls for everything from corruption to arrogance to incompetence, could not present a more dramatic contrast to their Democratic counterparts. They overwhelmingly placed responsibility for their losses squarely on their own mistakes and transgressions, where it belongs. They congratulated their victorious opponents. They avoided making legal challenges or suggesting that any elections were “stolen.” Defeated Republican Senator George Allen, whose race was close enough to demand a recount, did not. And no Republicans, as far as we know, have fled the country. They will be staying around to contribute to the process of democracy, because they respect both it and its results. In short, the Republicans have demonstrated the honorable and ethical was to lose.The deportment of the losers in a democracy is every bit as important as the behavior of the winners. As the Democrats attempt to teach their rivals something about how to govern when you win, let’s hope that they learned from the GOP’s lesson in how to behave when you get throttled. Some recent Canadian immigrants might think about it as well.

Will Democrats be model losers as well?

We shall see.

2. This “concession speech” by losing Kentucky Senate candidate Allison Grimes does not bode well:

Hmmmm. No gracious words about her opponent, no graciousness at all, in fact. Of course, Grimes’ campaign was tone deaf throughout, but losing with dignity and with a show of respect for the victor is an essential part of building and maintaining a civil political culture, and all participants are responsible for doing their part.

To their credit, the MSNBC commentators were immediately critical of Grimes’ performance, which many of the network’s blue meat extremists probably enjoyed.

3. Both MSNBC and Fox News were impressively objective, measured, professional and fair in their election coverage, with the glaring exception of Al Sharpton. I find it unprofessional for team broadcasters of major league baseball games to refer to their home team as “we.” For an alleged broadcast journalist to refer to a political party as “we” as Sharpton did consistently throughout the election coverage is, or should be, an embarrassment. MSNBC is apparently immune from embarrassment, or it wouldn’t employ Sharpton at all.

4. The spin efforts by the media and the White House to minimize the mid-term rejection of President Obama’s performance on the grounds that the Democratic “base” doesn’t come out to vote except in Presidential years is an admission that its partisans are less informed, less civicly engaged and less aware of how the government works than the more conservative voters who have been dominating the mid-terms. If you don’t see that the Congressional elections are as important as the presidential elections, then you are ignorant and lazy. The Democrats should be less eager to boast about the influx of a suddenly activated base in Presidential elections and more concerned about why their party’s appeal seems to depend more on emotion and manipulation of unengaged citizens than on genuine comprehension of the issues.

5. It was striking that three of the most disappointing and inept Democratic candidates—Mary Burke in Wisconsin, who lost to Gov. Scott Walker, Grimes, who lost a winnable race against the loathsome Senator Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, and especially Wendy Davis, who ran a dishonest, dirty campaign against Greg Abbott in the race for Texas governor—were women. It appeared that having made its big “war on women” pitch, Democrats got trapped into running women for office who were just not ready, not qualified, not fit, or all three. Ironically, the party was following in the gooey steps of the Tea Party, which blew the chance to turn the Senate red in 2010 by nominating women whose passion was on the right side of the political spectrum but who were inept, amateurish candidates, like Christine O’Donnell, Linda McMahon, Sharon Angle and Carly Fiorina. There’s no place for affirmative action in politics: it’s insulting to the public in its pandering, and it risks placing incompetents in important positions of power where they can do real, lasting harm. Lesson to be learned: Never be so disrespectful and contemptuous of your opposition  that you don’t pay attention to their mistakes.

6. Once again, Lincoln was proven right after a major political party ignored his wisdom. You just can’t fool all of the people all the time, or even fool most of the people indefinitely. When will they ever learn?


20 thoughts on “Ethics Observations on the 2014 Mid-Term Elections

  1. I don’t think I’m going to stay awake for Alaska, but I gotta say that this surprised me a little… Grimes lost by like 15%. Scott Walker. I mean… wow. But anyway… touching on something you said there. I think that the political right understands the political left better than the left understands the right, and that’s why the right seems a little bit more gracious. If Trudeau wins in 2015, I won’t think that half of Canada’s brains trickled out their ears while they slept, I’ll know that two ideas fought it out, and more people identified with the competitions. Fair beans. We’ll give it a try. Lefties just don’t see issues outside their own framework.

  2. 3) At least Sharpton is being honest.

    And no, I don’t expect one ounce of civility from the Democrats. As I’ve mentioned time and again, they and their ideology see America at the tipping point, the decisive point near, from which there can be no recovery whatsoever for their opposition. Fighting like hell and worked up as they have been, there’s no going back to the “good ole days”.

    Expect an MSM that is absolutely more over the top than we’ve been seeing.

    I wouldn’t put it past DNC strategists to overhaul entire narratives that have been historically successful – such as on a wild shot, no longer haranguing the GOP as the old-crony-rich-guy club, but rather adopting the motif of being benevolent wealthy benefactors of the mankind, since the reality that the Democrats are the actual party of cronyist rich guys can’t be denied much longer.

    The racist card will continue to be hammered, no doubt (despite reality).

  3. Well, it’s all over now America. Way to go. I just heard 12 cotton plantations have already been re-opened in Georgia and that Greg Abbott’s first official act as Governor was to issue an executive order rescinding Women’s Suffrage.

    • Wendy WHO? That wasn’t that kid got sucked into a tornado and wound up in a green city, with some guy behind a curtain, was it?

  4. I’m not sure where ethics come into play here. It seems you can’t resist having a political slant. Ethics has no slant. It is what’s right. I can’t help but noticing that you continually insist on taking a right leaning or outright right-swing in the guise of ethics. When, I wonder, did gracious losing rise to the level of ethics? Ethics are on a higher plane. And your continual interjection of politics into ethical discussions is, in my opinion, itself unethical.

    How about this? Some lost, some won. Ethical issues? Zero. Political issues? 100 percent.

    • What? Gracious acceptance of losing, which, if you read the post, involves, inevitably, accepting the validity of the loss, the just verdict of voters, acceptance of accountability for a job botched, determination to learn and improve, and honesty about one’s mistakes and failures. Just within that incomplete summary, I see honesty, responsibility, fairness, accountability, and respect—especially respect, of which civility is sub-category, and also a cornerstone. How can anyone watch the carnage in the culture and the dysfunction in the political system and NOT see how civility, graciousness, and sportsmanship are not core aspects of civilized, ethical culture…and it all comes back to citizenship.

      I believe, and have long stated, that the complete breakdown in the process and the toxic polarization of the public reached a critical level when Democrats decided to use the statistical dead heat of the 2000 election results to claim the election was “stolen”–a disgraceful slur that directly rejected respect, honesty and fairness for political gain…that was a net loss for the nation and the culture. Facts are facts, and when they show that the Republicans take a course more ethical than Democrats in defeat in recent elections, it is not biased or partisan to say so. Losses like this one give a party a chance to try to heal the country, or to continue appealing to partyism and hateful politics. When it was throttled in 2006, Republicans (mostly) handled it correctly and ethically. In 2010, Democrats lost and largely blamed racism rather than their own tone, methods, rhetoric, priorities, and failure to meet goals and promises. There are plenty on uncivil Republicans and conservatives, or course, but etiquette is a social habit that is congruent with conservative principles, and Republicans tend to be better at it since around 1967.

      I guess if you’re a Democrat today, it is easier and comforting to pretend civility and respect for the process and opposition are not ethical issues. It is also ignorant and harmful to the culture, and ultimately the Democratic Party.
      Here’s your homework assignment:

      Quiz to follow.
      A pretty embarrassing comment, Kevin.

  5. As one of only a handful of Democrat/Liberal commenters on this blog, I need to go on record as saying that your analysis and criticism of the Democratic response to this election is undeniably correct.

    However — and I don’t intend to start a side argument, but YOU brought it up — I disagree, and have continued to disagree, about your analysis of the 2000 presidential election. I do agree that using the term “stolen” is wrong and useless. But, in my opinion, referring to that election, with all of the ridiculous snafus, as having anything to do with “respect, honesty, and fairness” seems disingenuous at least. It happened. I don’t dwell on it. But I can’t bring myself to believe that “respect, honesty, and fairness” had anything to do with that election.

    And while I’m at it, what is your basis for stating that the social habit of etiquette “is congruent with conservative principles, and Republicans tend to be better at it since around 1967”? How is the social habit of etiquette NOT congruent with liberal principles? And what Liberal anti-etiquette actions/speech makes them not as good at this social habit as the Republicans since 1967 — recent events notwithstanding?

    • “And while I’m at it, what is your basis for stating that the social habit of etiquette “is congruent with conservative principles, and Republicans tend to be better at it since around 1967″? How is the social habit of etiquette NOT congruent with liberal principles? And what Liberal anti-etiquette actions/speech makes them not as good at this social habit as the Republicans since 1967 — recent events notwithstanding?”

      Come on.

      1. Because each generation is ruder and less concerned about etiquette than the generation before it?

      2. That public use of profanity and obscenity, respect for elders, formal address, modesty and respectful address have long been conservative social issues, whereas the liberal culture has consistently derided and mocked them?

      3. Because I witness the schism first hand in the Sixties, and it’s as indisputable as can be.

      4. Because Rumer Willis and Chelsea Handler and the women arguing that ging topless in public should be part of equal rights are liberal democrats, as are the women who say “fuck” on live TV, hip-hop artists, Bill Maher, Joe Biden, Lena Dunham, and virtually all the other professional vulgarians?

      5. Because conservatism is defined as a political and social philosophy promotes retaining traditional social institutions in the context of the culture and civilization, and civility, etiquette, simple decency and manners fall into the category of conduct and traditions the liberal establishment has been conscientiously opposing and trying to erode in the Us for 70 years.

      Can you really deny this?

      • Your #1 can apply equally well to both ideologies.

        #2 — you are referring to liberal culture, not politics.

        #3 — I, too, witnessed a lot in the 60s and don’t remember it that way.

        #4 — Just because Rumer Willis, Chelsea Handler, Bill Maher, Joe Biden, Lena Dunham, and virtually all the other professional vulgarians are Liberals, they do NOT represent me. And there are MANY Liberals of my acquaintance who are civil, ethical, and decidedly NOT vulgarians. (Granted, I have been known to say something vulgar when in a heightened emotional state, but I work actively to avoid such things.)

        #5 — As in #s 2 and 4, I refuse to accept that I and other like-minded Liberals are “conscientiously opposing and trying to erode” “civility, etiquette, simple decency and manners.”

        You are painting Liberals with too broad a brush.

        • We’ve had this discussion before… And we’ll probably have it again, variations on the theme of “not all liberals are like that”. It’s like the reverse no true Scotsman “Well, yeah… a lot of them are like that, but not ALL of them, so don’t generalize.” I’m sorry, but I disagree. I think that if you don’t identify with what mainstream liberalism seems to throw our way, you either need to change your label, or hold them accountable.

          Jack’s examples are all very good ones, and I honestly can’t think of someone who comments from the right and swears every second sentence. You might not like what Rush or O’Riley say, but vulgar shock mongers, they aren’t.

        • I didn’t paint liberals at all. What I wrote was…

          “There are plenty on uncivil Republicans and conservatives, or course, but etiquette is a social habit that is congruent with conservative principles, and Republicans tend to be better at it since around 1967.”

          And that remains unquestionably true.

          • I agree with both sides of this thread – there are rude peeps and predatory perverts on both sides of the aisle. Maybe more rudeness from the Liberals, maybe more predators from the Conservatives. It kind of goes with the mindset – Liberals are more accepting of the peccadilloes of others, while conservatives are more inclined to pick upon those who tend to be different and exploited. that’s a fact.

            • Hmmm. I have to noodle on that. There’s a large group of religious people, rural people, conservative women, conservative blacks, who certainly are treated in a predatory fashion by the Left. See: Carol Costello-Bristol Palin. Blacks and Hispanics are exploited by the Left. Students are exploited. I don’t think in the political sphere Republicans or Democrats are more hateful of more rude—“You lie! Joe is a Republican, after all. But civility, politeness, etiquette, manners–these are traditional values, and thus conservative values by definition. That doesn’t mean that conservatives are always civil.

  6. Someone, I forgot who, once pointed out that in politics the important thing is to fool enough of the people enough of the time and that Lincoln’s accurate observation was in effect a misdirection away from the crucial point.

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