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Why not a split

There remains some view that Republicans may do well in today’s election – Coyote at NW Republican picks Republican John McCain over Democrat Barack Obama 294-244. But call that a distinctly minority view – brilliant prognosticating if it turns out to be anywhere near correct.

But the prevailing view is that Obama will win, and substantially. Our take, expressed in a couple of online raffles, is that he takes somewhere in excess of 320 electoral votes. (The final Karl Rove map estimates 338 ev.) That estimate comes in great part from the endless and massive polling (not one full major poll has given McCain a lead for more than a month) but also from an enormity of other material, up to and including the first election results reported in the nation, last night: Obama wins at the two early-voting and reporting precincts in New Hampshire, becoming the first Democrat to win in them in 40 years.

In that environment, there’s been an undertone to Republican campaigns for major office in the last week or two: Don’t give one party too-full control, with the implicit understanding, suggested by congressional candidates at least, that Obama will win and Democrats in control in the Congress need a brake. That’s been a central implicit argument for Oregon Republican Senator Gordon Smith, and seems to be hovering in the background for the other major competitive Republican in the region, Washington gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi.

The split-control argument often has had some appeal in Oregon and Washington, and at this site (public records checkers will find this household registered as non-affiliated). But this year may be different.

Checks and balances are often a useful way to govern, but they do not send clear messages from voters to their elective servants. Decisive results can do that, and that is what landslides are about – not just a vote on the presidential level, but down below as well, because not only presidents but also lots of other people are involved in governing this country.

In 2008, we are at the tail end of an administration with a clear, distinct character, one that took the nation in a specific direction, and it behooves voters to express how they want to deal in the future with its key characteristics. Such as, not limited to . . . Torture. Extraordinary rendition. Unitary executive (code language for dictatorship). Abrogation of constitutional rights on presidential whim. Rejection of duly-passed laws instead of their “faithful execution.” Launch of a war that need not have been fought, and not only wholesale deception of the nation in its launch, but – larger – an active preference for war, for war without end, without an articulable objective; atop that, malfeasance in its conduct, and failure to provide proper service to those who fought in it. (What exactly is “victory” in Iraq supposed to constitute anyway?) Hostility to and from most of the rest of the world. Abuse of the nation’s judicial system for political benefit. Kleptocracy. Waste and unaccountability on almost unimaginable scale. Deception and outright lying on a stunning unprecedented scale – in active preference to honesty, not merely on occasion but as normal operating procedure. Budgetary mismanagement; public debt beyond compare. Tolerance of overwhelming finance and economic mismanagement. Secrecy – “undisclosed locations.” Deceptive and secretive regulation. Crony capitalism. Crony governance. Pay to play. Suppression of science and research. Suppression of voting. Encouragement of ideological and other extremism. Active transfer of increasing amounts of wealth into ever-fewer hands. Dog-whistle encouragement of racist and other forms of hatred among and between Americans. And a lot else, but in all not merely the worst presidency in our nation’s history – not even James Buchanan’s comes close – but the most appalling, sickening, immoral, dank eight-year back alley of our nation’s history.

If the nation’s voters, and the Northwest’s, do vote in such a way today as to decisively and overwhelmingly repudiate all this, and chart a different course, that shouldn’t be too hard to understand.

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