Conversations with an Empty Chair

Election year deja vu

Rate this Entry
Well, here we are. On on side we have a well-liked, but not perceived as particularly competent Commander in Chief. The opposing party has just gone through a protracted primary filled with a few memorable and MANY forgettable candidates, and ultimately settled on a predictable, boring, rich white patrician with a penchant for flip-flopping. Now both sides are slowly gathering momentum; the incumbent hopes his major election-year issue doesn't take a turn for the worse before November, while the other party hits the incumbent on his inability to manage that issue successfully.

Sound familiar? It should: I just described the 2004 elections.

Back then, we had George W. Bush. People described him as "someone they would have a beer with", but viewed his overall presidency and his execution of the Iraq War as underwhelming. He was opposed by Democrat John Kerry, a milquetoast long-term Senator who was rich, wooden, had almost zero identification or empathy with "regular" people, and was regularly attacked as a "flip-flopper" on key issues.

Today, we have Obama. People describe him as likeable, but view his presidency as a series of amateur missteps, and question his execution of health care reform and economic recovery. He is opposed by Republican Mitt Romney, who shares Kerry's lack of empathy or identity with the "common folk", and is likewise considered a bit less "solid" in his convictions.

I wonder if there will be any further similarities in this year's election cycle? In 2004 people were expecting a close election, as all polls up until election day showed the two candidates running neck-and-neck. But ultimately, while the final counts were somewhat close, the outcome was never really in question. I remember watching the election results; watching the typical stalwarts flip blue or red as scheduled, and all those "purple" states slowly but surely go red. I wonder what this year's "swift boat" will be? Will Democrats manage to turn Romney's business experience into an albatross around his neck, as Republicans did with Kerry's military service?

I'll admit I hope the outcome is the same. And if so, will Republicans gnash their teeth as we did on election night as their bland, lowest-common denominator candidate fails to inspire independents to swap from "the devil they know", while simultaneously barely rousing the fire of their own party loyalists? Will there be accusations of "foul play" because their candidate was never able to recover from getting "swift boated" by the party in power? Will they wake up November 5th, vowing to move to another country before the re-elected President "destroys what's left of this great nation?"

If so, we feel for you. We've been in your shoes, and trust us: it'll pass. Heck, you may find people get so tired of our discarded promises of bipartisanship (remember how your "compassionate conservativism" quickly folded in a wave of hard partisan rancor?) that you guys cruise to an easy win in 2016.

Updated 06-26-2012 at 09:32 AM by Dao Jones



  1. Pfloyd's Avatar
    Gritty, grab-you-by-the-nuts political commentary driven by uncanny insight. Dare I say Dao for President 2016?

    fuck that.
  2. Dao Jones's Avatar
    Heh. Revisiting this five months later, and it turned out exactly like 2004. Romney got a bump from the first debate, but apart from some polling bumps, never really capitalized on it. Fans of history will note that Kerry was *also* perceived as having "won" his first debate against Bush*, but this obviously didn't help him in the general election.

    Additionally, our "close" election turned out not to be close at all. Despite being nearly even in national polls, Obama kept all but two of the states he captured in 2008, and won every single "battleground" state.

    Politics is a game whose rules are not particularly difficult to decipher. It's part precedent and part mathematics, with just a small dash of charisma and gullibility thrown in for good measure.

    Oh, and money. *Lots* of money.