Sunday, November 01, 2009

L'Affaire Scozzafava

The Dede Scozzafava affair in New York's 23rd district is a perfect example of how political parties no longer build political platforms based on ideology and instead serve only to keep loyal party apparatchiks in power. The obvious questions in the aftermath of Scozzafava's political meltdown are (1) why did the local Republican committee pick someone to run for the special election whose every position is diametrically opposed to just about every mainstream Republican, and (2) why did she even identify herself as a Republican in the first place?

I'm not familiar with the area or the recent history there, so I obviously don't know the answers to those questions. But these things generally happen when a party completely loses sight of any foundational beliefs and views its mission as one of simply gaining and maintaining power. The same is true of individuals, and Scozzafava likely enrolled as a Republican as a matter of convenience; it was the easiest path to election. This is what happens when we have a political class whose sole interest is continued employment as elected officials.

But the GOP bit off more than it could chew with Scozzafava. In years past, she'd have encountered little resistance from an under-informed electorate, and the majority of Republican voters in a majority Republican district would have sent her to Capitol Hill just by virtue of having an (R) after her name. Not so any more. In the wake of last year's general elections in which legions of star-struck voters bought a pig in a poke in the form of Barack Obama, voters are taking a harder look at their candidates. They want to know how they've voted in the past and what their positions are now.

There's a new game afoot, and Doug Hoffman - and the citizens of NY-23 - just may be the first winners in the game.

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