In 2006, I was a shiny new liberal. I had voted for Bush in 2000, and in 2004 my conservatism still kept me from voting for Kerry, so I cast my vote for Peroutka. Through a series of events that I still cannot explain, in those two years I morphed from a guy who didn't like Hannity because "He's the dumbest possible ambassador for my beliefs" to a guy who didn't like Hannity because "He's a fucking dumbass."
I was not a frequent visitor to this site at that point, but in 2006, with the aftermath of Katrina still fresh in my memory, with the Iraq War now obvious to all who had eyes to be a massive failure, I felt it then, just as I feel it now.
Something new is coming.
At about this time two years ago, I wrote my first diary, a story about the wife of then-congressman Jim Ryun. I was videotaping the youth pastor of the (very conservative) church I've been attending sporadically since I was five years old; as he asked people in downtown Topeka what they pray for.
Most of the people said "peace," which I explained to the pastor was because an unpopular war was the prime issue for an upcoming election. As we were about to wrap it up, a woman came running up to us, almost shrieking, asking us to ask her what she prays for. Her answer ended with "I pray every day that my husband, Jim Ryun, is re-elected to the United States House of Representatives!"
"Hold on," I said. "You can't say that, this is for a church thing."
She started talking to me, attempting to sway me into allowing my church to be a platform for her narrow political beliefs, and she quickly found out that I was a Democrat. Her response was an incredulous "And you're saved?" as if being a Democrat was somehow incompatible with Christianity.
That was the last straw for me. Any fuzzy feelings I may have still had for the right were gone. Instead of an ideology that I had subscribed to because I believed people working in their self-interest could do better for themselves than a government that I had never seen work for anyone, what I saw now was a petty, self-righteous band of demagogues.
Against all odds, Jim Ryun lost his re-election bid. As did a lot of other Republicans. It was, let's face it, a bloodbath. And the media almost immediately began parroting the right-wing spin machine. "The Republicans lost because they weren't conservative enough, and the only Democrats who won were moderates. This election is really a repudiation of Howard Dean," was the bizarre consensus view of this aftermath.
And, holy Jesus, the right actually bought it! My as-right-wing-as-I-used-to-be best friend tried to convince me of that. But here was this woman Nancy Boyda, congresswoman-elect from the second district of Kansas. She had lost in 2004 by fifteen points, and won in 2006 by four. And while she campaigned as a moderate, she also promised not to accept the congressional health care package until everyone in her district could get health care. She ended up being one of the most moderate freshmen elected in 2006, and she beat a right-wing nut. Hardly evidence of "Republicans are too moderate and only moderate Democrats get elected."
But I feel it now like I did two years ago. There are upsets on the horizon, and it looks like all of them are going to be in our favor. People are angry as I've never seen them. Democrats are energized. Republicans are demoralized, as their inoffensive "none of the above" candidate turned out to be just as bad as any of the ones they threw back.
It's not just that Barack Obama will have coattails next week. It's that John McCain and Sarah Palin are driving Republicans away from the polls. So we're going to see things that we haven't seen in a generation. I think Scott Kleeb will pull it off in Nebraska. I think Jim Slattery in my home state will make it a lot closer than anyone thinks it's going to be. I think four hundred electoral votes, and sixty in the Senate even if you count Lieberman as a Republican.
And then the aftermath. From the pre-spin of this loss I can already tell you that the Republicans are poised to learn the wrong lesson once again. My friend who swallowed the spin two years ago still thinks McCain is going to win, but if he doesn't, is prepared to blame ACORN for voter fraud and the McCain campaign for not letting Sarah Palin out more.
There's just nothing better than seeing Republicans learning the wrong lesson about learning the wrong lesson.