So this afternoon, this site got me all excited to rev up my engines and do something to get out the D vote. You all read the diaries, just like me. But then my machine (she's a dud) got stuck in the mud in the electoral swamps of Jersey. And I realized why midterm elections are tough on incumbents, and why gerrymandering are lethal to democracy. Here's what happened.
I was moved by a series of diaries today that you probably read. Everybody who's anybody here had something to say about today's diaries. To summarize, there was one about how Obama fucking sucks, and I'm not fucking voting for his fucking so-called Democratic co-Republicans. There was a lot of foul language in that one, so I liked it (h/t Shiznit). And there was another one about how we shouldn't make fun of Obama by calling him hopey-changeylike the evil people do (h/t termite). And there was another dramatic one that was sort of the inverse of that poemy thing about how they came for the gypsies and the Jews and the cripples and I kept playing my playstation, and then they came for me and I had to give up my playstation (h/t LaFeminista). This one was the inverse of that poemy thing because it sort of said that they're coming for the diarist NOW so y'all better get off your asses. And finally there was this other one, that pushed me over the edge and into action. It was a feel-good diary that said let's get the vote out (h/t Wmtriallawyer). We can win in November if we can just get Dems to come out, I thought. I'll start today!
And that's when I got entangled in the messy fabric of NJ politics.
Now, I'm a pretty avid follower of current events. I also know New Jersey history, geography and culture, having been born and raised here, and I'm not an idiot. But it's not that simple.
The logical place to start was my home district, but I don't know who my congressman is, I'm ashamed to say. I thought it was Donald Payne, but I was wrong. He's a dem for the 10th district which has a part of Newark, which is east of me by about 5 miles. As it turns out, I'm in the 8th district, represented by another Dem, Bill Pascrell. However, if I walk 6 houses WEST of me, I'm back in the 10th district, because I'm in Montclair. However, much of Montclair is not in the 10th, it's in the 8th with me. If I drive 2 miles southeast of me, I'm in the 13th, because that would be in the part of Newark that is not in the 10th. The 13th is represented by Albio Sires, a Dem. But if I drive that same 2 miles due east instead of southeast, I'm in the 9th, which consists of southern Bergen county, and is represented by Steve Rothman, another Dem. A few blocks to the north of the 9th is the 5th, where my old, liberal Jewish parents live. They're represented by Scott Garrett, who's about as right-wing a conservative as you'll find in NJ. Now the 5th district is up to its ears in old, liberal Jews like my parents. But Garrett got elected because the 5th also includes vast tracts of rural northwestern Jersey, and some exceedingly wealthy republican-type Wall Street commuter towns. 4 miles west of me is the mighty 11th district, represented by Rodney Frelinghuysen, an aristocratic, middle of the road Republican.
You see, in NJ, we have 13 congressional districts, and they make no sense whatsoever. Everyone of all types is packed into all of the districts. I can barely find any districts that you could call mostly "rural" or "suburban" or "urban". They're all a mix, and a messy mix.
If you think I'm out of the loop, take John Stewart and Bruce Springsteen. There's no way they know who represents the districts in which they grew up or, in Bruce's case, the district in which he lives. Stewart, I understand is from Old Bridge, but that might be in the 6th or the 12th, depending on what part of town he lived in. The Boss is from Freehold, but that might be in the 12th or the 4th. Now Bruce lives in toney Rumson, which is in the 12th, but is surrounded by other towns, some toney and some much more middle class, that are in the 6th.
I haven't done a lot of research, but none of these races is competitive. All of the incumbents have enough cash to run a campaign, none of their opponents have any real money, and many, like Bill Pascrell, my congressman, don't even have an opponent.
I've heard local politicos talk about these districts and rattle off their numbers as if the numbers conveyed some meaning, like the "NFC East", or the "Upper East Side", or "Atlantic City". But district numbers in NJ have no meaning at all. They're not northern, or suburban or anything. They're just an assemblage of voters that have been picked to protect incumbency.
Apparently only the 3rd district is competitive this year. That district stretches across southern Jersey from the wealthly suburbs of Philly like Cherry Hill, through the rural Pine Barrens, and includes a huge chunk of the Jersey shore. Freshman Democrat John Adler got swept in with Obama and has a lot of money. But he's up against Republican John Runyan, a former lineman for the Philadelphia Eagles. NJ loves its Giants, and its Eagles, and that could have a huge impact on the outcome of the election.
So I know what I gotta do. I gotta schlep down the turnpike to exit 4 (who ever gets off a exit 4??) and do some work. I gotta give money to Adler who's going to take middle of the road positions to protect himself from voters who will swing R because they've seen the name Runyan before on a football jersey. I gotta do all this, but the enthusiasm that Wmtriallawyer gave to me this morning just isn't there.