Saturday, October 6, 2012

Living with Democracy

One month from today, we'll finally learn for sure who will be President for the next four years.  This will come as a massive relief to some and a sharp and sudden disappointment for others, and I really hope that I'm among the former.  My preferences have been made known, and I'll reiterate them today: Barack Obama may be a flawed President, but he has made progress on issues that I care about.  We need him to stick around so that he can make the next round of Supreme Court appointments and defend his legislative legacy.  Mitt Romney has promised to undo or roll back much of that legacy, and there's a better than even chance he means to do it.  The man may be a weather vane, but he's still a conservative after all.

So we wait now, for the ballots to be cast and the map to turn red and blue in various places, and then we'll know what we're dealing with.  Frankly, it's kind of a pain to be so unsure, but that's just the way things are.

Never let it be said that I am anything but a democrat, with an emphasis on that miniscule "d."  I may rail inwardly and outwardly about the foolishness of the masses and my desire to dictate the lines of an ideal government policy, but in my mind there's no getting round the problem of legitimacy.  There's no good basis for government power except the social contract, so the people have absolutely got to have a stake and a choice in how they're governed.  I wish to God they'd make better choices sometimes, and actually select the most ethical and intelligent among them to do the governing, but sometimes they won't and that's all there is to it.

Ever since the big blowout in 2010, I've had to make peace with an idea that I hadn't really faced: sometimes, people who I strongly disagree with are going to win elections.  Sometimes, I will cast votes and be rewarded with nothing but losses and fervent plans for "next time."  That really, really sucks, but that's democracy.  I don't resent the principle for how it may be perverted or abused, or even how it may disappoint me personally.

So I've been watching the Presidential election like a hawk.  I've visited Nate Silver's blog, Five Thirty Eight, virtually every day since he unveiled his Presidential forecast model for 2012.  Nate Silver is my political guru, in so far as he informs my perspective on the political process.  He cuts through a lot of the bullshit and identifies the variables that actually matter for making accurate predictions.  At the same time, he always recognizes the limitations of the idea of prediction.  He doesn't make promises or use the numbers for propaganda: he just wants to get at the truth.  I recommend it for anyone who wants to know more about how this process actually works, or even if you just want to watch the most accurate horse race around.

It's been considerably comforting to me that Silver's forecast model has shown Obama to be the favorite for most of the past few months.  The President's chances of reelection are currently pegged at 80.2%, though that's down from a couple of days ago and likely to go down a bit more before all is said and done.  But that's fine.  Uncertainty is the name of this game we play, and we deal.  When my ballot comes in the mail I'll fill it out just like I said I would, and hope for the best.  Then in a month, I'll know whether the good news holds.

No comments:

Post a Comment