Daily Archives: October 26, 2010

GOPocalypse Now?

The conventional wisdom, now shrieking around the globe like a Category Five hurricane, is that on November 2nd the Republicans will sweep to victory on a tsunami of voter discontent: a 40, 50, 60 seat gain in the House alone!  Pick a number.  Any number.  They’ve all been cited.

But there are indications to the contrary that seem to be pointedly overlooked  — which is a recognizable pattern of behavior once the mainstream media has latched onto a narrative it can credibly live with.

First, Obama’s approval ratings are up sharply as he’s worked the campaign trail, and are in fact 12 points higher than Reagan’s were at the same point in his presidency.

Second, there is a new Newsweek poll suggesting that the Democrats are ahead on a generic ballot involving likely voters.  Many are dismissing the poll as an outlier, and perhaps they’re right to, but here’s the rub:  of all the recent polls that feed the frenzy of foregone conclusion, only the Newsweek poll includes a sample of cell phone-only users.

It’s no secret what the significance of this factor is, even though it is largely ignored.  Those who use cell phones exclusively tend to be young, urban and liberal.  If the Newsweek poll turns out to be in play, then it may help to expose a deeply entrenched polling bias that the purveyors of conventional wisdom seem unwilling to address in any consistent way.  It’s a kind of low-grade, passive-aggressive voter suppression of a key demographic group, which is systematically excluded from the polling data because enough people have decided it doesn’t really count.  Here’s hoping these young voters overturn the conventional wisdom and reshape it into something that resembles the actual will of the people and not just the wildly careening spin of corporate interests.

Georges Jacques Danton


The execution of Danton from the 1983 biopic.  French with English subtitles

Today is the birthday of Danton, French revolutionary leader of the Jacobins (1759-1794).  As with many in the revolutionary leadership, it did not end well: Danton went the guillotine in 1794, saying to his executioner, “Don’t forget to show my head to the people. It’s well worth seeing.”

Frye citing Edmund Burke on the Jacobins and the Terror in A Study of English Romanticism:

Coleridge was more belligerently Christian in insisting that the primary imagination was an existence repeating the infinite “I am” of God, and in feeling that every argument he advanced on the point was one in the eye for atheism, scepticism, and “psilanthropism.”  In Burke we see, much more clearly than in Coleridge, that this new sense of [romantic] identity does have a real enemy.  Burke identifies the enemy with the Jacobinism of the French Revolution.  Burke’s view of the French Revolution itself, however, is not very rewarding: what is important is his prophetic vision of the kind of society where the sense of the continuity of tradition is annihilated, and where the general will of society is unconditioned by any reference to a goal beyond the immediate objects of those in power.  (CW 17, 203-4)