'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Storm Warning? 

A substantially underfunded Creigh Deeds, a state senator, upsets former Democratic National Committee chair Terry McAuliffe to win the Democratic nomination for governor in Virginia:

Nearly 320,000 people voted in the race, only 6 percent of the state's 5 million registered voters but more than officials predicted. Deeds piled up surprisingly large margins across the state, including in the Washington suburbs of northern Virginia that his opponents call home.

Deeds raised only about $3.7 million, far less than his rivals. McAuliffe, who dominated fundraising, received nearly twice Deeds' total. Deeds' staff was so sparse he often drove himself to campaign events, and he had to lay off field staffers at one point so he could afford to run television ads in the final two weeks of the campaign.

McAuliffe and Moran had criticized Deeds for legislative votes supporting Virginia's broad pro-gun laws, actions popular in rural areas that don't play well in cities and affluent suburbs.

McAuliffe's political connections from his days as chief fundraiser for Clinton and chairman of the DNC helped him dominate press coverage and amass a hefty amount of cash in his first bid for elective office.

And yet, he lost, and lost badly. As long time readers of this blog know, I don't think much of the electoral process. But, in this instance, it may be telling us something important.

Money and establishment connections, heretofore an essential requirement for political success, may now be a negative in the current sour social climate. A generational turnover of elected officials, similar to what transpired in the immediate post-Watergate period in 1974, may be in the offing. The inability of those newly elected officials to cope with the political consequences of defeat in Vietnam and economic distress at home set the stage for Reaganism. If this electoral storm gains strength and makes landfall, will the beneficiaries do better this time? Or, will they merely channel the discontent of an impoverished working class towards suitably defenseless targets while an even more remorseless neoliberalism takes hold?

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