The Light At the Beginning Of the Tunnel

McCain just conceded. I’m thrilled and relieved, but this isn’t over.

We have a chance now to get back on our feet, restore some level of moral authority, to stop things from deteriorating further. But we have to work harder now. The hate machine is already gearing up to take back Congress in 2010, to manufacture Obama scandals like they did for Clinton, to continue the “terrorist” smears, to build up the “socialist republic” fears, to send out hysterical letters about President Barack HUSSEIN Obama. And if the Democrats don’t run away with their tails between their legs in the face of those attacks, it will be the first time since LBJ that they’ve done so.

Two things to think about, from opposing columnists the other day in the Times:

The Republican rump, the party that’s left after the election, will be the party that attends Sarah Palin’s rallies, where crowds chant “Vote McCain, not Hussein!” It will be the party of Saxby Chambliss, the senator from Georgia, who, observing large-scale early voting by African-Americans, warns his supporters that “the other folks are voting.” It will be the party that harbors menacing fantasies about Barack Obama’s Marxist — or was that Islamic? — roots.
–Paul Krugman

Look at recent history. Jimmy Carter and a Democratic Congress begat Ronald Reagan. Bill Clinton and a Democratic Congress produced Newt Gingrich. Who knows what would follow a President Obama and a Democratic Congress? Here’s one possibility: President Sarah Palin.
–William Kristol

I spent today doing get-out-the-vote work in Pennsylvania, mostly ringing doorbells and giving wavering Obama voters some encouragement and information on where to vote, and offering rides if needed. It felt like useful work, but it was also depressing how many people didn’t seem interested, or were actively hostile.

But ten days in battleground states (I was in West Virginia for the week before the election) did make me seriously doubt the value of phone-banking for your candidate. You would not believe how many phone calls people in West Virginia and Pennsylvania were getting; it was a constant and angry topic of conversation. I was happily surprised at the number of Obama signs even along rural roadways, but the worst comments I heard about him had to do with phone calls. “Those Obama !#$%ers woke me up again last night!” Rural people tend to get up a lot earlier than city people, and phone calls at 9 or 9.30 at night are extremely unwelcome. I personally stop donating to any nonprofit that calls me for donations, so I really wonder if phone-banking turns out voters or turns them off. More than one person said, “I’m sick of the whole thing. I don’t even think I’m going to vote.” I wouldn’t volunteer for that again; I think that staffing voter-information hotlines, or doing polling site protection work, is much more valuable.

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