What’s the message?

Quick! What were caucus participants in Minnesota telling us?

Thousands of Minnesotans went to caucuses around the state last night to tell the world what they think. Their message, however, may be lost in the wake of the attention being given to the process that delivered the message. Why weren’t precinct caucuses more prepared? Is the caucus system the best way of doing this? Who benefits from the results?

Those are all good questions, unless you really want to know what it all means to an average Minnesotan who may not be a political scientist. And what message did the voters on Super Tuesday give to the candidates themselves that might shape the general election?

Analysis: McCain looks to seal deal, the Associated Press headline said this morning. Not far in usefulness, really, from “Giants blitz sacks Brady.” We know Mitt Romney and Barack Obama won Minnesota. We know that a lot more people turned out than anyone imagined. And there message was….. what?

Here’s a sample of possibilities on the Republican side:

“I wonder if you are seeing that Romney has the support of MN people who actually volunteer for and support the GOP financially,” said the Republican blog, Truth v. the Machine, which also takes a good whack at the MPR/ U of M poll. “Maybe the people in the poll who supported McCain never got off the couch to vote tonight? As discussed here and elsewhere, there in lies the whole problem with candidate McCain. The people who actually write checks and do the footwork could likely vote for him in November, but the problem is they will hold their cash and spectate leading up to the vote.”

The Chaska Herald, meanwhile, carried a quote that suggests the Republicans who caucused really hate John McCain. “I’m trying to keep McCain from being elected. Go Romney!” said Ward 3 resident Roy Henderson. And the Star Tribune‘s account of a caucus in Maplewood showed why — immigration, primarily. “Let them come the way that we used to,” Larry Lyon, a retired engineer from North St. Paul, “and learn English.”

On MPR’s Midmorning today, Matthew Continetti, associate editor at the Weekly Standard, said McCain is not going to win over conservatives. Period. “But at the end of the day, those kind of practical political critics of McCain will vote for him.” Which means what, exactly, for the future of the conservative movement?

“Conservatives have been so vitriolic in their assault on John McCain because they don’t have a viable candidate in the race and because they don’t believe that McCain will keep the conservative flame alive within the GOP,” Allan J. Lichtman, professor of History at American University and the author of White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement, said today. “However, as we learned from the liberal collapse in the late 1970s, political movements usually succumb to contradictions within their own traditions. That is precisely what has happened to conservativism in the era of George W. Bush and the impending McCain nomination is but a symptom of a more serious malady.”

On the Democratic side, perhaps the message was to the media: “you’re wrong.”

“The media is also playing a divisive and misleading role through its analysis of the election results,” said Joel Wendlend at PoliticalAffairs.net. “An ongoing mantra in both print and on the cable networks has been that women sided with Clinton and African Americans sided with Obama. But in state after state, where Obama won, he also won the support of both women and whites, at least according to exit polling data. Young voters overall turned in majorities for Obama, however.”

Has your message been heard? What is it? Tell me below.

  • Mark Quade

    A Letter to This Nations Political Leaders

    A National Goal for Today

    As an aging political independent, but fervent believer in JFK’s Camelot during my youth, I am becoming more confused with each passing day as our election process precedes towards the November 2008 presidential election. I am confused because I sense we have many separate issues competing among us for attention and votes. There is this crying need, indeed the growing unending slogan, that we need change. But how do we prioritize what needs to be changed, and most importantly, how do we actually gather together to work towards achieving the changes we each desire? How do we achieve these changes in the most cost effective and efficient way?

    Chief among changes needed is an improved health care system, one which will take care of our nation’s poor and disadvantaged and under educated, and a system which will reduce the load on our hospitals emergency rooms providing non emergency care. And we need an improved education system to reduce our poor, improve the economic conditions of our poor, and improve our country’s economic competitiveness, our production efficiency and provide a larger more innovation foundation in our economy. And yes, at least partially, we may have used oil along with terrorism as justification for eliminating Saddam. A more democratic Middle East might provide increased regional stability and thus help ensure future oil flows to us. But that also has a cost. Now we agree it’s good to develop non food competitive ways to eliminate our dependence on ever higher cost, foreign sources of carbon containing, global warming, and fossil fuels.

    Most of us would agree there has been a loss of American leadership in world foreign affairs. How and why has this current distaste for some of our American beliefs and values occurred? Why do I sense an increase in isolation for American and Americans in this world? Where it coming from and what is its source? Why is the value of the American dollar going down while the value of commodities like corn, wheat, and oil, gold, copper, coal, natural gas etc. going up? Why should I care or be concerned? If I am concerned, what will turn it around?

    Maybe we can summarize the list as voicing a concern our standard of living, and our way of life, is threatened in new ways we and our leaders do not understand? I sense the worlds business leaders, recently meeting at Davos, have global economic recession concerns, but cannot seem to agree on a cause or causes? Does US consumerism still drive the global developing economies? If so, why would it, or not, continue to do so? Would the worlds corporate business leaders welcome change if it was change that increased business activity and business effectiveness and efficiency? I believe they would.

    The CEO of Exxon has perhaps given us a hint of what is wrong? I will offer my hypothesis. I am concerned many of our problems are the result of an ever increasing depletion of the earth’s natural resources and increasing nation state competition for these resources. Chief among these being depleted the fastest by developed and developing economies, are the carbon fossil fuels, i.e. oil, coal and natural gas.

    Fossil fuels are the foundation which provides not only our transportation systems but many household and recreational products in our daily life. Highly productive agriculture to feed the increasing global human population cannot exist without the fossil fuel used to fertilize plant, cultivate and harvest the fields. Our auto, plane bus, rail and barge transportation systems use huge amounts of fossil fuel for moving people and materials. And large amounts of fossil fuels are also used in heating our homes, producing our electricity and in providing materials for making transportation seats, carpeting, mats, dashboards, etc. Our pharmaceutical companies produce life giving and extending drugs and medicines. Most of these are based on or use compounds derived from oil, coal or natural gas in their structure. And of course, fossil fuels produce global warming which is now slowly bringing many negative climate changes to our environment.

    What has occurred in the price of fossil fuels as we have come out of the 2001 recession, come out of a recession with low interest rates that perhaps squandered some of our earths resources in wasteful home construction? Over this recent period of economic growth, the price of fossil fuels has tripled. Perhaps this increased energy demand is telling us growing modern developed non recessionary economies and jobs requires a steady low cost source of energy? If so, where will this energy come from in future years and at what cost in human lives if we feel we must at some point go to war over fossil fuels with Chindia or ? We maintain existing American sea power to maintain access to foreign natural resources and ensure foreign free trade. Are there alternative sources for any of these natural resources? Are there none military or none “carry a big stick” ways we might use to decrease our dependence on certain imports, thus increasing our national security by non military means?

    Many people maintain the creation of NASA and JFK’s “go to the moon” program in the period of the 60’s and 70’s resulted in many technological breakthroughs in areas not directly related to space exploration. I believe the uniting of our nation’s people behind this common cause program resulted in increasing expenditures in all areas of US education. It especially helped in fostering and improving the education of our scientific and engineering community where most technical innovation occurs.

    I suggest at this time the most urgent problem facing this nation is how to develop and create cheap, environmentally friendly, energy systems for not only the US, but for the entire worlds human population.

    And so I ask of our political leaders during this election, is it not time for one of you to step out front, to lead this nation, and indeed, this world, in a “go to the moon” type program, a decades long program to conserve and eventually eliminate the use of fossil fuels ? I believe doing so would once again provide us a unifying common goal, and in turn provide the human energy needed to solve and make needed progress. Would not such a program, increase the productivity of our educational systems? Would it not deliver fall out innovations which would increase the productivity or our labor force in coming years and thus also permit us to better handle future costs in health care for today’s poor and tomorrows Medicare and long term care health delivery systems?

    Would it not be a cause all the worlds religious could unite behind and support?

    At this point I must mention, when Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon, I voiced to my grandmother what a great achievement it was. And she replied, why, what is so important about going to the moon? And her words have stayed with me. Perhaps she was right, the goal of the program was wrong, the money could have been better spent on other goals? But I remember, this nation did come together, and it was unified and its people working together full of energy. And a goal, even if some would argue the wrong goal, was accomplished. It was accomplished without wartime bloodshed. And yes, it provided and increased America’s leadership in world affairs and foreign relations. And I believe eventually the science from this goal, helped provide a foundation basis for peace with the Soviets. Why cannot a similar effort in the area of energy, provide us the same or greater benefits?

    Who among our leaders will step forward to champion a unifying cause ?

    Mark Quade


  • Alex

    Here’s my message –

    Who is this “media” we keep hearing about? Sure, I think that CNN’s coverage with their breakdowns by race and gender is ugly. But then some media – like NPR’s Day-to-Day – doesn’t even cover the election for fear of influencing it. (turned THAT off right quick, just fyi)

    In terms of demographics, I think the media got one thing right. “Young People” like Obama. I, myself, am a “young person” and couldn’t be more rabidly pro-Obama. I was a volunteer for his campaign these last two weeks – the first and last time I may be involved in politics.

    I called my 64-year old mother down in Missouri last night, just to remind her to go vote (she had forgotten). She said that the reason she switched over is that all the idealists left in the democratic party are with Obama, as evidenced by the huge outpouring of support from college students, etc. So she was that one vote that made the difference down there, I guess.

    I didn’t like the caucus aspect of last night. Trying to “vote” for a Senate candidate took about an hour and a half. I don’t think I’ll ever do that again.

    But I may go on to Wisconsin. Winning Minnesota 2 to 1 felt great. Maybe I need another fix.