If I was a betting man, I would stay away from the senate race in Alaska. Wouldnít much care for my chances either way. You just donít bet against the odds. When I peeked at the numbers for the upcoming senate race it looks as though it is a Republican majority with or without Sullivan.
Over at the Nate Silverís FiveThirtyEight blog (which, if you havenít heard, predicted Obamaís win in 2012 as well as a slew of other predictions in a way that the no other mainstream outfit could match in accuracy), they are calling it for a Senate majority for Republicans, with 74 percent confidence. This is good news for Republicans, and honestly I think it is a good thing for Democrats too. Gridlock might be a good thing while we sort out the mess we are in politically. It doesnít actually matter which side is correct: if either side is as corrupt as everyone claims it is, then the whole country is in trouble regardless of who is in power. I am a Democrat myself, but I would prefer we as Democrats not have to pass legislation scorched-earth style Ė thatís not how anyone should govern.
It doesnít really matter nationally whether Republicans win Alaska, gridlock will be gridlock. Even if Dan Sullivan wins, sure he could do some damage to our state, but mostly because no matter what he says he isnít from Alaska and it shows in his understanding of the issues. If you lose, try again in ten years, Marine Ė Iíll probably even vote for you. But I think my man Mark is going to pull through. Alaska is tough to call, as FiveThirtyEight admits: ďIf thereís a race that keeps us awake at night, itís Alaska.Ē
Mark winning wouldnít even be the end of the world for Republicans. There will be great gnashing of teeth if he does win, but cooler heads should remain so and realize that Alaskaís strategy should not be part of any partyís national strategy. I know I am not alone in despising the sheer amount of advertising because we are part of that plan. My son thinks Obama, Sullivan, and Begich are all bad guys because there is no good advertising, or so little it doesnít register in the partisan bleating.
Mark is a fine senator, and with him we have one Senator each in both major parties, both moderate, and both accessible.
On the House side, Don Young is the most senior Republican in the House. I really love Forrest Dunbar and I agonized over this, but I wonít be supporting him over Young. I wonít be heartbroken if you win, Forrest, and I wish you the best of luck, but Iím still going with Young. The man has so much seniority he doesnít need to chair any committees, recognize. When he isnít showing his ass to God and country, Don Young is a formidable congressman. But I wonít discount how unpopular his suicide comment made him. I know two grown men who he made indirectly cry with that comment and, being one of them, I tell you I donít much care for crying about this subject any more than I already do.
Begichís real power comes from his incredible ground game in Alaska, particularly in rural communities. I know so many amazing young Alaska Native leaders out there going door to door every day, and I think that is what is going to push him over the top.
Interestingly enough, the same vote might spell doom for the pot initiative. Countless Native organizations have come out against it. In my experience, Natives are generally very conservative. Most of my entire family and most everyone I know you would think vote Republican (and many do). We are pretty much the Eskimo version of mom and apple pie. Except its mom, gram and your whole family and agutaq. We go to church every Sunday and pray before every meal. We have one of the highest percentage of people who serve in the military anywhere in the country and we vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. So while this is good news for Begich, I question how this is going to affect the pot initiative. The possible counter to that would be the young rural turnout ó which helps the pot initiative, but I think might be a wash for Democrats.
No matter how this all turns out I will be pretty nonplussed (take that English). No matter what happens you should also relax. Gridlock can be a good thing, and yes perhaps the country will become worse off, and yes many people will be hurt in the turmoil. But we will still be America, so weíll probably still be doing pretty good.
The Republicans will inherit an improving economy, and their first target will be Obamacare. But they probably canít hurt it too much.
They certainly arenít going to get rid of it no matter how they bluster. Maybe, with enough wisdom, they can fine tune it. I would prefer single-payer for everyone using a Nuka-style system like Southcentral Foundation has, but perhaps we should see how Obamacare plays out. Barry is a smart dude. Itís really not a bad plan if you think about it, it manages to provide many of the benefits of single payer and retain some of the value of the insurance model. So yeah, gridlock is fine for now, and in four years I will vote for Lisa and Don.
If youíre still reading this, maybe you might be one of the ones I want to stay in Alaska. If oil dropped to $15 a barrel tomorrow we would find out in short order who the real Alaskans were. We have economic tourists, and while they may be American, they might not be Alaskan. Iím not pointing this out to be xenophobic, I donít mind too much. A good job is a good job. After all, the reason my wife and I moved back to Alaska was for a better job for her and opportunity for me.
It wasnít a hard sell: I was born in Bethel and raised mostly in Nome before spending my adolescence in Palmer. I thought I wanted to leave when I was younger but as it turns out, this is my home. As a friend once said: I will die here. My bones will be laid to rest alongside my family interred in the tundra. I care greatly about what happens here, but my view is so long I have a hard time getting too worried about this short term stuff. The vision at the place I work is ďProgress for the next 10,000 years,Ē and while I am lately becoming suspicious of progress, I find the timeline useful for putting things into context.
So Iím not too worried about this election any which way it goes, but thatís only because I donít think it could get much worse Ė and even if it does, it seems that may be necessary. What does Alaska do? Well, first of all perhaps we need to define who is Alaskan: if you wonít be here when the oil and gas runs out, then you are a tourist. We love tourists in Alaska, but we have a special kind of relationship. We might bitch about our winters, but we wouldnít have it any other way. The tourists arenít all bad either. For instance, Big Oil does do a lot of good when they arenít exploiting Parnellís unapologetically pro-oil agenda. Not only is the work they do crucial to the success of our economy, they also contribute to many great organizations around the state.
We should always recognize relationships for what they are, something thatís lost on Sean Parnell. Big Oil is a big tourist. Palin always calls them like she sees them, her vision ainít always so good but she pegged Parnell for what he is. Our relationship with oil is a partnership, but oil always has to be the one who loves more. Just for the record, Alaskans can and do work within the oil companies, but donít think for one minute Alaska is a charity case. That job is not a favor. They are not here to do us a solid.
Weíve got some internal stuff to work out, and I aim to stir that hornets nest if anyone cares to listen. In the meantime, one of the things we can do is stop playing their game. We have a lot going on in our country right now, and for better or worse we are stuck in it together. A lot of people look to Alaska, and for good reason. We are a leader in many ways, and even without the tourists (economic and otherwise) we are a weird lot. Maybe even weird enough to actually make change in our political system.