Wednesday, June 21, 2017

That Georgia special election? STILL doesn't mean anything...

And heeeeere we go again...  Tomorrow I'm planning to get back to healthcare, but today, I just gotta do this.

Yesterday, we had the runoff special election in Georgia.  After the first round, I posted this, about how special elections are irrelevant shiny things that just distract us when we have nothing else to hold our attention.  Yes, I also admitted that I have a sickness because I, too, am easily distracted by these things, but hey, did you notice that I refrained from writing about that ad!  Yay, me!  Regardless, my general point remains what I said after the Kansas special election back in April-- they don't mean jack shit.  Don't try to over-interpret what a special election means for 2018.

It is worth noting, though, that there has been a change in tone.  In the first few rounds of special elections in which Democrats lost, they were arguing that they lost by smaller margins than expected, so that's kind of a win, and indicative of good things to come.  I haven't seen as much of that with the Handel-Ossoff runoff result.  Figuring out the proper baseline in a special election is difficult, and that has been my point, so really, all that matters here is-- I hate to say it-- what Trump would say:  winning or losing.  The Republicans have been winning.  That's probably because they are holding these elections on Republican ground, but they are winning.  What does that mean?

NOTHING.  Haven't you been paying attention?

Of course, there is one way that this might matter.  The self-fulfilling prophesy.  If congressional Republicans are stupid enough to take these special elections as indications about public opinion more broadly, then a win might convince them that it is safe to act on healthcare reform, for example.

Would that be totally fucking stupid?  Yes.  Like, Donald Trump-tweeting-in-the-middle-of-the-night or admitting-guilt-to-Lester-Holt-stupid?  Yup, that fucking stupid.  That doesn't mean they won't see it that way.  Or, put another way, had Handel lost, that might have scared Senate Republicans into voting against repeal, but with Handel's victory, they don't have that acting against their repeal efforts.

Look, special elections are irrelevant shiny things.  All that really matters in the House is which party has the majority.  You saw what happened with the Obamacare repeal.  With all of the stupidity involved, and all of the opposition in the caucus, Ryan still managed to pass that piece of shit.  (I'm trying to figure out a joke about "regular" order, but technically, they didn't use regular order).  These special elections were never about majority status.  We can over-interpret them, if we get sloppy, but they only really, truly matter if others who matter (e.g. Senators) over-interpret them.  In principle, they could.  It would be stupid, and I doubt they will, but hey, I've been wrong about a lot so far.

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