Election’s over; everyone calm down

By John Laird, Columbian Editorial Page Editor

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photoJohn Laird is The Columbian's editorial page editor. His column of personal opinion appears each Sunday. Reach him at john.laird@columbian.com.

My former-drill-sergeant therapist said that, if I didn’t like the results of Tuesday’s election, maybe I should chug on over to Mamby Pamby Land and find some self-confidence. His stern advice helped boost my spirits, although I’m still trying to decipher what he meant by “you jack wagon.”

Even if you don’t recognize that Geico TV commercial, you’ve got to admit we’re all burdened these days by post-election psychological strains. Here are a few myths and realities that might lend stability to the chaos.

Myth: We need to find a way to stop Seattle from stealing these elections; same thing with Portland in Oregon.

Reality: If you actually believe one person’s vote should count more than another’s, then you should run for office and try to change the law.

Myth: In politics, money talks.

Reality: But people don’t always listen. Locally, David “notolls.com” Madore poured about $150,000 into nine campaigns, but only two candidates won.

Myth: Madore must be awfully sad.

Reality: Not really, for two reasons. First, ponder this comparison: California GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman outspent Madore 950-fold ($175 million) and doesn’t have squat to show for it. Second, Madore drew attention to his cause and scared a lot of Democrats. Just ask County Commissioner Steve Stuart, who barely defeated a Madorista phantom candidate.

Myth: It’s great to see this political sea change in Clark County.

Reality: What sea change? In local partisan races, as of Friday, six of seven incumbents were on their way to victory.

Myth: At least it’s great to see local Republicans staging such a comeback.

Reality: True, they got two rookie legislators (Ann Rivers and Paul Harris) elected, but local Republicans only had one incumbent trying to stay in the same office, and that was re-elected Republican Sheriff Garry Lucas, who goes out of his way to avoid partisan politics.

Myth: Nationally, Democrats must be shocked at losing the U.S. House.

Reality: Only if they ignore history. This is routine in midterm elections.

Myth: Then President Obama must not be too worried. After all, Reagan’s party lost 26 House seats at midterm, and he won re-election two years later; Clinton lost 52 House seats and won a second term; and George W. Bush lost six House seats and was re-elected.

Reality: Obama is plenty worried, for good reason. Democrats lost 60-plus seats in the House, the largest shift in that chamber since this 62-year-old columnist was 4 months old.

Myth: Washington state proved once again that it’s a bastion of liberalism, returning Democrat Patty Murray to the Senate in a super tough year.

Reality: Don’t get too cocky now, liberals. Washingtonians also rejected a proposed state income tax, imposed a two-thirds-approval requirement on the Legislature to raise taxes, and repealed taxes on candy, bottled water and soda pop. Each of these three conservative decisions was affirmed by more than 61 percent of the voters.

Myth: King County remains the state’s Democratic hotbed.

Reality: Perhaps in number of voters, but as of Friday afternoon San Juan County had the state’s strongest vote for Murray: 64.7 percent. In that county, Friday Harbor is the county seat, 40 percent of residents have bachelor’s degrees, per capita income is $30,603 and the poverty rate is 8.9 percent.

Myth: So there must be no place for ultra-conservatives to hide in our state.

Reality: They can always move to Adams County, where Republican Dino Rossi won 73 percent of the votes. Ritzville is the county seat, 12.2 percent of residents have bachelor’s degrees, per capita income is $13,534 and the poverty rate is 17.9 percent. (You’re free to take those last two myth-reality assessments and draw any conclusions you like about the state’s most liberal and most conservative counties.)

Myth: The Columbian’s endorsements prove how the newspaper is out of touch with its readers.

Reality: As of Friday, 72 percent of Columbian endorsements matched the will of the voters. This percentage traditionally is 60-75. Remember, we never endorse with the percentage in mind; each endorsement is made independently. The only reason I bring this up is to refute complaints that the newspaper is out of touch with voters.