5 Best Monday Columns

On disliking the party in power, the long wait for the online ballot, and more

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  • Scott Rasmussen on a Word of Caution for the GOP  The president of Rasmussen Reports takes to the Wall Street Journal to explain that when the Republican "tidal shift" occurs on election day, the party should remember that "their team didn't win, the other team lost." The GOP's gains will be considerable and Rasmussen's polling predicts that Democrats will lose 55 House seats and Republicans will win at least 25 of the 37 Senate elections. But this doesn't mean that voters are enamored with the GOP agenda. "The reality," he argues, "is that voters in 2010 are doing the same thing they did in 2006 and 2008: They are voting against the party in power." The Obama administration is merely the latest to fail to represent American voters. If these voters continue to see Democrats as the party of "Big Government" and Republicans as the party of "Big Business" then "voters will remain ready to vote against the party in power unless they are given a reason not to do so."
  • Tom Keane on the Wait for Online Voting  This may sound like "civic heresy" but, "the value of one's vote is simply not worth the effort required," writes The Boston Globe columnist, who finds the entire act of walking or driving to the polls "a pain." And since a person's vote is worth so little, it's not a surprise that so few actually vote, but that many voters "actually do." So why not make it easier to vote by doing it right from your computer? Keane admits that the idea of online voting has been floating around since the internet was invented, making it sort of like "crumbless cake--a really good idea that no one has ever figured out." The trickiest part is, of course, technical. It's trying to figure out a system that recognizes voters so they don't vote twice, but also manages to keep their identities secret. As of now, no computer system is that secure, which inevitably means more trekking to polling places.
  • David Carr on the Rally to Restore Sanity  Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's rally on the Washington Mall Saturday attracted nearly 200,000 people, but those hoping for political red meat were likely disappointed, says The New York Times columnist. Instead of lobbing political grenades, the hosts "took steady aim on the one American institution that everyone can agree to hate: The Media." And while the event yielded some good bits and "hilarious signs," Carr argues the whole day had the vague feeling of shooting-fish-in-a-barrel. In addition, argues Carr, "most Americans don't watch or pay attention to cable television," and "eople are scared of what they see in their pay envelopes and neighborhoods, not because of what Keith Olbermann said last night or how Bill O'Reilly came back at him." Carr thought the rally felt like an uneasy departure from what Stewart, in particular, does best. "Personally," he writes, "I enjoy Mr. Stewart in his regular seat where he is less reasonable, less interested in obvious targets and less willing to suggest that all political ideas and movements are like kindergartners, worthy of understanding and respect if only the media would get out of the way." It's as if Stewart felt, he concludes, that "attacking the message would have been bad manners, so he stuck with the messengers."
  • Edmund Morris on the Tea Party and Teddy Roosevelt  Writing in The New York Times, the Theodore Roosevelt biographer argues there are similarities between today's Tea Party movement and Roosevelt's unsuccesful third party candidacy in 1910. While noting that "T. R., reconstituted today, would support Mr. Obama," Morris says many of the urges that compelled Roosevelt to challenge President Taft on the Bull Moose ticket also fuel the Tea Party movement's dissatisfaction with Republicans and Democrats in modern Washington. Republicans in 1910 did not share Roosevelt's concerns, renominating Taft. This resulted in "a capital 'P' for Progressivism, and the most formidable third-party campaign in our history." The opposing Woodrow Wilson was elected, Republican establishment favorite Taft coming "a poor third behind T. R." Morris concedes the Tea Party as it stands today does not much resemble "the sophisticated [Progressive] Party of a century ago," but says it could have the same effect, a fact that should make establishment Republicans and Democrats alike "nervous about the next two years."
  • Christopher Caldwell on Germany's Recovery from Recession  Despite being "scolded, even browbeaten, by Obama administration officials," the German government did not enact a massive stimulus plan of the Keynesian variety in response to the global recession. This is looking like a wise decision, writes The Weekly Standard scribe. The country's economy looks great. Caldwell points to Germany's concern about "the multiplier," i.e. "the measure of how much economic activity results from emergency government spending," as the primary reason Germans did not pursue a stimulus. "Discussions of the multiplier were at the center of the debates over the Obama stimulus plan," too, writes Caldwell. But the president's economic advisors may have overestimated the figure at 1.6--"$1.60 worth of economic activity for every dollar it spent." According to the data collected by the German government, the multiplier was more like .60, a number that--if correct--suggests the United States "might have been as well off to have taken the stimulus money and thrown it away."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.