In an otherwise annoying Simpsons episode about illegal immigration, there is a scene that teaches us a valuable lesson about politics. It’s a lesson we should all remember — especially nowadays.
In the episode, Springfield is preparing to pass “Proposition 24″ — a mean-spirited measure designed to throw all immigrants out of Springfield. (Subtleties about illegal immigration are overlooked/minimized in classic liberal fashion.) Homer learns that the measure will result in the deportation of his friend Apu, and his mind is changed. He stands up before an attentive crowd and delivers the following stirring speech:
Most of us here were born in America. We take this country for granted. But not immigrants like Apu. While the rest of us are drinking ourselves stupid, they’re driving the cabs that get us home safely. They’re writing the operas that entertain us every day. They’re training our tigers and kicking our extra points. These people are the glue that holds together the gears of our society. If we pass Proposition 24, we’ll be losing some of the truest Americans of all.
The crowd cheers, and Homer continues:
When you go to the polls tomorrow, please vote No on Proposition on 24.
The crowd begins to chant:
No on 24! No on 24! No on 24! No on 24!
As we watch a montage of citizens marching to the voting booths, we can easily see that Homer’s speech signifies the end of this divisive and ugly law.
Cut to TV newsman Kent Brockman, who announces:
It’s a landslide — Yes on 24! The proposition passed with a record 95 percent . . .
The lesson: just because everyone you know plans to vote a certain way, doesn’t mean the population at large will vote that way.
The phenomenon is nothing new. Recall Pauline Kael’s famous quote about Nixon: “I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon.” (Nixon had won the presidential election in a landslide.) Kael’s “special world” did not represent the country — and, most likely, neither does your special world.
The lesson is timeless, but has never been more timely. Over the past few days and weeks we have watched right-wing bloggers and talk radio hosts come out strongly in favor of a genuine conservative (Fred Thompson). When that didn’t work, we shifted our allegiance to a candidate who may not be a strong conservative — but who plays one on TV (Mitt Romney). It has all been for nought. Voters — Republicans, mind you — have voted in droves for John McCain and his unique brand of liberalism masquerading as Reaganesque conservatism.
Meanwhile, here in L.A., talk radio show hosts were (as far as I could tell) unanimous in their withering contempt for a phone tax that politicians stuck on the ballot with the deceptive message that it constituted a tax reduction. In fact, the talk show hosts screamed (accurately), it was a large tax increase — because the slightly higher tax it replaced has been declared illegal by the courts. If you listened closely, you could hear the chant: No on the phone tax! No on the phone tax! No on the phone tax!
It won, with the approval of 79% of the electorate.
Man up, Republicans. You can console yourself with this thought: we are going to lose no matter who we put up. But if we put up McCain, the lesson of the election will be: you can’t win by picking a liberal for your Republican candidate. And maybe the next time around, we’ll get someone who is actually conservative.
Or we won’t. Because, you know, our opinions don’t seem to mean much of anything nowadays.
P.S. As I say in the post immediately below, I will vote for McCain if he is our candidate. Just so there is no misunderstanding.