Tomorrow is zero hour for the 2006 mid-term elections, and while all major polls have Democrats ahead, there are a few signs - at least from some of the more conservative surveys - that the race has tightened. As was the case in the 2004 presidential contest, it appears that voter turn-out will play a key role in determining which party claims victories in the House and in the Senate, and in another similarity to 2004, the Republican Party has pulled out all the stops and is flexing its arsenal of voter suppression tactics and sleazy advertising.
As the final round of dirty tricks from the GOP runs its course, there is still reason to expect that sentiment against the current majority party will carry the day in at least one house of Congress, but we must remain alert to potential complacency and committed to action. There are valid concerns over both the accuracy of counts and the legal challenges that will almost certainly follow in the wake of close contests, and it is vital that each ballot produce as clear a winner as possible.
Simply put, ethics and oversight must be restored in Congress. Our lazy, incompetent and corrupt federal legislature has been nothing short of an abject failure, rolling over for President Bush at every turn, and freely allowing him to gut the bill of rights, legalize torture and imprisonment without charge, and waste trillions of dollars on a war of choice that is spiraling out of control and which was doomed to failure before a shot was fired. Corruption and criminal activity have rid us of some of the worst of the worst, but for every Tom Delay, Duke Cunningham and Bob Ney, there remain ample targets for dismissal from public service.
As we near the finish line, incumbent Republicans have distanced themselves from the president and from their own actions, and pundits - eager to restore our faith in their sagacity - are lying about their own positions and past support for failed policies as they try to push at least a few undecided voters back toward the GOP. Be warned and be vigilant; this is a White House that has lied and obfuscated repeatedly to get what it wants. It is supported by legislators that lie and obfuscate just as much, and propped up further by an infrastructure of loyal talking heads and biased reportage that lies and obfuscates even harder. As Keith Olbermann notes in his November 2nd special commentary (below, in two parts), there are no lines the Bush Administration and its supporters will not cross:
This election is the first step in repairing the awful damage inflicted on the United States by George W. Bush, the Republican Congress and all of their supporters. It is the first step in restoring our republic.