"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Name The October Surprise; And Some Ranting

Name The October Surprise is an interesting contest being run by NYC Democrat Mark Green to collect ideas as to what the "October Surprise" will be.

My guess is that it was the formatting for the debates, which by barring direct discussion between the candidates essentially means Kerry cannot score any points on Bush. The election is fundimentally Kerry's to win, but unless he can make a move it's not going to happen. Bush can and will be on auto-pilot for the next month; going around to supportive rallies, running millions of dollars in ads, and relying on the GOP apparatus to turn out his supporters (and suppress Kerry's).

Bush's approval is soft -- 45% -- but he's leading (slightly) in the polls because Kerry hasn't been able to make the sale. Barring some radical shift in strategy or unforseen developments outside the race (unlikely as Bush has everything from Iraq to the congress in a holding pattern until Nov 2nd), the debates were the last big opportunity for Kerry to shake things up. With the rules that the GOP pushed through -- no direct questions, no rebuttal, pre-submitted questions, 30-second answers get a buzzer -- it's dueling soundbytes, not a chance any new information to emerge. Bad news for the JK campaign.

The race is probably going to come down to a grinding ground campaign between two candidates who don't really inspire anyone. Bush has some true believers and some true haters, but most people are not impressed by his term in office, for good reason. Candidate Kerry tends to be unspectacular on the trail (as does Bush, reall), and (like Bush) can be painfully awkward on television. They're both weak candidates, but while Bush is essentially at the top of his form, I really expected more from Kerry. We'll see what happens tonight and whether or not he can "close" this race as strongly as he has in his past challenges.

It's tough for me. On a purely emperical basis, Bush's presidency is literally one of the worst (if not the worst) in our history. By all rights, he should be rejected in something approaching landslide proportions. His supporters usuallly throw out a hearty "remember 9/11" anytime anyone mentions this, but that's really no fucking excuse.

The economic disruption caused by two buildings collapsing in lower manhattan and the bursting of a stock market bubble is hardly any reason for 1.2 million more Americans to live in poverty. It's hardly any reason for our international reputation to be at an all-time low. It's hardly any reason for 3 million more without health care or record levels of industrial pollution. It's hardly a reason for 10-year deficits of a scale that could undermine our (and the world's) economy. It's hardly a reason for a misguided occupation that's spiraling out of control.

These things happened because Bush made wrong choices, either through intentional avarice and pure incompetance. If he is re-elected, it will be an all-time low point for the Democratic party and the American system of government in general, because abysmally poor performance in office will have been rewarded with re-election.

So I'll say it again; this probably comes down to the ground game. There's not much time left. Get registered. Make sure your friends are registered. Vote early and spend some time this month making sure as many like-minded people as yourself are hustled to the polls. Asking can increase someone's likelyhood of voting more than anything else, especially if the ask comes from a friend. Do it.