Like us, you are probably watching the early exit polls. Several tight races will determine the control of the Senate. The outcome will greatly affect President Bush's ability to conduct the nation's foreign and military policy, particularly the urgent need to wage war, effectively and decisively, on the sponsors of terrorism. On the domestic front we face the appalling vacancy crisis in the federal judiciary — brought on by a Democratic blockade of the president's nominees, on which the committee refuses even to permit a vote. Whether the current obstructionist Senate can be replaced with one that governs responsibly, we shall know by tomorrow.
In Michigan, Minnesota, Georgia and Massachusetts the gubernatorial races are still too close to call (as of this writing). There is also is our own state of California. The media — in their typically helpful and high-minded fashion — have tried to characterize the race between Bill Simon and Gray Davis as a smelly contest between two undesirable candidates. The phrase "holding their noses" to describe the voters' attitudes has become a tiresome favorite.
We happen to think that election involves a clear and important choice. Mr. Davis is an old-school liberal, who has contained his most extravagant plans for bigger, badder government in California only because he faced re-election. Should he return to office, we fear the Institute may be forced to look at office space in Claremont, New Hampshire. Mr. Simon on the other hand — whatever one might say about how his campaign has been conducted — seems by all the evidence to be a principled conservative.
The campaign has turned largely on charges and counter-charges of corruption: Mr. Davis has been accused of questionable fund-raising techniques; Mr. Simon of being the subject of litigation in his businesses. (What business hasn't been sued in this day and age?) The question of corruption is worth pursuing, up to a point at least. But there are urgent policy issues involving education, crime, and infrastructure. Governor Davis has demonstrated his ability, or inability, to deal with these matters. Perhaps that is the reason for the media's strategy of painting both candidates as "undesirable." In any event, should Mr. Simon be elected, we expect he will at least be able to keep the lights on.
And if you have not yet voted, you must — even if there are no close races in your state or district. Remind your friends. If they are conservatives, remind them soon. Remind your liberal friends too, but perhaps a little later.