You Can Beat Something With Nothing

One venerable adage in politics, I gather, is “you can’t beat something with nothing,” meaning (for example) that a political party needs to field quasi-plausible candidates and not concede any race. Allegedly, fielding and supporting candidates in all sorts of races, including those in Republican turf, constituted Howard Dean’s strategy when he headed up the Demo party.

Exceptions do seem to prove (as in “try” or “test,” not as in “prove beyond a reasonable doubt”) the adage, however, and it may be worth one’s while to test adages.

Infamously, John Ashcroft was defeated when running against a deceased opponent. Arguably, then, Nothing beat Something–if we agree that Ashcroft is something.

Also, not long ago, a variety of Demo-friendly pundits were crowing and chirping about the demise of the Repub Party, noting that some polls showed only 20% of “Americans” (who knows what the actual represented group was–likely voters?) “identified” as Republicans. Additional caws and whistles noted how ludicrous visible Repub pols seemed: Larry Craig, John Boehner, Sarah Palin. An implied argument hidden in this rhetorical noise seemed to be borrowed from the languages of sports and/or gaming: “They got nothin’!”

Assuming they, the Repubs, had nothing, while the Demos had something, such as a President, a majority in the House, and 60 sonorous senatorial votes, how is it that the Repubs defeated even the diluted health-care reform, beat a Demo in Ted Kennedy’s turf, made Obama’s team look about as legislatively cunning as Carter’s, and enjoyed the revival of Sarah Palin, who found herself sitting across from Oprah?

One answer: You can beat something with nothing, and the result is that those allegedly served by “representative democracy” get nothing. The great, late Billy Preston got there before us: Nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin’.

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