Parity loses at Dartmouth

The results are in from Dartmouth College’s election for its Association of Alumni executive committee. The “Dartmouth Unity” slate resoundingly defeated the “Parity Slate”(of which I am a member) by more than 5,000 votes. Approximately almost 24,000 votes were cast. The “Unity” slate has promised to end the lawsuit brought by the Association of Alumni to prevent Dartmouth’s trustees from breaching an agreement under which alumni have, for more than a century, elected half of the trustees. The “Parity” slate promised to maintain the lawsuit as the only means of stopping the trustees from instituting the board-packing plan they have announced, and any other plan along the same lines.

There will be time enough for post-mortems and “what comes next” posts later. For now I want to express my gratitude to the more than 9,000 alums who voted for members of our slate and my pride at having been associated with Mike Murphy and the other Parity candidates all of whom fought hard for what we believed in. Congratulations are also due the members of the “Unity” slate, who fought equally hard on behalf of their views.

Most adults don’t run for office, and I hadn’t in my adult life until now. It was extremely helpful for me, as someone who writes about politics, to have done so. It’s quite easy to second-guess politicians for the decisions they make during campaigns. This campaign reinforced my appreciation of how difficult it is to make close calls under pressure. At times we received conflicting tactical advice. All of the advice was plausible and all of the “advisers” were smart, but the available underlying information was always imperfect. Unfortunately, the decisions had to be made anyway.

While pundits expect candidates to get nearly everything right, it seems to me that a candidate who bats .600 is doing well. The failure to understand or acknowledge this is probably the biggest flaw in much of what is written about politics.

Given the margin in this particular election, though, it’s probably fair to say that there was no tactical campaign decision or set of decisions that could have altered the outcome.

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