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Thursday, Nov. 9, 2006 | That was a fun election night. One fun thing was not watching my own vote returns. I have been through four of those nights, when the calm of my stomach and the width of my throat were directly related to the size of my lead.

On my first personal election night, I sat with my new acquaintance and soon-to-be colleague Jim Madaffer on the Channel 10 set, watching the expert journalists call Florida for Gore. It was on television; it must have been true. As a Democrat, I was glad we won that election, and I still am.

I have always been a proud Democrat. We are hardly perfect. But it’s clear that our party is more concerned and more effective on issues that Americans care about, like education or health care. We used to be the big spenders, but we have to concede that label to the GOP, who really busted the bank. I now know that if you increase military spending and cut taxes for rich people, it puts a real hurt on the budget surplus.

Democrats understand that the natural environment is important for things like breathing and drinking water, and we know a guy with an excellent power point on global warming. And we tend to understand that in the long run, diplomacy can be a more effective international persuader than war. You don’t have to agree with me, but apparently most people do. Check the returns.

My parents are bleeding heart liberals. When I was 11, my dad took me to a Vietnam War protest in Washington, D.C. We got tear gassed – very cool. My dad hates wars, opposes capital punishment and thinks we should care about poor people. You may think that’s quaint, but I’m not kidding.

Despite my radical upbringing, you couldn’t call me a liberal Democrat. I agree with most of the social stuff, but since I studied lots of economics, I tend to think that market forces are more effective than government-created regulatory forces. But I believe that we should use those market forces to pursue that Democratic agenda (see two paragraphs north).

Most people in my district are not liberals (except for true blue UCSD!), and I am the first Democrat ever to hold my council seat in the history of time. Apparently, a lot of Democrats like me were elected on Tuesday, people who are more conservative on one issue or another than the more left-hand side of the party.

My friend Toni Atkins is a real from-the-heart liberal, and she jokes with me that I’m not a real Democrat. She openly asks me why I can’t be more like my father. But she knows that even if I don’t vote with her on every single crazy liberal thing, I actually share many of the same values, so it’s better for her to have me around. And that’s what the national Democratic Party finally recognized this year. Because our tent is a little bigger, the Speaker of the House will be Nancy Pelosi. She’s more liberal than I am, but Toni and my dad are cool with that.

SCOTT PETERS

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