Skip to content

Failing the Midterms

The election results are in, and, though individual races broke in surprising ways, the overall trend was about what po predicted, though perhaps not quite as hard on the Democrats as most of the polls expected. (Kudos again to’s Nate Silver, who nailed it despite admitting up front that the margin of error was high.) Republicans took the House but not the Senate, and the big question is what does their gain mean?

Conservatives like to call this a mandate, even as they admit it’s not a mandate. It’s coming from the leaders: Mitch McConnell, warning that this election was not an embrace of Republicans but a rejection of Democrats and ineffective governance, went on to declare that voters wanted Republicans not to compromise, that the party’s priority was ousting Obama (as opposed to, say, jobs legislation or other policies to, you know, help people), and that people really wanted a return to “core Republican values,” which are identical to the allegedly wayward Bush-era policies that so damaged our country and got conservatives kicked out of power in the first place. It’s coming from right-wing nutjob challengers like Christine O’Donnell, who in her concession speech argued that the people had spoken, and, since she’d lost, it is now up to Chris Cooms to govern by the platform she ran on, and he ran against. Yes. So expect more obstructionism and sabotage and outright denial of reality from the empowered right.

Liberals like to point out that Democratic losses were overwhelmingly among the conservative blue dogs, and not among genuine progressives; Dems lost seats, but didn’t lose any votes. We’ve also seen some pointed rejections of government-for-and-by-billionaires in Fiorina’s and Whitman’s defeat, and pointed rejections of teabagger darlings like O’Donnell and Angle. All true, but it’s hard to ignore the advantage of the majority in occupying the Speaker’s seat and heading committees. If Democrats held to their convictions, and the blue dogs (and Obama, for that matter) had governed like proper Democrats instead of groping blindly toward a bipartisan compromise the Republicans would never offer, goes the argument, they’d still be in office. Well, maybe, though Russ Feingold’s loss suggests otherwise. It’s not clear that the youth and racial minority vote, so energized by Obama’s campaign, would return to the polls now that the novelty’s worn off. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that, had Democrats held to their convictions, they would be laying the groundwork for the next generation’s victories, looking like crusaders rather than chumps. Hard as it is to admit, however, it’s getting harder to see that happening now that news services have abdicated their role of asking hard questions and challenging outright lies in favor of merely reporting each party’s claims, and perpetuating the chump myth.

So what does it all mean? More obstructionism and sabotage and corruption and outright denial of reality from the recently more-empowered right. More defeatism and cowardice from the left, increasingly convinced that they can only win by mimicking the right. Another cycle of conservatives breaking the system, spending a couple years out of power, sabotaging all attempts to clean up their mess, and blaming it all—dishonestly yet successfully—on liberals. A continuing concentration of power and privilege.

Business as usual.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *