The overall results of this past Tuesday’s US midterm elections were no shocker to anyone. The Republicans were expected to win back the House of Representatives by a wide margin and they did just that. It was the largest Republican gain of seats since FDR in 1938 (they gained 70), even more than Bill Clinton lost after his first two years in office (about 60). The Democrats were also expected to lose ground in the senate, but retain their majority; they did just that as well. To find the real news, we must dig a little deeper.
Let’s start with the bad news. Given my position as a progressive, I find there are more things awful that’s come out of these elections than anything. Barrack Obama’s first two years in office were two of the busiest legislative years in several generations, still voters were unhappy. Conservatives believed he did way too much, liberals think he did too little. With the republican policy of filibuster anything (or “no you can’t”) I’m surprised Democrats got as much done as they did.
However, now that the Democrats have lost control of the House of Representatives, I think it’s going to be next to impossible for Obama to get anything done, short of cutting taxes of course. House speaker-in-waiting Rep. John Boehner said the day after the election that Republicans will use their new majority to seek a “smaller, less costly and more accountable government,” He also vowed to repeal Barrack Obama’s health care bill that passed this past year. So Obama’s aim to move forward on gay rights, re-taxing the rich, environmental issues and other important legislation will no doubt be halted by the Republican’s uncompromising goal of turning back time. Somehow I imagine they’ll meet somewhere in the middle with nothing getting done at all.
Money played an important roll on Tuesday thanks to the Supreme Court’s landmark “Citizen United” decision. Out of the 74 contests in which power changed hands, outside spending profited the winner in 58 races. In fact, winning candidates received on average $764,326 compared to $273,268 for the losing candidates, proving once again that elections can be bought. Even worse, about 60 percent of the outside funds in this election came from undisclosed sources. In other words, we have no idea who bought the elections. With results like these, you can bet it’s going to get much worse in elections to come.
One other note on the bad/sad side was the defeat of Proposition 19, a law that would have brought the legalization and taxation of marijuana in California. Looks like the kids were too stoned to get to the voting booths.
Tea Party candidates were successful in winning about thirty seats in the House of Representatives and a few in the Senate as well. The worst of which is Michele Bachmann, the gay hating, global warming denying, mamma grizzly/dragon lady congresswoman from Minnesota. The scary thing is, if you compare her policies to that of the other 30+ Tea Party winners, there is not much difference.
The ugliest loss on Tuesday in my opinion was that of Wisconsin Democrat incumbent Russ Feingold. Feingold was probably the most liberal progressive senator in the senate. He was one of only 28 senators to vote against President Bush’s Iraq War and the only senator out of a hundred that voted against the USA Patriot Act. Feingold was defeated by Republican Ron Johnson, a Tea Party associate who thinks global warming is “lunacy”, opposes gay marriage, abortion and stem cell research. In addition, he was disappointed that the Obama administration went after BP following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Feingold lost by almost 5% of the vote.
Believe it or not, there were a lot of positives that came out of Tuesday’s Democrat thrashing. The first being the victory of senate majority leader Harry Reid over Tea Bagger and Sarah Palin puppy Sharron Angle in Nevada, a contest that was predicted to go the other way. Another bright spot was the burning of the witch, Delaware Republican Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell was burned alive by Democrat Chris Coons who won by about 20% of the vote. Actually, I think O’Donnell burned herself about a day after the campaign started.
Then there is good old Republican Linda McMahon of Connecticut, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment who got pile driven into the ground by Richard Blumenthal. McMahon spent about 50 million dollars of her own money for her campaign and still lost big. To be honest, I secretly followed her campaign in hopes of seeing someone smash a chair over her head. Maybe, had that happened she might have won.
In all seriousness, the biggest blessing in disguise for poor Obama is ironically the Democrats mass defeat. Just like Bill Clinton and FDR, every time the democrats receive a thumping of this magnitude the unexpected always seems to happenâ€¦ they get re-elected!