Boy howdy, wasn’t yesterday interesting? The Republicans decisively took back the House (not that that matters much; a simple majority is enough to run things there), came damn close to taking back the Senate, and had resounding victories on the state level across the nation.
It wasn’t a sweep, but it was a thorough ass-kicking, the kind of which we haven’t seen since… well, the combined 2006-2008 elections.
As much as I’d like to say that the results were ideologically driven, I just can’t bring myself to believe that. I don’t think this election was a referendum on big-government liberalism/progressivism/socialism, with the American people wholeheartedly rejecting all that destructive BS.
Nor do I think that this was an anti-incumbent season. Yeah, a lot of seated Congresscritters were shown the door, but it was a targeted purging — far more Democrats were kicked to the curb than Republicans.
No, I hate to say it, but I think that the spirit that dominated this election was the same one that controlled the last two elections — the demand for “change.”
In 2006, the Democrats ran on a platform of “sick of how things are? Vote for us!” and won decisively. In 2008, they doubled down on that theme, with the bonus of having the presidency in play, and won decisively again.
Yesterday, the Republicans stole the playbook and pointed to how the Democrats had held Congress for four years, added the White House two years ago, and things had gotten (pun intended) progressively worse. This time, the “sick of how things are” voters cast their ballots for the Republicans.
Actually, let me revise that. In 2006 and 2008, that bloc — and it’s a very powerful bloc — cast their vote against Republicans, and yesterday they voted against the Democrats.
That bloc is very powerful, and very fickle. They hold no allegiance to party or principle — their unifying factor is “we want things to be better, and we want it now!” They cannot be counted on to vote for or against anyone or anything except the status quo. Which means that the Republicans now have to find a way to make things not just better, but better enough to satisfy them in two years — or pull a mirror of 2008 and make Obama the centerpoint of every race to buy themselves another two years.
I fear that this could be the future of American politics — a president given a cooperative Congress, but only two years to make things better. Then, a president shackled with an opposition Congress (at least one house) that feels it has a mandate to oppose him.
I think it worked out OK yesterday, with the Tea Party movement driving a sense of responsibility and accountability and common sense behind a lot of races — and influencing a lot of others. But I don’t like the way it bodes for the future.
And I like even less what it says about us as a nation. I fear that yesterday was another triumph of what I’ve started calling “the ADD electorate,” and that is not a healthy way for the country to be heading.
So, congratulations to the winners. Now get to work — you don’t have much time to please those who put you in power. Start making things better (or find ways to convince them to start thinking long-term again), or you’re looking at another exile in a fairly brief time.