This past Tuesday night was hard to handle. Fortunately I was in class for most of the returns and by the time I got home the bad news had already rolled in, the Republicans (essentially the same group that drove us off the cliff in the 2000s) had regained the House.
Then a shimmer of light was flicked on when it looked more and more throughout the night that the Democrats would retain the Senate. The Tea Party played a huge roll in the Democrats keeping control of the Senate. Had Harry Reid had to face an actual opponent he would have very well lost. Angle spent so much time painting all Hispanics as drug-pedaling, illegals that they showed up in huge numbers just enough to push Harry Reid over the line for the victory.
In Delaware Christian O'Donnell beat out a fairly popular Republican to make it to the general election. Then her history came into play when it was revealed that as a teenager she had dabbled in witchcraft. Conservatives tried to downplay that by saying that it was no big deal (oddly enough one Senator posing nude in his younger days and another Senator candidate dabbling in witchcraft is no big deal for the TEA Party conservatives, but liberals, or people they believe to be liberals, not paying their taxes thirty years ago is so bad they should not be appointed to government positions. I will let the bigger irony of that rest with you) but O'Donnell lost in a landslide.
There was also Linda McMahon in Connecticut, Dino Rossi in Washington, and Ken Buck in Colorado. Had the Republicans fielded just three regular Republicans in those houses, the Republicans would have won the Senate.
Let us take a look at the numbers coming out of the elections. The one thing that was solid across every state and every district is that Americans are not happy with either party right now. Despite the claims that the American people want the Republicans to redo the last two years, the numbers do not actually back them up.
Despite this election supposedly being about President Obama and the Congressional Democrats "liberal" agenda liberals fared the best out of the Democratic caucus only losing three members. The liberal caucus now has a higher percentage in the party in Congress than the moderate or conservative Democrats. Out of 34 Blue Dogs (conservative Democrats) only 18 survived the election. Out of the 72 Progressive members 68 are returning (yes that's a total of 4 but one of those seats was won by a Democrat in an open seat). Of the New Dems that caucused with the Blue Dogs 9 of the 20 were re-elected. Out of the New Dems that caucused with the Progressives all four were re-elected. Out of the 45 New Dems who were in neither caucus only 28 were re-elected with the addition of 2 new Democrats this year in open seats. In other words non-Progressive Dems in the 111th Congress had 99 members, while the Progressives had 76. At this point (before the newly elected Democrats choose their caucuses the Progressives have 72 members, white the other caucuses have 53.
When we look at who voted for who, once again more moderates voted for Democrats than Republicans. In 2010 66% of Conservatives, 31% of Moderates, and 3% of Liberals voted for Republicans. 47% of Moderates, 40% of Liberals, and 13% of Conservatives voted for the Democrats. So, despite the narrative that moderates were tired of the Democrats and wanted Republicans in charge the actual numbers, once again do not hold up.
One final not. To show just how tired of both parties (and yes count me as one. I am currently seriously considering either joining the Green or the Unites States Populist Party) the American people truly are Rasmussen who is hardly a pollster that favors Democrats releases a new poll stating that 59% of Americans say that it is somewhat likely that the GOP will be a disappointment by 2012.
The next two years will be very interesting. (This is where the positive light kind of goes away) I really do not think anything will get done. Partisanship will still rule Washington. With the number of House Republicans already promising to investigate Obama under the table they really will not have any time to do anything. Their first goal is to extend all the Bush-era tax cuts (an idea that Obama is now apparently getting behind for some really strange reason) which will explode the deficit. It is very strange that the very first thing Republicans want to do is break their main campaign promise of cutting the deficit.
I could be just as silly as the TEA Party and the Republican leadership in 2009, when they demanded to know where all the jobs were at before the stimulus law had even taken affect but I will not. I will wait until at least the end of 2011 before asking the Republicans why they have not done anything. I could be wrong of course, which I will readily admit when that time comes.
(Back to the positive light)I must admit I like the Democrats chances in 2012, specifically Obama. Typically in the two to four years before an election where the opposition party won the white house we usually had a pretty good idea of who the front runners for the respective parties would be.
In the 1970s Ronald Reagan was the sweetheart of the Republican Party so it came as no surprise that he swept to victory in 1980.
Bill Clinton made such an impression at the 1988 Democratic Convention that many Democratic insiders gave him the inside advantage for 1992.
By 1996, George W. Bush was a rising star in the Republican Party and some Republicans thought that he could make a run for the 2000 election.
After the 2004 Democratic Convention all the Democrats could talk about was this unheard of then state Senator from Illinois Barack Obama and he rode that wave to the largest victory for a candidate since Ronald Reagan.
In the years where the opposition party did not win there was really no clear front runner.
In 1984 Walter Mondale who picked the first-ever woman Vice Presidential candidate was never considered a true competitor to Ronald Reagan.
In 1988, despite George H. W. Bush not being a strong candidate for the Republican side, the Democrats came up with and even worse choice in Michael Dukakis, who continually shot himself in the foot.
In 1996, the Republicans were faced with a very weak presidential field and ended up nominating Bob Dole.
In 2004, the Democrats faced a similar dilemma as the Republicans in 1996. Though Howard Dean seemed to be the rising star his campaign was derailed when he screamed at a campaign stop. I am still not really sure how that caused him to lose support, but the American people can be fickle at times. Instead we got John Kerry. His Achilles heel that year was not himself but a group of former Vietnam Vets (who had never actually served with Kerry) who came out and claimed that Kerry had never actually earned his medals. Kerry did shoot himself in the foot by waiting to actually take on that group and the message was already out there.
To this point the potential Republican field consists of Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich (all interestingly enough employed by Fox News), Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, and Jeb Bush among others. Barack Obama despite his poor poll numbers does not trail a single Republican at this point.
Potential the only person that could beat Obama would be a member from his own party, Hillary Clinton. There is already talk that Obama may make a move to make Clinton his running mate in 2012 to eliminate this potential threat.
The Democrats lost this election for a very simple reason. They allowed the Republicans to shape the narrative for this election. Had they actually ran on what they did instead of running away from what they did, they would have fared much better. I am not going to go to the extreme as Rush Limbaugh did in 2006 and state that I am done carrying the water for the Democrats (oddly enough after no long water-carrying for the Republicans Rush is still carrying water for them).
I am, however, annoyed that once again the Democrats are allowing the Republicans to bully them into positions they do not support.
On a final note, back to that whole this election was a referendum on liberalism. Let us take a look at some actual liberal positions have been the last two years and see if this country was actually under the spell, as it were, to Liberalism:
Let u start with the stimulus package. This was supposed to be the top of the liberalism mountain. Yet compared to what some top liberal economist wanted and this stimulus was actually pretty small (let us not forget of course that many of the Republicans that voted against the bill, championed it when they went home.
Going into the health care debate the big ticket item for liberals was either single payer or the public option. We got neither instead we got a Republican idea the mandate which will start forcing Americans in 2014 to either take insurance or be fined.
Liberals wanted out of Afghanistan and yet we are still there and we are currently in a surge.
Liberals wanted Obama (and he had said he would) to shut down Gitmo yet it is still open.
Liberals wanted Congress to get rid of DADT and the Defense of Marriage Act yet both are still active (despite the rulings to stop DADT, other rulings have put the kibosh on those rulings).
Cap-and-Trade and Net Neutrality were big issues for liberals and yet no action has occurred on either.
So, despite all the attacks on Liberalism, Socialism, Communism, and somehow Nazism and Totalitarianism no actual policies occurred in the last two years.
So I am going to try to be as optimist as I can that some good will happen in the next two years and ignore that certain Republican leaders have stated that their only goals are to ensure that Obama is a one-term president or that they will impeach Obama. I will also ignore the threats to repeal Obamacare which is actually not even possible given the numbers.
I will be optimistic and hope that Republicans will actually take control in January and do something to end the recession and create jobs.
I will be optimistic, but not hopeful.