Post-Election Notes, 2014
And they are:
1. Well, that was disappointing, if not entirely unexpected. The smart money was for the Republicans taking the Senate, which is what they did; in 2015 they will have 54 seats, which is a comfortable majority, but not anywhere close to a veto-proof majority. So: Welcome the the Obama Veto Era, in which the president shoots down anything he doesn’t like, and that’s essentially the end of it. This means that gridlock will happen somewhere else than in the Senate, which is where it’s been for the last four years. No doubt this means we will hear Mitch McConnell and other Senate Republicans intoning about how this means the president is obstructionist, etc., which will be ironic, at least.
2. I’m not the sort of person dense enough to say “The GOP controls the Congress! This is great news for Obama!” but I’m not going to lie, either: I’m very curious to see how Obama handles this upcoming congress. The man has no more elections in front of him and no reason to do any damn thing the Congress will want him to do if doesn’t want to. And as noted above, he wields the power of the veto, which the GOP is very unlikely to be able to overcome. This has the potential to very interesting, indeed.
(P.S., GOP: You still really really really shouldn’t try to impeach Obama. It’s not gonna work. But don’t listen to me, if you don’t wanna. In fact, I don’t imagine you will. Which dovetails nicely into the next point:)
3. The main thing I think we’ll see is the federal government once again getting incrementally stupider and/or mendacious, because at this point the GOP does not put a premium on intelligence, when it comes to its elected officials. And why should it? Fielding nincompoops seems to be working for them, and has for the last several election cycles at least. I find this exasperating but I don’t think there’s any short-term cure for it. Until and unless the GOP gets hit with massive election losses, over several cycles, there’s no percentage in them changing a damn thing.
4. A good number of my Democratic/liberal friends wonder what the hell just happened. The answer: Look, there are a lot of Republican and conservative leaning folks in the US, and they’re not going to just wander in front of a bus and disappear. Indeed, most of the Senate races last night were in conservative-leaning states and the 2014 election was GOPers/conservatives last chance to register their displeasure at Obama, who they hate with a foamy passion. Did you think they were going to miss out on that chance? As noted above, from a practical point of view, as regards the federal government it’s going to be for naught, but that’s not the point.
Now, as a side effect, the GOP also survived in state-level races where it absolutely should not have. The fact that Sam Brownback and Rick Scott in particular managed to get re-elected as governors in Kansas and Florida despite their abject incompetence is bad news for both of those states, I think Kansas in particular (Florida, it seems, has a larger buffer for stupidity in its state house). Once again, this says to the GOP that it doesn’t have to change anything it’s doing, because again, why should it? It can win elections with politicians just this dumb.
5. But let’s not let the Democrats off the hook, either, shall we. In my particular state, Ohio, the party absolutely humped the bunk, with a disastrous candidate for governor (he won only two of 88 counties, and just 33% of the vote — Jesus, he even lost Cleveland), a poor showing in statewide races (i.e., a big fat goose egg with only one Democrat in a statewide race getting more than 40% of the vote) and loss of seats in the legislature. The Ohio Democratic Chairman has resigned, as well he should have (he also lost his state House seat, which is injury to insult).
Ohio is not a red state; it’s as purple as they get. The margins of victory here should not have been nearly as lopsided as they were. You can’t just blame voting laws, the Koch brothers and luck of the electoral draw for these losses, either here in Ohio or elsewhere. The Democrats should also look to their candidates and their organizations. You have to give people a reason to vote for you beyond voting against the other team.
6. This election is a cogent reminder to Democrats and other folks of a liberal/progressive bent that they can’t just wait about smugly expecting the Great Blue Demographic Wave to swamp the GOP, bringing about a new shiny utopia of health care and solar power. I’ll note that I warned folks two years ago not to get cocky and that the mid-terms were out there, and that the GOP (despite the general low quality of its recent candidates) is not stupid. Surprise! Now, maybe the GOP is eventually demographically doomed and maybe it isn’t, but even if it is, you can’t just expect it to go down without a fight. This is what that fight looks like. If you didn’t see it coming, you can’t blame the GOP for that. It fights dirty (which is different than fighting illegally) and it’s got lots of money. Expect more of the same. The question for Democrats/progressives is what they are going to do about it.
(GOP/conservative folks: Don’t get smug either. You have problems of your own, and Hillary’s out there, lurking about.)
7. Finally, if you’re a Democrat/progressive freaking out now, remember what the GOP were doing two years ago, and what you were doing four years ago, and what the GOP was doing six years ago. US politics is in an especially messy phase in recent years, and I don’t see it getting much better anytime soon. What I do know is — yet again — a lot can change in a couple of years. A lot is almost certain to change in a couple of years. If anyone thinks this election was indicative of anything but of this particular election cycle, well. History would seem to be giggling at you for that impression.
In any event: Election’s done, the results are in, and these are the cards we play for the next two years. Let’s see what happens next.