Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thinking about the election.....

I am thoroughly sick of the election coverage right now. This has been going on since November 2008. Sarah Palin is suffering from overexposure (and not just the Alaskan weather kind) and I can't keep track anymore of which vitriolic right-wing candidate's followers have arrested or beaten up people who disagree with the candidate. Joe Miller, Rand Paul, they all run together after a while. Personally, I think private retinues of political thugs is a rather ominous phenomenon. Alas, I'm not talking about Roderick Spode again.

The Tea Party is a formidable opponent, far more ferocious than the old-line institutional Republicans like Mitch McConnell and John Boehner. They have a broad appeal to the people who feel they've been given short shrift by the system. Most of them are, however, probably mad at the government for what was actually done to them by their health insurance companies, employers, or banks, or the general and continuous slide in real wages since the 1970s, rather than the government.... but it is hard to get that point across. In any case, they're mad as hell and are lashing out at the most visible and vulnerable target. After all, you can't vote out the head of your HMO after your benefits have been slashed.

In that respect, they're not that different in motivation than the progressives who voted the Democrats into control of Congress in 2008, and into the White House in 2008. Some of them are probably even the same people.

Still, when the Tea Party puts the Republicans back in charge of the House, it won't be the hellraisers who get the prominent seats and the most power. We'll be back to guys like McConnell, Boehner, Cantor, et al., most of whom have been in DC for ages. Even if Christine O'Donnell, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, or any of the other current crop of Tea Party heart-throbs get elected, they'll be reduced to cogs in a machine controlled by older men with very different priorities, including an affinity for corporate economics and an ill-concealed disdain for the people and populism, even as manifested in the Tea Party. There is seldom any gratitude in politics.

Thus the irony.

It also says a great deal about the respective priorities of the Obama White House and the Republican machine that while the White House has imposed strict new disclosure and access requirements for lobbyists and has fought for campaign finance reform, the Republican candidates in this year's election benefit from the Citizens United windfall, which opened the gates to a flood of unregulated cash from anonymous donors. The Republicans are outspending Democrats seven to one on media advertisements, and it hasn't escaped public notice that multimillionaires in New York are meddling in congressional elections in Oregon by essentially laundering money through a 527.

For all that President Obama and his supporters have accomplished in the last year and a half-- and the list is really impressive, to those who bother to read it-- it was unlikely the Democrats would retain even their nominal control of Congress after the midterms.

That the Democrats managed to accomplish what they did in the face of such entrenched, well-coordinated, and well-funded opposition is extremely impressive.

I call it a nominal control because of two things. The Republicans managed to get a great deal of mileage out of simply saying 'no' and filibustering at every opportunity, and because the Democratic majority was a paper tiger that depended too heavily on Blue Dogs, many of whom are 'conservatives in the wrong party,' so to speak-- leftovers from before Goldwater and Nixon turned the Republican party into what it is now. Once you stop counting the Blue Dogs as Democrats (which Reid and Pelosi might well have done, since they couldn't count on Blue Dog support without heaps of pork), the Democrats didn't have any kind of a majority at all.

Most importantly, the expectation that the Democrats will take losses in the 2010 election isn't sour grapes or pessimism, it's based in historical reality.

Incumbent parties almost always take a brutal walloping in the midterm after a new president is elected. The most recent such midterm, in 2002, was an anomaly, largely because of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Even in midterms in general, every midterm election for the last 70 years has resulted in the President's party losing seats in Congress, with exactly three exceptions-- 1934, 1998, and 2002.

I must admit, though, that the Democrats are actually doing better than I expected.

What I find exasperating, however, is how many Democratic candidates like Chet Edwards, Jason Altmire, and Joe Manchin have essentially given in to the right wing's demonization of the President, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and (perhaps most of all) Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Most of these guys are essentially Blue Dogs anyways, and fighting for their lives against Republicans, but it is infuriating nonetheless.

The Republicans, for their part, generally wasted no time in running away from George W. Bush after 2006. I'm sure the world still wonders why.

I think part of the problem is that the public is just grossly misinformed about the issues.

TARP didn't start under Obama, it started under Bush.

So did the auto industry bailout.

The deregulation that allowed the crash of 2008 also happened under Bush, but Obama did something about that.

Most of 'Obamacare' consisted of strictures binding on health insurers, not the consumer, and were certainly more to the benefit of the consumer than the Republican bill of 2005, which forbade Medicare from negotiating pharmaceutical prices and gave Big Pharma the right to charge whatever it wanted.

The Obama administration actually CUT taxes for most people, which begs the question of exactly what reality most of the Tea Party howlers live in.

I'd particularly like to know how many people in the US actually understand what socialism is and how it works, as opposed to just parroting right-wing talking points.

In general, the election coverage as a whole increasingly begs the question of whether a non-conservative administration, candidate, or party can expect a fair shake from an increasingly partisan news media. Jon Stewart really IS the hardest-hitting journalist in the media, and I'm appalled by that fact too.

By partisan, of course, I certainly do not mean the mythical "liberal media." I point as an example, rather, to the network whose owner has donated millions of dollars to Republican party organs, and whose primary media outlet once used as a defense in court the argument that the media has no obligation to tell the truth.

The result ultimately remains to be seen......

1 comment:

BossLadyWhite said...

You really should stop your day job and do this...I,myself,as a staunch "Obama supporter" had no IDEA what this administration had accomplished until I saw "WTF has Obama done"...the list is definitely impressive,however,I can't say,as a whole,that I am impressed with any one "party"...