Digesting both breakfast and last night’s election results, I could not help but think of Linda Ellerbee’s NBC News Overnight signature sign off line, “and so it goes”. Not so much literally as in, “there goes the US House,” or so much for “restoring sanity”, but rather to encapsulate the sense of how “change” is both static and dynamic. Static as in all things change but also to describe potential results as predetermined by our history; yet dynamic to understand that movements yield unexpected results.
All this to merely explain that though I expected most of last night’s results, the future may already be set with the exception that it’s not.
Shedding some much needed light on my thoughts, I note the following observations on Election 2010 and its aftermath:
1) The age-old adage, “all politics is local” no longer holds true with the nationalization of elections. The defeats of Christine O’Donnell in Delaware and Sharron Angle in Nevada had nothing to do with the politics of those respective states but with the sheer nuttiness of these two Republican candidates. Had Nevada and Delaware nominated anyone close to reasonable (i.e. not a witch), the Republicans would be controlling both the US House and Senate. Unknown Republicans won many local elections just because they appeared on the ballot.
2) The Supreme Court’s decision on campaign finance mattered; the commercials financed by the various groups helped further nationalize the election.
3) The electorate is angry and the Obama Administration not only failed to provide another target; but invited voter resentment by seemingly pursuing health care reform before jobs and the economy. Obama also either did not play, or play well, the card directing voter anger at Wall Street and other firms, as well as lax regulatory functions, which contributed to the financial morass under the Bush Administration.
4) Everyone hates “big government” yet this sentiment has never led to smaller government.
5) Instead of focusing on the economy, the Republican’s first order of business in the House will be to seek repeal of so-called “Obamacare”. Whether you agree with the Health Care Legislation or not; this means gridlock.
6) Though the Republicans did a pretty good job last night of saying that they cannot use this victory to be arrogant and dogmatic; that’s exactly how they will act. As with President Clinton, Republicans never viewed Obama’s win as legitimate. This justified the immediate campaign to delegitimize the Obama Administration even before Inauguration Day. Whether the “birther movement”, comparisons to Hitler or Stalin, or everyday comments of how Obama in just his first 30 days of office ruined our country, Republicans will be unable to quell the rhetoric in favor of ruling.
7) Conversely, the notion that the victorious party be provided an opportunity to “rule” no longer exists. Democrats will immediately and continually challenge every Republican initiative.
8) The only real opportunity for agreement outside of certain foreign policy initiatives will be the result of actions set in motion by Fed Chair Bernanke. With divided Chambers, his opinion will count even more and provide, like in the game of tag, a “safe base” to which legislators can support economic measures.
9) In spite of unlimited sources for information, the electorate is increasingly influenced by mass media, though not in the same way as before. Whereas in the past mass media drove political discourse; now the millions of internet information distributors (if it’s in writing, it must be true) drive mass media, creating an unending cycle of influence.
10) Politically, the United States remains as divided if not more. Look at the close senatorial and gubernatorial elections in Florida, Ohio, Colorado and Pennsylvania amongst others to view the landscape.
Do I sound pessimistic? Sure, but does not mean I am not hopeful. Cause the only thing static about change, is change; and so it goes.