I don't live in a state like Ohio or Virginia, so I wasn't bombarded with all of those Obama/Romney campaign ads. But I do live in Massachusetts, where the Senate election between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown was both intense and well funded. I don't watch a lot of TV, and I mostly listen to public radio, so I didn't have to endure too many TV or radio campaign ads. But I was surprised at how Scott and Elizabeth kept turning up in my YouTube videos or on web pages I was reading. Warren in particular did a good job of filling my mailbox with print advertising, and adorning my front door knob with those door-hanger thingies.
I couldn't be more pleased with the results. I of course (if you know anything about me) wanted to see Obama reelected. I was rooting for Warren as well. I didn't dislike Brown so much; he's a Republican, but a Massachusetts Republican, i.e., moderate rather than dogmatic, and voted with the Democrats a few times. But I wanted to see another Democrat in the Senate, and I especially wanted Warren to win in order to see the noses of all the Senate Republicans who so strongly opposed her as a possible head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rubbed in their own you-know-what. I regret that Barney Frank, my current Representative and one of the more colorful members of the House, is retiring and didn't run this time. But at least his seat is going to Democrat Joseph Kennedy III, who handily beat his opponent Sean Bielat, whose campaign sort of boiled down to, "Vote for me! I'm a Republican!".
Looking across the country, I'm struck by the fact that the Tea Party wave may have crested now. The Democrats picked up a couple of seats in the Senate, thanks in part to the defeat of champion nincompoops like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock. They also picked up a half dozen House seats. It strengthens my conviction that while American voters may occasionally flirt with populist wingnut ideologues, those movements tend to burn themselves out over the course of a couple of election cycles, because slogans will only take you so far and at some point you have to show you can also govern.
One thing I think this election highlighted is the detachment of leading elements of the Republican party from reality. First and foremost is Mitt Romney himself. The "47%" incident really called this into focus—amazing how Romney was able to portray himself as some kind of champion of the poor and the middle class after essentially writing off half the country as parasites in his not-meant-for-public-consumption remarks in front of an audience of his wealthy peers, as if nothing had happened. It culminated in his election night plans that apparently didn't include the preparation of a concession speech. It's an expression of the Napoleon Hill-type teaching that if you convince yourself that you will ultimately possess something, your conviction soon will magically transform itself into reality. Well, sometimes when you open your eyes, reality comes rushing back in. Karl Rove, sitting on the Fox News panel as an election commentator, found this out as well, as he stubbornly insisted that Romney wasn't losing even as the numbers proving him wrong were relentlessly piling up and even Fox's own statisticians were saying "game over".
|"The question is, who can help the poor and|
the middle class? I can! He can't!"
Then there's nutty old Donald Trump—you may object to me lumping him in with "leading GOP elements", but let's not forget that there was a time when he was considered a frontrunner for the 2012 presidential nomination—calling for a revolution over the election results. I can't imagine what a revolution led by Donald Trump could possibly look like, but I'm sure we would all ride into battle in the back of a really tasteful limousine while sporting elaborate hairstyles.
|The revolution will be televised, and I'll be the star!|
So where does this all leave us? Despite a few incremental changes in what for me is a positive direction, we're kind of back where we started. We have a Democratic President and Senate, and a Republican House. House Speaker John Boehner has made some faintly conciliatory remarks about cooperating to avert the looming fiscal cliff, but his statement that "we are willing to accept some additional revenues, via tax reform" sounds a little less than heartening to me.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, on the other hand, sounds anything but conciliatory. The statement in his remarks on the election result that "Now it's time for the president to propose solutions that actually have a chance of passing the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a closely divided Senate…" sounds a lot like "my way or the highway" to me. He did go on to say, "To the extent he wants to move to the political center, which is where the work gets done in a divided government, we'll be there to meet him half way." But then this is a guy whose stated top priority after the 2010 midterm election was to limit Obama's presidency to a single term, so it's hard for me to take that at face value.
|You shall not pass!|
Still… it could be worse. With one eye on the fiscal cliff, I will enjoy the moment. Maybe hoist a drink to a reelected President, a newly elected Senator and a newly elected Representative. And maybe another one, and then—why not?—one more, and really just one more, and then this one last one, and I promise it's the last one, and then really just this one more tiny one, and I think I am not going to feel well tomorrow morning.