The end result of the elections yesterday turned out even worse (or better, depending on your point of view) than expected. Republicans retook the Senate and shored up their advantage in the House. They won numerous governor's races. How did this happen? Why
did this happen?
For months, this election was being sold to us as an indicator of President Obama's approval rating. Never mind that Congress's approval rating (you know - the people actually
running for election?) was way lower than the president's. Never mind that taxes are lower than they've ever been, that gas prices are lower, that unemployment is lower than when he took office, that more people than ever have health insurance, that the whole "ebola" infestation never actually occurred. Never mind that anyone with a modicum of sentience knew that it was Republicans in the House not passing any bills and Republicans in the Senate filibustering everything that lied at the root of our dysfunctional government.
Despite all that - either Democrats failed to show up, or moderates voted for more of the same (or worse). If it's the former - all the no-shows deserve what they got. If it's the latter, then Dems are to blame for their bad campaign strategy. They LET Republicans make this election be about president Obama instead of about a do-nothing Congress. They campaigned as Republican-lite; why vote for a cowardly middle of the road candidate when the opponent acts with more conviction?
Some of this could also be blamed on the equally disastrous 2010 election. That saw Republicans take state seats across the country as Democrats stayed home. As a result, in numerous states with Republican-controlled governments, districts were gerrymandered as a result of the 2010 census, and restrictive voter ID laws were enacted, with an eye towards creating a permanent Republican majority.
So as the smoke clears - who exactly did the voters put into office? In some cases - outright criminals. House Rep Michael Grimm (R-NY) is under indictment
. GA governor Nathan Deal has lawsuits pending against him and serious ethics investigations
. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker is under investigation by prosecuters
. And let's not forget Michigan governor Rick Snyder who used an unconstitutional state statute to boot duly elected city officials across the state
, and install his own cronies. Republicans love to toss around the phrase "Chicago-style politics", but really - Democrats have nothing on the Republicans when it comes to sleaze and corruption.
Besides the House, Senate, and governor races, there were numerous ballot initiatives as well - some good... some bad. Increases in state minimum wages were approved in all
states where they were on the ballot: Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Alaska. To me, this says that Republicans better rethink their position on this when (if) it comes up for a vote in Congress. Marijuana use (either personal or medical) passed in all the states where it was on the ballot: Alaska, DC, Florida, and Oregon.
Votes regarding abortion were a mixed bag - Colorado and North Dakota both shot down initiatives aimed at making abortion more difficult (or impossible). Tennessee, on the other hand, decided to add an amendment to their state constitution saying that state law trumps federal law on abortion and moneys used to pay for them. Illinois voters let their state representatives know that they want health care insurance to pay for contraception if the plan covers other prescriptions.
There were some other stupid initiatives as well. In Alabama, it was to reinforce half of the 2nd amendment (predictably, the "militia" part was not included). In Arizona, what should have been named the "Cliven Bundy" bill passed (it would "have the effect of allowing the state to restrict the state and all local governments from using any personnel or financial resources to enforce, administer or cooperate with a federal action or program that is not consistent with the Constitution of the United States. The state's authority is exercised if the state passes an initiative, referendum, bill, or pursues any other available legal remedy")
Georgia stupidly amended their state constitution to prevent the maximum income tax rate from ever being increased (good luck with your budgets, GA). And finally - Missouri decided they did not want early voting. Maybe it was the way they worded it:
Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to permit voting in person or by mail for a period of six business days prior to and including the Wednesday before the Election Day in all general elections?
State governmental entities estimated startup costs of about $2 million and costs to reimburse local election authorities of at least $100,000 per election. Local election authorities estimated higher reimbursable costs per election. Those costs will depend on the compensation, staffing, and, planning decisions of election authorities with the total costs being unknown.
So where do we go from here? I personally feel about the same as I did after the 2004 election when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress as well as the White House. Two years later voters decided they had had enough and the Democrats retook both houses. What this means is that Republicans will actually have to govern. They have to send bills to the White House that the president will be willing to sign, without "poison pill" inclusions. Hopefully, Harry Reid will be willing to use the filibuster as much as the Republicans did. Republicans will likely blame the president for "going against the mandate of the people", but hopefully the media will report the truth, and the electorate will pay attention.
Yeah, that's a lot of "hopefully" on my part.
It's two years until 2016. The Republicans still don't have anyone of presidential calibre. Hillary Clinton looks like a shoo-in IF she decides to run, but there are other choices as well. Large turnouts favor the Democrats, and we also have 2 years to get those voter ID laws and gerrymandered maps in front of the courts and hopefully overturned. This has already occurred in VA
, which could be a model for other states as well. And come 2020, voters need to be reminded of the results of 2010, because there will be another census, and it would be in the best interests of Democrats if Republicans weren't able to gerrymander the districts again.
This is now our reality, and we have to live in it. We have two years to 2016 and 6 years to 2020. We need to be prepared for it. It's not over - it's just starting. Let's get busy.