So, it’s almost been a week, and I’m doing everything I can to look on the bright side of life (Monty Python style). Here’s what I’ve come up with.
Okay, it’s definitely depressing about the elections, especially because we’re not used to what’s normal. Bush’s first midterm elections were the first in decades that an incumbent president actually had an increase in seats within his own party–normally (like clockwork, actually) a president is elected and two years later his party is not in control of at least one house of Congress. Hell, the only reason it worked for Bush was 9/11. His second midterm election he lost seats. So, this is pretty typical, but to hear Fox News talk about it they just toppled the world.
I think what many are forgetting (including myself at times) is that the Democrats still control the Senate and the Presidency. So I highly highly doubt that the GOP can repeal healthcare. Anything they send up to the Senate will get voted down, and even then, if it somehow miraculously makes it past the Senate, Obama will bust out his veto pen and there’s no way the Cons can pull 2/3 override. Plus, Americans don’t like having benefits taken away from them, and already a majority of Americans do not want healthcare repealed. The best Republicans can do is challenge the funding (and, again, I can’t see Obama letting that get by him). Repealing healthcare is something that gets the base excited but has no realistic shot of being overturned (like abortion).
There was actually a pretty interesting article in the Times about how the Republicans have these huge, ambitious ideas but absolutely no plans to go along with it. The last time that happened? When Gingrich took over the Congress under Clinton, after which the Republican party got ridiculously carried away then were then collectively bitch-slapped by Clinton and the voters. Even Obama’s toughest critics on the liberal side (saying he’s not liberal enough, which I think has merit) have said they’ve noticed a change in the administration in the past six months, suggesting that they’re finally realizing they actually have to play the politics game. So, he’s not unaware of what’s happening (and I’ll take Chicago-style Obama any day).
We have three things going for us right now (besides the majority):
1) The Tea Party. The problem with so many conservatives is that they just know how to fire up their base (Tax and spend! Death panels! BIRTH CERTIFICATE!!11!!1!) but then do whatever the hell they want. The Tea Partiers are believers (like Sarah Palin), which is what makes them so terrifying. However, I could seriously see them gumming up the works for the Republicans, who kind of assumed (like Fox News) that the Tea Partiers were basically Republicans. There are going to be plenty of crazy people with microphones who believe their own press releases.
2) The Republicans have been fighting the easiest fight imaginable–against the idea of the Democrats. It’s like dating a girl and wondering what it would be like to date a different one. In your mind, it’s idealized, until you actually start dating that person and the Kunderan kitsch comes crashing down. Same thing here. The Republicans keep going on and on about what they would do if they were in power, but…now they are. They’re part of the machine and the average Independent voter (who really does determine who is elected) is going to be more wary of what they say (it’s exactly what happened during the last Presidential election). Sure, Republicans love to play the victim card even when they’re holding all the power, but their problem is that they play it so loudly, which leads us to…
3) The economy is improving. It’s moving as slow as fuck, and it doesn’t have the rapid turnaround that all of us were hoping for, but it’s slowly, steadily improving. Obama and the Dems implemented a number of policies, and EACH ONE was bitched about by the conservatives. And not just voted against, but bitched and bitched about. If the economy continues to improve, it will be very difficult for Republicans to point to anything they did as making a difference.
Now, for a bonus, long-term number 4:
Did you see Harry Reid was re-elected? It was actually kind of a shock–he was down between 6 and 7 percent in the most recent polls before the election, and we all assumed he was gone. But you know who was underrepresented in polls and actually turned out strongly for Democrats?
Why did this happen? Because conservatives, who should appeal to Latinos (especially in terms of religion and family values), keep on railing against immigration reform, and so more and more Latinos are growing up hating conservatives (kind of the opposite of the Cuban population, who always saw Republicans as fighting Castro). The conservatives could have taken a different approach, but they reached out to Tea Partiers instead. And what is their stated first order of business when they take office in the spring? Tabling Obama’s immigration reform, which would have (among other things) extended citizenship to undocumented immigrants.
This could get interesting.