04
Nov
10

2010 U.S. midterm elections

I know all y’all have been waiting breathlessly for my thoughts on Tuesday night’s contests, so before you asphyxiate, here y’go:

Meh.

Which, come to think of it, is far from pessimal as elections go.

Averaged out over the whole country and the next 2-6 years, the Coke party lost some seats to the Pepsi party in exchange for a first-round draft pick and, I dunno, a bag of chips or something.  We’re probably looking at two years or more of mostly gridlock with a bit of political bloodsport on the side and a whole lot of hysterical screaming across the aisle.  That would be my preferred outcome if it weren’t for my worries about the debt, and I don’t see anyone with both (a) enough power and (b) enough sisu to do anything meaningful about the debt on either side of the fence.

These elections, like the previous two, were billed as “change-seeking” “anti-incumbent” contests, and I guess that’s true to a certain extent.  I’m pessimistic that anyone in DC is going to understand the message, partly because I’m skeptical that there’s a coherent message at all.  The Coke party treated 2006 as a watershed, a swing back to Big Left from a decade or so of Big Right (loosely-interpreted) and therefore a Mandate From The People.  I can’t for the life of me figure out what they did with that Mandate besides ignore it: playing up the sinister (or is that dexter?) power of Teh Ebil Pepsi Party while mostly going along with Bush 43’s agenda sure helped them out in 2008.

Which they promptly also claimed as a Mandate From The People, and which (not coincidentally) was also billed as a “change” election.  And again, nothing really changed — PPACA being the big exception.  We’re not maintaining but expanding one of the largest domestic-surveillance states since East Germany, TSA goons are groping people in airports, we’re still bailing out enormous well-connected fuckups corporations, DADT has yet to be repealed as the Dems only have a 59-seat minority in the Senate, we’re still torturing kids in Guantanamo, the economy’s still in the shitter, we’re still sending our kids to kill and die to prop up corrupt goons in Afghanistan, and the deficit’s scaring the piss out of whoever’s bothering to pay attention.

Swap out PPACA for Medicare Part D and you basically have Bush 43’s second term to a first approximation, no?

Here’s the thing: While this has been billed as a “change” election trifecta, not much is changing, and that’s not an accident.  The only “change” that most partisans want is from the other team to their own.  There might be a few bitter clingers — oops, that’s a loaded term — in Minneapolis who clung to their antipathy of ex-Green Bay star Brett Favre last season, but so far as I can tell most Vikings fans embraced their best chance in a while to collect some Super Bowl jewelry with open arms.  So it is with, say, Democrats and the Drug War now that Obama’s the one cheering Prop 19’s defeat.  The evil coercive “fascist dictatorship” state of Bush 43 has — with only a few dozen substitutions over several tens of thousands — become the loving guardian “father knows best” state under Obama 44.

So in 2006 dissatisfied Democrats swarmed to the polls and dissatisfied Republicans mostly stayed home, and in 2010 mutatis mutandis.  Any coherent (rather than “gimme my guy, not their guy”) demand for “change” came mostly from more independent-minded folks, and even in their case I don’t think it was as much of a demand for new policy as it was a rebuke of old.  The problem is, both Coke and Pepsi parties are convinced that what they want to do is right, and they both interpret the message “quit fucking up” as “take a harder line on your own private ideology”.

And, surprise surprise, they keep fucking up.

(Here’s where you’d expect me to expound upon my own favourite solution.  I don’t have one; sorry.  The closest I come is “five hundred years of cultural evolution towards anarchocapitalism”, which isn’t likely to get anyone elected in 2012.)

Anyway, on to happier whoops! more specific things:

  1. I’m mostly glad to see Rand Paul get elected.  He’s no libertarian by any stretch, but he did campaign on a reasonably doveish platform and fuck knows we need more of those in the Senate.
  2. By the same token, I’m annoyed to see Russ Feingold go.  McCain-Feingold was as egregious an infringement on freedom of speech as I’ve seen since, oh, the last time I checked the FCC website, but for the most part Feingold was one of the good guys.
  3. I’m amused to see the three freakshow candidates get spanked, especially that shitbag in Alaska whose goons thug up reporters.
  4. OH IOWA VOTERS NO!  I’m gonna blame this on demographics: faghating trends downward with age by about 10% per cohort, and this was an “old people” election.  (Curiously, according to a random throwaway line on Andrew Suillivan’s blog, people tend to liberalize as they age.  How old is Sully again?)
  5. Prop 19: Right question, wrong Proposition.  See also “demographics” and “old people election”, above.  I’m kind of sad to see it fall, but on the other hand if it had passed I don’t think it would’ve done as much good as its proponents expected.  Most of its potential was realized simply by getting legal weed into the respectable public discourse.  (If you hadn’t already guessed, my favourite recreational greenery from California is the hop.)
  6. I’m gonna have a lot of fun comparing 2011-2012 Republican pols to 2007-2008 Democratic pols over the next two years.
  7. I am incredibly relieved that “Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer” doesn’t have to be part of my vocabulary over those two years.
  8. Does anyone think it’s a coincidence that Helicopter Ben launched the QE2 the day we were all supposed to be talking about the election?

I need more beer.

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