Nov 9, 2014

Republicans Won Big. They Do When People Don't Vote!

Now that the dust has settled, we're looking at a bright couple of years of Republican leadership in Congress. Finally most of the gridlock will dissolve, because the Democrats must compromise now--as the American people demanded through this election. We may be witnessing a new conservative wave, a take-back-America from the clutches of the libruls. Sure.

Well, fear and anger won over hope and change. Most of the people who voted don't understand how our government works--or why it doesn't. The obstructionists were rewarded, because the president did not appear to deliver. The Democrats were in retreat; they didn't want to own even the good things, like improved economy (especially considering where it has been), and millions of citizens got health care coverage while medical costs are going down over all. If you don't own or explain the good things you've done, then the voters will not choose you because you claim your opponents are worse!

Republicans Win When People Don't Vote

It's very interesting to see where the votes came from. When fewer people vote, the GOP has the advantage. No wonder why they try to make it harder to vote. The charge of "voter fraud" (despite their efforts to prove it) is without evidence. But, millions of American citizens are barred from voting, because they may not have the required identification. In Texas, the state college ID isn't good enough, though a gun license is!

Where Democratic governors and legislatures have made voting more accessible, greater numbers show up. In Oregon some 70% did, even in this midterm election, whereas about half of that number is the norm in the country. Ideally elections should fall either on a Sunday or make them a federal holiday. Open up early voting, and same-day registration on election day. There's no fraud of people voting when they're not supposed to, or for others. There's election fraud though when citizens are disenfranchised.

In the last presidential election, about 120 million voted. In this one, about 70-80 million did. This makes for a different composition of the electorate. White men, especially over 45, prefer the GOP by big margins. Women over all prefer the Dems. Hispanics and younger people also prefer the Dems, but they don't vote in big numbers, not in off-presidential elections. 

Unfortunately, many Americans are either alienated by the complicated and gridlocked system, and they don't see how an election like this one matters to their life. Several of my friends and relatives failed to vote; most of my college students didn't either. They weren't even paying attention. Up until a couple weeks before the elections, polls indicated that perhaps most Americans didn't even know there was an election whereas the whole 435 House of Congress and 1/3 of the Senate, plus governors, and local officials were on the ballot!

We have a double-think condition in which we can hold two contradictory ideas in our heads as equally valid. We brag to the world that we have the best democracy, free press, abundant freedom, etc. But, we also admit that the system is broken, or that is not responsive to the average citizen, or that the game is fixed favoring the rich & powerful, or that our vote doesn't really mean anything. 

Progressive Direction

Despite the giddiness of conservatives, the country is on a progressive path. Of course there are/will be some bumps along the way, but just remember what has been happening in the last 20 years. Indeed, even in this election, where more Republicans showed up to vote, lots of progressive ballot initiatives passed easily--like increase in minimum wage, actions favorable for the environment, abortion rights (against embryonic personhood), legalization of marijuana, etc. There are clear majorities for sensible immigration reform (includes legalization of undocumented with a path to citizenship), health care, gender rights, same-sex marriage, homosexuals in the military, and many other progressive views are now are mainstream. No, America isn't going back to the dark ages. There's no taking it back, especially given the views of the younger Americans--those under 45.

On the other hand, I'm going to enjoy the show as more crazies joined the ranks of the Congressional Republicans. The incoming majority leader, McConnell, will now squirm because those who he really dislikes are going to poop in his party--Ted Cruz, Mark Rubio, Rand Paul, Joni Ernst, and a few other gems. I'd advise the Dems not to filibuster and let the Republicans expose themselves for the extremists they are. Why, they should begin impeachment proceedings too.

Government has been broken because of Republican obstructionism. No compromise was good enough for them to like the Dems or this president. The latter didn't understand this. There's isn't much the two sides can agree on, so even with the Dems retaining the Senate nothing major would have come out in the "lame duck" years of Obama's term. One notable would have been to confirm more judicial nominees; now they have to wait until the next president takes office in January of 2017.

If I had a secret hope it'd be that president Obama feels liberated after this. He won't be running for reelection and since he was an unwelcomed guest at the Democratic campaigns, he could do the right thing and fight for progress, and show some gaddam leadership. But, lip service won't do.