Well, I though I would throw out my post election blog into the morass of post election analyses. I will try not to comment on the issues that may have caused the shift in power in the House, as that would be for another post. But having watched a lot of television commentary on the election results, I do know one thing—both Democrats and Republicans still don’t get it. By “it” I mean the pulse of the nation. They are both causing Americans to lose faith in the system.
Let’s look at the results of the election. The Republicans took control of the House with a clear trouncing the Democrats across the nation, nearly reversing the Democrat hold on the House. Before election night, the Democrats held the majority, 256-179. The voters reversed that to give Republicans the majority, 239-188, with 8 seats not yet decided. In the Senate, the Democrats barely maintained the majority at 53-47, from 59-41.
This data can be spun by either side, and in fact was spun by both sides. The Democrats, while admitting defeat in the House, still point their majority hold on the Senate at the Republicans, daring them to write an outlandish bill that will need to pass through the Senate. They also still make subtle note that the President is a Democrat, lest anyone forgets that fact. The Republicans ignore their inability to gain the Senate majority. What they focus on is their control of the House, and how that will allow them to pass Republican minded legislation, but more importantly, to stymie Democrat minded legislation.
If this is starting to sound like Lord of the Flies with unintelligent adults instead of children, it’s because it is.
The Democrats problem is their inability to be humbled by the clear wave of public anger over recent legislation, which was essentially forced through by a Democrat majority legislative and executive branch. If you look at the election results of each state, you will find that the majority of the state counties voted Republican. This is why the Republicans took over the House. Representatives are elected by district to ensure that “country folk” in Podunk, USA have some degree of representation. The Senate seats are different. Take Illinois, for example. The vote was close—1.765 million to 1.694 million in favor of the Republican candidate. But if you look at the district breakdown it is overwhelmingly Republican by the percentages, easily 60-plus percent for the Republican. So why was the vote so close? Because the largest county, Cook county, voted Democrat, 878,000 to 475,000. That’s half of the total Democrat votes right there. It also belies the problem with the Democrats’ approach to politics. They alienate the “country folk” in favor of the “city folk”. If you want to really stretch the logic, you could say Democrats fail to simplify or personalize the issues so that “country folk” can associate with them. I don’t mean to say “country folk” are idiots. (I would simply have said “idiots” instead of saying “country folk”) I mean that the issues such as the Wall Street fiasco do not directly touch these people to a great extent if at all, and so explaining why a large bailout is needed is the same as not explaining anything at all. That is why the Democrats lost the House.
The Republicans, on the other hand, behave much like children—issues are often oversimplified and made far too black and white. “City folk” see and experience the complexity of the issues. You have people who clearly were hurt by the mortgage fiasco but work in banking or some industry closely tied to Wall Street. Thus a simplification of the issue only exposes your indifference to it. The other way the Republicans act like children is the talk of repealing the health care reform bill. It’s as though they now have the majority and so can bully the bully. Taunts of repeal serve only to rouse an ignorant mob, since it is utterly ludicrous. In order to repeal the health care reform bill it would have to first pass legislation through the House, which it could force through since it is now a Republican majority. But it would then have to pass the Senate as well, which would be difficult even with a slim Democrat majority. After all that, it would need to be signed by President Obama, who would be more likely to resign than to repeal a health care bill he openly championed. What of overriding the veto you ask? That takes a 2/3 majority in both the House and Senate, and only if the President doesn’t pull off a pocket veto. The Republicans hold only a 55% majority in the House and only 47% minority in the Senate. They would need a lot of Democrat support to override a veto, which they will not get with the current hostilities from rubbing the Democrats noses in the Republican takeover of the House.
So what is an American voter to do? I’ll tell you what I do. I try to be as healthy as possible, save my money conservatively, and buy a lottery ticket every once in a while. How’s that for faith?