DID AMERICANS GET WHAT THEY WANT?
"Can't these people make up their minds? Four out of the last five elections (2006, 2008, 2010 and now 2014) were "wave" elections in which one party won a sweeping victory. They elect a president of one party, then two years later almost inevitably give the other party a huge victory in the midterm election. Why do they expect things to change? Good question.
It's always dangerous to speak of a country of 319 million as having a singular will, or of an election expressing that will. That's particularly true when only about 40% of eligible voters show up for midterm elections. Like every party that wins, the GOP will claim that "the American people" have endorsed its agenda in full, and therefore if President Barack Obama stands in its way, then he's thwarting the public's desires.
We've established that the public is fed up with a Congress seemingly incapable of getting anything done. The trouble is that the voters -- unanimous in their abhorrence of gridlock -- just delivered a result almost guaranteed to produce more gridlock.
To be fair, there was one party assuring them that their votes would do just the opposite. Republican candidates promised voters that they'd stand in Obama's way, and also promised that they'd "get things done," sometimes in the same sentence. As The Atlantic's Molly Ball reported last week, "these two seemingly contradictory messages are at the heart of Republican Senate campaigns across the country. I've heard them from candidate after candidate."
"Voters in four deep-red states -- Arkansas, Alaska, Nebraska and South Dakota -- used ballot initiatives to approve one of the Democratic Party's highest economic priorities, increasing the minimum wage. "Personhood" initiatives that would ban abortion failed, not only in the swing state of Colorado but in conservative North Dakota as well.
In other words, where voters had the chance to decide policy issues, they chose the Democratic position even as they were voting for Republican candidates.
So what do the American people want? They want to have their cake and eat it, too.
As political scientists have known for decades, Americans are "symbolic conservatives" but "operational liberals" -- they like things like small government in the abstract, but they also like all the things government does. They elect Democrats who try to accomplish complex policy goals, then turn around and elect Republicans when things don't work perfectly. They say they hate gridlock, then elect people who will give them more of it."
Apparently the minority of Americans who voted last Tuesday want Liberal policies but also they want Conservative loonies to thwart those policies. Those who voted in the GOP sweep are of two minds. There's a special term for that: bifurcated thinking.
What they said; what they believe:
|Meet the new obstructionists; same as the old obstructionists.|
The Gee-Oh-Pee-ers won with a minority vote.
Mid-Term Turnout Lowest Since 1942.
And the Democrats actually gained more of the women's vote since the 2010 mid-terms.
Secret money dirtied the election as well:
"The next Senate was just elected on the greatest wave of secret, special-interest money ever raised in a congressional election. What are the chances that it will take action to reduce the influence of money in politics?
Nil, of course. The next Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has long been the most prominent advocate for unlimited secret campaign spending in Washington, under the phony banner of free speech. His own campaign benefited from $23 million in unlimited spending from independent groups like the National Rifle Association, the National Association of Realtors and the National Federation of Independent Business.
The single biggest outside spender on his behalf was a so-called social welfare group calling itself the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, which spent $7.6 million on attack ads against his opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes. It ran more ads in Kentucky than any other group, aside from the two campaigns.
What is its social welfare purpose, besides re-electing Mr. McConnell? It has none. Who gave that money? It could have been anyone who wants to be a political player but lacks the courage to do so openly — possibly coal interests, retailers opposed to the minimum wage, defense contractors, but there’s no way for the public to know.
You can bet, however, that the senator knows exactly to whom he owes an enormous favor. The only name associated with the group is Scott Jennings, a deputy political director in the George W. Bush White House, who also worked for two of Mr. McConnell’s previous campaigns."
So what did the GOP gain?
A false sense that the American people want what the GOP wants. What actually happened is that a low percentage (lowest since 1942) of Americans voted for the GOP's dark money driven, voter suppression agenda and its candidates. They voted to continue to obstruct President Obama while at the same time end gridlock.
But the best outcome of all: Even their reddest of red conservative voters in the reddest of red states voted for Liberal policies.
Munch on that for a while
|Typical GOPer ready to enjoy his little victory cake.|