OK, you bastards…this is how the midterm elections are going to go. Every single last one of you is going to show up at the polls and vote your conscience. This is going to happen around the country, and the story line we’ve been fed in which Republicans sweep races and reclaim houses and stupidi-tea party candidates teach a lesson to big government will end up as nothing more than a particularly sick fantasy.
The American voter mythology is that partisan balance is naturally restored during midterm elections. Since the Democrats currently have a majority in both houses of Congress, the myth suggests that Republicans and their tea party pets (who are Republicans with an inordinately poor sense of American history) will make gains significant enough to offset the Democratic juggernaut.
A tangential, if nonsensical, line of mythological thinking holds that Democrats wouldn’t recognize a juggernaut even if they were one, and can’t get a thing done even with a majority. It’s true that there are plenty of confused Democrats who don’t quite understand when to make a stand for the right thing (how’s that kowtow against health-care reform feel now that Steve Pearce is kicking your ass, Harry Teague?). But when change is required, you don’t get it from political stasis—ie, majorities too narrow to defeat the most rampant string of Senate filibustering in US history—you get it from supporting even larger majorities.
After all, in an exception to the myth of balance, Republicans held sway over both houses (with Vice President Dick Cheney’s Senate-tie-breaking vote) during George W Bush’s presidency, until the 110th Congress of 2007. They got some stuff done, all right, and we can see where that left us: two crappy wars, massive deficit, unprecedented job outsourcing, damaging deregulation, brutal recession, the decimation of the middle class and the enmity of much of the world. If we’re even remotely interested in trying something, I don’t know, different, then we the people need to empower legislators to do so.
As to the myth that Democrats have failed to do anything with their majority, there’s plain evidence against that in health-care reform, in consumer protection, in financial regulation, in energy policy, in financial aid for education, in credit card reform and in the seating of two women to the Supreme Court. The painful obstructionism by Republicans—who are willing to hurt the American people if it stalls Democratic accomplishments—has been difficult, but has not stopped the often-successful pursuit of one of the most ambitious legislative agendas in the history of American presidential administrations.
Can more be done with greater efficiency? Yes—and it will be when, on Nov. 2, Democrats bust the balls of Republican’ts across the board.
The insipid logic of hard-line and tea party Republicans—whose position against “big government” translates to a position in support of big money—is an annoyingly well-funded refrain in this election cycle, all the more amplified by the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision (from which Justice Clarence Thomas probably ought to have recused himself).
But it’s no more annoying than the low-pitched whimper of liberals. I don’t want to hear the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell whining coming from the likes of Dan Choi. DADT will be repealed when voters turn out to prove that’s what they want. In the meantime, the Department of Justice is tasked with defending its laws—or would Choi and other Obama-bashers prefer the government only enforce laws when it’s convenient, à la George Bush? Lefty voters currently making an issue out of DADT apparently prefer to hand the reins to those on the right who mask with the facade of financial concerns a civil rights-damaging, extreme social agenda. It’s the worst kind of liberal short-sightedness.
Here in New Mexico, we face a real bummer of an election, mostly because our Democratic candidate for governor boldly opted to run a campaign entirely without charisma. But there are progressive state candidates, such as incumbent Democratic District 47 state Rep. Brian Egolf and Democratic challenger Stephanie Richard in District 43, who deserve a strong show of support. We may as well vote for Diane Denish and Brian Colón while we’re at it. At least Denish is finally talking about something useful, like closing the loophole that allows corporations based in other states to avoid paying taxes on the business they do here. And that’s the same kind of initiative our new, stronger democratic majority is going to take up after this upset election—but on a national level: close corporate tax loopholes and incentives for outsourcing.
If you’re really one of those people who can’t see past jobs and the economy, here’s all you need to know: The Obama administration has verifiably, objectively and precisely reversed the negative-jobs trend that began with Bush’s final two years in office. Allowing Bush’s tax cuts to expire across the board will balance the deficit before the end of Obama’s second term.
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