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I’m Totally Zen About These Election Results



A couple of things about the midterm election results.

  • First of all, if you didn’t vote, f*** you. If you voted for Obama in ’08 but sat on your hands this time because the world hasn’t emerged in sunshine and puppies in 18 months, really f*** you.

  • Second, if you’re one of these so-called “swing” voters, who sees no illogic in vacillating between the visions of the Republican and Democratic parties from election to election, I want to study your brain.

Other than those two points, I’m totally Zen about the 2010 midterm election results, which includes Republicans taking the House and making serious gains in governorships and state legislatures. I have many liberal friends simply freaking out right out right now, but let’s all be cool, and think about this.

A few really obvious points:

  • The Democrats spent 2006 and 2008 winning in just about every congressional district they could possibly hold a seat, reliably conservative districts that voted Bush and McCain. Many of these, they simply couldn’t hold forever.

  • All modern president’s parties lose in midterm elections. The scope of this is interesting because the Republicans picked up more House seats than they did in the ’94 election that shocked Clinton so much. However, they also failed to win the Senate. Off the top of my head, I don’t think this has happened in modern history where a wave flipped only one congressional body.

  • The economy sucks. As much as this is Obama and the Democrats fault, it’s that they didn’t think big enough on the stimulus package (and given the disaster we went through, this is a smallish part of the problem). You don’t have to be a historian, though, to understand that any time the economy sucks, voters love to blindly punish whoever is in power.

Now Republicans actually have to explain how they will help the economy, and their ideas are austerity, which the majority of serious economists know is a terrible idea, and tax cuts.

Let’s talk about tax cuts because Bob Gibbs, who defeated my Ohio congressman Zack Space on Tuesday said hilariously in his victory speech that he and the Republican congress would “roll back the massive tax increases.”

This is hilarious because Obama and the Democrats have presided over the biggest tax cuts for middle class Americans in history. They were part of the much-derided stimulus package (and, it should be noted, not nearly as effective as the direct government spending that according to non-partisan sources created 2-3 million jobs). But why bother bringing logic into this?

The reason I’m Zen–pissed but calm–is that while big money interests ranging from fossil fuel to health insurers to Wall Street managed to successfully rebrand the Republican Party, they’re still shooting with the same blanks when it comes to ideas.

You know why it’s so fun being a big old lefty? You end up being right about almost everything. From the unaffordability of the Bush tax cuts to the Iraq war to the Wall Street casino, you just sit around being right.

It’s pretty goddamn cool.

So we remain right that this health care reform should not be repealed and in fact expanded if we want to control health care costs and thus the deficit. We remain right that a consumer protection agency and stricter financial regulations are great ideas. We remain right that eventually we’ll need comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship. We remain right that we desperately need to put a price on carbon. We remain right that we need to invest in education, infrastructure, research and technology if we want to remain competitive globally, and not cut taxes and hope that Wal-Mart hires more greeters.

The electorate that turned out to this election was the 2004 electorate–old, white and generally misinformed. The youth vote fell from 18% in the 2008 election to 11% of this one. What that says to me is that I need to yell at my friends more, not that the Republican party suddenly knows what it’s doing.