America and the Mid Term Elections 2010 When we are pursued by deep fear in America we tend to respond

with rage and in that selfinduced state we do some very stupid things. A perfect example is the hysteria that swept across the country following the destruction of the World Trade Center towers. After eight years of two miserably prosecuted wars, hundreds of thousands dead and a marvelously inflamed era of unbridled terrorism around the world we are of course no closer to anything resembling safety. America, we remain more troubled than ever before with issues concerning religious tolerance. We have a huge new bureaucracy in Homeland Security which is arguably less effective than its counterparts in other countries and issues of torture and electronic surveillance continue to plague individual citizens and the legal system. These efforts have bought us almost nothing in terms of real security in the world. Add to that the current economic crisis, delivered through the mechanism of a culture of greed and deregulation and you can sense why we remain so deeply disturbed. And most disturbing of all, the hapless overseer of it all has simply walked quietly out the back door of the White House never to be heard from again. Fast forward to the current recession and the mid term elections. Again the rage is everywhere apparent, and even though as a country we voted for a very clearly stated political and social agenda with President Obama the hue and cry over the last two years would leave you to believe that some kind of secret socialist reversal had been implemented, that a cruel hoax has been in play and we were all going to be ruined. Obviously this is not the case. The health care bill, regulation as a general concept, financial support for all our critical financial institutions (the banks) and industry (auto manufacturers) and federal stimulus spending to motivate the economy were all out in the open prior to the 2008 election. Obviously the same thing that you might have voted for in 2008 can’t be something else entirely in 2010. So the question is what happened? What happened is that the American public got very scared and as I mentioned before, when hysteria is in the air we do some very stupid things. The credit or the blame goes to the Tea Party for shouting and raging loudly for many months first in small groups, then increasingly with the support of the conservative “journalistic” community and eventually, massive big money involvement. Of course, a grass roots group can’t accomplish these things. But in the end they weren’t a grass roots movement and we can thank the Citizens United decision for enabling that transformation. The big money unleashed by the ruling allowed a group with a kind of folksy political message to morph into the current reincarnation of something resembling the DeLav permanent conservative majority. This has already been mentioned as an objective by Republican leaders in both the House and Senate along with a dedicated effort to remove President Obama from office in the 2012 election cycle. Conservatives now think that they are the possessors of the only sensible ideology around

(primarily because of the big government issue) and that whether they are in the majority or the minority their notion of leadership is what really counts. Of course they have been short on any legislation with names attached to it, especially their own. Taking a position means you actually have to have something concrete in hand and Republicans have managed to steer clear of offering anything like that. They have refined the art of Nancy Reagan’s just say no mantra into an all exclusive philosophy. Of course, failing to govern by not putting specific policy forward means you can’t hurt anyone , but it also means you can’t offer any help either. In the end not creating legislation is different than advocating smaller government. Congress exists to move legislation, not simply to make itself irrelevant through inaction. Egan’s excellent recent article on his New York Times blog made a simple point that the guy who saved the capitalist banking system from ruin and did the same for the capitalist automotive industry (by shoring up hundreds of thousands of jobs, vast shareholder investment wealth and pension obligations) and who repositioned billions to fund infrastructure projects, small business incentives and prime the business environment for private enterprise can’t also be the socialist boogeyman. The real socialist boogeyman would have demanded much more government control than Obama finally settled for. Of course, when you are dealing with rage stoked voters who harp on their nonexistent knowledge of the constitution and reference the intent of the founding fathers at every opportunity, actual thinking comes in a poor second. The people making the anti-Obama case counted on this in order to prevail. Perhaps if Obama had gotten on his horse with some bold language and pursued the opposite viewpoint with the ardor visible with Tea Partiers the mid term elections would have gone better. But that was really the job of the candidates themselves and the Democratic Party. They played it too cool to engage the voters that first put Obama in office. They were too scared simply stick up for themselves. So, what of these people, those who put Obama in office and who positioned the Democratic majority in the 111th Congress. Many of them simply didn’t show up to vote in the mid term election. The polling numbers support this. I know this for a fact, because for more than a month, I walked precincts, made phone calls and did whatever I could to get these folks fired up. There was a lot of voter laziness out there. Hispanics, African Americans, college students and the twenty something crowd all were less engaged with voting in this election. That kind of apathy is particularly damaging to the Democratic vote and it came home to roost in the recent elections.

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