Austerity Measurement: Let’s Talk About The Weather

—by , November 3, 2010

This week’s election is being monitored with rapt fascination by pundits and talking heads for the national temperature, but one truth stands tall about mid-term elections that all the Tea Party would-be revolutionaries and Rally For Sanity would-be marchers can’t change.

They’re just not sexy. And this year, they’re downright ugly.

New Jersey’s races are almost thankfully bland, as neither the Governor’s house or Senator Menendez or Senator Lautenberg’s seat was up for election. Sure, I’ve got a representative on my ballot, but beyond that, it’s a few freeholders and a common-sense constitutional amendment that deductions of employee wages for unemployment insurance, family leave and worker’s compensation only be used only for the purposes of unemployment insurance, family leave and worker’s compensation.

Pretty cut and dry.

Frankly, I’m happy the election’s over. I don’t know the results yet because of the way deadlines swing around these parts. These are always the hardest columns to write. And it’s endemic to the opinion industry. Just look around—Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter are planning a party while Paul Krugman writes ‘This is going to be terrible,’ regarding probable Republican gains in the House and Senate.

We don’t know what to say, but while it’s keeping us busy, do people care?

The most unprovoked conversation I’ve heard about the races this year is merely Christine O’Donnell and Carl Paladino as the butt of jokes, not any kind of policy decisions. Even in the past two years, spirited arguments among friends and colleagues were common, debating health care reform, recession spending, cash for clunkers and more.

Now, we’re sick of talking to each other, largely because of bitter divisions that made the Bush administration seem like Club Med. A political debate is the last thing most people want to spark up, as at least one side—Right and Left alike—will be completely deaf to the concerns of the other. People want to go to the polls and go home, if they even make it that far.

And who would blame them? Semi-automatic weapons making appearances at Tea Party rallies early in the movement’s history should have been warning enough about this year’s political divisiveness. With the beating and half-curbing of a MoveOn.org woman (yeah, way to go guys) at a Rand Paul event and a reporter being handcuffed and detained by the private security of Tea Party candidate Joe Miller in Alaska, who wants to discuss politics?

Besides people willing to stomp other people’s faces or people willing to get stomped in the face, that is.

So yeah, it’s getting cold out, huh? And what about that warm spell last week? Man-oh-man.

But it’s not the most stressful time in political history. Remember, until recently, there was a regular sport of assassinating presidents about once every twenty years. Maybe the Secret Service has just gotten better, but that doesn’t explain away the strife during desegregation in the south, the civil war, the revolution. If anything, we’re just getting back to normal after a while of everyone getting along.

Is that true? Statistics on filibusters and held presidential appointments seem to suggest otherwise. And we don’t live in the 1960s or the 1860s or the 1760s. Different times require different approaches. The Tea Party sees itself as revolutionary, and it is dominating the argument among the most politically active, but its roots are reactionary. Having gotten in bed with the Republicans (because, after all, they’re more Republican than Republicans are), they’re vowing to shake up the system like any first-time candidate.

Here’s a secret about every candidate that’s vowed to shake up the system: the system wins. Every time. Democrat or Republican, once they’re elected, they become politics as usual. It’s bigger than they are. Few politicians feel like dedicating the time, energy and money to do exactly what they want to do and damn the consequences, and in this era of extensive marketing data, politicians run on people’s desires, not their needs, in whole or in part.

One thing that we all do need, and what will (hopefully) come before the next Congress takes up its charge in the beginning of the year, is a rest.

How about that rain?


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