The Fallout Of The 2014 Mid-Term Elections
Poor old Mitch McConnell. He’s so happy, for now. The Republican Party takes control of the U.S. Senate. Thus, as minority leader, he suddenly becomes majority leader. Just like that. Presto. Democracy. Cool stuff. New regime, like the waves of 2006 and 2010 that changed everything. Remember? No? Because they changed nothing, which is the exact opposite of change, like when Change was all the rave in 2008. That’s out now. Kaput.
Six years of obstructionist politics to “make Barrack Obama a one-term president” (negative sound-effects buzzer) turned into plan B, take over the Senate (positive chiming sound effect), allows McConnell this new lease on political life. Problem is McConnell is going to have to govern now; work with a lame duck president of the United States, who has no reason to do so with no one from his current administration having to defend it, or at least caucus with a very ornery Right Wing filled with TEA Party types who were elected to stop government from growing, and even some of whom, like the always entertaining self-promoting Ted Cruz and whatever Rand Paul is today—libertarian, hawk, Republican power player—will be positioning themselves for a White House run.
Good luck with all that.
You see, McConnell is very old. Not sure how old, but likely not able to quickly get through a supermarket line quickly or maneuver a car in city traffic without causing some delays. He speaks as if someone has a gun to his head in a spy film and looks two minutes from having “fallen and I can’t get up.” But luckily for McConnell he doesn’t have to drive or buy his own groceries. He’s been in the Senate for 30 years. 30 fucking years in the Senate. I was 22 when he came in. I am friggin’ old, but not as old as Mitch McConnell. Or Harry Reid on the other side of the putrid aisle. Two aisles, both putrid. The one they call Red is now in the hot seat. We’ll see how that goes.
A few months ago McConnell was spending millions fending off a battle to his Right and then spent millions defending himself against a weak opposition from the Left. He works for a body of government that has a 19 percent approval rating and has accomplished less than any Congress in the 238-year history of this republic. Now he’s the big boy, and it will be high time he gets to work, because there is little patience in this electorate and the way the map is looking and the demographics are shaping up for 2016, his lifeline ain’t long.
But make no mistake about it; this was the Democrats turn to take the beating, much like 2010, but with less populace outrage. This was big Republican mainstream money and less grocer-next-door quality of the TEA Party run; well organized and strategically planned. Good execution. Old politics style. No longer is the passé Affordable Care Act in play; this was the summer of ISIS and Ebola and “Obama hates America.” Very effective stuff when the mood, which has not changed since late 2003, is, “Kick the bums out!” New bums, old story.
For instance, lending a nod to the quality reporting of Andrew Romano from Yahoo News, who while pointing out that despite a surge of Latinos over the past half-decade and the legalization of marijuana, the fairly progressive state of Colorado elected Cory Gardner as part of the key states to flip the Senate to Republican, also notes the GOP strategy to run a “repackaged” Gardner as a moderate. “Gardner isn’t a moderate,” Romano writes. “He’s a pro-life Republican who ranked as the 10th most conservative House member in 2012. He has opposed Republican immigration reform efforts, voted to shut down the government unless Planned Parenthood was defunded and supported Ted Cruz’s efforts to gut Obamacare. Yet he emphasized compromise and displayed a remarkable, Bill Clintonesque talent for triangulation on immigration, abortion and birth control. In the process, Gardner may have provided the GOP with its biggest lesson of the night: A Republican can still win in a purple state—if he’s the right kind of Republican.”
Like Mitch McConnell, who is the face of the 2014 mid-terms; big time GOP national politics is back. Let’s see if they centrist this thing like Newt and Big Bill in ’94 or if they go off the rails and turn this into part six of “The Revenge of the 2000 Election” and usher in new bums from the other side of the putrid aisle.
Here’s my guess; the Democrats follow the winning model of obstructing any wild bills that are sure to continue flowing from the House and declare them “radical,” further pushing the narrative that Washington is “broken” and that it needs “new blood.” Blaming a lame duck president, who is no longer bound to run (and what comes of that for the next two years is fodder for another time) will not curtail the derision aimed at the newly “Republican-controlled” legislative branch. A sort of copycat strategy wonderfully deployed to political success the past six years, which allowed the GOP to grab seats at the power table.
It will go down like that (the two-aisle putrid equation) and it will work, because unlike the fortuitous map just exploited by Republicans (mostly defended seats by Democrats in both “Red” and “Blue” states) in two years it will be the Democrats who will go after 23 of the 33 seats held by their opponents in more friendly territories—Illinois, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Wisconsin—doing so in a national election year when far more Democratic demographics flood to the polls to vote for what looks like the most potent presidential candidate in several generations.
Lots of jobs will change hands; some people on the Left and Right (shouted from the rooftops by their lapdog town criers on cable news and radio) will bitch and celebrate. But for you and me, it’s the same old “two putrid aisles” using tried-and-true fear mongering and waves of our frustration to gain power that they will abuse to secure book deals, corporate speaking engagements and lobbying gigs.
Just like that.
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James Campion is the Managing Editor of The Reality Check News & Information Desk and the author of “Deep Tank Jersey,” “Fear No Art,” “Trailing Jesus” and “Y.”