Republicans Demolish Democratic Brand and Usher in the Year of Vengeance
The Democrats didn’t win. Barack Obama did. They rode the coattails of Joe Cool into masking an 18 percent approval rating. Pelosi is, as is her Congress, a wretched failure. They ran in ’06 on stopping a “war” that still rages. Fuck her. Fuck Harry Reid. And fuck every goddamned Republican who tries to grandstand. Their ways of doing things were run out of office on a rail. Oh, their day of final reckoning is nigh. Believe me, jack. Vox Stimuli – Reality Check 2/11/09
November 2, 2010, an historic political beating takes place on Capitol Hill, a mere two years after the exact opposite transpired on Pennsylvania Avenue—after two straight election cycles wherein Republicans were roundly rejected by the American voter only to emerge with their grandest and most convincing congressional victory in more than half a century.
What happened to Clinton in 1994 and Reagan in 1982 pales in comparison to the carnage on Barack Obama’s hands. It is a weird broth of miracle and lousy candidates that the Senate did not too switch hands. But make no mistake, between the over 60-seat shift in the House and a swarm of governorships across the northeast through the heartland, the political landscape for the Democratic brand has hit the wall.
Because let’s face it, these parties are, and quite frankly never were, really ideological ports of call or steadfast political opponents. They are merely brands, like the New Dick Nixon or Bill Clinton 2.0, Compassionate Conservatism or Anti-War populists. It’s just selling the same dishwashing liquid in a different container. And for some reason, and this is the most fascinating part of not only this week’s mid-term results but of the past eight years specifically; the American electorate, who have been unfairly painted with an apathetic or distrusting of government brush, actually believe in its collective heart that things will be different each and every time they enter the booth.
This time, many Republican leaders declared the day after the massacre, will be different. “This will be our last chance to get it right,” said GOP Chairman Michael Steele to several television outlets the morning of Nov. 3.
But get what right? What will be different than 1952 or 1994 or anytime in between or afterwards? And I ask this with all due sincerity, because I asked it in print the week after the current president of the United States gained the greatest margin of victory for a Democratic candidate since 1964. What will be different this time? I warned the man in print, “Don’t fuck this up” several times.
Exit polls, for whatever they’re worth, revealed that an equal number of voters are mostly concerned with the national debt and an increase in taxes. Yet, the same group, or any group for that matter, also unequivocally supports Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, some form of attention paid to our sad level of Education, and the military industrial complex. So, as discussed in this space for the better part of almost 14 long years, what are you going to cut to reduce the deficit, or if not, how do you reduce it without raising taxes?
And if you are an American today, no matter how you voted, this is what you must ask, and be dubious of any answer that does not side with one or the other, regardless of political consequence or gain.
This is why the sad state of reporting has continued to focus on personalities and foibles and misquotes and apologies and attack ads and hidden campaign contributions and who is pithy and who is dumb and not why nary a politician—on the Right, which now has a piece of the pie, or the Left, which has frittered away a third of it—will face these immutable facts of governance.
One thing is for certain, for now, the Democrats have had their chance. To their credit they had to know the Health Care fiasco would cost them, and if the Stimulus/Recovery monstrosity did not accomplish the impossible, which they clearly and stupidly promised, there would be severe repercussions. It didn’t matter that most of their constituency still believes it wasn’t enough, and from the progressive standpoint, it was not. The Democrats acted as if the clock was ticking. They had two years to enact the great 20th Century liberal agendas, and just like the latter 20th Century dreams of neo-conservatism buried the Republicans eventually, the hammer has come down.
But despite the historic crushing, it is not 2004 quite yet. The Democrats hold the highest office and the most powerful legislative branch. They are far from their lowest ebb, the equivalent of the Republican brand in 2008, two years after a Democratic uprising in ’06 and a liberal wave that culminated in the electing of the most progressive of national candidates. This effectively shoved the GOP in the darkest of corners since the 1930s, and from those shadows the Republicans waged a fist-pumping populist political backlash that echoes the old football saying about how when things go badly the back-up quarterback is the most popular guy in the stadium. Hey, he might not be good enough to start, but maybe he can salvage the sinking ship.
So, after an abysmal record over the first eight years of the 21st century, where no previous Republican legislative branch and its president had dared expand government to such aggressive degrees, leading to a complete turnover in leadership where Democrats do which is their wont, crank up the spending, here they come again. This time, though, there is a smattering of “new” conservative voices, who appear in no mood to compromise or govern in a centrist manner.
But those are battles yet to be waged. For now, the electorate has gone anti-incumbent for the third straight election year.
This would mean whatever comes sweeping in now—less government, tax cutting, fiscal conservative Republican types, wholly different than the anti-gay, Bible-thumping, military fear-mongering types, who were first sent packing four years ago—will be responsible for changing all of our fortunes through government after running on an implacable platform that government is never the answer. But then would that mean there will be another massive swing in 2012?
Not so fast.
Speaker of the House elect (for lack of better terminology) John Boehner, who has been in Washington for thirty years through several and varied types of New Republicans and New Democrats, will now be the face of change. A more ironic joke there cannot be, but since the Republicans could not wrest control of the Senate, Boehner’s troops can unleash a series of very wild and radical bills pushed through congress, sure to be rejected by the Senate, then effectively to be used as a woeful cry of obstructionist tactics, which best serves the Republican brand come that fateful autumn two years hence.
In other words, politics as usual.
If you want Pollyanna, go elsewhere.
Around here, we work The Reality Check.
James Campion is the Managing Editor of The Reality Check News & Information Desk and the author of Deep Tank Jersey, Fear No Art and Trailing Jesus.