Friday, November 5, 2010

The fallout of the elections

Purple America - the historic shift from Blue States to Red States
So much has been written about the historic surge in the ranks of Republican elected officials over this past week that I am finally distilling much of what it means to the nation in the coming two years. First of all, Mr. President, you are in deep doo doo, but you already know that. The pollsters were predicting a Republican backlash fueled by the Tea Party movement and a country not at all happy with the present state of the economy. Even they were surprised at the unbelievable turn of events that on reflection turned out to be a Republican rout. It is true that the previous administration - a two-term Republican one at that - left the country in the midst of one of its most perilous economic times. The words economic shambles come to mind here. There is little doubt that the overspending to which the Tea Party populists are complaining began in the Bush administration as the housing crisis spiraled out of control and, like a house of cards falling down, began to trigger failures at banks and investment houses on Wall Street and around the country. The hundreds of billions of bailout money were first justified in the Bush administration, so it will be interesting to see how the incoming class of Republican freshmen and incumbents will turn against the trend they started. It is not unlike Captain Renault in "Casablanca" accepting his winnings after pronouncing how "I'm shocked, shocked to find there is gambling going on in here!" The President and his Democratic supporters have themselves to blame for the public relations mess they are in, but it seems they are the victims of their own success. With majorities in both houses of Congress they had the luxury of being able to do pretty much whatever they wanted. Much of what this mid-term election will be viewed as is a reaction to Democratic hubris. Americans have traditionally reacted to those in power by voting against them when they feel they have gotten too big for their britches. The "shellacking" the Obama administration took on Tuesday should be a wake up call that unless the President prepares to become more moderate and conciliatory with Republicans in Congress, he may be the first one-term President since George Herbert Walker Bush. The change that was promised two years ago has finally come full circle. A Republican controlled Senate will be a thorn in the President's side, but Speaker-apparent Boehner should be cautioned that angry Americans will turn as quickly against Republicans should they see little progress on the Hill in the creation of new jobs and shoring up of the economy. The Tea Party movement is, after all, a populist movement and it can swing as easily back to the Democrats or establish a meaningful third party in the middle should it find neither is being especially helpful or lacking in bold leadership. Does this mean Sarah Palin in the presumptive Republican frontrunner for the nation's highest office in two years? Probably so. In a majority of the races she made endorsements, her candidates won. She has some fairly powerful friends on her side now. Has she garnered the strength and political knowhow to pull a presidential campaign off? Time will tell. But then again, for now time is on her side.

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