If ever there was an election in the United States that didn’t matter a whit, it’s these rapidly-approaching mid-terms. The Republicans are enmeshed in internecine warfare between the so-called “old guard,” and the know-nothing wing of the party, while the Democrats are flailing about trying not to piss-off anyone, and finding instead that their pitiful efforts are succeeding in pissing-off everybody! The President (yes, we have one), is running around the country in an attempt to rally the same people he told a few months ago they were the one’s they had been waiting for, trying to convince them to turn-out in large numbers to re-elect the same jerks who couldn’t get it done in the last congress in spite of huge majorities.
In spite of a sixty-forty majority in the Senate, and an overwhelming majority in the House, from a progressive point-of-view, no meaningful legislation was passed! None! What managed to sneak through was so weak and watered-down that it was practically useless. Oh, sure, some minor changes were made in health care, but they will soon be overwhelmed and circumvented by the insurance companies who, after all, allowed their passage. No meaningful financial reform was adopted, Wall Street simply wouldn’t allow it, so what we got were a few new rules restricting the ability of the banks to jack-up credit card rates on a few of us, leaving the rest of the industry free to indulge in exactly the same risky behavior that caused the crash in the first place.
The polls vary a bit, but most seem to indicate that the Republicans will probably take over the House, and come within a couple of seats of taking over the Senate. There are even some who think there may be a chance of both houses falling under Republican control, either by their electing a sufficient number of Senators outright, or by either Senators Lieberman or Nelson switching parties, which they both may do anyway, if the Republicans win the Senate outright, to save their precious committee chairmanships.
It doesn’t really matter what the final outcome is, who ends-up controlling which chamber, or by how many votes. It doesn’t matter because the country has been ungovernable for the last eighteen-months, and that fact is not going to change regardless of the outcome in November! If the Democrats couldn’t govern effectively with the huge majorities they enjoyed in both houses, do you think things will somehow change when, at the very least, their majorities are much smaller? Do you think climate change legislation, labor unions, or any of the remaining “Obama socialist agenda” will fare better after the election? If so, what the hell’s the color of the sky in your world?
Look at the line-up of Republican candidates for the Senate and House. Every single one is a climate-change denier, many are theocrats, most are creationists, all are in thrall to the religious-right, and they all owe allegiance to the corporations and special interests that own and control this country. Of course, that last they share with the hapless Democrats, who are just as much in the pocket of big business. My point, though, is that after this election, no matter what the outcome, our government is going to take a giant lurch to the regressive right, and there will be virtually no hope of anything happening in Washington that will be of the slightest benefit to progressive causes.
The House will spend the next two years mired in investigations of what the Democrats have been trying to do the last eighteen-months. Acorn will come back into the headlines, even though they are now defunct, because even though they have been proved innocent of each and every charge ever made against them, they committed the unpardonable sin of working hard, all across the country, monitoring minimum wage law compliance, and trying to insure a living wage for all workers. “Climate-gate” will spring to the center of media consciousness in spite of it being yet another trumped-up “scandal,” because the right needs it to justify following the directives of big coal and big oil, to ignore the growing climate crisis, and do whatever’s necessary to continue burning fossil fuels, no matter what the cost to the environment.
Regardless of the make-up of the Congress after this election, Obama will continue his already apparent movement to the right, continuing to abandon those of us who worked to put him there, because the corporatocracy he works for will have it no other way. The real heart-breaker will come if Justice Ginsberg decides to retire in the next two years! Faced with a Senate that would never confirm even a centrist, in the mold of his last two appointments, Obama would have to nominate someone acceptable to the religious right, the tea party, and the few centrist Democrats left in the Senate. Good luck with church/state separation, gay rights, abortion, and other liberal causes-the theocrats would have five solid votes.
These outcomes are not based upon worse-case election scenarios, but upon what is most likely to occur at the polls next month. According to Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight, the Republicans have almost a 70% chance of taking control of the House, and there are few undecided voters, and not a lot of time. Sensing a big victory, corporations unleashed by “Citizens United” are pouring money into close races as never before.
What is there to do in the face of all this doom and gloom, when even an absolute best-case scenario has the Democrats barely holding majorities in both houses of Congress? Consider that to achieve even this modest goal would, at this late date, would require that we all mobilize to the same extent we did two years ago to elect this crew to begin with. I frankly don’t see that happening, not with all the disillusionment and despair floating around normally upbeat progressive websites.
What, then, is the best course to achieve a progressive outcome in the face of all this regression and negativity? Well, I have a suggestion, but it’s not going to be a popular one, ’cause it requires a long-term effort, and a considerable amount of pain, not to mention a great deal of risk.
All of the forces of the regressive right, including their media wing, have waged an extensive two-year-long campaign against the Obama administration that has been instrumental in placing them on the threshold of re-taking at least one house of Congress only a couple-of-years after one of the worse defeats in their history. Of course, most of what they’ve said and done has little to do with reality, from fascism to socialism, and from “deathers” to “birthers,” virtually everything coming from the right has been smoke, mirrors, lies, and distortions.
I’m not suggesting we do anything of the kind –we don’t have to! They are going to roll into office next year, and the first thing they’re going to do (if the Democrats don’t do it for them) is extend the Bush tax cuts. Let them! They are going to try to gut the social programs, including Medicare and Social Security. Let them! They are going to repeal as much of the new health care plan as they think they can sneak past Obama. Let them! They will probably double-down on Afghanistan, and may even force Obama into Iran. Let them! If they get control of the House, there is no doubt that they will investigate everything that moves, and some things that aren’t moving any longer at all, but we just have to let them!
I’m not saying “let them” as though we could stop them, because the time is long past where we could do that, I’m saying “let them” in the sense of giving them all the goddamn rope they could possibly want. America has had a good long dose of trickle down, and I guess it hasn’t quite sunk in yet what a horrible economic system it really is, but it will! It will, if we do what we need to do to see that its effects are really brought to the forefront of the American consciousness (assuming there really is such a thing).
Same thing with the health care plan. Several good features have already kicked-in, but few are aware of it. That’s all of our faults, and we need to fix that. Yeah, I know, that mandate is a bitch, and needs to go, and if the regressives decide to repeal it (doubtful they will, the insurance companies won’t let them), that would be a good thing. It will be interesting to see what happens if they try to pay for tax cuts by gutting social programs. It’s a kind of pure Libertarianism that the country hasn’t really seen before. We have to make sure they not only see the effects, but understand the causes as well!
Same goes with whatever else they do. We have to do the same things they have been doing for the past two years, holding rallies and marches, lawfully disrupting town hall meetings, writing letters, talking to our neighbors, starting and supporting local progressive groups, and, most of all, holding our local media’s feet to the fire to make damn sure that even the poorest-informed among us knows what’s going on and who’s behind it.
I’m not suggesting anyone sit out this election, far from it! Every progressive who’s elected over a tea party candidate mitigates the potential damage they can do. What I am suggesting is that we start looking past this election, making plans and putting mechanisms in place to deal with the regressive fallout, and prepare for 2012, which is truly a make-or-break election. I don’t think it’s too soon to begin the process of looking for progressive candidates for that election, from the top to the bottom of the ticket.
The anti-incumbent backlash we are seeing in this mid-term, having much of its roots in lies and mis-information, should be nothing compared to the revulsion that should be the result of even two years of regressive right-wing Libertarian politics. It’s up to us to be in a position to take advantage of what could be the best opportunity we’ve ever had to elect a progressive government, one not beholden to the corporate and financial structure as both party’s are today.