Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Last Politics Post for a While

As I watched the election returns last night, CNN's Paul Begala made a comment that really stuck with me. When Wolf Blitzer asked him to explain the Democratic success in house and Senate races around the country, Begala discussed the changing face of the party and claimed that this year's crop of Democratic challengers "weren't your grandfather's Democrats." I guess he meant this as a compliment to those candidates, a sign of some sort of positive change or progress in the party as they gained power for the first time in a long while. I, however, took it as an omen of sorts.

Of course, I really don't want to be Mr. Negative on the morning after the Dems gained 28 seats in the House (enough to run the place) and a 1 vote majority in the Senate (most likely), and I also don't want to rain on the parade that I myself will be throwing today in response to the news that Donald Rumsfeld has stepped down as Secretary of Defense (Its about time!). But I do have to say that I had mixed feelings about the results last night.

For one thing, its true that this was an important victory for the Democrats considering that they've been the minority on the Hill for the past twelve years. However, it should be noted that anything BUT a big Democrat victory would have been crushing because historically, the party in the White House almost ALWAYS loses midterm elections during the 6th year of a presidency. In fact, George W. Bush is 3-1 in the past four elections, and most presidents don't even do THAT well. 4-0 would have been pretty much unheard of.

It should also be said that while the gains were big for the Dems last night, they still didn't come close to the landslide 54 seat pick up that the Republicans and their famous "Contract with America" enjoyed in 1994, meaning that while this might have been a big win in some respects, it will probably not be considered as important as the Republican revolution of the early 90's.

Its still a win, and I'm very happy to see the Republicans sweat it out. It was a also a sign that Merica might not be willing to turn complete control of the country over the Republicans just yet, which is a good thing. My only problem comes when I look around at many of the victorious Democrats and realize that I really don't have much in common with them from an ideological standpoint. There weren't very many Dems in the mix this year that support the invasion of Iraq, but there certainly were a good number of relatively hawkish candidates, as well as several that were pro-life, pro gun, pro Bush tax cuts, and simply middle ground on everything else. McCaskill in MO, Tester in MT and Webb in VA are all fairly conservative Democrats in most respects, and many of the victors in the key house races last night hold similarly right of center views. This country as a whole has swung quite far to the right over the past twenty five years, and the Democrats have gone with it. "Liberal" is still a four letter word to most Americans, and the term "progressive" hardly even exists anymore. Even the party's most iconic contemporary leader, Bill Clinton, was in most respects a conservative. He passed the legislation that allowed large media corporations to start running the world, he engaged in several unnecessary and costly military ventures around the world, and he supported a vision of free trade that helps multinational corporations and few others. The democratic party saw the success of Clinton and the Republicans as a sign that they had to move to the right in order to remain competitive, and thats exactly what they've done.

I'm very happy the Dems won last night, and I'm excited to see what they plan to do with their new power over the next two years. The need for change is clear, and I hope the Democrats deliver. I just worry that these days, a victory for the Democratic party doesn't necessarily mean a victory for those of us who are happy to be called "liberals."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

With the whole Ted Haggard thing, and now Rumsfeld... I feel like doing the victory dance. But, alas, you are right: the game's not over 'til someone assassinates Bush.

1:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

also an important fact.. most of the dem's who won either won because they have a fiscal conservative policy or a social conservative policy..

most rep's that kept there seat did so by having a republican fiscal policy or a more republican social policy..

this being said.. this will require your readers to know the diffrences between.. conservatives.. republicans.. democrats.. and liberals..

the republicans did a great job graying of those terms and vilifying the term liberal..

2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

true, i almost would prefer to keep lincoln chafee rather than have jim webb in office.

2:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

stop pretending you know something you little shit.

3:16 PM  
Blogger kidko said...

I often wonder about the conservative red shift we've experienced over the last few decades. What stimuli triggered and maintain these changes?

I also wonder what kind of shift we'll see when the kids growing up on internet are in their 40s

3:23 PM  
Blogger Paul McEnany said...

Also, keep in mind that 28 is where they are now. There are still 13 more seats up, and I seriously doubt the republicans win all the toss-ups.

3:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ANON 11:02... The illuminati has been made aware of your post.

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Josh said...

You're very right to be skeptical about the Democratic gains in the midterm, especially since this is the group that's responsible for allowing things to get so fucked up that their minor victory now feels like a triumph. Given that they're already calling for bipartisanship (which is Bush's word for getting everything his way and calling it compromise), the Dem leadership is probably going to screw this up too.

Getting just one step away from Bush's radical conservatism probably doesn't mean that we're any closer to a New Left in America (or is that a new New Left). That Hilary's landslide as a pro-war Dem puts her in the driver's seat for '08 isn't too promising, either.

Anyway, what I'm saying is I feel your pain. Damnit, there's Clinton again.

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Josh said...

I hate the blogger comment form.


5:28 PM  
Blogger Zak said...

Yep, in order to get competitive the Dems went to the center-right to win. This country has moved to the right and that is not what I want to see.

Also, several of those house seats they picked up could easily just be one-termers, especially Foley's old seat. Many of the Southern Dems are just returning to the days of the old Southern Democrat party, like when guys like Phil Gramm were Dems before many of them switched parties.

It's a good thing that the Dems won, I just hope they use their new power responsibly to push through legislation that is not too extreme at first and even if it all gets vetoed, it shows that they actually work, they have an agenda and some of it if vetoed could make the Repubs look out of touch. We'll see.

6:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MSNBC is calling a win for the dems in the senate!


8:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 11:02's file just got a little bigger.
It was fun to watch the republicans fishtail during the last days of campaigning. Especially the way they orchestrated the Hussein trial to hand down his death penalty days before the election. Too little, too late, you evil fat liars.

8:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, it's pretty obvious that the dems who won are pretty much just republicans.

9:20 PM  

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