Archive for November, 2010

On this day after our national election battle, let’s tiptoe through the carnage and see what we can learn. By now you know who won and lost so let’s just stick with the big picture.

If, as many of us believe, voters were angry, that was confirmed. In spades! If, as many of us believe, voters wanted to rid themselves of those on whom they placed blame for this-that-and-the-other, they did so. Sometimes irrationally but … in spades! If, as many of us believe, the election served as an emotional temper tantrum rather than an exercise in informed voting, that was confirmed. In spades!

The national body politic dodged more than a few bullets. Angle, O’Donnell, Tancredo, Joe Miller come quickly to mind. But it also suffered some hits. Rand Paul, Russ Johnson, DeMint and a dozen or so others. Not fatal. But body blows of ideologues who are long on right wing philosophy while short on a well-rounded political education.

We will have a Democrat in the White House, a Democrat majority in the Senate and a Republican House. That’s happened before. That’s liveable. Might even work better in some ways than one party having all the keys. My guess? Where it counts, it won’t work at all.

The new Republican House will be the most active. Listen. You can hear the computers humming already, cranking out health care repealers, balanced budget requirements, committee agendas looking into all things Democrat. The House will be where the action is as all sorts of bills to please the right wing are shoved through and sent to the Senate. Where, it seems almost certain, most will die and nearly all the rest will end up in limbo.

We have large national problems … debt, unemployment, two wars sucking up lives and treasure … that need immediate attention and wise solutions. Unfortunately, many of the voices added to the already useless cacophony will be talking about other things. That’s what ideologues do. If successful politics really is the art of compromise, these people are the antithesis.

Rand Paul’s acceptance speech previewed exactly that. It was a litany of items he will take to Congress that can’t be done. Chief among them: a balanced budget law. Hell will be covered in ice six feet thick before such an enforceable law goes on the books. But he … and a few others … will try. They’ll stamp their feet, shed crocodile tears and bring the legislative gears to a standstill to accomplish the impossible. Remember, under Senate rules, any one member can stop anything.

When the next Congress is called to order in January, there will be one bill … just one … that MUST be passed: extension of the nation’s debt ceiling. Without that happening, it’s more than just shutting down the government … which Republicans did in 1995. This time, without raising the ceiling, this nation will be in default on every obligation it has … national and international. We will be a debtor nation having no “faith and credit” in the rest of the world. A damned scary thought!

So Paul and the others who have their “stop the debt” marching orders from the faithful, owing their new job titles to millions who put them in office to achieve this singular impossible task, face an immediate problem. Is that first vote going to be a “yes” which will be an act of betrayal to their supporters or a “no” which will put this country in grave danger of economic collapse?

Some Republican leaders are already talking about putting some of the new faces on plum committees and passing a few bills to appease the far right while, at the same time, trying to educate them on the extreme importance of passing the debt ceiling measure. Any bets on how successful that all will be?

On a more local level, many states are going to be faced with similar situations with new faces, possessing little to no experience, having to deal with severe problems for which they possess little knowledge or experience. Some of these people, too, will start out on their narrow agendas while ignoring the large leaks in their “ships of state.”

The real losers in our election weren’t those who got fewer votes. The people who lost the most are unemployed or underemployed or in two wars facing daily death or homeless or hungry or suffering in other ways that government … used properly … could help. Ending wars, diverting misspent treasure to solving problems at home, undertaking public works and other government projects that could put people back to work … there’s where we will feel the loss.

We’ll survive. But that survival has been made much more difficult by an angry electorate. A scared electorate. A simply reflexive electorate striking out at issues beyond its control while not investing time and study in research to find the truth.

The bodies strewn about our electoral battlefield are far greater in number than the few who were turned away from elective office. There’s the real loss.

Prayer for the day before election

Author: Barrett Rainey


Please forgive us for what we are about to do.