Wednesday, November 9, 2011
I heard something comforting on the Diane Rehm show this morning as they discussed the election results from last night: 2006, 2008, and 2010 were wave elections, Democrat, Democrat, Republican, respectively. In 2006, people didn't like what Bush was doing in Iraq or the direction of the economy, so Democrats swept in. 2008, the nation was ready for a Democratic president after eight years of President Bush. In 2010, following the rise of the Tea Party and reflecting discomfort over the growth of government (bailouts, national health care law) regardless of the merits of each piece of that perceived growth, Republicans took over.
But the problem was, according to a panelist on NPR, that "extremists" replaced politicians who might actually compromise, who would work to get things done. The replacements, both at a state and national level, were people who actually had a disincentive to compromise. They were rewarded by their respective parties for allegiance to ideology, not allegiance to the citizens they represent. But voters, the panelist argued, didn't want extremists or ideologues. They just wanted to send a message that they didn't like where things were headed.
The panelist also argued that 2012 will not be a wave election. We're not going to sweep left or sweep right. We're going to be an electorate looking for people who will actually get things done. But we are largely a conservative nation--we are uncomfortable with change that happens too fast. Look at the results from Ohio last night for evidence of that: Issue Two, which would have limited collective bargaining rights for unions, failed. Governor Kasich and the Republican-controlled state house had enacted that and, unsure of the ramifications, we said "Not so fast!" But Issue Three, which was a referendum on the American Care Act (it said that we cannot be forced to purchase health insurance in Ohio) passed. I had voted no--I want Ohio to support the President's efforts to insure all Americans--but I understand why it failed. Private health insurance seems like such a scam; instead of being mandated to buy their insurance, I would rather pay taxes into a national health care pool. But while the ACA is flawed, it's a move in the right direction: health care is a right, not a privilege; everyone, regardless of "pre-existing conditions" should have access to affordable coverage.
Anyway, I feel like the tides are turning. Call me naive or overly-optimistic, but with the threat of double-dip recession receding and unemployment dropping (even if only slightly), I bet this holiday season will be a good one. I think we're heading in the right direction. And #occupywallstreet and the President's consistent message of "jobs, jobs, jobs" of late have shifted the media and nation's focus from debt and deficit to growing our economy and reducing inequality.
Hope that wasn't too rambling :)