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The night before the election, and there are only calamitous predictions about the fate of the Democrats. The repeated mantra I hear from pollsters and cable television pundits (not always the most reliable prognosticators) is that the Democrats face inevitable defeat - “a huge Republican wave that will likely flip the House and possibly the Senate.”
I can't avoid thinking that a Republican victory in the House means the new Speaker will be John Boehner - a golf playing, permanently tanned hack in total thrall to corporate interests. And he will ironically have to be the bulwark of common sense against much more radical members of the Republican Congressional caucus. What we must look forward to are two years of the Republicans malevolently working to insure the “alien” Barack Obama - who has established a “socialist regime” - is a one-term President. They have openly stated they plan to accomplish this by obstructing any and all legislation he proposes (“kill it, stop it, slow it down”), and to ramp up an avalanche of investigations - both of Obama and his allies. Obviously, Obama won no credits from the Republicans for not being vindictive and adhering to a "look forward, not backwards" philosophy to possible criminal acts during the Bush administration.
The results are beginning to trickle in - so far no Democratic miracles. Rand Paul, the most ideological of Tea Partiers, takes the Senate seat in Kentucky, calling for the people “to take our government back,” and a highly paid corporate lobbyist, Dan Coats, wins in Indiana. I am extremely tense, and keep on anxiously shifting stations and then turning the TV on and off, fantasizing that if I wait 15 minutes there will be better news. There are some Democratic Senate victories in states that were seen as up for grabs like Connecticut, and I hear snatches of speeches by winning candidates from both Parties filled with empty rhetoric or their political talking points.
I wake up at dawn, and begin to absorb the political damage. The pundits were right - the Republicans won the House handily, and though the Democrats hold the Senate (with some races still undecided) - it's a night that can only elicit despair from a liberal. Yes, some of Sarah Palin's favorite and most egregious candidates lost (e.g. Angle in Nevada, O'Donnell in Delaware), but there are many Tea Partiers who won seats in the House.
It most likely means what's left of the Democratic agenda is dead, and that Obama must spend the next two years vetoing legislation (e.g., the attempt to repeal or shred the health care law) that tries to undermine our shell of a welfare state. The Republicans offer nothing but Obama hatred, the end of deficit spending, small government, and, of course, maintaining the tax cuts for the wealthy, so paradoxically, the deficit can expand.
I live in a bubble where everybody votes Democrat, and the only critics of Obama are on the left. As a result, I'm not privy to what much of America is thinking, except second hand via the media. What bothers me most about the election is that “the people”, whom the poet Carl Sandburg wrote homages to, folk singers exulted in, and liberal and Left politicians invoked as a source of social commitment, are now on the side of the Party of fat cats and reactionaries. Obviously, we all live with our own abstract version of “the people,” and project on to them what we believe. A bad night, and I fear that there will be worse to come.