Yesterday many of us made our way to the polls to elect governors, mayors, city council members, pass bonds and charter amendments. Maine wrestled with same-sex marriage. As in election, it's probably inappropriate to try to read the tea leaves and figure out what all this means. That's because we probably don't know what it means.
One year ago, however, America went to the polls in huge numbers and elected the first person of color, the first African-American, as President of the United States. It was a thrilling day for those of us who are his supporters. We watched as the states turned blue, one after another. Of course, the euphoria didn't last long. Oh, yes, we did have a wonderful inaugural, but with 2 wars on the table, along with a deepening recession -- heading for a possible depression, there was no time to waste. So, soon there was a stimulus bill, which was added to the earlier TARP bill of the Bush Administration. Over the past year the President has tried to tackle the wars, the economy, and health care reform. It's too early to tell how all this will go. The economy is picking up, but unemployment continues to rise -- and likely will continue to rise. Since this is an economy that has become dependent on the financial sector -- because we don't build much in the USA anymore -- the fact that the financial sector is still finding its way back makes a big difference.
One of the reasons the euphoria was so short lived is that we are a people with short attention spans, and have no desire for delayed gratification. We want our solutions now!!! That is, of course, unrealistic, but only time will tell how this will work itself out.
So, back to last night. Republicans won two governorships. Neither has much to do with Obama -- governorships rarely have much to do with the presidency. I remember when Arnold was running for governor, he argued that having a Republican in the governor's chair would make it easier to work with the President. Well, Arnold quickly found out that it didn't matter who the governor was, George Bush didn't have much use for California. Thus, Arnold had no more success getting help from the Administration than did his lackluster and luckless predecessor, Gray Davis. In NJ, you had an unpopular incumbent running -- and he did pretty well considering. In Virginia -- well this may be just the desire to have a change of scenery -- replace Democratic rule with Republican for awhile. For either party to make much of this would be foolhardy.
One of the things recent elections should have taught us is that there is a growing body of independents, many of whom are former Republicans. Their moderates, and they'll swing one way or another, and they'll be difficult to harness. The fact is, the Republican party, as a party is shrinking -- largely because it has forced out moderate Republicans.
If the Democrats have anything to learn from recent elections is this -- if you want ideological purity, you'll have a party just as tiny as the GOP! The reason the Democrats are the ones having the arguments in the Senate is that it is the only party that isn't totally framed by ideological concerns!
Oh, and as for Maine -- I think that the fact that 47% supported same sex marriage suggests that while there is a long way to go, the tide is turning!