The Day After
"The Day After" is the title of a 1980s TV movie about the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust. I don't think we went through a nuclear holocaust last night, but the election results weren't pretty. The Democrats will keep the Senate, probably because of a couple of Tea Party candidates that went too far out of the mainstream. We will have to wait to see what happens next. Health Care Reform isn't going anywhere, but there won't be any more stimulus. Tea Party folks will be calling for deep spending cuts, believing that there are billions of dollars of waste, fraud, and fat to cut. We've heard this before. There are those who call for the end of earmarks, but conservative Republicans are just as apt, if not more apt, to bring home the pork as liberal Democrats. So, who wants to give up the benefits they bring home -- benefits that lead to re-election. I remember when Arnold Schwarzenegger came into office, he was sure there was lots of fat to cut and quickly found out that there wasn't much he could do -- largely because the voters, through the initiative process, had tied up most of the budget.
One of the things to notice is that while there are younger Tea Partiers, the vast majority are older. Thus, my sense is that this "revolution" we're seeing will be short lived, maybe no more than a year. It will be interesting to see how "mainstream" Republicans try to coexist with their fractious newcomers, many of whom have no experience in government. Will their constituents support them in the long run? Remember that two years ago, the Democrats rode a crest of enthusiasm to historic gains. This time, with a much older electorate than two years ago, Republicans rode a wave of voter discontent to victory.
I think we also need to ask the question of how much influence the recent Supreme Court decision freeing Corporations to spend as much as they want on elections, with no transparency. Money can't be given to candidates, but can be given to parties, so the vast majority of ads were either 3rd party or Political party ads -- and much of this was full of deception or misinformation. My sense is that many voters were so turned off by everything that they just decided not to vote, and that's likely true of younger voters.
Finally, I want to make a comment about what happened yesterday in my new hometown of Troy, Michigan. There was a ballot measure that would fund the library for ten years, restoring its funding in full. The opponents of this measure, which was placed on the ballot with the support of the Friends of the Library, fought it through what I believe was extremely deceptive means. They placed three other ballot measures that looked almost exactly like the first one, forcing voters to figure out which one to support. Then, they began a separate campaign of disinformation calling for the defeat of all four tax increases, suggesting that if all four passed, then there would be four tax increases, which wasn't true. They also suggested that the library would have to go out and buy a new building and new resources, which is also untrue. If the separate board had been established, the city could easily transfer ownership to the new board, as has been done in other communities. The difference between yes and no votes is a mere 600 or so votes. If the other three had not been on the ballot, would it have been defeated? I don't think so. I've learned something very quickly about Troy -- there is a small group of people who have figured out how to control the structures of power, and they will do everything they can to achieve their purpose. They lost out in the last city council election cycle, but I fear that they will regain power and that doesn't bode well for what is supposedly one of the most affluent cities in the state.
But, at the end of the day, we will survive. We will live on to fight another day. My hope is not in any one party or program, but in God. I will continue my calling to push for the common good of all, and not just the few. That is, I believe, the desire of God.