Whether you call it a referendum, a wave, a shellacking, that’s how republicans took over the whole of congress; whether it’s the GOP taking a victory lap or the democrats eating a substantial amount of crow. The problem is voters, the ones who could make it out on election day and only election day, disallowed early voting in their state, county or city, who weren’t hampered by voter I.D. laws, having to work or just fed up with the entire process; we all remember the hideously long lines, limited voting machines, voter I.D. confusion stranding elderly, disabled voters virtually trapped in line for hours, some places people standing in endless lines until after midnight to cast their ballot circa 2012. Voters in districts so gerrymandered by conservatives unable to win any other way presented with only the most extreme candidate as an option, especially in a midterm election, even those voters may have voted for republicans, the other guys compared to who occupies the Whitehouse, but they hold little hope of it making a difference, of it changing anything. And it isn’t simply couched into dissatisfaction with the president, often dubbed Obummer in opposition commentary; rather a feeling, numerous demonstrations the whole of Washington is dysfunctional, broken nothing works, no one is listening to their issues. Yes history proved consistent accurately predicting republicans would take control of both congressional bodies citing the 6 year slump common among 2 term presidents, approval and favorability ratings ripe for a shift in power, specifically between Obama and George W. Bush 6 years ago, pointing to a sweeping takeover by the our nation’s conservative party. But does it truly mean all that has been read into it; is it a sign we are poised for a Republican in the Whitehouse come 2016, are democrats in more trouble there than they ever thought they could be, was it truly an comment on Obamacare, the Obama economy, as one Fox News writer put it, response to one of the most staggering cases of mismanagement proceeding to list the litany of scandals plaguing the Whitehouse Fast and Furious, the IRS all the way down to the disgrace at the VA? Or could it be much simpler, the path of least resistance for voters, more of the muddled results we’ve come to expect from the voting public in the last 6 years, more conflicting data issuing from a divided populous who can’t seem to make up its mind on a singular topic never mind the host facing people at the ballot box?
The larger question remains, what they, republicans, are going to do with their sudden but slim majority; most candidates, particularly winning candidates, ran on a platform of unity, compromise, common ground and getting things done. Yet just two years ago we heard the same thing amidst being treated to 11th hour budgets in the form of continuing resolutions versus firm budgets passed, republican obstruction flaunted before our eyes, threats of government shutdown, fears the disabled, old ladies wouldn’t get their social security checks, military families and government workers, though oddly not congress, not getting paid, utter showdowns about common business that keeps a country running, failure to pass individual department budgets, legislation that would keep key workers in, for example the FFA, on the job while they went off on congressional recess. We saw our credit rating downgraded and millions in tourism dollars bleed from our economy as there was a shutdown over implementation of Obamacare punctuated by a junior senator from Texas Ted Cruz reading Green Eggs and Ham, or was it Cat in the Hat, maybe both while national parks, monuments and other hubs stayed firmly closed. Meanwhile the word lawsuit was thrown at the president for his use of executive order on issues republicans refused to bring to a vote, refused to create their own plan for addressing from healthcare on down to a jobs plan to get this nation working again, an immigration path that didn’t consist solely of go back to your country and get in line behind all the other people who want to come here, too busy trying unsuccessfully to repeal Obamacare for the 4-5 dozenth time, too busy approving funding for what must be the dozenth Benghazi hearing and the 3rd or 4th committee discussing, dissecting who gave Susan Rice her talking points. Already republicans have vowed to throw down the gauntlet; Ted Cruz and 5 other senators putting Harry Reid on notice they will hold hostage government funding talks should the president follow through with his plans to enact the immigration reform he can by executive order, will shanghai the new attorney general confirmation beginning by asking Loretta Lynch if she deems the president’s actions lawful. Impeachment thrown around by others like Andrew McCarthy, Joe Barton as an option, a possibility feeding into Cruz’s line of thinking calling it lawless amnesty to put together a comprehensive, sensible way to determine legal citizenship, residency criteria. When now as it stands we have exactly none, no way for people to apply and come into this country legally from Latin American, Central American countries; congressional unity, meaningful compromise, moving the country into the future, good luck with that. So what do we have to look forward to from republicans, perhaps a 6 dozenth vote to repeal Obamacare; except wait, that didn’t have the votes in the house to do it the first time. Dynamics there remaining relatively unchanged despite senate victories; maybe they will systematically pick it apart as a newly elected governor turned senator Mike Rounds suggested leaving more healthcare broken promises than Obama’s ‘if you like your plan you can keep it’ perceived flop concurrently eliminating substandard plans. Oh joy more uninsured than we started with. Are republicans going for a 13th plus hearing on Benghazi; equally important, sanctioning federal monies to do so? How about another hearing on Louis Lerner’s missing e-mails in reference to the IRS scandal; forget there was a scandal because Citizens United created in influx of new 501C4 status applicants being scrutinized to ensure compliance with the law, all previously questioned entities determined not to be engaged in political campaigning received their tax exempted status just slightly slower than it might have been sans the Citizens United decision. Still said scenarios imply now majority holders of political power will be inclined to do something over their elected term; odds are they are going to drag their feet for the next 2 years crossing their fingers, hoping and praying they get someone they can work with, i.e. a republican, in the Whitehouse.
And let’s say they get their dream come true election night 2016, that golden republican in the Whitehouse; that is no guarantee, especially an electable, moderate republican a-la Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, is going to on their fist, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th or 100th day in office, repeal Obama care; neither is it plausible Paul Ryan-esque budgets turning Medicare into a voucher program, gutting so called entitlement programs and choking off aid to the needy will be the first orders of legislative business or make it past the president’s veto pen where applicable. Expect them to sign every scrap of heartbeat, personhood bill legislation to cross their desk; don’t count on it. The ship has already sailed too far on ‘moral majority’ topics like gay marriage, too many states legalizing it to go back to DOMA (the defense of marriage act), without the Supreme Court’s rendering it unconstitutional. Do republicans honestly think they will be capable of defunding the department of education supplanting it via such ultra-local control kids learn reading, writing arithmetic and little history beyond their home state; dido with these whitewashed, brighter views of American history which have never gone over well. Texas is still combatting fallout from their choice to revamp textbooks approved in 2010; parents, educators and topic experts in science and history protesting at hearings on textbook adoption, adoption that could affect how all students nationwide learn since Texas is the largest purchaser of texts. When Colorado tired a variation of the same thing “attempting to promote patriotism,” downplay civil disobedience students in one school district staged walkouts and protests giving the supposed grown-ups in the room hands on demonstration of their well ingrained history lessons; poetic justice is more than a 90’s movie folks. Holding out for conservative cabinet members to reverse STEM, you know science, technology, engineering, math promoted to help students get good, high tech, high paying, solid jobs, think again; tech hubs are popping up across the country including southern states historically infused with conservative, tea party ideology. Places like New Orleans, Charleston South Carolina, Austin Texas, heartland tech has taken root in Omaha, Des Moines Iowa, either side of Kansas City, even unusual spots Wyoming and Utah are encroaching on the prestige of Silicon Valley in California. Planning to push some sort of national mandate for abstinence only sex education, be prepared to be pushed back by parents, students and citizens who don’t find that best for their children, grandchildren or society at large. Then be prepared to be unceremoniously booted out of office at the next opportunity; because people don’t think that is something government should decide, but the republicans who blasted Obama for overreach will drum up an excuse to say it is or because they find the idea utterly absurd, take your pick. Of course that assumes they too get anything done aside from trying to oust remaining democrats for trumped up scandals already mentioned and anything making a single headline in the future, attempt to go to war with Russia’s Vladimir Putin because 2012 golden boy Mitt Romney got a debate question half right on a wild guess calling Russia the biggest threat, though, turns out, to Ukraine not the United States. Could they seriously be considering putting boots on the ground in Iran incensed about a letter president Obama sent to their leader looking for cooperation in containing the region, Iraq and ISIS namely? We’re finally drawing out of Afghanistan only to put advisory and aid troops back into Iraq and republicans are signaling they basically want war with Iran; we ignored Syria because of just how war weary this nation is but they are gearing up for another round? Welcome to foreign policy from the republican, conservative party; events teeing up right now impacting 2016 and certainly poised to swing thependulum the other in 2020 should anything like the above play out.
Issues reportedly brought out a statistically higher number of voters than would usually be seen for a midterm election, from legalizing recreational marijuana to the minimum wage; economy clearly forefront in their minds. Many day-after articles highlighting voters reminded Washington the economy still, to quote one headline, sucks. Despite the unemployment rate holding at 5.8 %, solid jobs numbers, gas prices under $3.00 a gallon, that’s right under $3.00 in most of the country, and a stock market routinely breaking records translating into a robust 401k/pension plan, democrats found themselves booted out of office; now this has been attributed to everything from lacking a clear, over all, bigger message addressing their concerns including universal preschool making it easier to return to work, college affordability, paying back student loans, getting a job, moving up the economic ladder to, they pushed the war on women and it fell flat, predicting we are done with that. But do women really need to be told there is a war on them when we have Satya Nadellatelling women to trust karma for raises, when Tim Armstrong at AOL is blaming changes to retirement packages on distressed babies belonging to employees, top women having made it to management writing books and nearly screaming about a crisis of confidence among society members with two X chromosomes, when a makeup ad showing just how biased we are about women in the workplace touched a nerve nationwide backed up by university study and one news network’s experiment, every story going vital and being talked about on blogs, around water coolers and probably mommy and women in business co-ops across the country? Simultaneously do women really need to be told, seeing as the Lilly Ledbetter act was just signed into law in latter half of the first decade comprising the 21st century, permitting women to sue their employer for fair wages no matter when they discover the discrepancy, which party has their back? Who do they, any voters think will continue the fight to increase the minimum wage nationally democrats or republicans, whose stance was summed up in raise your skills if you want a raise in pay, who fought equal pay for equal work seeming to believe women didn’t deserve it based on antiquated stereotypes. Further who is having an in depth discussion about why we should be raising the minimum wage traced to significant changes in the economy not all linked to the recession; below Melissa Harris-Perry and others ask why republicans keep waxing nostalgic for manufacturing jobs that were declining years before the recession commensurate with our evolution to a higher level westernized nation housing a service economy facts backed up by an article dated January this year from Bloomberg BusinessWeek on global economics stating “… service industries—hotels, hospitals, media, and accounting—have taken up the slack. Even much of the value generated by U.S. manufacturing involves service work—about a third of the total. More than half of all people still employed in the U.S. manufacturing sector work in such services as management, technical support, and sales.” Harris-Perry going on to ask, if those manufacturing jobs are gone, if we have graduated to a two tiered service and technology economy, technology carrying the higher wages for education, expertise and service being the new medial labor, shouldn’t we do more to equalize the gap? Who else is going finally dispel the refer hysteria propelling the failed war on drugs (chiefly on pot), interject some reality into our perceptions about this naturally growing substance, part of the push to legalize this one particular “drug;” who else is going to say maybe there is a better way than locking someone up in jail for numerable years over simple marijuana use, clog up our court system making needless values judgments? Who else is going to remind American citizenry immigration is about people, usually women and children seeking a better life not lawless drug kingpins, nebulous boogie men capable of everything from beheadings to molesting your children; it’s not about taking our valued jobs, robing white America, born and raised of their “birthright,” but honoring the melting pot we always were and recognizing the opportunity these people represent. Not in altruistic karma points, rather in genuine entrepreneurship added to our economy. Conclusions voters on the whole had no trouble coming to, voting down personhood legislation in Colorado and voting to raise the minimum wage in almost every place it was present on the ballot. Then came the contradictions; yes they voted down personhood in Colorado but voted in the champion of personhood to the senate. Yes they raised the minimum wage yet repeatedly elected to senate GOP members blocking it.
Thus making sense of voter decisions becomes a continuing mystery until you realize the facets of who’s voting and understand key points about voting structure midterm alongside general, national election. Beyond people automatically placing more importance on a general election including choosing a president, the next leader of the free world, there is the reality people who have the time, an opportunity to exercise their right to vote particularly in a midterm, lesser importance election are arguably white, middle aged, affluent, at least stable individuals. Persons, regardless of gender, who could take time out of the traditional business hours of their day to go to their polling place, because they don’t work odd hours mandating they be at work at 6 a.m. and not get off work until after 7 p.m. when polls were closed; they either have their own vehicle, live in urban areas with sophisticated mass transit, don’t commute, eliminating the need to get up at 6 a.m.to start their work day. Smaller cities may begin route prep at 6 a.m. but the first actual pick up, arrival at a designated bus stop lands around 6:30, crossing off voting early a.m. before work for bus users needing to be at work as late as 8:00; more and more traditional work hours 8-5 now since companies stopped picking up the tab for your paid lunch hour, are going by the wayside in favor of whatever the business, the boss needs. Medial labor workers, college students, those just starting out, anyone struggling to get by in fast food, service jobs found it more important election day to report to work than their polling place, paying their rent, putting a check in the bank a better use of their time than reporting to a polling place at work hours conclusion. Looking at women, established career or not, after the commute, bus ride to/from work it was more important to pick the kids up after school, help with homework, start dinner than go to their polling place, arguments across the board for early voting. Translating into those white, middle aged, affluent individuals, women who are already married started a family, older women for whom birth control is not an issue stuffing the majority of the ballot box, those same women who would vote for a personhood bill because being married, stable, given birth to healthy children with minimal, no pregnancy complications can’t imagine a scenario, even a medical one, where they would need an abortion, unable to imagine why anyone else would either. Independent of gender, being far removed from the days when they worked minimum wage, thinking it a rite of passage, character building, the subsistence employment of people rebuilding their lives after mistakes with criminal activity, bouts with drugs, those with limited intelligence, they are blissfully unaware of the people trying to raise families on 7 and 8 dollars an hour. Who have a job in fast food, service work because it’s a job they could get, a job in abundance within our current economy. Aforementioned voters voting in republican candidates to the senate because those candidates suite their perception of the world; in addition to being past the need for birth control, having no use for abortion, their idea of contraception consisting of keep your legs closed and if you’re married shouldn’t you want, be having children? Most women, again showing up to the ballot box, contrary to statistics, contrary to headlined instances believe they are being paid the same as their male counterparts taking ‘the war on women,’ women’s issues off the table for them. These voters who remember what the working world was when they started their working life career journey find it easy to buy into the raise your skills fallacy, eagerly voting for people who say they will bring back the manufacturing that was the pride if their family, agree with candidates who want less regulation, red tape slapped against businesses equally believing the recession, or at least it’s darkest consequences, are the result of people trying to live beyond their means, get something for nothing rather than current regulation aimed to prevent pre 1930’s practices that facilitated the great depression. All this energy emissions, clean energy, global warming stuff is too newfangled to them, they care less about how we get our oil, natural gas than they do about the prices at the pump, the total listed on their heating bill, hints the results. Plus being hardworking, down home folks in values driven parts of the nation they follow less closely the gaffs of candidates, particularly from their party; Mitch McConnell saying he wants to repeal Obama care but keep Kentucky’s kynect state exchange created under the law one glaring example. Now we can all understand why senate, house and gubernatorial races are held at the local level rather than on a national scale like electing the president, the need to elect people from each state to go to Washington and represent that state in its uniqueness, its issues specific to it and it alone, or we could perhaps until we see the gaff reels alongside McConnell’s the castrating hogs campaign ad, the Connecticut governor’s race debate dissolving over a viewer question about a candidates chosen boat name. Begging the question, if they were open to everyone nationwide would any of these candidates see the hallowed halls of political office? It doesn’t take much to think not.
It makes one wonder too, how you can be paying attention, examining all the facts and not be a much villainized democrat, liberal, progressive or all three; even if you don’t agree with everything president Obama does, how can you not be behind what he is trying to do, the direction he is attempting to point our country into-the next years of the 21st century? How can you not see eliminating discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity means more people able to get and keep a job; except for republicans, conservatives not only is it about values, all these people have to do is be normal, live right and why should we give them exceptions for not doing so, they lose their platform to complain about the economy if more people are gainfully employed. They go ahead and lump transgender individuals in with the “not living right crowd” they feel free to write off; even though feeling you were born in the wrong body is not the same as being bi or homosexual, even though those people comprise members of conservative districts you signed up for political office to serve. Still it’s all new age psychobabble to them. We’ve see the ripple effect of immigration crackdowns going as far back as Valley Park and as recently as the controversy in Arizona; mass exodus as immigrants pull their children from schools, vacate apartments, abandoned holes in local economies, not all of them illegal searching for friendlier areas, legal immigrants afraid to go to work, afraid to move about their communities. By all means let’s keep that status quo if it means we can look strong on boarder security, Rick Perry can call out the national guard against women and children to thumb his nose at the “president’s refusal to protect the boarder;” a useless bluster as they had no authority to turn people away, make arrests and it makes better political theater than voting on, perhaps passing the bipartisan immigration reform. Who has a jobs plan as opposed to relying on BillO’Reillyand Dennis Miller to call out occupy Wall Street and similar minded people to get a job, not just get a degree, get the right degree so you can be employed. Speaking of which, the voting populous, or rather the people explaining the voting populous, must have ridiculously short memories since it was president Obama who announced proposals to hold colleges accountable for the educations they provide commensurate with the cost they charge and to keep those costs down; contrasting sharply to Mitt Romney who stood at a campaign function and summed up student debt by admonishing said students to be aware they will have to pay money borrowed back and to shop around for their college education. Good advice but an utter over simplification deterring people from getting educated in the first place; missing the entire point colleges have become solely profit machines not educational institutions. God forbid we focus on a planet for people to live on, our children’s children, breathable air, drinkable water where there has always been both, giving it parts of the world that don’t have especially the latter instead of denying climate change until the planet is damaged beyond repair over the cost to large corporations to make minor changes to how they do things. Lastly putting speculation to bed regarding what the people want, I live in a decidedly red state and everywhere I went on voting day, about my errands to the bank, the pharmacy, casting my own ballot, people I engaged in casual conversation on the bus, waiting in lines, passing time between rides, when I mentioned why I was out, what I was doing over and over I heard people say variations of the same thing; they too were voting to keep things as they were with democrats in control because they believed that was best for the country. Only time will tell who was right.