Here are a few winners and losers from last night that I think are worth highlighting.
Winners 1. Ignorance. With the victory of numerous Republican climate deniers and "skeptics," not to mention people (e.g., Robert Hurt, Scott Rigell, Morgan Griffith) who are utterly clueless on a wide range of other issues, it's clear that last night, ignorance was a big winner. Congratulations, ignorance, you rock! (one important caveat: in California, ignorance suffered a major setback, as Proposition 23 - to roll back California's landmark clean energy and climate law - was defeated!)
2. Fear/Anxiety. Last night, our fears and anxieties won out over our better judgment. I understand that people are scared and worried right now - and rightfully so! - but how does voting to make things worse across the board help matters in any way?
3. Rewarding irresponsibility. After 8 years of disastrous Republican misrule, after 2 years of irresponsibly saying "no" to everything (while pandering to the most extreme, angry, intolerant voices in their party), and after offering no new ideas or serious plans on any of the issues anyone cares about, the American voters in their infinite wisdom yesterday rewarded said "Party of No" for its irresponsibility. What happens when you reward a child for bad behavior and "acting up?" You don't have to be a child psychologist to know that they'll just learn they should do that again. And again. And again. Brilliant.
4. Voting against one's own self interest. Last night, the American people threw a temper tantrum because the economy's bad and - as Homer Simpson once said, they're "mad NOW!!!" - and decided to cut their noses to spite their faces. Of course, in doing so, they ended up harming their own self interest, not to mention the national interest. Other than that, great night everybody! (snark)
5. Our corporate overlords. For all the talk of the "grassroots" Tea Party, the fact is that the big winners last night were the big corporations and their big money. Basically, we got the best Congress that Exxon Mobil, the Koch brothers, and other corporate interests who do not have your best interests at heart, could buy. Thank you, Citizens United, and thank you to our corporate overlords, all hail!
6. Harry Reid. How many lives does this guy have? And how lucky can you get with a lunatic opponent like Sharron Angle?!?
7. Empty suits. Eric Can'tor led the way on this one, but there are so many others, including right here in Virginia with Robert Hurt and Scott Rigell.
8. Staying on message/creating a narrative - Republican edition. Republicans may not have any serious ideas, let alone any good ideas. They may pander to fear, anxiety, ignorance, and bigotry. They may be even less popular than Democrats. But they sure know how to stay on their simplistic, angry message and to create a powerful narrative (albeit false, crazy, etc.). Last night, it worked.
9. Faux News, Rasmussen, Rush, Glenn Beck, the Koch brothers, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and everyone else who relentlessly bashed the Democrats the last two years, even if it was with absolute lunacy like "death panels" and "Obama's a socialist Muslim." Last night, it worked.
10. Denial. One thing's for sure about last night; the American people - or either party, for that matter - did not squarely face up to the challenges facing us as a nation, whether it's the national debt, the need for energy independence, the problem of climate change, our crumbling infrastructure, or a million other problems. Last night, instead, head-in-the-sand denial won. We'll see how that works out for America, as China and other countries race ahead. Sadly, it's quite possible historians will look back in 50 years and point to 2010 as the election that marked the inexorable decline of America as a great power. I hope not, but I fear it could be the case.
11. John BONEr, Eric Can'tor, the Republican Party of Virginia, the NRCC, etc. They may have run a lying, cynical, vicious, vapid campaign, but in politics, if you win you're a genius. So today, I guess they're geniuses.
Mixed The Tea Party was both a "winner" and a "loser" last night. On the "winner" side, they certainly provided a tremendous amount of energy to Republicans this cycle. On the "loser" side, the Tea Party appears to have saved Democratic control of the Senate, as well as a number of other races, thanks to their success in nominating crazy, unqualified, wildly-outside-the-mainstream people like Christine O'Donnell and Sharron Angle.
Losers 1. Accomplishments. Democrats actually accomplished a lot the past 2 years, including historic achievements on health care, clean energy and other infrastructure investment, preventing a financial and economic meltdown, etc. But you'd never know it. Not only did Democrats not tout their own accomplishments, they seemed ashamed of them. So...why should anyone respect you if you clearly don't respect yourself and your own accomplishments? Answer: they shouldn't, and they won't.
2. Counterfactuals. It's too hard to convince people that something really bad (e.g., Great Depression II) WOULD have happened if not for policies x, y, or z. In 1933, when FDR came in, the American people didn't need counterfactuals, as they'd already been suffering for 4 years under Republicans. At that point, they were ready for just about anything. This time around...not so much.
3. Blue dogs. So-called "moderate" Democrats got their butts kicked last night, almost across the board. What does this prove? I'm not sure exactly, but it certainly doesn't demonstrate that people prefer people with no principles to real Democrats or progressives.
3. Standing for nothing. Glenn Nye is the poster child for believing in nothing, standing for nothing, having no soul. In the end, he tried to sell his complete lack of conviction as demonstrating his "independence" and "willingness to fight for his district." The end result? Republicans attacked him anyway as being a "liberal" in service of "Obama and Pelosi." And he got his butt kicked by a slimy, hypocritical car salesman without a brain in his head.
4. Running away from/dissing your own party. Once again, Glenn Nye's the perfect poster child, as he ran adds attacking major Democratic achievements (and bragging that he'd voted against them), posing a mindless false equivalence between Republicans and Democrats, and running away from Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama as fast as he could. So, how'd that work out for you, Glenn? Also, to a lesser extent, Rick Boucher did the same thing; again, how'd that work out?
5. Staying on message/creating a narrative - Democratic edition. In contrast, Democrats couldn't message their way out of a paper bag or create an effective narrative if their lives depended on it. Well, actually, they sort of managed to do that in 2006 and 2008, when Republicans were as popular as smallpox. But in 2010, after 2 years of holding the White House and Congress? Not.
6. Barack Obama's political advisors. If this were medieval Japan, the political "professionals" advising President Obama would all be falling on their swords this morning, having failed miserably to provide sound advice, a workable strategy, a coherent/appealing message, or any ability whatsoever to market Democratic successes (e.g., that we cut taxes for 98% of Americans, got all the TARP money back, etc., etc.). Given that this is the Democratic Party, these people will most likely go on to long and lucrative careers, having suffered no consequences for their utter failure yesterday. Sadly, what else is new?
7. Barack Obama's strategy of reaching out to Republicans. Look, that strategy may have made some sense initially, but after Obama was slapped away once, twice, three times, 10 times...100 times, you'd think he'd learn. You'd also think he'd learn that you can't work with people who outright say they want to "break" you, that their #1 goal is to make sure you're a 1-term president, that they "want you to fail." All that does is make you look weak, while you waste time and fail to get your full agenda - the one you were elected to pursue - enacted. Mazel tov!
8. Health care reform. The process was a complete debacle, basically consuming the first year of the Obama presidency, and ending up with a mess - a package that cut a bunch of deals with private insurers, did not "bend the cost curve backwards," did not give us a public option (let alone a single payer system), yet managed to allow Republicans to demonize it on utter lies like "death panels" and "socialized medicine." So, remind me again, why did we try for month after fruitless month to get some sort of deal with Chuck Grassley, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, etc., instead of just using our (supposed) 60-vote "filibuster proof majority" in the Senate to pass the best possible legislation? Uhhhhhhh.
9. Clean energy/enviro legislation. How on earth Democrats could waste more than a year f***ing around with health care reform and fail to address the huge problems (and opportunities) of energy and global warming is mind boggling. But wait, it gets worse - we also had the House voting for a watered down, larded up (with coal industry favors - thanks Rick Boucher!) crappy "cap and trade" bill that was demonized by Republicans despite being a conservative, market-based idea that came out of the freakin' Reagan Administration. Of course, we never articulated any of this. Oh, and we also let House members take tough votes on this one, then watch as the Senate completely dropped the ball and left them hanging with nothing to show for their efforts. Brilliant!
10. As I wrote yesterday, Democrats completely failed to a) message; b) market; c) underpromise and overdeliver (instead of vice versa); d) come up with a serious strategy; e) show cojones/loyalty in many cases. Not a recipe for success, and we saw the results last night.
11. Democrats in Republican districts. We'll see what the final count is, but last night, Democrats lost a lot of the seats we had gained in Republican districts (e.g., voted for McCain in 2008) in the Democratic "wave" years of 2006 and 2008. In that respect, last night was somewhat of a "snap back" to normal, although I'd argue it overnapped a bit, and probably will edge back again towards parity in 2012.
12. Finally, let's just throw in the Senate, which failed time and time again to move the ball forward, thanks to a combination of Mitch McConnell's monolithic "No" caucus and a few horrible "Democrats" like Blanche Lincoln (good riddance!), Ben Nelson, and Holy Joe LIEberman. Remind me again, why were Republicans able to push through their agenda in 2001-2003 with just 50 or 51 seats in the Senate, but we couldn't get ours through with a supposed "filibuster proof, 60-seat majority?" Oh, and since when was that 60-vote requirement etched in stone or written into the constitution? Hint: it's not!
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