Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Election 2010 Wrap-Up

I know that it has been two weeks, but I have been meaning to write a post about my take on the mid-term elections. Basically, I think American voters are basically stupid. Would people be as forgiving if a person set fire to their house and trash-talked the fireman who tried to salvage the house before it was completely destroyed? Would a person then give the arsonist house keys to their replacement home? No? Then why did American voters return to power the very party that put our country in the worst economic crisis since Herbert Hoover (another Republican) was president?!? I don't get it. I always knew that one of our blessings as well as curses as a country is our ability to forget the past. Its good in a way that has helped our country avoid the centuries long grievances people hold in the Balkans or the Middle East. But its not so good when there is a political party that encourages Americans to forget the incompetence, graft, and corruption that they've done for the first six years of the century.

The optimist in me held out hope that Americans would not be duped by the Teabaggers and the Republican Party once again. I guess American voters did not listen to George W. Bush's famous misquotes: "Fool me once, shame on--shame on--fool me twice, you can't get fooled again!" Not in America, suckas! We are now a Charlie Brown country. You probably remember the often repeated Peanuts comic strip where the obnoxious Lucy promises that she will not pull the football away from Charlie Brown like the last time. Like the gullible idiot loser that he is, he falls for it every time! Lucy does indeed pull the football away at the last minute and Charlie Brown once again lands on his back staring up at the sky.

You have to wonder how many times Americans want to be conned and robbed by the most deceitful political party our country has ever seen. I've read that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Take a look at history. Every time the Republicans are entrusted with power, the country ends up in an economic mess. The Robber Barons of the late 1800s and early 1900s. The combined pro-corporate business policies of the Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover administrations. The oil shocks and inflation of the Nixon / Ford years. The voodoo economics of the Reagan / Bush years. And of course, the Clinton surplus-squandering economic disaster that was Baby Bush the Terrible.

What can we expect from a Republican controlled Congress? How about the worst aspects of the Gingrich / Hastert era: open-ended investigations into President Barack Obama to find the silver bullet in the closet that will bring down his presidency and lead to his impeachment. No allegation is too outrageous. A team of Drudge reporters are probably being dispatched to Nairobi, Kenya right now to turn up a faked birth certificate. Hey, if a forged document written by a college student claiming that Saddam Hussein had sought yellow-cake uranium from Niger could be used as a rationale for an illegal invasion of a sovereign country, you don't think this political party is going to let a little Hawaiian birth certificate stop them, do you?

I don't think its accidental that the next Speaker of the House is named Boehner. The message in these election results is quite clear: Bend over, America. We're about to be boned! Goodbye Health Care Reform. Goodbye Jobs Creation Bills. Hello gridlock! Hello unmerited investigations! Any investigation of a president needs to begin with George Walker Bush, because he is the reason why our Founding Fathers set a provision for impeachment. It sickens me to see his face on the public scene so soon after leaving office in disgrace. His smirking chimpy face, bragging about authorizing waterboarding deserves only one response: a renditioned flight to the Hague to face the International Criminal Court for a War Crimes Tribunal. Maybe that will wipe off the smirk from his face once and for all!

The biggest reason why American voters were stupid in this election is because the exit polls indicated that the economy was the #1 issue of concern for voters. Yet, by voting for an opposition party to the president, they have basically guaranteed that our economy is going to drag on for two more years. The Democrats have a vested interest in improving the economy for the 2012 elections, because President Obama is up for reelection. The Republican party has a vested interest in the economy being weak through the next election because its the best way to capture the White House. Its amazing to me how lacking in clarity that voters can be. They will punish a Democratic president for not cleaning up a Republican president's mess fast enough, yet they were more than willing to give the Republican Party six straight years to do whatever they wanted (Bush defied history when his party made gains in Congress during his first mid-term elections). Stupid, stupid, stupid! Americans who voted Republican basically just screwed over everyone who is unemployed and looking for work, people struggling to maintain their mortgage, and people in dire need of affordable health care. Screwing over their fellow citizens to reward the corporate fatcats who are undoubtedly popping bottles of the most expensive French champagne in celebration of the American lunacy of voting against one's economic self-interest.

I really wish Blue States of America would divorce Red States of America. We'll see in a generation just which part of the country is worth living in and which one becomes a third world country. If people really want to vote against their own economic self interest, they should bear the brunt of the brutal economic policies, not those who voted for their own economic self interest.

While the election result was disappointing in many ways (most shocking of all, the honourable Senator Russell Feingold of Wisconsin, who has been considered the conscience of the Senate after Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota died tragically in a suspicious plane crash in 2002, was voted out of office in favour of a millionnaire beholden to corporate interests), the fact that the Senate still remains under Democratic control is a relief. Even more positive, Sarah Palin's meddling in several key Senate races basically cost the Republicans control of the Senate. She supported the most extreme candidates over moderate, Republican-establishment backed candidates in Connecticut, Delaware, Nevada, and Alaska. The one that got the most attention was Christine O'Donnell in Delaware. She was a gift to Democrat Chris Coons, who was likely expecting to be a sacrificial lamb against the popular Republican Congressman Mike Castle for Senator Joe Biden's vacated seat. All the Teabaggers did was guarantee that independent voters and moderate Republicans would vote for Chris Coons. Surprisingly, the Fox Propaganda Network indicated that they weren't planning to hire Christine O'Donnell after her defeat. That's saying something when a conservative is considered to be too kooky for even Fox!

In Nevada, the milquetoasty wimp Harry Reid managed to beat back the Teabagger challenge in Sharron Angle, who was another scary candidate. Many of her comments and views on things seem straight out of Nazi Germany. Apparently, it was too much for Nevada voters and you kind of have to feel some sympathy for them. Reid did not deserve to win reelection, and had the Republicans offered a more reasonable candidate, he would now be looking for a new job. Instead, he remains as the Majority Leader in the United States Senate.

In Alaska, the Senate race has finally been called for Lisa Murkowski. She becomes the first person in fifty years to win a write-in campaign for the U.S. Senate. This race is interesting because it shows just how toxic Sarah Palin is, right where people know her the best. The conflict was not just political for Palin. It was downright personal. Lisa's father, Frank Murkowski, was a Senator when he won the governor's seat in 2002. Upon taking office, he appointed his daughter to fill his Senate seat, which was considered controversial and inspired a nepotism law. Other allegations of corruption came out of the woodwork and in a Republican primary in 2006, little-known Sarah Palin was able to wink her way past him. Since Alaska is a safe Republican state, once a candidate wins the Republican primary, they basically cakewalk through the general election. During Palin's short time in office, she did enjoy popularity and was known to work across the aisle with the Democratic minority in the state legislature. After John McCain selected Palin as a running mate and she received a thorough vetting in the public eye, the glitter started falling off as people learned the truth about her. Because she was so vicious in her partisan attacks against Obama and the Democrats, when she returned to Alaska after the Republicans lost in 2008, her campaign speeches basically turned her Democratic allies against her. Palin might have loved to talk about the Bridge to Nowhere, but she burned that bridge and had nowhere else to go.

In the Republican primary, Palin supported a guy named Joe Miller over Senator Lisa Murkowski. Because it is widely known that Palin and the Murkowski family do not get along, voters could be excused for seeing this as an endorsement that was mostly personal rather than political. The Teabaggers managed to defeat the Senator in the primary and rally behind their Quitter Queen's selection. Since Joe Miller won the nomination and more news emerged about him, things looked worse and worse. He had a reporter handcuffed. He came down hard on people who received unemployment insurance (calling them "lazy"). Granted, that's a standard Republican viewpoint. However, news reporters turned up information that Miller's wife had received unemployment insurance within the past decade. Hypocrisy! Its amazing that so many candidates can lie so brazenly in the age of Google, Wikipedia, YouTube and blogging.

Above is a copy of the Alaska ballot that I found in a Google image search. Senator Murkowski said that she did not plan to run a write-in campaign, but so many people urged her to do so because Joe Miller was so scary and the Democratic candidate was inexperienced and virtually unknown. The problem with write-in campaigns is that the rules can be strict to the point where a candidate's name has to be written correctly. Misspellings, even when its obvious who the voter intended to write, can be disqualified. Since many Americans tend to be bad spellers, particularly for ethnic names, this way of keeping the Senator in office was a risky move. It was probably too late for her to register as an independent to have her name printed on the ballot, so this was her last option if she cared about retaining her job.

Thus, because she took this risk and thousands of Alaskans wrote her name on the ballot, she gets to remain as Senator, and Palin's stature is diminished quite a bit for backing the wrong horse. More than 92,000 voters wrote her name perfectly on the ballot, while another 8,000 were being contested by Joe Miller. She had received 10,000 more votes than Miller. Its amazing to reflect on the difficulty to pull off a write-in campaign. It shows just how little sway Palin has in the state where she resides. That should send a signal to the Quitter Queen's fans in trailer parks throughout the South. People in Alaska know Palin and they don't want her or her chosen candidates to represent them. This is probably one of the most satisfying defeats in this election cycle.

My favourite defeat, though, belongs to Meg Whitman, who tried to buy the California governorship. In the last days of her campaign, she contributed another $2 million to pay for ads, bringing her tally to $144 million. That is the most money ever spent on a political campaign by an individual. To get an idea of how crazy that is, in the 1992 election the tally was $100 million on the presidential race. I am pleased that California voters have made Whitman the biggest loser ever. So, Meg, how does it feel to squander $144 million? If she has any children, I wonder how they feel. Give me $144 million and I would do a lot of good with that money. None of my plans include buying political office, though. I'd form my own foundation, be my own boss, hire some good people, renovate a building to create affordable loft condos, travel the world, and donate to worthy causes and political campaigns.

One of my favourite Senators, Barbara Boxer, managed to squeak in another win. Whew! That was a relief. Her opponent, Carly Fiorina, was a mess. After a disasterous tenure at Hewlett-Packard, she had let several thousands of employees go to save the company money, but she also had a multi-million dollar parachute when the board decided to let her go. What do rich people do with all those millions when they already have everything they could possibly want (mega-mansion, luxury cars, luxury yacht, private jet, vacation homes)? Why, they try to buy their way into political office! Thank God the voters of California are smart enough to say no to the two corporate ladies who tried to buy their way into office. One of the few shining moments of a disappointing election (in which the Democrats lost 60 seats in the House, which is more than the 54 Clinton lost in 1994 or the twenty-something seats the Republicans lost in 2006).

Unfortunately, though, the voters of Kentucky aren't as enlightened as the voters in California. Teabagger favourite Rand Paul defeated Attorney General Jack Conway, despite some disturbing red flags surrounding Rand Paul and his overzealous supporters (one of whom pressed his foot on the face of a protestor while she was on the ground). There is something I don't trust about Rand Paul. You can bet, though, that he now becomes the Teabagger favourite to run for president in 2016. Sure, they'll beg and plead with him to run in 2012, but that would be a mistake if he were to throw his hat into the ring so soon after winning his first political office. Its more likely that his father will run another quixotic campaign. Those annoying Ron Paul cultists will probably be out in force in Portland and other cities in the next couple years.

With this election out of the way, we will likely see Republicans starting to announce exploratory committees for a presidential campaign in January. When the dust is settled, I still think Mitt Romney will be the nominee and his choice of a running mate will either be Jeb Bush or Bobby Jindal. The evangelical Christian voters in the Republican party will just have to hold their nose when they vote in 2012, though in an ideal situation, Sarah Palin will resurrect Theodore Roosevelt's Bull Moose Party and run as a Teabagger alternative to President Obama versus Governor Romney. I'd love to see that!

Other notable election results include:
Marco Rubio winning the Senate seat in Florida. He was born the same year as me (1971)! You can bet that he's a future presidential candidate (I'm predicting for 2020).

Ben Quayle, the son of Vice President Dan Quayle, has unfortunately won a seat in Congress to represent a district in Arizona. We must stop viewing political office like an inheritance! Especially when Ben has shown himself to be his father's son, at least in the brains department. Ben garnered some media attention when he stated in a campaign commercial that President Obama was "the worst president ever." Gee, that's a phrase most associated with George W. Bush. Funny that the son of one of the worst Vice Presidents ever would think that Obama, who is cleaning up Bush's mess, is the worst president ever. That goes for any Teabagger, though. They all seem to suffer from amnesia or an early onset of alzheimers.

Finally, Sean Duffy won a seat in Congress to represent a district in Wisconsin. For those who don't recognize his name, he was one of MTV's The Real World houseguests for the Boston season (in 1997). That was my last year of eligibility for the show and I had thought about submitting an application for that season. It wasn't my favourite season, though (I liked the San Francisco, Hawaii, Seattle, and New Orleans casts. I stopped watching after 2000's season). Sean was the wholesome, Midwestern, All American lumberjack. He met his wife Rachel, who was a castmember of the San Francisco season (in 1994), on a special Road Rules that featured five Real World castmates (Eric from the New York cast, Jon from Los Angeles, Rachel from San Francisco, Cynthia from Miami, and Sean from Boston) traveling New Zealand by caravan. I wish that season was on DVD.

Sean and Rachel had conservative, Republican politics in common. They fell in love, got married, and had at least five children. Sean became a lawyer and is probably the first Reality Show celebrity to win political office. There was talk that Michael Skupin of Survivor: The Australian Outback was planning to run for a Senate seat in Michigan a few years back. He's likely a Republican, as well. My impression of Sean Duffy, though, from watching both the Real World: Boston and Road Rules: New Zealand is that he and I would have likely been friends. I generally get along with people who are more conservative in the personalities, if they are moderate in the politics. I don't get along with ideologues, and he doesn't seem like an ideologue. I wish him much luck and I was happy that he won, even though he's a Republican with Teabagger support.

Here's to an interesting 112th Congress. I hope that Republicans will put aside the politics of the campaign and do all they can to help turn our economy around. At some point, they have to realize that there is a time to put aside one's party for the betterment of the country as a whole.

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