by Glynn Wilson
The inmates took over the political asylum on Tuesday as a flood of bitter tea spilled all over the American landscape like a bloodbath, leaving the poor and the foundering middle class even more at the mercy of the rich and powerful, including corporations that now dominate life in the United States in a way no one has seen since the Robber Barons at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the nineteenth century.
Incomplete returns showed the Republican Party picking up at least 60 House seats, far more then they needed to take over a majority in Congress where they are now in a position to control the national political calendar, the Congressional agenda and all the committees where government policy is largely set in the U.S.
“A Republican takeover of the House ushers in a new era of divided government after two years in which Obama and fellow Democrats pushed through an economic stimulus bill, a landmark health care measure and legislation to rein in Wall Street after the near collapse of the economy in 2008,” according to the staunchly mainstream Associated Press.
Yet not all the tea party insurgents won, according to the AP and other news outlets.
“Christine O’Donnell lost badly in Delaware, for a seat that Republican strategists once calculated would be theirs with ease until her stunning upset victory in the primary.”
The Republicans also took back 10 governorships around the country from the Democrats, including the seats in Ohio and Pennsylvania, although they gave two back, in California and Hawaii.
After taking a beating from Democrats in the past two national elections, the Republicans made this dramatic comeback with the aid of the tea party movement of pissed off racists and other independents, funded largely by secret corporate campaign contributions unleashed on the land by a Republican-controlled Supreme Court.
At the polls, it was declared independents who abandoned president Barack Obama and the Democrats in droves, supporting Republicans for the first time since 2004 by a margin of 55 to 39 percent.
While a number of prominent Republicans went on television Tuesday morning to say they are committed to changing things in Washington and getting to work on the country’s problems, the truth is they have no plan to put Americans back to work and they will try to repeal the first-ever national health care law that could have helped prevent the early death of up to 50 million Americans. The only things that could prevent that are the Democrats in the U.S. Senate, who retained control of the upper chamber — along with the president’s veto pen.
Beholden now to the rich and powerful, including big banks, insurance companies, power companies and the telecom giants, the Republicans will no doubt seek to make permanent president George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the rich, set to expire later this year.
While the tea party element in the Republican Party called for “shrinking” the power of the federal government with spending cuts to reduce budget deficits, chances are there is very little the Republicans can do to halt the faltering economy or the growth of the national economy’s budget and trade imbalance. Even economists for president Ronald Reagan acknowledged that government is the spender and lender of last resort in a recession, a fact lost on the tea party crowd who opposed government bailouts, even though without them, the global economy could have crashed in a way not seen since the Great Depression in the 1930s.
Even with the bailouts, unemployment stands at 9.6 percent nationally and is not getting any better anytime soon — no matter what the Republicans try to do, if they try to do anything.
Forty percent of American voters say they are worse off financially than they were two years ago, according to exit polls and pre-election surveys, which is one of the main issues that fueled the sentiment to “throw the bums out.”
More than half of those voting expressed negative views about both political parties, however, so the Republicans should temper their celebrations with knowledge of that fact.
About 40 percent of voters said they supported the so-called “conservative” tea party, but contrary to the conventional wisdom, only a little under half said they wanted the government to do more to solve problems. How can people who do not believe in government expect it to solve problems?
In one of the biggest blows of election night, Senator Russell Feingold of Wisconsin was turned out of office. He will be remembered as one of the few Senators with the guts to stand up to and stop some of the worst policies proposed by the Bush administration. Without his strong voice, it is unclear who will step up to lead the Democrats to halt the worst of the damage Republicans will no doubt try to inflict with their newfound power.
The good news is that Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate majority leader for the past two years, withstood a stiff tea party challenge from Republican Sharron Angle “in one of the election’s most brutally fought races,” according to AP.
Sizing up the new world order on the morning after the election on CNN, Reid said he will work to preserve Obama’s sweeping health care law and to let taxes on upper income Americans expire.
But, he said, “I’m not bullheaded. If we need to work something out with the people who are really rich, I’ll have to look at that. If there’s some tweaking we need to do with the health care bill, I’m ready for some tweaking. But I’m not going to in any way denigrate the great work we did as a country, and saving America from bankruptcy because of the insurance industry bankrupting us.”
The Republican gains in election 2010 will be remembered as the result of one of the most expensive political campaigns in history, in which the GOP spent more than $100 million on governor’s races alone, nearly double what the Democrats were able to raise.
In Alabama, a state legislator and retired dermatologist with no executive experience, Robert Bentley of Tuscaloosa, captured the governor’s race with the help of the political organization of former Baptist preacher and presidential candidate Mick Huckabee, who has plans to run for president again in 2012.
Also, Republicans took control of the Alabama legislature for the first time since federal Reconstruction after the Civil War 136 years ago. It is not clear what they plan to do with it now that they have it, however, since even worse than the national non-plan for how to fix the country, the Republicans in Alabama seem ill-suited to solving the economic problems in the state.
In my home district, a majority black district created through gerrymandering, the first ever black woman was elected to Congress from Alabama, although it is not clear she has the experience to make much of a difference for the people of Birmingham, Tuscaloosa and the state’s poor Black Belt.
As for the Alabama Supreme Court, conservative Republican Tom Parker held off a challenge by Mac Parsons, and another arch-conservative, Mike Bolin held off a challenge by Tom Edwards, one of the many Democrats in Alabama who seemed to try to run to the right of the Republicans, by copying their Christian conservative themes in television ads.
Clearly, the strategy backfired, and now some political observers in the state are wondering if the bloodbath will result in some overdue changes in the leadership of the Alabama Democratic Party.
© 2010, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.