It is a given that the party out of power picks up seats in the off year election.
Why is that? The logic would seem simple. American voters have the patience and vision of a nearsighted 3 year old. Every two years after they have decided that they want a particular party to run the country, they conclude, “Where’s the unicorn I wanted?” and decide that the other party might have a better unicorn ranch…even though the very reason they elected the current party was their dissatisfaction with the delivery of unicorns by the party that was previously in power.
So, first we have to begin with the concept that no matter what the American electorate orders from the menu of Democracy, when it arrives, they always want to send it back and just get the nachos instead.
As disappointing as that principle of American Democracy may be, it creates a paradox that is inescapable.
a. If a party wants to have power, it must win elections.
b. Once a party wins an election, it is held to an unrealistic standard by an impatient public.
c. The party in power, not being able to meet unrealistic expectations is eventually viewed negatively by the public.
d. In the following election, Americans vote for the party they last voted out because, since they are not currently in power, they provide an alternative to the party in power that has failed to meet unrealistic expectations.
e. Rinse and repeat.
What is kind of depressing is that Americans seem unable to commit to long term goals, too reliant on short term gratification to solve profound issues and build long term successes. Can you imagine if the American electorate was a building contractor? Every other month it would tear down the work that had been done all month and replace all the workers because it wanted the perfect house built in a month and that didn’t happen. This is the Sisyphus School of Construction.
This paradox does however necessarily trip up all that participate in it.
The Republicans, after having handed a near Depression to Obama, have executed a Party of No campaign since he was elected. Thanks to our thriving public education system and a fair and balanced MSM , the American Public instead blames Obama and the Dems for what the GOP has wrought. So, just one and a half years after recognizing how destructive the policies of the GOP are, their bi-annual amnesia has kicked in and they’re ready to proclaim to the Party of Destruction, “Thank you sir, may I have another?”
The Republicans will win many seats in Congress, perhaps enough to take over the House. What will that mean?
Well, Michelle Bachman and Darryl Issa have boasted loudly about spending the next two years in a Clinton-style witch hunt against Obama, times 100. Joe Barton, who apologized to BP for their being asked to compensate people for ruining their lives will be in charge of energy policy. And John Boehner who declared that HCR would bring the Apocolypse will be Majority Leader in the House.
Is there a way to give the American electorate an IQ test or at the very least, a consultation with a mental health professional?
But wait, remember the cycle described above? The silver lining to the Repubs possibly taking over the House is that…they will be in power. So now the unrealistic expectations will be projected on them by the Public. In 2012 they won’t be able to run as they are this year, as the outsiders who had no control over the last two years. Uh-oh!!! Yes, they will BS about how, “If only we had all the power in DC, we could bring you the unicorns you want!” but that’s a bit more complicated than just being able to say, “Blame them, we’re not in power, nothing’s our fault!”
And as we learned from a Repub House impeaching Clinton, not to mention the 8 years of Bush and 6 years of Repub control in Congress, give them a little power and they’ll hang themselves with it.
We should work as hard as we can this year to fend off Repub control of the House but if despite all of our best efforts, they win…it could be the big motivator for Dems to get out in 2012 and re-elect Obama and a Dem majority in Congress. We may have to give up two crucial years of gridlock for at least two more years of progress but that might be the best deal we can get.
It is nearly impossible for Obama and Dems to get credit for what they prevented from happening. If we had a President McCain, I think we would have plunged into a massive depression that would have set this nation back twenty years or more from where it is today (giving tax cuts to the wealthy instead of the stimulus spending would have been the nail in the coffin). But that concept is not concrete enough for many out there to appreciate. Nor are all of the other strides Obama has made.
And don’t get me started on the Purist Dems attacking Obama, I imagine many of them smugly watching Repubs win this year, pleased at how it harms Obama’s presidency. If there was a way to give a Wedgie of Mass Discomfort to all of them, I gladly would.
Ultimately, the pendulum that passes for the mass mindset of American Voters will have a chance to swing back to sanity by 2012 and while we can’t give an inch this year, if Repubs win back the House, I think there will be a silver lining to that sulfurous cloud that could descend on DC after this November.