If yesterday’s election results sent any sort of message to politicians, it was probably “we are not real fond of Republicans at the moment.” Not only do the Democrats seem to have taken both Houses of Congress, but no Democratic incumbent lost their seat to a Republican. The only places Republicans won were where two brand new, would-be Congressmen or Governors were duking it out.
The exit polls seem to be showing that voters were most influenced by the issue of “corruption”, and then the Iraq war. And most startling to me, almost a third of the white evangelical vote went to Democrats. The Republicans have had a near-lock on this voting block for a couple of decades now. Either voters are that disgusted by Republicans this year, or this is a major change that will effect all US politics in the months and years to come.
Of course, the election was dirty. Republicans or mysterious anonymous folks who supported Republicans engaged in all sorts of revolting, frequently racist, tactics. The worst was probably the intimidate Latino voters by pretending to be gathering signatures on a petition:
In the morning on voting day, two men — anti-immigrant crusader Russ Dove and his cameraman — showed up at precinct 49 in Tucson, at the Iglesia Bautista church, 4502 S. 12th St. Their plan: To harass and intimidate Spanish-speaking voters by using an “English-only” petition to screen for “illegal immigrants” trying to vote, videotape them, and post their likenesses on the Internet. Roy Warden also came, armed with a gun
Guy gets in your face, another guy puts a camera in your face, and their buddy is standing nearby with a gun. Smells like democracy.
And the weirdest Republican tactic was by the campaign of Maryland candidates Bob Ehrlich and Michael Steele. They went down to Philadelphia, hired 200 homeless people, and put them on buses to Maryland. These folks were then taken to a predominantly black neighborhood and were told to give out campaign literature. Literature which claimed that the Republican Ehrlich and Steele were Democrats, in the hopes to trick some votes out of people. Seriously, if you have to sink to this level to get votes, would it maybe occur to you “y’know, I don’t deserve to win.”
Yet despite all this, despite the warnings of Greg Palast, despite the new voter ID laws and unnecessarily high-tech voting devices, American voters were still able to hammer the Republicans*.
Bush responded to this massive defeat by doing figuratively what many of us would like to have done literally: throw Donald Rumsfeld under a bus. One week after saying that he wanted Rumsfeld to stay till the end of his presidency, that he’s doing a “fantastic job”, and that he “strongly supports” him, and mere hours after the Republican massacre, Bush suddenly decides that “the timing is right for new leadership in the Pentagon.” A sacrificial lamb, obviously. “If I give them Rummy, maybe they won’t come after me!”
True to form, Rumsfeld went out on a lie, “it struck me that this would be a good thing for everybody.” While it certainly will be best for everybody, I can’t possibly believe that Donald Rumsfeld spent even one second thinking about what was best for anybody other than Donald Rumsfeld. Any bets on how long he waits before going to work for a military contractor or lobbying firm, where he’ll make 10 times what he made at the Defense Department? I’m thinking 3-4 months.**
It’s also hilarious that just a day or so ago, Bush was out stumping for his fellow Republicans, more or less saying that the Democrats want terrorists to destroy America. And now he’s got to make nice and pretend that he didn’t just say all that shit.
So what can we expect two months from now, when the Democrats control the Congress? Here’s what they’re saying they’re gonna do in “the first 100 hours”:
A set of rules changes, which Mrs Pelosi said would “make this the most honest and open Congress in history”. After Democrat complaints that Republican leaders frequently excluded them from debate and other House functions, she also pledged to restore civility and give the minority party a broader role.
…increasing the federal minimum wage, enacting the homeland security recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 commission, promoting stem-cell research and reducing university costs, by making tuition tax deductible and halving interest rates on student loans. Other priorities include giving the government the power to negotiate with drugs companies to lower prices in the Medicare prescription drug programme, eliminating what they say are Republican-backed in-centives to shift jobs overseas and rolling back subsidies for big oil companies, using those funds to promote alternative energy sources instead.
Now, given all the talk about how this election was a referendum about the Iraq war, it’s kind of disturbing that their list of top priorities does not include the Iraq war. All I’ve heard them say is that they want to “redeploy” troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. No details as far as I know.
And in case y’all weren’t paying attention, my state, in its wisdom, decided to re-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yes, I’m a little embarassed.
More tomorrow, coupled with yammering about all this on my radio show.
* Well, de facto hammer. Many of the individual races were very close, which I find depressing. George “Macaca” Allen nearly won Virginia, even after reports that he proudly displayed a Confederate flag and noose in his home and office, and once put the head of a dead deer in the mailbox of a black family. Yet nearly 50% of Virginians seemed to think he was alright.
** Actually, Rumsfeld was a CEO before this, of a pharmaceutical company that was later purchased by Monsanto. So it’s possible he might go back into the corporate world instead of, as I so cynically suggested, whoring for the military industry. It’s also possible that he’ll get some cushy guest professor gig at a prestigious university, or work for a thinktank. But my money’s still on consulting for military contractors.
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