… but still have a lot of hard work to do.
The wins? Obvious – Obama, and Brown winning here in Ohio. Warren winning in Massachusetts. McCaskill in Missouri. A net gain in Senate seats. It was about the “soft middle” deciding that they preferred the policies of Democrats. But more importantly, it was about voters rejecting the obstructionism and lying by the modern GOP. For now, at least. The GOP spent most of Obama’s first term (and all of the last two years) doing everything in their power to block any and all progress by Obama and the Democratic Party at addressing the country’s issues. And voters rejected that strategy. (Will the GOP walk back and return to more sane politics? Who knows.) This election also contextualizes the 2010 midterms, not as a rejection of Obama’s presidency, but rather a small and motivated bunch of extremists hijacking the election. I hope moderates sit up and take notice – midterm elections matter too, and staying home is a bad idea. Elections have consequences, and not participating cedes your vote to right-wing extremists.
But there is plenty of stuff to focus on. One particularly frustrating thing is that, despite the obvious public frustration with our broken government, voters have eschewed two excellent opportunities to reform broken government and make it more accountable to voters in failing to pass Issue 1 and Issue 2. If we want to address issues of corruption and unaccountability in government, we have to convince swing voters – not others like us – to support these kinds of reforms. And that’s going to be hard, because a) they tend to be low-information voters, and b) as the GOP have shown, it’s much easier to misinform and block reforms than to push big policy changes. The Democrats also lost seats in the House – but this should not be a surprise, since we just had a census and redistricting, and most of the State Congresses are held by Republicans. More evidence that state and local elections also matter.
If we all learned anything at all from the last 4 years, it should have been that our work starts with the election. It most certainly does not end there. We’ve got work to do.