Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Election Day Hangover: Can We Make Some Trades?

The Republicans have taken 60 seats in the House and six seats in the Senate, meaning that gridlock is all but ensured for at least the next two years as the lower house in Congress is controlled by Republicans and the upper chamber is Democratic.

A little part of me last night thought that maybe all of the polls were wrong; maybe the Democrats could hold onto the House and the Senate; maybe people would realize for all of the Democrats' failures the other side of the political coin held far worse consequences for progressives and, ultimately, the country.

But I wouldn't even be that mad if two things had occurred differently.

The first was Russ Feingold's loss. This really pissed me off. This is the only guy in the Senate who had the guts to stand up and vote against the PATRIOT Act in October of 2001, recognizing the fast-paced freedom erosion that the legislation would, and has, enabled. He said then that, "we must continue to respect our Constitution and protect our civil liberties in the wake of the attacks." This is an ideal that many of our elected officials have failed to live up to in this post-9/11 world. Honestly, I would take any other Democratic Senate loss over this one, including Chris Coons in Delaware. That's how important Russ Feingold is to the Senate.

The second election night loss that angered me was California's Prop 19. I don't even smoke and this proposition made so much sense. If tobacco is legal why is cannabis not? Why is the United States spending billions of dollars annually to "fight" this drug when it could be making billions of dollars a year taxing, regulating, and selling it? Marijuana has been shown to be less dangerous than tobacco, yet the government has no problem raking in billions of dollars in tax revenue from it. What's the difference?

It's expected that midterm elections tend to favor the party out of power, unless things are going swimmingly for the current administration, which is decidedly not true for Obama. If the Republicans can turn this country around without eroding the rights of gays, repealing a health care bill that will provide insurance to millions of formerly uninsured folks in this country, and giving Wall Street a carte blanche to do anything they want (again), then they just might hold onto power. If, however, they're mantra of "slash spending and cut taxes" goes no deeper than this simple slogan, then we're in trouble.

Photo - Russ Feingold (Flickr via Freedom to Marry)

No comments:

Post a Comment