Can you barely contain your excitement? Are you laying awake at night wondering who’s going to take that contested congressional seat in Ohio? Are you bursting at the seams wondering who’s undisclosed campaign contributions are going to beat out the other candidate’s undisclosed campaign contributions? Are you pumped as you can possibly be pumped to vote for New York City mayoral term limits!?
That’s right folks, we’re just 6 days away from the 2010 midterm elections, and what seems like a campaign that started the day after Inauguration Day 2009 is almost finally over. As races tighten around the country in one of the most bizarre elections in history, most analysts predict Republicans are poised to take the House, and are very much within reach of taking the Senate. The reasons for this are all over the place, from the rise of the Tea Party, to massive amounts of spending from outside groups, to general disenchantment with President Obama’s domestic policies and the ever-lagging economy.
As this all wraps up, the flurry of media talking points pretty much centers around the “enthusiasm gap” between conservatives and liberals- those energized to take back congress from the left and those who feel betrayed by Obama and the Democrats they elected two years ago. While Obama has been out on the road campaigning to packed stadiums and college campuses of thousands of adoring fans, it’s interesting to note his approval ratings have jumped from 48% to 54% crossing over the all important 50% mark. Democrats are hoping that might be enough to close up the tight races around the country and keep their balance of power.
But while Republicans have stuck to one national message, opposing the “out of control spending by Obama and Pelosi”, and “socialist government takeover” of…I guess everything, Democrats have focused on each race locally. This means they lacked an over arching message, and more often than not ran away from what’s been accomplished the past two years and more or less pretended to be Republicans.
Look at Governor Joe Manchin III, the popular West Virginia Democrat and senate candidate’s latest campaign video. Usually a supporter of the president, in this ad he wants to “repeal the bad parts of Obamacare” and literally SHOOTS A BULLET through a page of Cap and Trade Legislation. Let’s all please just take a look at this.
I really like how it’s just one page. “Tax on Carbon Emissions and…SHOOT HERE JOE!”
Many have been asking “has Obama betrayed his base?” but a more interesting question is “has the base betrayed Obama?” After all, he’s one guy, and we live in a democracy filled with hundreds of elected guys, and compromise is inevitable. It’s understandable to feel bummed out. There was no public option in the health care bill, the stimulus could have been bigger, we escalated in Afghanistan, the list goes on.
William Upski Wimsatt wrote a book in the early 90’s called “Bomb the Suburbs,” about social activism. The other day he was on the Brian Lehrer show on WNYC talking about his new book “Please Don’t Bomb the Suburbs”, an updated account of what it takes to be a responsible activist in the Obama era. One thing that struck a chord with me was when he said “Don’t be demoralized by what hasn’t gone right when we’ve taken huge baby steps." He mentions that the stimulus was the biggest anti-poverty bill in a generation, and every economist who isn’t being paid by the Chamber of Commerce will tell you it saved hundreds of thousands of jobs and staved off another depression. In addition to that, it doubled funding for public schools and was the biggest government investment in science and the environment in history.
Let’s also not forget AN ENORMOUS HEALTH CARE BILL PRESIDENTS HAVE BEEN TRYING TO PASS FOR SEVENTY YEARS. If you’re reading this and under 26, you can go back on your parent’s plan, you can’t get denied for heaving a pre-exisiting condition, and 30 million new Americans will be able to receive affordable health care, albeit through a private insurer, but at least with government help if they need it.
There was also the financial reform bill, a huge expansion in public service through Americorps, and a recently passed jobs bill to try and bring down unemployment, among other things that are easy to look over when searching for signs of “change.” While the White House may exaggerate what’s been done so far, Democrats could have really benefitted from sticking to a unified, national message talking about all this stuff. Then maybe we wouldn't have to have Democrats you know, shooting guns at legislation that doesn't even exist in their ads.
Of course, it’s always important to keep pushing. When civil rights leaders in the 1930’s approached FDR about being more aggressive he said, “Make me do it.” Presidents respond when people show up and tell them to do something. Obama gets more frustrated when the left protests against him (most notably with gay rights activists), more so than with any tea partier. But while the Tea Party has organized and made their voices heard in ways the left did in ’06 and ’08, this year the left has been Grumbling for America rather than Organizing for America.
If Republicans take the House that means they take over the heads of each committee in the House. That’s a big deal, because they control the general business of Congress and have the power to investigate the White House. And with all the bizarre accusations coming from the right towards the White House, that looks like it could be over anything. There was an article in the Times today about lobbyists warming up to Republicans who are set to take over those chairs from defense contractors to accounting firms.
Nydia Velazquez, Killin' it for BK.
Here in New York City, Nydia Velazquez is the Congresswoman for the district that covers much of Greenpoint, Bushwick, Williamsburg, Red Hook, Sunset Park, Ridgewood, Maspeth, and part of the Lower East Side and the East Village. She’s also the chairwoman of the Small Business Committee, and has brought in a lot of money for public housing projects in Brooklyn over the years. Her re-election is pretty safe, but it’s important to go out and show your support to make sure we have a strong Latina woman who’s a real force for her constituents at the head of such an important committee, as opposed to some dude from Missouri who’s set to take her place if Republicans win the House on Tuesday.
This race isn't just a referendum on the Democrat's handling of the economy, it's a validation of if we approve of how far to the right those running for office have moved in the past two years. No matter where you live, it matters to show it's not okay for the Carl Paladino's and the Christine O'Donnell's to get away with what they say.
If you’re not sure if you’re registered to vote you can check here. When I checked I didn’t show up, so I called my borough office (which was surprisingly pleasant) and found out I was indeed registered so I’m not actually sure how accurate that site is. No need to fret if you’re not registered, or not sure if you are at your current address. You can still show up to your local polling station and fill out an affadavit ballot, so your vote is counted AND You’ll be registered at your current address. Isn’t that nice?
I’ll be doing live tweet coverage on election night (that’s Tuesday, Nov. 2nd), so tune in for the most imprecise, irreverent commentary available on the internets minute by minute as the results pour in! And if you don't have any other reasons to vote there is always the universal truth...The Rent is Too Damn High!