Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Election 2014 Post-Mortem

Yesterday felt much more like a gut-punch than did the last GOP midterm wave in 2010. I wondered if that was just because present pain is more salient than that of four years ago, but looking over my 2010 recap posts, it really does seem like I was at least putting on a braver face than I'm feeling now.

In some ways, this is very strange. Objectively, 2010 was a far greater disaster for team blue than 2014. 2010 was a redistricting year, meaning that the GOP wave hurt the Democratic Party for upwards of a decade. And the 2010 election actually blocked substantive Democratic progress -- we could pass legislation with control over the House and Senate. Flipping the Senate just means we go from doing nothing to doing more nothing (I will mail $20 to the Denver Post for every piece of substantive legislation that gets passed and signed by the President if they agree to set one of themselves on fire each month that doesn't happen. That may seem harsh, but the punditry-biz suffers from a severe lack of accountability and theirs was an obviously ludicrous prediction ex ante).

I think what's bothering me is more psychological. 2010 was the wave of the unknowns. Yes, many of those elected were lunatics, but they weren't known lunatics. They had been out of power. They were unproven quantities. It was nothing more than voting for "the other guy."

By contrast, some of the big winners this cycle -- Sam Brownback, Paul LePage, Rick Scott, Thom Willis, to name four that spring immediately to mind -- have spent the last few years affirmatively making their communities worse. Far, far worse. They're very known quantities. They planted a flag on pursuing and implementing policies that run the gamut from disastrous (Kansas tax cuts) to abjectly immoral (rejecting Medicaid expansion; voter ID rules). And they were rewarded for it. The expressive message of this election -- fairly or not -- was to affirm those choices. Maybe that's why my sentiments feel much more akin to how I felt in 2004. There too, what hurt wasn't that the wrong choice was made, it was that the wrong choice was ratified. "An error", as the saying goes, "doesn't become a mistake until you refuse to correct it."

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